“Sanjaya said: Arjuna, having thus spoken on the battlefield, cast aside his bow and arrows and sat down on the chariot, his mind overwhelmed with grief.” (Bhagavad-gita, 1.46)
एवम् उक्त्वार्जुनः सङ्ख्ये
विसृज्य स-शरं चापं
evam uktvārjunaḥ saṅkhye
visṛjya sa-śaraṁ cāpaṁ
1. I feel compassion towards my enemies
“You ever see those fights that take place in the game of ice hockey? I don’t think I would be good in those. I wouldn’t mind getting into a tussle every now and then, but I don’t have the fire in me to do damage to others. It is okay if they hurt me, but I have no interest in seeing them suffer. I would take no pleasure out of the exchange.”
2. I am unsure of what is right
“It feels as if I hit these crossroads on a daily basis. I want to please everybody. I know that you cannot, but I at least try. I want to avoid offending others. But I continuously miss the mark. There is always some bad decision that I take. I end up regretting it for a long time, after the fact.”
3. I choose the worst times to have doubt
“I promise to be somewhere. I vow to take action. I tell others that I will be there for them. Then, at the last moment, I start to worry. I have concerns over the decision I have made. I want to back out, crippled by fear. I wish I would have the courage of conviction necessary for finding success.”
4. I am always worried about outcomes
“I came to this realization recently. I am always worrying about stuff. It could be something basic, like an assignment from work. It could be something more significant, like a medical procedure for a loved one. So many times things work out, but I find something else to worry over. It is like I refuse to live in peace.”
5. I hope that someone else can provide clarity
“I am not capable. I am not smart enough. It would be great to put the decisions into someone else’s hands. Let them decide. Rely on their instincts, on their intelligence, on their unwavering support. I need guidance. I cannot go it alone.”
The physical setting of the Bhagavad-gita delivery to Arjuna, who is the famous Pandava brother and noted bow-warrior, is not entirely foreign to most people. Though not everyone is fighting a war, enlisted in a military, or ready to battle to the death with other armed combatants, the dilemma is something everyone faces within the life experience.
“How should I act? What is the best way? How do I remove anxiety? What is the point to doing anything? If I succeed, what does that really mean? Why should I want to succeed? What is wrong with the other side winning? At least they will be happy in the process. I don’t mind as much for myself. I will be able to cope.”
The premise makes the conclusion all the more valuable. The severity of the doubt highlights the brilliance of the mechanism used to remove that doubt. Shri Krishna, the person approached by Arjuna for guidance, was fully equipped to remedy the situation through personal effort. After all, He is the strength of the strong and the ability in man.
रसो ऽहम् अप्सु कौन्तेय
शब्दः खे पौरुषं नृषु
raso ‘ham apsu kaunteya
śabdaḥ khe pauruṣaṁ nṛṣu
“O son of Kunti [Arjuna], I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.8)
As later revealed per Arjuna’s request, Shri Krishna is the entire cosmic manifestation, and more. He is the sum of everything, both moving and nonmoving. He is the one controlling the planets. He is the movements of time and the vitality of the universe itself.
But we see that Krishna did not take care of everything for Arjuna. Rather, the bow-warrior was encouraged to fight, to proceed, to move forward, in a path aligning with dharma. Follow righteousness for the sake of setting the proper example, for helping others, for winning a higher destination in the afterlife, and ultimately, for pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
सुखिनः क्षत्रियाः पार्थ
लभन्ते युद्धम् ईदृशम्
sukhinaḥ kṣatriyāḥ pārtha
labhante yuddham īdṛśam
“O Partha, happy are the kshatriyas to whom such fighting opportunities come unsought, opening for them the doors of the heavenly planets.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.32)
The living entity is not the doer. I can worry for days and days about a particular outcome, which is unknown until the moment of delivery. Whether that outcome falls on the favorable or unfavorable side, nothing really changes. I can try my best, but the ways of the world are too vast and complex for me to control.
मन्-मना भव मद्-भक्तो
मद्-याजी मां नमस्कुरु
माम् एवैष्यसि युक्त्वैवम्
man-manā bhava mad-bhakto
mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru
mām evaiṣyasi yuktvaivam
“Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, offer obeisances and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.34)
The recommendation for Arjuna applies to every living being, across all time periods and places of residence. Always think of Krishna, who is God. He is the detail behind the abstract. He is the smiling face situated above the temporary gains and losses. He is the one who has nothing to do, but is kind enough to accompany every living being in their travels through multiple lifetimes, until they finally understand Him in truth.
बहूनां जन्मनाम् अन्ते
ज्ञानवान् मां प्रपद्यते
वासुदेवः सर्वम् इति
स महात्मा सु-दुर्लभः
bahūnāṁ janmanām ante
jñānavān māṁ prapadyate
vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti
sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ
“After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.19)
Finally on truth to land,
Shri Krishna to understand.
Cause of all causes that be,
Witness for everything to see.
Like for Arjuna removing doubt,
With guidance throughout.
The counsel for everyone to apply,
That on highest person to rely.
Categories: the five