“When there is increase of unwanted population, a hellish situation is created both for the family and for those who destroy the family tradition. In such corrupt families, there is no offering of oblations of food and water to the ancestors.” (Arjuna, Bhagavad-gita, 1.41)
The Vaishnava is known as para duhkha-duhkhi. They feel pain at the suffering of others. This is not strictly from the material sense. A good parent does not mind if the child is crying for a lousy reason. Perhaps they didn’t get the toy they wanted. Maybe they desired to stay up past their bedtime. The short duration of unpleasantness will end up doing them good in the long run.
The devotee of the personal God, Vishnu, is concerned over the rampant lack of spiritual life. They see others engaged in the futile search for happiness through material accumulation. Work a little harder. Get a little more money. Buy more stuff. As quickly as things arrive, they vanish. That is the way of the world.
The Vaishnava is so renounced in spirit that they don’t mind suffering themselves. This amazing compassion was on display one time with the great bow-warrior Arjuna. Though he thought his concern was properly placed, his good friend Krishna was there to set him straight.
1. Bhishma and Drona
These were respected people. They happened to be fighting on the other side. War was inevitable. It was the grim manifestation of time, which destroys everything. The person speaking to Arjuna was indeed time Himself. Krishna had arranged for the mass destruction to take place, to lessen the burden on the earth of the sinful population.
Arjuna should have proceeded with the war, as he was on the side of justice, which is known as dharma in Sanskrit. His elder brother Yudhishthira was a direct descendant of the god of justice, Yamaraja. There was no reason to fear. Arjuna and his brothers, known as the Pandavas, were doing the right thing. The other side, the Kauravas, had gotten away with crimes for too long.
As part of his compassionate nature, Arjuna was worried about what would happen to Bhishma and Drona. The first was the respected elder in the family and the second the teacher of the military science during youth. Why fight against people whom you respect? Better to leave them alone.
2. The opposing side in general
During his moment of doubt, Arjuna was concerned with bodily welfare. He did not want to win and enjoy the fruits of victory without the people on the other side. They were cousins, which is family. Why go through a fratricidal war just to live in a grand palace and take possession of important land? Why carry the burden of having killed so many people? Arjuna was not attached to material opulences.
3. Widowed women
Arjuna was such a great bow warrior that he had a feeling his side would win. They had Krishna with them, after all. He is the greatest well-wisher to every living entity, even those of bad character. The difference between the good and the bad is the relationship to Krishna. The bad ignore Him completely, thinking that God does not exist. The good know that He is directing the wanderings of all beings, who are seated as on a machine.
“The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.61)
Arjuna’s compassion extended to the families of the fighting soldiers. He worried that if they died, the wives would become widows. Who would take care of them? A good person takes interest in the protection of women. If they are left unprotected, society degrades.
4. Future generations
One immediate negative impact to society is unwanted population. The term in Sanskrit is varna-sankara. This is a mixing of the class divisions, which are based on qualities and work. If marriages are based on dharma, then the family traditions likely survive. Those traditions carry good culture, passed on to the wanted children.
For marriages based in kama, or sense gratification, there is the chance for unwanted population. When the family traditions break, man becomes more like the animals, who are not civilized. Society slowly degrades from there. Arjuna was worried this would happen if the widowed women had nowhere else to go.
Though the sentiments were nice to see, that they potentially led Arjuna astray was not good. Krishna set Arjuna straight, through a conversation now famously known as the Bhagavad-gita. Concern for spiritual welfare is properly placed. There was duty to uphold. Arjuna was not in the wrong. He could not singlehandedly save the world, either. There were many negative consequences to not fighting, to letting the other side win. Krishna was there to guide, and so Arjuna moved forward with the devotional spirit.
Not so much how personally fared,
Arjuna for other groups cared.
Like Bhishma and Drona the guide,
Without family over kingdom to preside.
When widowed women left unprotected,
Rise in population unwanted expected.
Despite concern, Krishna setting straight,
Fight with devotion, be instrument of fate.
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