ON THE BATTLEFIELD
I understand that Krishna represents higher consciousness and Arjuna is the jiva, or embodied soul. Is
Arjuna upset because he sees his attachments and knows he has to let go of the negative qualities in the
form of the Kauravas?
The ego of individuality is equally attached to negative qualities as to positive qualities. In negative qualities,
the ego feels its presence more. If you think back to your own life, you will remember all the bad actions or
the bad things that happened to you more than the good things. Why do they come up? Because we feel
attached to our own ego self. Arjuna was upset to see the disastrous result of the war.
Arjuna becomes paralyzed by his emotion. How does he move from that state to one where he can begin
to act again?
Arjuna went with a revengeful mind to fight. In the battlefield, Krishna's one word hit Arjuna deeply:
Behold, O Arjuna, the Kurus in the battlefield. Kauravas and Pandavas both were from Kuru clan. What
happened to Buddha who never saw a sick person or an old person? When he saw them, his mind was filled
with pain. So the pain in life creates a ladder of life in spirituality. It was purposefully used by Krishna to
create pain in Arjuna. The chariot was stationed in such a place from which Arjuna could see his most loved
ones like Bhishma and Drona. So naturally the pain created a deep emotional state in Arjuna. Arjuna needed
to know with whom he is actually fighting–not the enemy but his own clan.
If Arjuna were coming to the battlefield with a desire to fight, why would Krishna create this pain in him
to incapacitate him and then tell him to fight?
Krishna considered Arjuna as a friend and disciple, so he wanted to turn his mind from revenge to spiritual
nature. Symbolically, the jivahood or the individual soul is always fighting for its self-interest and sinking
deep down into worldliness. Our pure conscious principle knows it but doesn't want to see it because the
other side is immediate self-gratification. So in that state, we either need high dispassion to develop by the
grace of God or some outside agency comes and whips us. Krishna did what Arjuna needed.
So we all have to fight the battle of life. Most of us are fighting on the basis of self-interest, and Krishna is
now waking him up to fight selflessly?
Arjuna fought many battles and got the name Dananjaya, conqueror of wealth. So wealth did not bring
contentment in him. Now he was fighting with his own clan or with his own mind which was filled by negative
and positive qualities. His self-interest and his attachment created confusion in his mind.
Does this lead us to conclude that it's not so much what you are doing as the intention behind what you
All actions create samskaras according to the intention behind it. You walk and an ant gets crushed. You do
not know it so you did not kill the ant. Any action performed with a motive behind it becomes your action.
You have said that in order to know the Self, you have to know the ego. By asking to see the opposing
army, is Arjuna setting himself up to look at his own negative qualities and his own ego?
Symbolically, in the battlefield the enemies were his own negative nature. We see what we are. But at this
point, he developed dispassion so even though he considered them enemies, he is also thinking of its
But Krishna is encouraging him to kill other human beings.
If we see it historically, Arjuna is the prince whose nature-born quality is to fight and whose duty is to
protect the kingdom from atrocities. So fighting was the only way. Symbolically, if we don't fight with our
negative qualities, then they will overpower us.
Could you elaborate on the idea that avoiding negative thoughts could be harmful?
Avoiding means not paying attention to them and not doing anything to remove them. If a pigeon closes her
eyes when the cat attacks, it will not save her life. Only the cat will not be seen. If the negative thoughts are
not controlled and removed, then they will create negative actions that harm the person and others.
In the Gita, does Krishna expect Arjuna to kill without anger?
Krishna is telling Arjuna to look inside at his own enemies, fight with them, and remove them from his life. In
a battle no one kills a particular person. They just fight and people get killed.
Did Krishna stay silent so that Arjuna would work out his own problem?
Krishna wanted Arjuna to vomit out all of his mental garbage so his mind could be pulled in a right
understanding. If Krishna would argue, then it would create more arguments. So Krishna listened to what
Arjuna is saying and did not express his opinion. It frustrated Arjuna and he started giving various reasons
and exhausted himself.
Why couldn't Arjuna just forget his family? So then he wouldn't need to fight.
1) Arjuna came to fight with the belief that he will win and get his kingdom back. 2) As a prince, his duty was
to remove the suffering of his subjects who were under Duryodhana's rule. It would not be right to forgive a
Was Arjuna motivated by something more than just fear?
Arjuna saw the consequences of war. It was a war within his own tribe, so he thought about it from all angles
and thought it was not right to battle with his own tribe. He did not consider his nature as a warrior which
would come out in other ways if he refrains from war now. He did not consider the condition of his subjects
who were suffering. He forgot his responsibility for his subjects. He was not afraid of war. His fear as to the
outcome of the war.
As an allegory, how do these verses relate to the inner battle within us?
Ego of individuality - jivahood. The embodied self is in prison in the mind-body complex and strives for its
freedom. Without a battle, it cannot get free.
So is Arjuna coming up with reasons for the ego to avoid doing battle?
Ego sees its attachment. The ego lives as long as there is attachment. Arjuna was avoiding the battle to see
his own teachers, brothers and loved ones will be killed. All those people reinforce his ego by his attachment
When Arjuna says we may destroy the whole civilization and whole culture, does this refer to the
destruction of duality?
Destroying the culture, country and people, etc., doesn't destroy duality. Symbolically, the Kauravas
represent the negative aspect of mind. Arjuna was in duality and attached to duality. That is why he did not
want to fight. Krishna is forcing him to fight for his own liberation. Liberation means non-dual state.
Is it the duality that Arjuna is fighting? I don't understand the nature of the battle.
Duality exists as long as one is guided by one's egocentric mind. Arjuna as an historical prince was fighting for
his rightful claim of the kingdom. Symbolically, Arjuna the jiva, the ego of individuality, was fighting for his
liberation which is also his rightful claim, fighting with his own negative aspect of mind. All battles take place in
How can we know there is not an Arjuna on the other side of the battle who has the right to fight for his
own liberation and his rightful claim to the kingdom?
On the other side there were Bhishma, Drona, etc., the great teachers. Some were enlightened and some were
on the way to enlightenment. The question is why such great teachers took the side of the Kauravas. The
positive and negative minds are in every person. When we do something wrong, deep inside the mind knows
and resists it. But when the negative mind is stronger, then the positive mind goes along with it. Historically
every citizen of that country was supposed to fight for the sake of the king. That was the rule. Even though
learned teachers were of Kauravas side but they had no self-interest. They were fighting as a duty.
When he throws down his bow, that seems good to me. Are you saying that he should fight, that it's
better to fight?
If we don't fight with our negative thoughts, actions, and feelings, then the mind will get possessed by them.
Even historically it wouldn't be right if Arjuna would refrain from the war. He was commander-in-chief and
war was about to start.
© 1998 Sri Rama Publishing
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