Chapter One—The Yoga of the Despondency of Arjuna

Dhritarashtra said:
Assembled there on dharma’s field–
Kurukshetra–desiring war,
What did my sons and the Pandus?
Do tell me now, O Sanjaya. (1)

Sanjaya said:
There then the King Duryodhana,
Seeing the Pandav forces ranged–
Ready for battle–did approach
His teacher, Drona, and did say: (2)

“Behold, O Teacher! here arrayed
This great army of Pandu’s sons,
Assembled by Drupada’s son1
Who is thine own gifted pupil. (3)

“Here are heroes, mighty archers,
Bhima and Arjuna’s equals,
The great warriors Yuyudhana,
Virata and Drupada, too. (4)

“Drishtaketu, Chekitana,
And the valiant king of Kashi,
Purujit and Kuntibhoja,
And Shaibya–all the best of men. (5)

“And courageous Yudhamanyu,
And valorous Uttamaujas–
Shubhadra’s and Draupadi’s sons–
All who are mighty car warriors.2 (6)

“Hear, too, O best of the twice-born,
Those distinguished among ourselves.
The leaders of my army here:
These now I recount unto you. (7)

“Yourself and Bhishma and Karna
And Kripa, victorious in war;
Ashwattama, Vikarna, and
Somadatta’s son: all are mine. (8)

“Also many other heroes,
Who now risk their lives for my sake,
Discharging various weapons,
All very skilled in waging war. (9)

“Impossible to count is this
Army defended by Bhishma,
But that army led by Bhima
Is very easy to number. (10)

“Stationed in your proper places,
Whatever be your positions,
Do you now all give your support
And protection unto Bhishma.” (11)

That powerful, oldest Kuru,
Bhishma, the grandsire, blew his conch
And sounded loud a lion-roar
That he might cheer Duryodhana. (12)

Following Bhishma, suddenly
Conches, kettledrums, cymbals, drums
And trumpets were sounded aloud,
So the uproar was tremendous. (13)

Then Madhava3 and Pandava,4
In the great chariot standing
That was yoked with the white horses,
Sounded forth their divine conches. (14)

Sri Krishna blew Panchajanya,
Arjuna blew Devadatta,
And Bhima of ferocious deeds,
Blew upon his great conch, Paundra. (15)

King Yudhishthira, Kunti’s son,
Blew on Anantavijaya,
Nakula and Sahadeva:
Sughosha, Manipushpaka. (16)

The supreme bowman, Kashi’s king,
And the great warrior Shikhandi,
Dhristadyumna and Virata,
And invincible Satyaki. (17)

O Lord of Earth! then Drupada,
All the sons of Draupadi, and
Subhadra’s son, the mighty-armed,
Each one blew upon his own conch. (18)

Then throughout heaven and the earth
Resounded the terrific noise
Which rent asunder all the hearts
Of those in Dhritarashtra’s ranks. (19)

Then seeing Dhritarashtra’s ranks
Standing marshalled, about to fight,
The monkey-ensigned5 Pandava,
Was impelled to take up his bow (20)

And speak unto Hrishikesha,6
O Lord of earth, these fateful words:
Arjuna said:
Achutya,7 place my chariot
In the midst between the armies (21)

So from that place I may observe
Those who are here prepared for war–
Desiring to begin battle–
And know with whom I have to fight. (22)

For I desire to observe those
Who are assembled here for fight,
Wishing to please Duryodhana
By taking his side in this war. (23)

Sanjaya said:
Commanded thus by Arjuna,
O Bharata, then Krishna drove
That grandest of all chariots
Between the two hosts, and there stopped. (24)

Thus facing Bhishma, Drona, and
The rulers of the whole vast earth,
“Behold, O Partha,”8 then He said,
“All the Kurus assembled here!” (25)

Then Pritha saw assembled there
Fathers, grandfathers, teachers, sons,
Maternal uncles, brothers, and
Grandsons as well as friends of his. (26)

The son of Kunti, seeing there
In both the armies relatives,
Fathers-in-law, and companions,
Stood and contemplated them all. (27)

Then filled with infinite pity,
And filled with despondence, he spoke:
Arjuna said:
Krishna, I see my own kinfolk
Desiring to fight approaching. (28)

Through sorrow my limbs now fail me,
My mouth is parched with grief and woe.
My body now is shivering,
My hair is standing up on end. (29)

My bow is slipping from my hand,
My skin is burning as with fire.
Nor can I even stand upright,
My mind is reeling and confused. (30)

Inauspicious omens I mark,
And not good fortune do I see,
O Keshava,9 if I destroy
My own kinsmen in this battle. (31)

Nor do I desire victory–
No, not kingship nor yet pleasures–
Kingship, enjoyments surely mean
Nothing to us, O Govinda.10 (32)

Those for whose sake we should desire
Kingship, enjoyments, and pleasures,
Array before us in battle,
Abandoning life and riches. (33)

Teachers, fathers, sons, grandfathers,
Maternal uncles, and grandsons,
Fathers-in-law, brothers-in-law,
And many other kinsmen, too. (34)

Even if they wish to kill me,
I never could wish to kill them–
Not even to rule the three worlds,
So how much less for rule of earth? (35)

Indeed, what pleasure could be ours,
From killing Dhritarashtra’s sons?
Sin only could take hold of us
If we should slay these aggressors. (36)

We are not justified to kill
Our kinsmen–Dhritarashtra’s sons–
How, having killed our own people,
Could we be happy, Madhava? (37)

Their thoughts overpowered by greed,
They see no wrong in destruction
Of family or even in
Wreaking treachery upon friends. (38)

Yet why should we, Janardana,11
Who clearly see the evil caused
By such destruction of our kin,
Not turn away from this fell sin? (39)

On destruction of families,
Their rites of dharma then die out,
From the destruction of dharma,
Adharma overwhelms them all. (40)

Overpowered by adharma
The family’s women then are
Corrupted, and from corruption
The confusion of castes arise. (41)

From caste confusion families
And their destroyers fall to hell;
Ancestors also fall without
Offerings of rice and water. (42)

The family’s destroyers’ wrongs
Produce the confusion of caste,
Then observance of caste duties
And family laws are destroyed. (43)

Have we not heard, repeatedly,
That indefinite time in hell
Accrues to those whose fam’ly laws
Have been wiped out, Janardana? (44)

Ah! Alas! we are now resolved
To do great evil with our greed
For royal pleasures for whose sake
We intend to kill our own kin. (45)

If the sons of Dhritarashtra
With weapons armed should now slay me
Though unarmed, yet that still would be
A greater happiness for me. (46)

Sanjaya said:
In the midst of the battlefield
Thus speaking, Arjun’ cast away
His bow and arrows and sank down,
His mind overcome with sorrow. (47)

Om Tat Sat
Thus in the Upanishads of the glorious Bhagavad Gita, the science of the Eternal, the scripture of Yoga, the dialogue between Sri Krishna and Arjuna, ends the first discourse entitled: The Yoga of the Despondency of Arjuna.