“O son of Pritha, those who are not deluded, the great souls, are under the protection of the divine nature. They are fully engaged in devotional service because they know Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, original and inexhaustible.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.13)
महात्मानस् तु मां पार्थ
दैवीं प्रकृतिम् आश्रिताः
ज्ञात्वा भूतादिम् अव्ययम्
mahātmānas tu māṁ pārtha
daivīṁ prakṛtim āśritāḥ
jñātvā bhūtādim avyayam
“Listen, I don’t mean to be disrespectful. I sit through the presentations on Bhagavad-gita. The legitimate ones; not that nonsense about taking only the symbolic meaning or trying to get rid of the influence of God. I approach the discussion with the requisite level of seriousness.
“I certainly appreciate what follows, the give and take, the back and forth, the subject matter that gets covered. Trust me, I love Bhagavad-gita. But one thing has bothered me for a while. I don’t feel comfortable mentioning it in a public setting.
“Why does Arjuna get a pass? I do like that Krishna mildly chastises him at the beginning for not living up to the culture of a true kshatriya. The words Arjuna spoke were anarya, indicative of someone who does not know things as they should be.
“Take Krishna’s admonishment out of the picture for a moment. How foolish was Arjuna to show compassion to such people? They literally tried to kill Arjuna and his family. On multiple occasions. I get it that we should live and let live, move on from traumatic moments, but this was going well beyond that.
“Arjuna was ready to sacrifice everything for the comfort of these villains. These attempted murderers. These rogues and thieves. These frauds pretending to be well-wishers, only when it was convenient for them.
“I cannot come close to relating. I would never be that much of a sucker. I almost feel bad for Krishna, that He had to intervene in that situation. What in the world was Arjuna thinking? Is this indicative of the devotional mindset? Are all devotees this naïve? Are they sitting targets for the bad guys? Do they simply forget every offense made to the good people of this world?”
This is a world of duality. Food for one person is poison for another. The farmer welcomes the opening of the sky on the hot summer day, where the rain finally pours down. Another person, on the exact same day, curses the rain for obstructing their plans for enjoyment.
If you make a decision in one direction, you automatically fail to act in the other. This means that whatever a person does becomes a potential source of criticism. Arjuna showing compassion to the Kauravas is one such decision.
If we were to maintain the characterization all the way through, saying that devotees of the Supreme Lord are foolish in nature, that they do not know better, that they will get taken advantage of, we can also study the outcome.
Arjuna may have been foolish to show compassion to his greatest enemies, but just see the result of that supposed foolishness. He was wise enough to approach Shri Krishna for help. Arjuna knew where to turn. It is like he had an inherent understanding of the fallibility of man. It is like he knew there was justification for going the other way; he just needed someone to explain it to him.
If we accept that Arjuna is a fool for showing compassion to his cousins, then under the same argument it would also hold that the other side is wise. They are the sharp and clever ones. They are the ones taking advantage, after all. They are the beneficiaries of Arjuna’s misplaced compassion. They have an easy road to victory. No one will stop them. Nothing to obstruct.
तस्मात् त्वम् उत्तिष्ठ यशो लभस्व
जित्वा शत्रून् भुङ्क्ष्व राज्यं समृद्धम्
मयैवैते निहताः पूर्वम् एव
निमित्त-मात्रं भव सव्य-साचिन्
tasmāt tvam uttiṣṭha yaśo labhasva
jitvā śatrūn bhuṅkṣva rājyaṁ samṛddham
mayaivaite nihatāḥ pūrvam eva
nimitta-mātraṁ bhava savya-sācin
“Therefore get up and prepare to fight. After conquering your enemies you will enjoy a flourishing kingdom. They are already put to death by My arrangement, and you, O Savyasachin, can be but an instrument in the fight.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 11.33)
We see that it was Arjuna who received protection. It was Arjuna who emerged victorious. It was Arjuna who remained aligned with dharma. Those on the side of adharma met destruction, and at the hands of the supposedly gullible and naïve Arjuna.
This was all due to Krishna. It was His protection. It was His influence. It was His intervention, both in delivering Bhagavad-gita and in taking a seat on the chariot, guiding that vehicle decorated with the flag of Hanuman in the proper direction. If that is the fate of the devoted soul, if they are unintelligent for not holding grudges and for not seeking to exploit the weak, then it is a fate they will happily accept.
If fool for grudges to reject,
A fate happily to accept.
Because the outcome just see,
Where situated is He.
Next to Arjuna on chariot seated,
The enemies in destiny defeated.
But first arrows of knowledge uncovered,
On all sides with protection covered.