‘O Achyut!’ What a fitting address! It shows Arjuna’s subtle view of his charioteer. ‘Achyut’ means one who never wavers from his state, remains stable, calm and unagitated. Arjuna knows well about the ups and downs of life, and about the distractions caused by the good and bad feelings that arise due to such incidents. Moreover, in these days of war, he has experienced many waves of emotion caused by them. Along all of this, he has also noticed something extraordinary in his very close friend, Shri Krishna Bhagwan. It was an innate quality of Shri Krishna to remain calm and collected in any situation, without even the slightest agitation. Arjuna had experienced this natural quality time and time again. Even now, on the verge of war, when he himself is subject to the enthusiasm and overwhelming atmosphere of the battlefield, he sees that Shri Krishna is completely calm and collected, like a mountain resting at the bottom of the ocean. He knows that Shri Krishna is enthusiastic but he is not controlled by that enthusiasm, and therefore he addresses him with the words ‘O Achuyta’.
Describing what Arjuna’s charioteer, Shri Krishna, did on hearing Arjuna’s eager words, Sanjaya says, ‘एवमुक्तो हृषीकेशो गुडाकेशेन भारत। सेनयोरुभयोर्मध्ये स्थापयित्वा रथोत्तमम्॥ भीष्मद्रोणप्रमुखतः सर्वेषां च महीक्षिताम्। उवाच पार्थ पश्यैतान् समवेतान् कुरूनिति॥’ – ‘Evamukto Hrusheekesho Gudãkeshena Bhãrata, senayorubhayormadhye sthãpayitvã rathottamam. Bheeshmadronapramukhataha sarveshãm cha maheekshitãm, uvãcha Pãrtha pashyaitãn samavetãn kurooniti’ – ‘O Dhritarashtra! After being told thus by gudãkesha Arjuna, Shri Krishna Bhagwan took the chariot between the two armies, especially in front of Bheeshma, Dronacharya and the other kings, and thence said, “O Partha! Take a look at these Kauravas who have gathered (for war)” ’ (Gita 1.24-25).
As instructed by Shri Krishna, Arjuna begins to take a look at the opposing army, and from this moment the situation takes a new turn. What happened then was so natural that no one even sensed it. The event did not even take a long time; it happened in a matter of seconds. Surprisingly, the change was due to no one else but Arjuna. Yes, the enthusiastic warrior Arjuna – the very Arjuna who was ready and armed with his gandeev (bow); the Arjuna who had Hanuman on his flag; the very Arjuna who had Shri Krishna Bhagwan himself as his charioteer.
Whatever happened was a result of the way in which Arjuna had seen and the attitude with which he had seen. Describing what he saw, how he saw it, and with what attitude, Sanjaya says to Dhritarashtra, ‘तत्रापश्यत् स्थितान् पार्थः पितृëनथ पितामहान्। आचार्यान् मातुलान् भ्रातृëन् पुत्रान् पौत्रान् सखी´स्तथा॥ श्वशुरान् सहृदश्र्चैव सेनयोरुभयोरपि। तान् समीक्ष्य स कौन्तेयः सर्वान् बन्घूनवस्थितान्॥ कृपया परयाविष्टो विषीदन्निदमब्रवीत्।’ – ‘Tatrãpashyat sthitãn Pãrthaha pitroonatha pitãmahãn, ãchãryãn mãtulãn bhrãtroon putrãn pautrãn sakheenstathã. Shvashurãn sahrudashchaiva senayorubhayorapi, tãn sameekshya sa Kaunteyaha sarvãn bandhoonavasthitãn, krupayã parayãvishto visheedanniramabraveet.’ – ‘There, Arjuna, the son of Prutha, saw his forefathers, grandfathers, teachers, uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, friends, in-laws and dear ones on both sides. On seeing all his relatives present there, and after having seen them well, he, becoming extremely emotional, said in despair…’ (Gita 1.26, 27, 28).
