By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda
“There Arjuna could see, within the midst of the armies of both parties, his fathers, grandfathers, teachers, maternal uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, friends, and also his father-in-law and well-wishers—all present there. When the son of Kunti, Arjuna, saw all these different grades of friends and relatives, he became overwhelmed with compassion and spoke thus.”
[Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 1, verse nos.26 and 27]
This is the problem. Now Arjuna is facing the problem. What is this problem? Suppose you bring all my friends, my relatives, my sons, grandsons, my father-in-law, brother-in-law, friends, my animals… So all of them were present now. And the problem is that Arjuna has to kill them. It is a family fight.
So some of the family members on the other side, and some of the family members on this side. ‘So who are on the other side?’ Bhishmadeva, pitāmaha, his real grandfather. He is on the other side. Dronacharya, his teacher, he is on the other side. They had to be respected. Actually Arjuna did so. Before fighting with Dronacharya, he first of all threw one arrow on his lotus feet as obeisances. This is the etiquette. “My dear sir, you have taught me this fighting science, now it is being used against you. Duty. So I offer my obeisances.” And Dronacharya also, threw another arrow, touching his head: “My dear boy, become blessed.” This is duty. How blessed? “By killing me. I know you will kill me, so I give you blessings that you (may) kill me.” This is duty. The disciple is fighting, touching the feet of Dronacharya: “My dear sir, it is duty. Now we are face to face to fight. So give me your blessing.” This is one side. The other side, blessing, “Yes, you have my all blessings.”
So this is the problem. This material world is problematic, especially when we have got these family relationships. “Society, friendship, and love, divinely bestowed upon man.” They say. (laughs) But, it is not divinely bestowed. It is not. It is entanglement. Dehāpatya…
So here is the problem. Because we are attached to our so-called family, society, friendship and love… When Arjuna was faced (with this problem), he became (compassionate and spoke), “O Krishna, How it is possible that I have to kill the other side, my fathers, my father-in-law, my grandfather, my sons, my grandsons, my brother, my so many friends?” So it is natural. He became overwhelmed with compassion (and spoke) very morosely. “Oh, Krishna, I will have to fight with them. I will have to kill them.”
Why this consciousness came? The other side also, Duryodhana, why did he not think in that way? Why is Arjuna thinking (in this way)? Because he is a devotee. That is the difference. A devotee thinks like that. A devotee does not like to kill anyone, even an ant. Why he should be encouraged to kill his friends? A devotee is like that. Yasyāsti bhaktir bhagavaty akincanā sarvair gunais tatra samāsate surāh [SB 5.18.12]. This is the result of devotional life.
Arjuna was insulted. Arjuna (was made bereft of) all his belongings. Arjuna was banished for thirteen years. His wife was insulted. So many atrocities were done to him. Still, when the question of killing came, he was not very happy: This is Vaishnava. He is ready to excuse even the greatest enemy.
But Krishna does not want. If you insult His devotee, the devotee may excuse, but Krishna will not excuse. This is Krishna’s position. Therefore be careful to insult a devotee. A devotee may excuse you. But Krishna will not excuse you. Krishna is so strict. He cannot tolerate any insult to His devotee. Therefore this arrangement of fighting. Arjuna wanted, “No, let them be excused.” Krishna wanted, “No, you must fight. You must kill them.” This is the position. So he is within the dilemma. Krishna is insisting that “You must fight and kill them,” but he is thinking, “How shall I kill my kinsmen?” This is the problem.
Therefore, … if you want to please Krishna, then you have to be prepared for killing your so-called relatives. If you want Krishna. If you want to please Krishna. So this whole Vedic civilization is made just to train how you can be detached from this so-called family affection. This is Vedic training.
[An excerpt from a lecture delivered on the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 1 verse 26-27 in London on July 21, 1973]