Arjuna saw in the armies both, fathers and grandfathers
Teachers, Uncles, sons, friends, relatives and grandsons 1.26, 1.27
Seeing his kinsmen standing up ahead
Arjuna overcome with sorrow said 1.28
I want not kingdom or pleasures, or victory in this strife
Krishna, how will kingdom and pleasures help or even life? 1.32
They, for whom we seek kingdom, happiness and pleasures
Stand here risking life and their treasures 1.33
We are all set to commit a great sin
To gain kingdom by slaying our kin 1.45
Far better for me that the Kauravas with their arms
Slay me in battle yielding without arms 1.46
The Bhagavad Gita, or Gita for short, is probably the most widely read Hindu scriptural text. In 700 verses, each two lines long, in a part of the epic Mahabharata, the longest poem written, the poet Vyasa describes the travails of two ancient warring clans. What makes the Gita special is the interplay between Krishna, God incarnate as the Coach and Arjuna, his human alter ego as the client.
Krishna, at Arjuna’s request, serves as his unarmed charioteer. At Arjuna’s request Krishna places the chariot in the middle of the battle field. Surveying what’s in front of him, Arjuna breaks down and decides to quit the battle.
The verses above, from the Gita’s first chapter, are Arjuna’s explanation of why he wants to give up before a single arrow is shot. On both sides are families he grew up with. His cousin is his arch-enemy. With him are his teachers and mentors. Arjuna sees no purpose in slaying his kinsmen and elders even if the outcome is a kingdom. Dropping his bow, the feared Gandiva, Arjuna sits down refusing to fight.
Arjuna is confused. He is depressed. He is afraid that what he is about to do is incorrect. The answer to him is simple. Inaction by refusing to wage battle seems the right choice.
Gita is a probably a metaphor on life, perhaps not part of a historical event. It is a metaphor of the fight between the good and the bad within us, portraying the constant battle we all wage everyday between our yin and yang. On our own it is tough to realize what’s going on within us. As Einstein remarked, ‘ones who created the problem cannot be expected to solve the problem’.
What we need is a Coach.
Krishna, the ultimate Coach, stays silent throughout Arjuna’s outburst. He wants to hear him out. Then he speaks.