The words ‘krupayã parayã’ have been used here for infatuation. The hidden infatuation within Arjuna has surfaced. It has captured that Arjuna has a soft corner for his relatives. As a result, his courage is subdued, his skills forgotten, his warrior instincts dissolved. His genius and intelligence seem to have lost direction. Emotions have taken control and despair has made its home. ‘Krupayã parayãvishto visheedan’ – ‘Where there is infatuation there is despair.’ The Bhagavad Gita has summarized everyone’s cause of misery in one line.
REACTION OF THE INFATUATED
In this infatuated state Arjuna then said, ‘दृष्ट्वेमं स्वजनं कृष्ण युयुत्सुं समुपस्थितम् ॥ सीदन्ति मम गात्राणि मुखं च परिशुष्यति। वेपथुश्र्च शरीरे मे रोमहर्षश्र्च जायते॥ गाण्डीवं संस्रते हस्तात् त्वक्चैव परिदह्यते। न च शक्नो यवस्थातुं भ्रमतीव च मे मनः॥’ – ‘Drushtvemam svajanam Krushna yuyutsum samupasthitam. Seedanti mama gãtrãni mukham cha parishushyati, vepathushcha shareere me romaharshashcha jãyate. Gãndeevam sansrate hastãt tvak chaiva paridahyate, na cha shaknomyavasthãtum bhramteeva cha me manaha.’ – ‘O Krishna! Seeing my relatives willing to fight, my limbs are weakening, my mouth is drying up, my body shakes and my hairs stand on end. My gandeev (bow) is slipping from my hands and my fingers burn. I can no longer stand; it is as if I am dizzy’ (Gita 1.28-30).
This was the reaction to the infatuation by which he was overwhelmed. The force of his emotions took root. His thoughts became disturbed. As a result, he was also physically affected by this disturbance. His powerful limbs lost their vitality. His shining, courageous face, became lacklustre. His imposing, rock-like body trembled. The mighty archer did not have the energy to even lift his bow. The fire of anguish permeated his every pore and his steadfast mind lost its balance.
To understand the reality of life, this event should be analyzed in detail.
It is difficult to understand infatuation directly, but it can be understood by its effects on one’s inner thoughts. And it is the effect on these thoughts that have a physical, observable effect on the body. Thus, this demonstrates the close bond between one’s inner traits and the physical body.
Were Arjuna’s limbs really weak? Why did his mouth suddenly become dry? Was this his first war? Was he a coward that he began to tremble on the battlefield? Why did the raised bow suddenly slip from his hand? What were the factors that placed even Arjuna in such a situation? The answer to all these questions: the force of his emotions.
It is good to acquire skills. Some become singers, some become artists, some excel in science, while some attain fame in sports. Here, Arjuna is renowned for his knowledge of weapons (astra-shastra). However, all these abilities are merely skills. Merely developing skills does not guarantee completion of one’s work. It is a different matter altogether to fight against inner emotions.
It is generally observed that no matter how skillful a person may be, he succumbs to the force of emotions generated by his innate nature. Thus, his skills remain unused and his emotions predominate. As a result, knowingly or unknowingly, inappropriate actions are performed. One becomes angry, makes unachievable promises, uses unacceptable language, becomes quarrelsome, is unable to make decisions and becomes devoid of all thoughts. He becomes despondent, and either does not eat or eats voraciously. He either does not like to talk or talks continuously. He is either unable to sleep or sleeps excessively. When this happens repeatedly, the body becomes affected by many new illnesses and becomes weak. He does not have the willpower to do any work and is easily bored. His tolerance is reduced. He does not like to be anywhere, to do anything, or to be with anybody. He smoulders like a half-burnt log. He becomes depressed and does not even feel like living. As a result, when overcome by emotion, he may even commit suicide. Thus, the implications of uncontrollable emotions are unpredictable.
Also, he is deluded by an intense feeling of inferiority, and claims to be unable to do things which he is, in fact, capable of doing. From this, he slowly develops a false attitude that this work is not worth doing and attempts to justify this point. Many of these attributes have been experienced by all types of people.
On this occasion, Arjuna is experiencing such a situation. The dormant infatuation suddenly attacks and weakens his thoughts. And such weak thoughts have sapped his body of strength and stability, making him weak. His skills and courage are eclipsed by the inner force of emotions.
Translated by: Sadhu Paramvivekdas