|April 20, 2001 |
At the onset of the Mahabharat war, Arjun questions whether to fight or not. Though he was an unparalleled warrior, he had a very soft heart and upon seeing his relatives, teachers, and friends on the other side of the battlefield, his determination to fight was shaken. In the first chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, Arjun tries to convince Krishna Bhagwan through both logic and emotion that fighting is useless, even if it were to mean victory. Krishna Bhagwan does not force Arjun into a decision, but only throws light on the situation. Chapter by chapter, Krishna Bhagwan elevates Arjun. In the 11th chapter, Krishna Bhagwan demonstrates his universal divine form to Arjun. Finally, in verse 18/73 of the last chapter, Arjuna states, "My illusion is now gone. I have regained my memory by your mercy, and I am now firm and free from doubt and am prepared to act according to your instructions (karishye vachanama tava)."
With Arjun's spiritual readiness, the Mahabharat commences. However, Krishna Bhagwan had to remind Arjun of his promise to to kill Bhishmapita, when he showed the inability to do so. Meanwhile, Bhishmapita was swiftly eradicating the Pandav army. Thus Krishna Bhagwan tells Arjun that if he does not kill Bhishmapita, he would break his promise of not picking up a weapon. Bhishmapita had earlier made an inadvertent vow that he could force Krishna Bhagwan to break his promise and pick up a weapon during the war. When Krishna Bhagwan picks up a chariot wheel and runs toward Bhishmapita, the old warrior bows down to Krishna Bhagwan, realizing that Krishna Bhagwan had broken his own promise to satisfy Bhishmapita's promise. Yudhishthir had approached Bhishmapita and asked how he could be killed. Bhishmapita reveals that he could be killed if the enemy takes advantage of his vow to not fight against a woman. Thus Arjun finally approaches Bhishmapita while keeping Shikhandi (who was a half man/half woman) in front of him. Arjun assails Bhishmapita with so many arrows that he finally falls down, landing on a bed of arrows that had pierced his body.
On the other hand, when Jayadrath kills Arjun's son, Abhimanyu, Arjun immediately takes a vow that if he does not kill Jayadrath before sunset the next day, he would do agnee-snaana or kill himself by bathing in fire. When the Kauravs discover this, they make arrangements so that Arjun does not have a chance to even fight Jayadrath. Krishna Bhagwan steers the chariot through dense warriors for many miles, but by the evening, Jayadrath is still not found. As the sun is slowly setting, Arjun looks to Krishna Bhagwan. Krishna Bhagwan thus inspires a cloud to cover the sun giving the false impression of sunset. Seeing this, Jayadrath comes out from hiding to gloat over his victory. Immediately, Krishna Bhagwan removes the cloud, and Arjun does not hesitate in killing Jayadrath.
Giving the two examples (not killing Bhishma immediately and vowing to kill Jayadrath immediately) Kakaji used to say that all of us are like Arjun: we too promise to follow God's guidelines, but often succumb to our own liking!