During the great Bharat war, lots of people assume Arjun was unmanned at the
last minute, by seeing his family in front of him.
But this can not be the reason for his desire to retire from the war. Its not as if it suddenly dawned on him that his family was there in front of him ! Its not as if this is the first time he met them in war either. Only months before, he fought them dressed as a eunuch !
So what stopped him now ?
Arjun always knew his cousins and other family members needed to be eliminated for him and his brothers to have a peaceful life. The final battle was long in planning and had its roots in the childhood play of the princes as they vied with each other to "win" - at any cost !!!!
So what stopped him now ?
Arjun wasn't unmanned by seeing cousins he hated or elders he loved either.
In his own words in the opening
speech, he says he was unmanned by the “unintended consequences of war” on those
who must live after - the women and children.
Non-combatants, who have to try and live without a breadwinner or a
protector for decades to come.
Arjun was unmanned by the embassy of Dhritrastra's minister cum charioteer – Sanjay. Sanjay is the person who recites the epic Gita to his king and master. Months before the war, Sanjay came to the Pandavas camp to discourage them from war. The points he makes, are the same points Arjun makes - word for word !! By repeating them to his king, Sanjay is trying to make a point, convince his master, proving to his liege, that his embassy wasn't wasted. His words had the intended impact on even the best of Pandav warriors - Arjun ! The great warrior was unmanned at the last minute by "his" (Sanjay's) words !! Sanjay wanted his king to know, if Krushna hadn't been there, ideas he had planted in Arjun's head would have borne fruit.
Let us remember, even the
SMB Gita we have right now is one man’s rendition of what went on in that
vast war. One man’s conversation
with his master. Sanjay’s
recollection, no matter how perfect, are bound to be coloured by his own
prejudices and biases.
Main thread of the Gita's advise to Arjun was that performing one's duty is of paramount importance.
Clint Eastwood said it in his own way - "A man's got to do what a man's got to
do. If a man don't do what a man's got to do, what a man's got to do don't
Krushna also got Arjun to see, his own nature - that of a hot blooded warrior and a prince. Krushan told Arjun that if not today, he will be enticed to fight in the future. It was innate in his nature. By postponing that eventful day, he wasn't doing anyone any favours and only prolonging the inevitable.
Krushna reminded Arjun that if he did not fight today, his future battles would
be tainted with the shame of having abandoned his duty at Kurushetra. His brothers had pinned all their
hope of winning on Arjun’s word that he could do it. If he failed to live up to his word
today, no one would ever trust him again.
Krushna reminded Arjun that this was a battle for the good over evil. It had to be fought. If you fail to stand up for good, you are guilty of letting evil corrupt the world. As someone has said rather eloquently, evil prevails when the good refuse to stop it.
Wheels of karma were already in motion and too many karmic bonds needed to be
completed by this battle. Arjun or no Arjun, this battle was going to go
ahead. Arjun could be a part of it and be victorious, or be abstain from
it and earn eternal shame. Having
gathered so many warriors here, it wasn't going to be possible to put it off.
Death was already in the air. It would not / could not be staved off.
Life is like that. Sometimes you have a chance to be part of some thing great. If you give up, you loose that chance - sometimes forever.