arjuna uvāca —
dṛṣṭvemān svajanān kṛṣṇa
sīdanti mama gātrāṇi
mukhañ ca pariśuṣyati
“Arjuna said: O Kṛṣṇa, seeing all my kinsmen assembled here with a desire to fight, I feel my limbs weakening and my mouth becoming dry.”
Arjuna saw Duryodhana and his brothers, Bhīṣma-pitāmaha, Droṇācārya, Krpacarya, Sakuni, Aśvatthāmā and all those on the Kauravas side. Because of this, his heart was conquered by illusory attachment.
Why did Arjuna feel that attachment and why didn’t all the others feel this way? Why were they ready to kill each other?
Arjuna was with Kṛṣṇa; God Himself! Yet he left God, and emotionally went over to his relatives. Therefore he was conquered by the grief of that attachment. The fighters on the other side were present in their own arrogance, absorbed in their earthly strength. They were not with anyone. During those moments of Arjuna’s weakness, they had become more powerful. By coming to the place of dharma, their pride had only increased. Attaining this śakti, they were ready to give up their lives. They had no desire to save themselves. They were ready to embark on the final journey—death, but neglected to understand what is real dharma.
God said to Himself, “In this situation, I will try to help them by enlightening them with spiritual knowledge.”
The dharma of the mind and body is different from that of the soul. Kṛṣṇa thought, “I will anoint them with dust of the Vrajavāsīs. If they spend their last moments seeing Me or being in My proximity; if they leave their body in this holy place where the Vrajavāsīs’ foot-dust has fallen, then in their next lives they will progress in their spiritual advancement, getting the opportunity to take birth in Vraja.”
This is a battle for anarthas. Will we fight for our anarthas? Will we fight for adharma or will we stay on the side of dharma?
Observing the situation, Kṛṣṇa became astonished to see that even Arjuna, His dear friend, took Him towards the side of adharma near his blood kin.
What benefit would come by seeing them up close? Arjuna did not consider this. Actually, this illusory attachment arose within the heart and mind of Arjuna, so that Kṛṣṇa could instruct the world through his circumstance.
Now, Arjuna began to give advice to Kṛṣṇa saying, “One should not harm any being.” Compassion appeared in his heart as he thought, “I will not harm anyone.”
If one is a terrorist and performs evil acts such as stealing the wife of another; if he lies, cheats, sets fire to others property and so forth, then what type of compassion should be given to such a wicked man? What benefit will come by showing a terrorist compassion? By giving mercy to the wicked their wickedness will only increase in power, but Arjuna forgot this. If one meets with a wicked man, then hears his duplicitous and crafty words, one will end up siding with him.
By approaching close to his kin, Arjuna felt compassion for them. Yet, this form of compassion was against dharma. By going there and meeting with his relatives, all of whom were ready to give up their lives in battle, Arjuna’s body began to shake. Arjuna said, “Seeing all my friends, relatives and superiors ready to give up their lives in this battle, my mouth has become dry, my voice is quivering, body is shaking.”
Kṛṣṇa herein shows us; if these were all Arjuna’s relatives and well-wishers, why then would such an inauspicious state appear in his body? Why would his throat dry and all his potency be lost? Kṛṣṇa is the all attractive, and it is He who frees the world of its anarthas. By descending into ordinary material consciousness through their association, the conditioned living entities lead us to the path of destruction. Simply by their darśana, Arjuna’s condition became very dire. Here, Kṛṣṇa wants to reveal who are our real relatives and family members—and what is poison and what is nectar. Many beautiful sweet-faced cheaters come in the form of brothers, sisters, uncles, fathers, and other relatives. Upon his approach, Arjuna’s body began shaking; his throat became dry. Kṛṣṇa therefore shows what bestows bliss, what produces suffering and how this material world influences us.
vepathuś ca śarīre me
roma-harṣaś ca jāyate
gāṇḍīvaṁ sraṁsate hastāt
tvak caiva paridahyate
“My body is trembling and my hair is standing on end. My Gāṇḍīva bow is slipping from my hand and my skin is burning.”
“My body is burning, my Gandhiva is falling from my hands, my hairs are standing on end, I cannot control myself. Oh Keśava! My mind has become restless and I am seeing bad omens all around us, I cannot control myself! There is no good that can come from engaging in this battle. I feel as if I’m about to faint. Please save me from this bad attachment and sorrow.”
When materialistic people enter family life, often so much suffering comes from meeting with their blood relatives. They will pray to God to free them from their suffering and they themselves will try to escape such suffering. They will perform spiritual practice; sādhana, and so many different endeavors to free themselves from misery, yet they will remain exactly where they are. How will they achieve happiness if they have fallen into a blind and dark well? First they must get out. If one is lying in a drain where sewer water flows and prays to God, “May I drink nectar and smell the most fragrant perfumes. May I have nice foodstuffs to eat and comfortable residence,” yet despite all one’s prayers if such a person refuses to get up and out from the drain, how then will God remedy his situation?
If a prisoner tells his warden, “Give me nice food, give me a soft comfortable bed, give me all facility to enjoy life,” how would the jailer respond to him? “This prisoner is crazy!”
When Arjuna reached out to his relatives, immediately Kṛṣṇa showed him the reaction that comes through bad association. Now Arjuna pleads to Kṛṣṇa, “Please save me from this illusory attachment and sorrow.”
Someone may ask, “Is the sorrow Arjuna felt in this situation the same as when the Vraja-devīs lamented in separation from Kṛṣṇa? They also stayed with their family members at home.” On one side, there is the materialistic family members in this world of māyā and on the other side, there are the beloved associates of God in the spiritual world. They are not the same. Arjuna was Kṛṣṇa’s dear friend and he was completely surrendered to Kṛṣṇa.
Yet even Arjuna, when approaching his materialistic family members became bewildered and said, “I see no possibility of any welfare from this war. I do not want the kingdom attained from killing my relatives. I do not want the fame of this world, nor the pleasures of kingly opulence.”
When the Vraja-devīs lamented or fainted in sorrow and separation from Kṛṣṇa, what came as the result? On the other side, people faint for their samsara, material family. What is the difference?
By drowning in the rasa of Govinda, even when feeling intense separation from Govinda, a transcendental bliss is tasted; there is happiness even in separation. However, by associating with blood relations in the material world, there is only dryness, sorrow, and nothing positive. Going toward them, Arjuna began to faint, feeling his body was burning. He then said, “There’s no benefit in waging this war, I don’t want to fight.”