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The collective sound of conch-shells and other instruments of the Kaurava army filled the sky with a deafening clamour. It was a proclamation to begin the war. The Pandava army replied to this call with the thundering sounds of their own conch-shells. Hearing this, the unrighteousness in the hearts of the Kaurava army started to crush, along with their courage which began to crumble. This was the unexpected result of the magnificent reverberance, filled with unity and conviction in God, that resounded from the Pandava army. Nevertheless, the Kaurava army took its position in its designated military formation. Seeing this, the courageous Arjuna’s enthusiasm is aroused. Sanjay describes this by saying, ‘अथ व्यवस्थितान्‌ दृष्ट्‌वा घार्तराष्ट्रान्‌ कपिध्वजः। प्रवृते शस्त्रसंपाते घनुरुद्यम्य पाण्डवः॥ हृषीकेशं तदा वाक्यमिदमाह महीपते॥’ – ‘Atha vyavasthitãn drushtvã Dhãrtarãshtrãn Kapidvajaha, pravrute shastrasampãte dhanurudyamya Pãndavaha. Hrusheekesham tadã vãkyamidamãha Maheepate’ – ‘When it was time to fight, seeing the sons of Dhritarashtra and the allies, Kapidhvaj Arjuna picked up his bow and said to Shri Krishna Bhagwan’ (Gita 1.20-21). (During the Pandavas’ time in the forest, Hanuman, who became pleased with Bhim, promised to stay on Arjuna’s flag and help the Pandavas in the war. Therefore, Arjuna has been referred to as Kapidhvaj – kapi means monkey and dhvaj means flag.)
Arjuna said, ‘सेनयोरुभयोर्मध्ये रथं स्थापय मेत्व्युत॥ यावदेतान्निरीक्षेहं योद्धुकामानवस्थितान्‌। कैर्मया सह योद्धव्यमस्मिन्‌ रणसमुद्यमे॥ योत्स्यमानानवेक्षेहं य एतेत्र समागताः। घार्तराष्ट्रस्य दुर्बुद्धेर्युद्धे प्रियचिकीर्षवः॥’ – ‘Senayorubhayormadhye ratham sthãpya mechyuta, yãvadetãnnireeksheham yoddhukãmãnavasthitãn, Kairmayã saha yoddhavyamasmin ranasamudyame. Yotsya-mãnãnaveksheham ya etetra samãgatãhã, Dhãrtarãshtrasya durbuddheryuddhe priya-chikeershavaha’ – ‘O Achyut (Krishna)! Take my chariot between the two armies for as long as it takes for me to have a good look at all the foes that have gathered with a desire for war. This, so that I may see who I am to fight with, and, moreover, so that I may take a good look at those who have gathered to please the evil-minded son of Dhritarashtra, Duryodhan’ (Gita 1.21-23).
Arjuna’s fearless enthusiasm to fight a fierce battle resonates in his words. He is not like Duryodhan. As soon as Duryodhan saw the Pandava army, he ran to Acharya Drona and fearfully told him to look at the Pandava army. However, on seeing the Kaurava army ready for war, Arjuna immediately raises his Gandiv bow. He does not feel the need to run off to anyone, since he has no confusion. He is clear that he wants to fight. He has no doubts, neither in himself, nor in anyone on his side. And, above all, he has complete faith in Shri Krishna. This is the mark of a true warrior. Every action should begin in this way.
Arjuna does not see Duryodhan as a great archer or maharathi, but sees him as evil-minded. Arjuna’s bitterness regarding the deceit and sins of the sons of Dhritarashtra can be seen here. So, he naturally goes for his bow. But, before taking aim with an arrow, he wants to see the ‘योद्धुकामान्‌’– ‘yoddhukãmãn’ or ‘योत्स्यमानान्‌’ – ‘yotsyamãnãn’, i.e., those ‘looking for war’. Arjuna sees these warmongers as the ‘प्रियचिकीर्षवः’ – ‘priyachikeershavaha’ of the evil-minded Duryodhan, i.e., those who want to please him. Arjuna knows well that Duryodhan is a rebel looking for war. That is why Duryodhan never agreed to the Pandavas’ repeated offers for a peaceful compromise. Moreover, he unhesitatingly and clearly stated that war was the only means for settlement. Because Duryodhan was inclined to war, the people who joined his army to please him were also looking for war, and thus Arjuna describes them accordingly. Arjuna wants to take a good look at these warmongers and so tells Shri Krishna Bhagwan, “O Achyut! Place my chariot between the armies.”

Translated by: Sadhu Paramvivekdas

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