sañjaya uvāca —
evam ukto hṛṣīkeśo
senayor ubhayor madhye
sarveṣāṁ ca mahīkṣitām
uvāca pārtha paśyaitān
samavetān kurūn iti
Sañjaya said: O Bhārata, having thus been addressed by Guḍākeśa (Arjuna), Hṛṣīkeśa drew the excellent chariot into the midst of both armies in the presence of all the kings and prominent personalities like Bhīṣma, Droṇa and others. He then said: ”O Pārtha, just behold this assembly of Kurus.”
Kṛṣṇa knew what the result would be when a disciple or dependent takes his Guru with him to his material kin, or to materialistic people. On one hand, the spiritual aspirant gives up his family and material life and takes shelter of Śrī Guru and God. On the other hand, what will happen if the disciple then takes Guru and God with him back into the deep blind well of family life?
If light is before us, the shadow will surely follow. If we stand with light at our backs, then our shadows will go before us. In this case, where did Arjuna take Kṛṣṇa? He took Kṛṣṇa to view the Kauravas meaning, taking Him toward those who are antagonistic and against dharma.
tatrāpaśyat sthitān pārthaḥ
pitṝn atha pitāmahān
ācāryān mātulān bhrātṝn
putrān pautrān sakhīṁs tathā
śvaśurān suhṛdaś caiva
senayor ubhayor api
“There in the midst of both armies, Arjuna saw his paternal uncles, grandfathers, teachers, maternal uncles, cousins, nephews, grandsons, friends, fathers-in-law, sons and well-wishers.”
Arjuna observed both sides and saw all his relations. He saw his grandfather, uncles, cousins, gurus, sons and in-laws, friends and fellows–all standing, prepared to kill and to die themselves. This was such a profound moment.
The living entities naturally have love for each other. Love is within all living entities. This is prema-dharma. On this day however, where has this prema gone? There before him, Arjuna could see that one brother was ready to kill another brother; a grandfather was ready to kill his grandsons—all were prepared to kill their own kin.
Why did such cruelty and hardness appear within all their hearts? How did the moods of tama and raja come to them? When did it occur, where the desire to enjoy the objects of the senses and the desire to fulfill lust increased to such an extent that these living entities could no longer control themselves? In this condition the jīva will even instruct God Himself: “Come to my side. Help me in my cause. You should help me gratify the lust of my senses.”
God wants to help by uplifting the jīvas with His supreme power. Although He arranges many opportunities for them, deep ignorance resulting from their illusory attachment casts the jīvas into darkness, contaminating their consciousness. Thus this great cruelty had arisen within them.
tān samīkṣya sa kaunteyaḥ
sarvān bandhūn avasthitān
viṣīdann idam abravīt
“Seeing all his friends and relatives standing near him on the battlefield, Kaunteya, lamenting and over-whelmed with compassion for them, spoke thus.”
Now, one problem arises. How many people have pure devotion? Who is a pure devotee? Kṛṣṇa delineates this in the Bhagavad-gītā. As Kṛṣṇa always remains with the Vrajavāsīs, He knows their moods and heart. Meanwhile in the Bhagavad-gītā He describes the different standards of devotion. The Vraja-devīs, sakhās and others live with their families, yet they are not attached to their families. Although the Vraja-devīs stayed with their families, what was their inner mood?
ativilaṅghya te ‘nty acyutāgatāḥ
kitava yoṣitaḥ kas tyajen niśi
Srimad Bhagavatam 10.31.16
“Dear Acyuta, You know very well why we have come here. Who, but a cheater like You would abandon young women who come to see Him in the middle of the night, enchanted by the loud song of His flute? Just to see You, we have completely rejected our husbands, children, ancestors, brothers and other relatives.”
The gopīs left their husbands, parents and attachment to all the relatives and family responsibilities while running to Kṛṣṇa, dedicating their mind, heart and soul to Him. Therefore they were always very happy. Even as they remained with their families while feeling great separation from their meeting with Krsna, it was still very sweet to them. Without Kṛṣṇa, and the context of their relationship with Him, they do not know anything or anyone.
On the other side of the battle array, Arjuna moved closer to his family members for a few moments. Seeing his cousins, uncles and gurus he became bewildered, even losing his consciousness of Kṛṣṇa. Then he revealed his mind to Kṛṣṇa saying, “How can I harm my own relatives? Therefore, I will renounce everything and go to the forest.”
When ordinary people come and reside with Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, at any moment they can lose their heart, faith and love for God and devotion becoming attracted back to their material lives. Easily they can lose everything and just like little birds; hunger, anger, or any small problem will drive them away.
There are many standards and levels of bhakti. Arjuna asked Kṛṣṇa to take him into the midst of both armies. When he arrived there, seeing his relatives he immediately became bewildered. The Vraja-devīs and Vrajavāsīs however, stay in their homes with their families. In spite of all those difficulties, their love and relationship with Kṛṣṇa remains steadfast.
If we do not follow Vraja bhakti, and vraja-rasa does not come to us, then one is not really called a devotee or follower of devotion. It is only so-called, like a showroom. Externally one might think, “I am a devotee.” Kṛṣṇa reveals this in the beginning of Bhagavad-gītā.
Arjuna said, “O Kṛṣṇa, Govinda, I require no house or servants. If I killed all the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra, what benefit would I actually achieve? What will I gain?”
Arjuna did not think that the Kurus were always disturbing and tormenting others, that Duryodhana and his followers were criminals with bad mentalities. Arjuna did not think that their association was detrimental; that those same bad qualities could come to him. If one associates with wicked people, one’s good character will also be lost. He would even join them to destroy the world. Nonsense people, rascals will not change. Kṛṣṇa Himself had tried again and again to change them for the better. Now, as he ventured near them with an empathetic mind, Arjuna also lost his steadiness and good intelligence.
Arjuna’s nature and position had completely changed by coming into the close physical proximity of the Kauravas. While venturing near Duryodhana and his kin, he lost all intelligence.
He became despondent and inappropriately compassionate. One’s nature empathizes with those he associates. Moving between the armies and looking upon the Kauravas, seeing his kinsmen, illusory attachment bewildered his intelligence.
The qualities possessed by those who are so-called blood relatives enters he who associates himself with them. Who can save him then?
We must see where we are within our own hearts. Who do we accept? Whatever type of person we accept into our heart and have affection for, whatever person we move toward and associate with, we will imbibe their qualities.