sanjaya uvaca –
tam tatha kripayavishtam ashru-purnakulekshanam
vishidantam idam vakyam uvaca madhusudanah
Sanjaya said: Sri Krishna then spoke the following words to Arjuna whose heart was overwhelmed with pity and whose eyes were filled with tears.
sri bhagavan uvaca –
kutas tva kashmalam idam vishame samupasthitam
anarya-jushtam asvargyam akirti-karam arjuna
Bhagavan Sri Krishna said: Arjuna, how has such illusion overcome you at this crucial moment? This is not appropriate for an honorable man, nor does it lead to higher planets. It is the cause of infamy.
klaibyam ma sma gamah partha naitat tvayy-upapadyate
kshudram hridaya-daurbalyam tyaktvottishtha parantapa
O Partha, give up this unmanliness. It does not befit you. O chastiser of enemies, get up and do not yield to this petty weakness of heart.
arjuna uvaca –
katham bhishmam aham sankhye dronam ca madhusudana
ishubhih pratiyotsyami pujarhav-arisudana
Arjuna replied: How can I counterattack such persons as Bhishma and Drona in battle, firing arrows at those who are worthy of my respect, O Madhusudana?
gurun ahatva hi mahanubhavan
shreyo bhoktum bhaikshyam apiha loke
hatvartha kamamstu gurun ihaiva
bhunjiya bhogan rudhira-pradigdhan
It is better to live in this world by begging than kill- ing our respectable superiors. Otherwise, the wealth and property that we enjoy here in this world will be tainted with their blood.
na caitad vidmah kataranno gariyo
yadva jayema yadi va no jayeyuh
yan eva hatva na jijivishamas
te’vasthitah pramukhe dhartarashtrah
I do not know what is better for us – to conquer them or be conquered by them. If we slay the sons of Dhritarashtra who are assembled here before us, I have no desire to live.
prichhami tvam dharma-sammudhachetah
yachhreyah syan nishcitam bruhi tan me
shishyaste’ham shadhi mam tvam prapannam
My natural propensity as a warrior is weakening and I am bewildered as to what is righteousness. Kindly tell me what is most beneficial for me. I am your disciple, surrendered unto You. Please instruct me.
na hi prapashyami mamapanudyad
yac chokam ucchoshanam indriyanam
avapya bhumav-asapatnam riddham
rajyam suranam api cadhipatyam
Even if I gain a substantial kingdom beyond compare and the power of the demigods, I see nothing that can remove this grief that is eroding my senses.
This second chapter is where the Bhagavad-gita truly begins. Bhagavad-gita literally means the ‘Song of Bhagavan’ and Bhagavan means the Absolute Truth. Here for the first time in Bhagavad-gita, Sri Krishna is addressed as Bhagavan. According to Vedic scholars such as Parasara Muni, Bhagavan means one who possesses all wealth, strength, fame, beauty, knowledge and renunciation.
aishvaryasya samagrasya viryasya yashasah shriyah
jnana vairagyayos caiva shannam bhaga itingana
He that possesses the attributes of sovereignty, potency, fame, wealth, knowledge and renunciation in full is known as Bhagavan. (Vishnu Purana 6.5.47)
Additionally, Jiva Goswami, the 16th century Vaishnava philosopher, says that Bhagavan is bhajaniya guna ca ananta ca nityah – He that possesses all adorable qualities and whose all-attractive nature is such that He attracts our feelings of affection and adoration.
In contemporary society there is much debate as to whether God exists or not. First it is necessary to define what we mean by ‘God’ before His existence can be determined or dismissed. Accordingly, the seers of the truth in ancient India have concluded that if there is a God, then God must necessarily be the owner and proprietor of everything; He must be all powerful, the most famous, the most beautiful, the possessor of all knowledge and at the same time, detached or renounced. After careful analysis, those seers of truth concluded that only Sri Krishna could be and is the ultimate fountainhead of Reality, the Absolute Truth. These findings have been corroborated by many sages through the ages (from before 10,000 BCE) and are dealt with extensively throughout Vedic literatures such as the Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Vedanta-sutra, Srimad Bhagavatam and Brahma-samhita etc.
