By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda
drstvemam svajanam krsna
sīdanti mama gātrāni
mukham ca pariśusyati
vepathuś ca śarīre me
roma-harsaś ca jāyate
gāndīvam sramsate hastāt
tvak caiva paridahyate
“Arjuna said: My dear Krishna, seeing my friends and relatives present before me in such a fighting spirit, I feel the limbs of my body quivering and my mouth drying up. My whole body is trembling, and my hair is standing on end. My bow Gandiva is slipping from my hand, and my skin is burning.”
So Arjuna was not a coward. He was a competent warrior. But still, dehātma-buddhi, the bodily concept of life is so strong… That Arjuna admits, drstvā tu svajanam krsna: [Bg. 1.28] “My dear Krishna, I have to kill my own men.” What is that “own men”? “Own men” means this bodily relationship. Why others are not own men?
Everyone is “own man”. Because everyone is Krishna’s son. So when one becomes Krishna conscious, he can see everyone as “own man”. And when one is not Krishna conscious, he simply sees “own men” where there is bodily relationship. This is the defect.
They are advertising, humanitarian work, philanthropic work, communism, this “ism,” but when there is question of bodily relationship, immediately everything is changed. You know that in the Communist country, Khruschev was driven out because he was patronizing his own men. That was the defect. So you can advertise that “I am for everyone,” but there is affection for own men. Nepotism. It’s called nepotism. So many big, big leaders. Our Jawaharhal Nehru, he was sending his own men as ambassador. Vijaya Lakshmi, a woman, she was being sent as ambassador. She was high commissioner here. So this “own men” question is very prominent everywhere.
So Arjuna is a great warrior. He could fight all the soldiers, all the fighting men, who had assembled with fighting spirit (yuyutsu). We can very easily kill other men, even if they are not in a fighting spirit, but we hesisate when the fight involves own men, even if they are in a fighting spirit. Why? Because they are “own men”.
So this “own-manship,” in relationship with the body, is the barrier for spiritual understanding. So long this conception of life will exist, that “I am this body, and anyone who is related with this body, they are my own men, kinsmen, relatives…” This conception of life is the greatest barrier for advancing in spiritual consciousness. Therefore the Vedic civilization is so planned that one has to give up this rascal “own men” conception. That is called vairāgya.
Jnāna-vairāgya. Two things are required in human life: knowledge (jnana) and detachment (vairagya). First of all, the attachment increases. Pumsah striyā mithunī-bhāvam etam [SB 5.5.8]. This whole world is based on sex life. A man has got attraction for woman; a woman has got attraction for man. This is nature’s bondage. Shackle. And when they are actually united, either by the father, mother, or by their own way, that shackle, that attraction, increases. Hrdaya-granthim – knot in the heart. “She is my wife.” “He is my husband.” Of course, now that knot is very slack. Formerly it was very strong because the woman was not allowed to mix with any other man, and the man was also not allowed with any other woman. This intermingling has slackened even that knot, hrdaya-granthim. Therefore, even trifle cases, quarrel between husband and wife, there is divorce. Because that unity is not very strong now. That is good. Some way or other, it is slackened. So this “own-menship” comes from bodily concept of life.
So Arjuna is preparing the ground, how to receive the instruction of Bhagavad-gītā. Because spiritual instruction will begin to separate the soul from the body. Unless one understands that there is a soul different from this body, there is no spiritual education. This is the basic principle. If you do not understand “what is spirit soul”, then where is spiritual education? So Arjuna was affected. He says frankly, drstvā tu svajanam krsna yuyutsum samupasthitam: [Bg. 1.28] “What is this? I have to kill my own men.” Svajanam means own men. “No, no.” Sīdanti mama gātrāni: “Oh, I am shivering.” Mukham ca pariśusyati: “My mouth is being dried up.” We have got this experience. When there is danger, these things happen, so many symptoms.
[An excerpt from a lecture on the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Verse nos. 28 – 29 delivered in London on July 22, 1973]