Arjun, who was all geared up for the battle, suddenly develops cold feet, when he sees his teachers like Dronacharaya, Bhishm Pitamah and scores of relatives and friends in the Kaurav army. He is suddenly gripped with fear, deep pity and sorrow at the prospect of having to fight and possibly kill the opponents whom he personally knows.
He laments to Krishn on the futility of fighting this war. After hearing his arguments, Krishn gives him a strong tonic of strength to steer him out of this aggrieved mental condition, in the ‘Bhagwad Gita’.
In the ‘Gita’, chapter 2, Krishn says: ‘Where have you got this chicken-heartedness from? Don’t fall prey to it. It is very unmanly. And it does not befit you. This is against your heroic nature.’
He further adds: ‘Give up this weakness of the heart. Stand up and face your problems.’
This message relayed to Arjun in the intense battlefield of Kurukshetra is of tremendous significance to the Arjun in all of us. We are trying to overcome a situation we have never faced. Out of the many tales of courage, there are many stories of people across the world not being able to tide over the various obstacles. The rising tide of coronavirus infections, work-from-home phenomenon, living life on the edge every day, not finding employment, and many more adverse situations have upset our mental equilibrium.
To the entire humanity that is struggling to come to terms with this altered framework of life, Krishn’s message rings loud and clear.
Swami Ranganathananda, the 13th president of the Ramakrishna Mission, in his commentary on this verse of the ‘Gita’ says: “The phrase ‘this does not befit you’ can be a brilliant maxim for professionals, students, teachers and parents dealing with various challenging situations.” The positive bent of the statement can bring out the best in people. It is a great clarion call to re-inforce our beliefs in the tremendous possibilities of human life.
The challenge is tougher, since we are not naturally tuned to the fact that life will have both, the rough and smooth moments. Therefore, the ‘confronting challenge’ aspect of our character stays a little under-developed. Reactions from our inner world to situations in the battlefield of life are akin to the nervousness Arjun develops during the Mahabharat.
As Swami Vivekanand put it: Neither money pays, nor name, nor fame, nor learning; it is character that can cleave through adamantine walls of difficulties. Therefore, stand up, be bold, be strong. Take the whole responsibility on your own shoulders and know that you are the creator of your own destiny.
Like it was Arjun’s responsibility to fight, all of us have to stand up and face the crisis, boldly.
Steve Jobs had to face the cruel blow of having to leave a company he founded. He was fired by someone he had once hired. He faced it boldly and came back with a tremendous force. He did not let an adverse situation wear him down.
Let this crisis be a platform to stir us from within and leapfrog us into accessing the higher reaches of our personality. Let us all break free the internal chains that are holding us back. Let us stand up and face our fears. Better times are ahead. Let us believe whole-heartedly in the maxim, this too shall pass.