The Geeta and the Swadharma by Vinoba Bhave Summary in English
The Gita is a wonderful epic. It was set in the Mahabharata. Its message was unveiled in the battlefield, with seven divisions of the Pandava army on one side and eleven divisions of the Kaurava army on the other.
The Gita was preached by Lord Krishna before Arjuna on the battlefield. The Geeta has always been inspiring generations for their sense of beauty. It helps us to transcend all the worldly associations within our duties. This helps us to do our job without favouritism. The Geeta asks us only ‘Karma’ and ‘Swadharma’ to believe. If there’s something between us and our swadharma, Geeta is trying to remove these delusions.
Arjuna was a Kshatriya. He knew to fight in war very well. The intrinsic tendency to fight was still very much a part of his nature. War was for him his natural and inescapable duty. He had slain innumerable Warriors in many a battle. But he was trying to avoid war under the spell of delusion i.e., attachment of his close friends and relatives. Even Krishna tried himself to meditate, but all of this was in vain. And Arjuna was eventually on the battlefield to fulfil his mission of waging war with the Kauravas. He had made Krishna his charioteer.
He was thronged by many mighty kings. But before he could begin the fight he had a close look at the people who had gathered in the battlefield. He wanted to see all those faces against whom he had to start a battle and found his loved ones on both sides. Now it was not easy for him to fight against his own people. The actual sight of all his relatives standing there ready to fight had a devastating impact on Arjuna’s mind. So, he lost his nerve and there was deep anguish in his heart. For him, it was disgusting to fight with his own people. A question arises here. If those standing before him had not been his relatives, would Arjuna have felt the same pain? Of course not.
It means his commitment and attachment to his kith and kin do not allow him to fight. This relation to the kith and to the family clouds his sense of obligation. He says to Krishna that he is not going to go for war. War is never nice because the entire clan is lost and there is complete destruction and loss.
The arguments of Arjuna were not baseless. The point, however, was that he did not express his own authentic didi. His words seemed wise, but they were not. This was realised by Lord Krishna and his delusion was dismissed by ignoring all his(Arjuna’s) arguments. He was well aware that Arjuna was not the man who believed in non-violence. War was his natural and unavoidable obligation for him. But because he was in the spell of delusion he was trying to avoid it. He would be ready to fight with all energy when this delusion is removed.
Lord Krishna preached the Gita to eradicate the delusion that lied between us and our Swadharma. Arjuna was uncertain about his Dharma. He was overcome by the illusion of his Swadharma. Krishna criticized him harshly so that he could not ignore the call of duty. And at the end of the Gita, Arjuna was utterly disillusioned. He realised what his Swadharma was. Thus, the avoidance of deceit is the core message of this lesson.
Questions and Answers
Q. Why did Arjuna ask Krishna to place the chariot between the two armies?
Ans. Arjuna asked Krishna to take his chariot between the two armies because he wanted to look at the people closely who had assembled there to fight with him. He wanted to see all those faces against whom he had to start a battle.
Q. What made Arjuna lose his nerve?
Ans. When Arjuna’s chariot was placed between the two armies so that he could have a close look at all those people whom he had to fight, he got nervous. He found all his near and dear ones on both sides. He found four generations of his own people intend on fighting to the finish. The actual sight of all his relatives standing there ready to fight had a devastating impact on Arjuna’s mind. So, he lost his nerve and there was deep anguish in his heart.
Q.12. What proved that Arjuna had not become a votary of nonviolence?
Ans. Arjuna had not really become a votary of nonviolence. Being a Kshatriya, fighting was in his blood. The intrinsic tendency to fight was still very much a part of his nature. War was for him his natural and inescapable duty. He had slain innumerable Warriors in many a battle. But he was trying to evade war under the spell of delusion i.e., attachment of his close friends and relatives.