Chapter 1. Despondency of Arjuna: Verse 28

Sanskrit Verse

कृपया परयाविष्टो विषीदन्निदमब्रवीत् |
अर्जुन उवाच |
दृष्ट्वेमं स्वजनं कृष्ण युयुत्सुं समुपस्थितम् ||


Kripayaa parayaavishto visheedann-idam-abraveet
arjuna uvaacha
drishtvemam sva-janam krishna yuyutsum samupasthitam

English Translation

(Seeing his relatives) overcome by great compassion and sorrow, thus spoke
Arjuna said: O Krishna, after seeing these relatives of mine present here in the war spirit

Commentary & Explanation

As mentioned in the previous verse, Arjuna sees his relatives of all ages on both the sides and is overcome by compassion and sorrow (at the prospect of their imminent death). Arjuna speaks to Krishna of his sorrow, "Here are all my relatives gathered eager to fight me" says Arjuna.

Arjuna had always been a great warrior he had fought 100s of wars, had killed numerous enemy warriors among various clans, on Earth and astral planes. He was never afraid to fight, nor was he ever overcome with sorrow at the sight of death and bloodshed. He was so swift and skilled that he could shoot 63 arrows in a minute and his bow would always appear to be bent. But seeing Kauravas on the other side he was overcome with great sorrow.

He saw his cousins with whom he grew up, his teachers who taught him, his well wishers, his grandfather Bhishma who loved and protected him throughout his childhood, Arjuna's attachment to them made him emotional, he could not see through the situation clearly. They were all standing there to fight him and kill him if necessary, though for the wrong reasons, but still it was the righteous Arjuna who was overcome with sorrow.

Dhritarashtra's Conspiracy: Dhritarashtra sends his loyal assistant Sanjaya to warn pandavas of the dangers of war and how renunciation would be a better alternative to fighting the war on the eve of first day of war, Sanjaya reminds Pandavas of their kith and kin that would be killed. The intention behind it was to sow the seed of doubt, magnify Arjuna's attachments, confuse him with ill-logic. Instead of chastising the unrighteous Duryodhana and telling him to stop the war by giving Pandavas their rightful inheritance, Sanjaya on behest of Dhritarashtra came to ask renunciation of Pandavas.

Arjuna was a king of heart, he was full of Love and Compassion, he always killed his enemies with a single arrow to their hearts, rather than mutilating the bodies and spilling the blood like other warriors would do, he was compassionate even to his enemies. But his compassion towards the Kauravas was misguided.

Compassion without rationality is dangerous, though compassion is a beautiful quality if it is not in the right direction it is damaging to that person and society as well.

Some examples of misguided compassion:

  • Compassion for Terrorists, habitual offenders (Rapists, murderers etc.): Some argue that terrorists are also humans and should not be punished but sent to reform homes, it is true that some can be reformed, but to assume out of irrational compassion that everyone will become good is dangerous, it is necessary to be stern and contain those who could be dangerous to larger world, it is necessary to do whatever is good for the larger world, misplaced compassion could lead to disasters.
  • 'No war Let there be peace': Some claim wars are dangerous and must be avoided at all costs, even if by giving up one's righteous claim to place, wealth and so on. Surrendering to the evil never solves problems, evil only keeps growing if unchecked. Wars are sometimes necessary. Preaching isn't an effective tool to change everyone. Different tools are effective with different people.

As a Sanskrit saying puts it:

Ahimsa Paramo Dharma, Dharma himsa tathaiva cha

Non-violence is the highest Religion(Righteousness), so is violence for the sake of Righteousness.

Note: What is Righteousness? Dharma(righteousness) is not a linear and limited idea that belief in a book or a narrow ideology can decide, Dharma has to be that which is in the highest interest of all humanity, it is not limited by religion or belief, it is a universal concept.



KripayaaWith compassion
VisheedannSorrow(n), lamenting(v)
DrishtvaOn seeing
Sva-janamKith and kin; sva=own, Jana=people
YuyutsumIn mood of battle