“O Krishna, seeing my own kinsmen standing before me, eager to fight, my limbs give way, my mouth becomes dry, my body trembles, and in the dreadful thrill of horror the hairs on my body stand aloft.”
Arjuna is not obsessed with war, but he is not against war either. And he has no aversion to violence either. In fact, his whole life’s education and training, his lifelong conditioning, is all for violence and war.
But it is worth understanding that the more violent a mind is, the more full of attachment it is. Violence and attachment live together, side-by-side. A nonviolent mind transcends attachment. In fact, one who wants to be nonviolent has to let go of the very idea of attachment. The very sense of “mine” is violence, because as soon as I say “mine”, I have begun to separate myself from that which is not mine. As soon as I address someone as a friend, I have begun to make someone else my enemy. That is why Arjuna suddenly became weak. Arjuna became weak because his mind was suddenly gripped by the other side, by the opposite side of violence; by its much deeper component, by its fundamental basis. It will be difficult to understand the whole of the Gita without first understanding this. To those who cannot understand this point, it seems as if Arjuna was actually leaning towards nonviolence and that Krishna pushed him towards violence. If someone were leaning towards nonviolence, Krishna would never want to push him towards violence. In fact, even if Krishna wanted to, he would not be able to.
Arjuna saw his own people—loved ones, relatives. Had they not been his beloved ones and relatives, Arjuna would have slaughtered them like cattle—but he found it difficult to do so because these were his own people. Had they been strangers he would have felt no difficulty in cutting them to pieces.
The truth is that, the Gita is less about what Krishna said and more about what Arjuna caused him to say. Its real author is Arjuna and not Krishna. The state of Arjuna’s mind has become the basis of the Gita. And it is clearly visible to Krishna that a violent man has reached the philosophical peak of his violence, and at the root of all this talk of running away from the violence is that same violent mind.
Dilemma is the essential way in which man is tested, and from facing this dilemma his worthiness to attain godliness is born.