A Song of Fortune
- A Classical Gîtâ -


Chapter 1


Despair about the battle

(1) The blind uncle and head of the family Dhritarâshthra said: "At Kurukshetra, the place of pilgrimage, my family members and my nephews the Pāndavas assembled to fight for justice, what exactly took place there, my dearest Sañjaya?"

Sañjaya said: "Duryodhana, that noble and distinguished son of yours, being faced with the forces of the assembled army in support of your nephews the Pândavas, at that time consulted his former martial teacher Dronâcarya, and said to him: (3) 'Dear master Drona, now consider this mighty army of the sons of Pându assembled here by your so very intelligent disciple the son of Drupada (Dhrishthadyumna)! (4) They managed to get together some people of stature as there are Arjuna's father-in-law Drupada as also some other great warriors like Yuyudhâna and Virâtha who are just as skilled in the art of war as Bhîma and Arjuna. (5) And we may also fear their support group of fighters consisting of Dhrishthaketu, Cekitâna, Kâs'irâja, the very powerful Purujit, Kuntibhoja and the eminent man S'aibya. (6) Yudhâmanyu, the mighty Uttamaujâ, the very powerful son of the sister of Krishna, Subhadrâ, and the sons of Draupadî: they are all truly great chariot fighters. (7) But rest assured, we are no less directly and faithfully supported by the qualities of the warriors at our side. (8) To the support of your goodness there are grandfather Bhîshma as also Karna, Kripa and As'vatthâmâ, Vikarna and the son of Somadatta who all, most certainly, are always victorious in battle as well. (9) And there are many other heroes experienced in combat who, equipped with all kinds of weapons, are prepared to risk their lives for my sake. (10) Under the care of our gray eminence, grandpa Bhîshma we have, unlimited in our opulence and influence, nothing to fear from the but limited power and control of Bhîma and his Pândava brothers. (11) Surely none of our allies will, from the undisputed sovereignty of our position, ever let you down!'

Duryodhana was glad to hear a lion's roar on the conchshell delivered by grandfather Bhîshma to the commencement of the battle. (13) Directly thereafter suddenly from all sides of the Kaurava array the sound was heard of their conches, horns and drums, which combined grew into a tumultuous uproar. (14) In response the husband of the goddess of fortune and the son of Pându sounded together their divine conches. (15-18) Krishna, the lord of the senses, blew the Pâñcajanya, Arjuna the Devadatta and the herculean Bhîma, the voracious eater, blew the great conch named the Paundra. King Yudhishthhira, the eldest Pândava, blew Ananta-vijaya while Nakula and Sahadeva blew the Sughosha and Manipushpaka. So also the conch shells were blown by the king of Kâs'î, the great archer S'ikhandî and the great warrior Dhrishthadyumna, Virâta, Sâtyaki who was never defeated and, oh King, Drupada together with all the men of Drupadî and the skillful Abhimanyu. (19) The response of their opponents, which just as tumultuous as theirs resounded in the sky and the earth, tore the hearts of the terrified Kauravas. (20) When the son of Pându, Arjuna, ready with his bow and arrows, saw how the opposition of the repressive forces of Dhritarâshthra's sons prepared to fight them in battle, he addressed the sense master, his divine friend Krishna standing at the reigns in his chariot that was marked with the flag of Hanumân.

Arjuna said: 'Please Perfect-aim, as he also called Krishna, drive the chariot to the middle of the battlefield to face the warriors who, to my support and the support of our opponents, are arrayed there for a final showdown. (23) Let me on this battlefield face my Kaurava opponents who are so convinced of their acquired privileges in pleasing that crooked Dhritarâshthra who's supposed to be our uncle.' "

Sañjaya said: "O desendant of Bharata, thus requested Krishna drove the chariot to the middle of Kurukshetra, and stopped right in between the warriors positioned there on both sides. (25) With before his eyes grandfather Bhîshma, Drona and all the leaders of the world gathered there for the unique event of the final battle, the fortunate one said: 'O son of aunt Kuntî, see how all the members of the Kaurava family are gathered here.' (26) And there at Kurukshetra, the original place of pilgrimage of the Kuru dynasty, Arjuna saw indeed standing both the parties of his fathers, grandfathers, uncles, nephews, friends, well-wishers and alike. (27) Right in the middle of them faced with the huge gathering of his family, the son of aunt Prithâ was overwhelmed by an avalanche of conflicting feelings and he stood perplexed, unable to move one more step.

Arjuna said: 'The sight of all these kinsmen, oh Krishna, my dear friend, ready to fight each other to the bone, gives me the jitters and frightens me terribly. (29) My sweat turns cold and my body refuses to obey, I don't know what to say anymore and I feel a fever burning inside. (30) The world is spinning before my eyes, I have to sit down, I'm losing it completely and see nothing in all of this, oh great beauty! (31) What's the use of killing these opposing family members! I'm not after a victory at all, Krishna, what kind of world would that lead to? (32-35) Oh friend of the women, what does world dominion mean to us? What happiness can we find in desiring a rule of our own design to hold sway over those friends and family members who have now all taken opposing positions to rule each other out to the point of extinction? They are our fathers, teachers, sons, uncles and grandfathers for God's sake! I do not wish to kill any of them, nor that they would kill any of us, oh devil's despair! Never ever I would wish such a thing, not even in my dreams! I'm not interested in a battle to defeat the sons of uncle Dhritarâshthra oh keeper of the world! (36) Such a thing of fighting your own kind wouldn't be anything less than madness! How can one become happy ending the lives of others, oh sweetest of them all? Isn't that sheer suicide? Doesn't that give bad karma?

And even if they are as blind as uncle Dhritarâshthra in denying and defying in their greed, in fighting and quarreling with friends whatever the consequences that might have; why would we, who see how sinful this all is, not turn away from such a stupendous self-betrayal oh winner of the wealth? (39) Destroying the family this way, all its traditions and hard won respect will vanish and the entirety of the remaining family will lose its sense of duty, so each and everyone will confirm. (40) With such an irresponsible attitude, dear Krishna, the women of the family will lose their respect for us. Thus fallen out of grace, no man will know who he is anymore. (41) Also the chance for a good life of our offspring will thus be spoiled because they, with us having fallen in mutual disrespect, will also fail to know how to exercise respect for or confide in any reciprocally healthy and cultured humanity any longer. (42) From these faults made by all who ruined the family, and because of which confusion rose in society, thus the righteousness of all classes and age groups will be lost. Also every good habit with the ether we had in the community will be lost. (43) As they always say: those who spoiled the traditions, oh spur of man, always turn out to land in hell. (44) Greedy for the supreme rule and its privileges we've oddly enough decided to act against our better knowledge. (45) I'd rather give up our resistance right now and grant them the victory of the battle.' "

Sañjaya said: "And so, there, right in between the armies ready on both sides, Arjuna sat down in the chariot, forgetting about the fight with a mind full of doubts and sadness."

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