Consider Your Dharma

O Krishna, drive my chariot between the two armies. I want to see those who desire to fight with me. With whom will this battle be fought ? I want to see those assembled to fight for Duryodhana, those who seek to please the evil-minded son of Dhritarashtra by engaging in war.

Thus Arjuna spoke, and Sri Krishna, driving his splendid chariot between the two armies, facing Bhisma and Drona and all the kings of the earth, said: “Arjuna, behold all the Kurus gathered together.”

And Arjuna, standing between the two armies, saw fathers and grandfathers, teachers, uncles, and brothers, sons and grandsons, in-laws and friends. Seeing his kinsmen established in opposition, Arjuna was overcome by sorrow. Despairing, he spoke these words :

O Krishna, I see my own relations here anxious to fight, and my limbs grow week; my mouth is dry, my body shakes, my hair is standing on end. My skin burns, and the bow of Gandiva has slipped from my hand. I am unable to stand; my mind seems to be whirling. These signs bode evil for us. I do not see that any good can come from killing our relations in battle. O Krishna, I have no desire for victory, or for a kingdom or pleasures. Of what use is a kingdom or pleasure or even life….

O Krishna, what satisfaction could we find in killing Dhritarashtra’s sons ? We would become sinners by slaying these men, even though they are evil. The sons of Dhritarashtra are related to us; therefore, we should not kill them. How can we gain happiness by killing members of our own family ?

Though they are overpowered by greed and see no evil in destroying families or injuring friends, we see these evils. Why shouldn’t we turn away from this sin? When a family declines, ancient traditions are destroyed. With them are lost the spiritual foundations for life, and the family loses its sense of unity. Where there is no sense of unity, the women of the family become corrupt; and with the corruption of its women, society is plunged into chaos. Social chaos is hell for the family and for those who have destroyed the family as well. It disrupts the process of spiritual evolution begun by our ancestors. The timeless spiritual foundations of family and society would be destroyed by these terrible deeds, which violate the unity of life.

It is said that those whose family dharma has been destroyed dwell in hell. This is a great sin! We are prepared to kill our own relations out of greed for the pleasures of a kingdom. Better for me if the sons of Dhritarashtra, weapons in hand, were to attack me in battle and kill me unarmed and unresisting.

Overwhelmed by sorrow, Arjuna spoke these words. And casting away his bow and his arrows, he sat down in his chariot in the middle of the battlefield.

These are the words that Sri Krishna spoke to the despairing Arjuna, whose eyes were burning with tears of pity and confusion.

This despair and weakness in a time of crisis are mean and unworthy of you, Arjuna. How have you fallen into a state so far from the path to liberation ? It does not become you to yield to this weakness. Arise with a brave heart and destroy the enemy.

How can I ever bring myself to fight against Bhisma and Drona, who are worthy of reverence ? How can I, Krishna ? Surely it would be better to spend my life begging than to kill these great and worthy souls! If I killed them, every pleasure I found would be tainted. I don’t even know which would be better, for us to conquer them or for them to conquer us. The sons of Dhritarashtra have confronted us; but why would we care to live if we killed them ?

My will is paralyzed, and I am utterly confused. Tell me which is the better path for me. Let me be your disciple. I have fallen at your feet; give me instruction. What can overcome a sorrow that saps all my vitality ? Even power over men and gods or the wealth of an empire seem empty.

Considering your dharma, you should not vacillate. For a warrior, nothing is higher than a war against evil. The warrior confronted with such a war should be pleased, Arjuna, for it comes as an open gate to heaven. But if you do not participate in this battle against evil, you will incur sin, violating your dharma and your honor. — Bhagavad Gita

Here is heard the cry of many abused children who must fight against those they are supposed to honor.   The battle of surrender is not valor.   One must fight to protect the good against the evil, even if the evil is worthy of honor in another context.