ishvarah paramah krishnah sac-cid-ananda vigrahah
anadir adir govindah sarva-karana-karanam
Krishna is the Supreme Controller. His form is made of bliss, knowledge and eternity. He is the origin of all. He is the Master of the cows and the senses. He has no other origin and He is the primeval cause of all causes. (Brahma-samhita 5.1)
ete camsha kalah pumsah krishnas tu bhagavan svayam
indrari vyakulam lokam mridayanti yuge yuge
The various avataras are either plenary expansions or parts of plenary expansions. But Krishna is the original source of all avataras. When impious elements disturb His devotees, He manifests age after age in order to protect them. (Srimad Bhagavatam 1.3.28)
harir eva sadaradhyam sarva-deveshvareshvaram
itare brahma-rudradya navaj-eyam kadacana
Only Sri Hari (Krishna) should be worshiped as the Master of the entire universe. Brahma, Siva and all other demigods never violate this principle at any time. (Padma Purana)
param brahma narakritim
When the Supreme Person descends in His human-like form, He is Krishna, the Supreme Brahman. (Vishnu Purana 4.11.2)
tasmat krishna eva paro devas tam dhyayet
tam raset tam bhajet tam yajet
Thus Krishna is the Supreme Person. One should meditate on Him. One should delight in Him. One should worship Him and make offerings to Him. (Gopala-tapani Upanishad 1.54)
krishir bhu-vacakah shabdo nash ca nirvritti-vacakah
tayor aikyam param brahma krishna ityabhidhiyate
The syllable krish refers to the all-attractive quality of Krishna, and the syllable na refers to His spiritual bliss. When the verb krish is added to the affix na, it becomes the word Krishna, indicating the Supreme Truth. (Mahabharata, Udyoga-parva 71.4)
Arjuna has become overwhelmed with compassion for those who are about to die on the battlefield. In fact, such is his grief that he himself is prepared to die rather than kill his enemies. But Arjuna is a warrior and from a noble family, therefore Krishna advises Arjuna against his weakness of heart. If one is a warrior it is one’s duty to face the enemy and not cower away. Fighting is indeed a nasty business, but when duty calls, such fighting may be unavoidable. In ancient times, acts of aggression were abhorred and strictly forbidden in society and between nations. When such aggression did occur, retaliation and war were acceptable. According to the great sage Vasishtha, there are six types of aggressors and according to Manu-samhita these aggressors are to be met with lethal response.
agnido garadash caiva shastra-panir dhanapahah
kshetra-darapahari ca shad ete hyatatayinah
The arsonist who sets fire to one’s house, one who administers poison, one who attacks with deadly weapons, one who usurps a nations resources, one who invades and occupies a sovereign country and one who kidnaps one’s family members - all should be considered as aggressors. (Vasishtha-smriti 3.19)
atatayinam ayantam hanyad eva vicarayan
natatayi-vadhe dosho hantur bhavati kashcana
Without hesitation a warrior should destroy aggressors, as there is no bad reaction in slaying them. (Manu-samhita 8.350)
These verses are according to the rules given in the artha-shastra (laws of society). Yet the dharma-shastra (laws of dharma), which are superior to the artha-shastra, state that one should never inflict harm on any living being (ma himsyat sarva-bhutani) – what to say of one’s family members and superiors?
This was Arjuna’s dilemma. Being a softhearted devotee of Sri Krishna, Arjuna was disinclined to take up arms against his family members, but being a warrior he had to face his destiny. In this state of bewilderment, Arjuna decided to put aside his casual relationship with Krishna as a friend and accept Sri Krishna as his guru (spiritual master). Thus Krishna accepted Arjuna as a disciple.
According to Vedic knowledge there are numerous planets and parallel universes wherein life can be found. Some of these planets and universes have higher standards of living than we experience on earth and some are lower. If one performs one’s prescribed duties in this life then accordingly, one is elevated to higher planets. However, if one neglects his duty then only infamy and descending to lower planets awaits one in the next life.
Krishna has used the word anarya meaning ‘non-aryan’ to describe Arjuna’s disinclination to follow his prescribed Vedic duties. For centuries there has been much controversy about who is aryan and where the aryans came from. For the most part, all such considerations have been based upon bodily designations in order to establish one race of people as superior to another. But in Bhagavad-gita, according to the words of Sri Krishna, the aryans are those who carry out their duties in accordance with the Vedic injunctions. Thus it is understood that the word aryan does not pertain to a particular race of people, but to a conception of life and a way of living.
Knowledge of the eternal existence of infinite consciousness (Krishna) and the finite individual unit of consciousness (atma or the self) is the key to all Vedic wisdom. This will be the central theme of Krishna’s instruction to Arjuna in this chapter.