Chapter 1

(Introductory note: The first chapter of the Gita sets the scene of the battle of Kuruksetra. Here King Dhirtarashtra, back in his castle, has made a request of his sage Sanjaya to use his visionary powers to detail the events of the battle. At the Battlefield, Arjuna and his brothers the Pandavas are with Krishna, ready to fight King Dhirtarashtra's sons. The chapter provides details about specific individuals involved in the battle on both sides, and culminates with Arjuna's decision not to fight.)

  1. King Dhirtarashtra said:
    In the place of pilgrimage, the place called Kuruksetra, there has assembled desiring to do battle My army, and the army of the sons of Pandu. What did they do O Sanjaya?
  2. Sanjaya said:
    After studying the deployment of the soldiers of the Pandavas, King Duryodhana [son of Dhirtarashtra] was approached at that time by his holy teacher, Bhisma. The King addressed him.
  3. Look upon the armies of the sons of Pandu, Holy teacher, great spirit. They have been arranged by the son of Drupada [Dhirstadyumna], your own best student.
  4. Here in the army are great warriors, mighty bowmen like Bhima and Arjuna, who are equal in prowess to Yuyudhanah, Virata or Drupada, also great fighters.
  5. There are also very strong heroes like Dhirstaketu, Cekitana, Kasirajah, Purujit, Kuntibhojah and Saibya. They are legends among our people.
  6. Yudhamanyu and mighty Tamaujah, and the very mighty son of Subhadra; as well as the sons of Draupadi are all certainly great charioteers.
  7. Take note of those in our forces now, best of the teachers, and tell me which among the captains of my armies are particularly powerful.
  8. Your good self, Bhisma, and also Karna and Kirpa have never lost in battle. Ashvatthama, Vikarna and the son of Somadatta are certainly great warriors as well.
  9. Others also, many heroes are prepared to risk their lives for my sake. They are equipped with variety of terrible weapons, and all of them are experienced strategists.
  10. Our strength is beyond accounting, totally defended by you, Bhisma. While the forces of the Pandavas are only well defended by Bhima.
  11. In the key fronts of the battle, also everywhere, all of us must give our respect and support to you, and assure our victory.
  12. Thus to bring joy to his army, Bhisma, grandsire of the Kuru dynasty blew his conchshell. It vibrated loudly, like the roar of a lion.
  13. In response, the Kurus rang out with conchshells and large drums, small drums and kettledrums, as well as horns. These were suddenly sounded all at once, and that combined sound became deafening.
  14. On the opposing side, on a great chariot with white horses were Krishna and Arjuna. In response, they sounded their divine conchshells.
  15. Krishna blew the conchshell named Pancajanya, and Arjuna blew the conch named Devadatta. Also, Bhima, famous for feats of strength and a voracious appetite, blew the conch named Pundra.
  16. The conch named Anantavijaya was blown by the son of Kunti, King Yuhdhisthirah. Nakula and Sahadeva blew the conchshells named Sughosa and Manipuspaka.
  17. Also the King of Kasi and great archer Sikhandi, and the great warriors Dhirstadyumna, Virata and Satyaki, who had never been defeated in combat.
  18. Drupada, the son of Draupadi as well, my king, and the son of Subhadra the great-armed. Each and all blew their conchshells separately.
  19. That vibration shattered the hearts of the sons of Dhirtarashtra and the sky and the earth were all resounding tumultuously.
  20. At that time, positioned as to be looking upon the sons of Dhirtarashtra, was he whose flag was marked with Hanuman the monkey-god, Arjuna the son of Pandu. He was preparing to fire his arrows, taking up his bow, when he suddenly spoke these words to Krishna, my king:
  21. Arjuna said:
    Most accurate one, please keep my chariot in between both of the armies, so that I might look upon all whom are ready to do battle in this place.
  22. All those with whom I will have to try to oppose in this terrible battle.
  23. Let me see those who will be fighting, those gathered here, wishing to aid the dark minded son of Dhirtarashtra.
  24. Sanjaya said:
    O son of Kings, thus addressed by Arjuna, Krishna placed the great chariot right between both of the armies.
  25. In front of Bhisma, Drona, and all the Kings of the land, he said: behold all of them, the gathered Kurus.
  26. There Arjuna saw standing his fathers and grandfathers, teachers and uncles, brothers and sons and grandsons. friends too, and in-laws and past allies. All of these were gathered in both sides, both armies.
  27. After seeing them all, the different relatives of the son of Kunti, moved by a higher compassion and overwhelmed by grief, Arjuna spoke:
  28. He said: after seeing all these, my people, all ready for battle, it makes my limbs shake and my mouth go dry, Krishna.
  29. My body trembles and my hair stands on end, my bow slips from my hand, and my skins feels as if its aflame.
  30. Also I cannot continue, I cannot just forget what is on my mind. Krishna, I see only disasters.
  31. Nor do I see any good in killing my own people in combat. Nor do I desire victory, Krishna, or the joy of ruling a kingdom.
  32. What use to us is the kingdom, Krishna? What enjoyment from living either, what happiness is there in doing this for the sake of ruling a kingdom?
  33. All of them, those here on the field of battle, would be losing their riches and lives. My teachers, fathers, grandfathers, uncles and great-grandfathers.
  34. Uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons, brothers-in-law; all these relatives I would never wish to kill. I would have to kill them, Krishna.
  35. Even if I could exchange their deaths for the Three Worlds, never mind this kingdom of the earth, what joy would there be for me, Krishna, if I must kill the sons of Dhirtarashtra?
  36. Certainly I would be in the wrong if I killed all of these opponents. I have no right to slay the sons of Dhirtarashtra, as well as my own friends and relatives. How could I ever be happy after doing such a thing, Krishna?
  37. Even if they do not see, overpowered by greed in their hearts, that killing a relative or attacking a friend are wrong acts.
  38. Why should we not know that these are wrong acts? Would not the destruction of a dynasty be a criminal act if done by those who can see the evil of it, Krishna?
  39. The destruction of a dynasty destroys the way of that society, it disrupts the eternal religion, and all the families are warped by unlawful activities and decadence.
  40. When decadence has taken place, Krishna, do not families become unhealthy? Women of the families become polluted and produce unwanted children.
  41. These unwanted children create a lawless society, destroy families. And if the family falls apart, then offerings of food and water to the ancestors stop being performed.
  42. Such flawed people, the destroyers of society and unwanted children which they create will devastate social laws and family laws for ever.
  43. Krishna, I have heard from the priests that men who ruin the family ways will reside forever in hell.
  44. I regret our strange choice to commit such terrible acts; we were driven by greed, by my desire to become a king. This has led us to try to kill our relatives.
  45. Even if I did not resist, unarmed, as the sons of Dhirtarashtra killed me on the field, it would be a better thing.
  46. Sanjaya said:
    Thus having spoken, Arjuna sat down again on the chariot, on the battlefield, putting aside his bow and arrows. He was distressed by grief in his heart.