Arjuna Refuses to Fight

Bhagwad Gita is the holy book of the Hindus.  The Gita, as if is often called is the conversation between Lord Krishna and Arjuna on the battlefield before the battle of Kurukshetra in ancient India.

The physical setting of the Gita is on the battlefield of the climactic Kurukshetra War.  This war between cousins is the dynastic struggle for the throne of Hastinapura. The two collateral branches of the family are on the opposite sides of the battle.  The Kauravas represent Adharma, moral decay, and the Pandavas, represent Dharma, righteousness.  Kauravas and Pandavas belong to the Kuru clan.

Lord Krishna is charioteer for warrior Pandava prince Arjuna, since Krishna has decided that he will not take part in the battle.  The Kaurava army comprises of the Kaurava brothers, their teacher Drona who is also the teacher for the Pandava brothers, and Bhishma the grand old patriarch of the Hastinapura kingdom.  Upon seeing the Kaurava army lined up on the battlefield, an army that includes his own relatives, beloved friends, and revered teachers, Arjuna is filled with doubt, anguish and he turns to his charioteer and guide, Lord Shri Krishna, drops his weapons and says, “Krishna, I see my kinsmen gathered on this battlefield wanting war.  I am overcome with anguish, confusion, and lack of will to fight.  I see no good in killing my kinsmen.   I would rather die than kill another.  I cannot fight this battle.”

Responding to Arjuna’s despondency, confusion and moral dilemma, Krishna explains to Arjuna his duties as a warrior and prince, elaborating on a variety of philosophical concepts.  Krishna does not provide Arjuna with an answer or a solution, but rather, helps him find his own answers to his dilemma in the Gita.  Krishna starts by lightly mocking Arjuna, and asking him, “Why this cowardice on the battlefield?  As a warrior it is your duty to fight the war and protect Dharma. You must fight the battle and not shirk from your responsibilities.”  Krishna is trying to understand the reason for Arjuna’s dilemma.  He wants to know if his refusal to fight is motivated by fear or by ignorance.

The fear that Arjuna is experiencing is the fear of losing the battle, status, wealth, life, or lack of confidence in his abilities as a soldier.  The ignorance is the lack of knowledge about divinity in every human being, the oneness of life, attachment, meaning of life, and tamas, or inertia.

I would like to encourage for all of us to reflect on those occasions in our own lives when we were in the situation that Arjuna finds himself in.  Take time to reflect on our fears and motivations, lack of understanding in matters of life, and connect with our divinity to help overcome challenges that life will throw at us.

About Kammitment:  Led by scientist and life-coach Kamalesh (Kam) Rao, Kammitment helps one realize and make a commitment towards self-actualization, through tailored leadership coaching workshops and programs for students and professionals in all stages of their lives, by drawing upon the time-tested principles of Yoga and Mindfulness.  Kam has spent 20 years as a scientist and a manufacturing professional in the pharmaceuticals industry, and continues to consult with the industry.  In his free time he leads executive coaching programs for Fortune 100 clients.  A certified Yoga instructor, Kam lives in Oakland, CA and is an active volunteer in the Bay Area community when he is not perfecting the next Pretzel pose in Yoga and tapping into its myriad benefits.  For further information, please email [email protected]

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