Arjuna said my dear Krishna seeing my friends and relatives present before me in such a fighting sprit I feel the limbs of my body quivering & my mouth drying up.

Any man who has genuine devotion to the lord has all the good qualities which we found in godly person or in the demigod whereas the non devotee however advanced he  may be  in material qualification, by education and culture lack these godly qualities. As such Arjuna just after seeing his kinsmen, friends and relatives in the battlefield who is advanced, overwhelmed by compassion for them who had so decided to fight amongst themselves. As far as his soldiers are concerned, he was sympathetic from beginning, but he felt compassion even for the soldiers of the opposite party, foreseeing their imminent death. And while he was so thinking, the limbs of his body began to quiver, & his mouth became dry. He was more or less astonished to see their fighting spirit. Practically the whole community, all blood relatives of Arjuna, had come to fight with him. This overwhelmed a kind devotee like Arjuna. Although it is not mentioned here, still one can easily imagine that not only were Arjuna’s bodily limbs quivering and his mouth drying up, but he was also crying out of compassion. Such symptoms in Arjuna were not due to weakness but due to soft heartedness, characteristic of pure devotee of the Lord. It is said therefore:

“One who has unflinching devotion for the Personality of Godheads all the good qualities of the demigods. But who is not a devotee of the Lord has only material qualifications..” (5:18:12)

Arjuna is here exhibiting natural quality of a genuine devotee of the lord by association with the Supreme lord, the qualities of the god manifest within our hearts. Therefore Arjuna who is the dear friend of the lord in constant association with the lord is demonstrating here the most important of all godly qualities, qualities of selfless compassion & forgiveness. It is easy to be kind upon person who are kind to you, but show love & kindness to those who are cheated you, those who are tried to murder you & to those who have  come with specific reason of  destroying you & killing you. This is not a quality of ordinary man but we find that Arjuna is displaying these qualities. And Srila Prabhupada is explaining that this is not due to weakness. As a Kshatriya Arjuna was ready willing to fight this war. For Kshatriya war like this is the most glorious opportunity in person’s life. The war dedicated to religious principal, if you win you conquer the world, if you die you attend the heaven. So therefore from the social point of  view and from his own personal inclination this war is combination of high point of his life. But from his natural tendency not as a Kshatriya but as a Vaishnava , devotee, he is willing to put aside his own likes & dislikes knowing that god’s love and god’s compassion is most magnanimous in forgiving. Therefore he could not tolerate the path not for himself but for them. Of course the good fruits come from good tree. So, this quality of Arjuna also found in most exhaulted degree in his own mother Srimati Kuntidevi.

In Srimad Bhagvatam First canto we read the beautiful story which exhibited this most wonderful quality of Lords Devotee. Here we are reading, what is taken place just before the battle of the Kurukshetra. Arjuna ultimately was convinced by Krishna to fight. After Krsna explained him this is the greatest compassion offer to the Relatives. Do not fight for the kingdom, you must fight for the truth. If they are not killed every one in the side of Duryodhana will suffer endlessly in hellish condition due to the offenses they have committed. But if they died in god’s presence in the battlefield then they will all be transported to the spiritual world Vaikuntha. So what is the greatest act of compassion, & therefore Arjuna was ultimately convinced, to fight on the basis of the faith & trust in God’s Compassion.

He was not fighting out of the revenge. He was fighting out of love. We see the tendency of all of us, if we become influenced by social, moral consideration, if we pleased someone, you are showing love for him but actual love is to act in such a way for the betterment of that person, even if you  are utterly displeased him. Duryodhana, his false ego would be far more pleased if Arjuna whatever says that I will not fight, please take this kingdom, all is yours. That is what Duryodhana wanted, but by acting in such a way he would have been pleased to the ego of Duryodhana. What he is doing he is pleasing the great enemy of  Duryodhana’s own soul, his false ego & pride. If a person has typhoid, according to the Ayurvedic principle, he is not allowed to eat any solid food. Although the hunger still remains, so person says please I am hungry give me food. If you give him food he will be considering you as a great friend, but in process of your feeding, that, you kill that person. Whereas  if you do not give food to that person you would become that person’s enemy, but you are the friend of that person’s soul, you save his life. So Krishna was explaining to Arjuna in this reference that  I am very pleased & proud of your selfless compassion even to your enemy who want to kill you & you only want their good, but I am going to explain you the Bhagvad Gita so you  know only good of these people, not by satisfying the illusion of their material sentiments, which ultimately cause them frustration & suffering. But tell them the truth. The truth is that all living beings are part of Krsna. If our actions don’t help the person, come closer to god, we are that person’s enemy however they love us & adore us for satisfying their ego & their senses.

So in Bhagvad Gita, Krsna convince Arjuna to fight out of love & compassion, thus promoting these evil minded persons to spiritual world. After the battlefield of kurukshetra when battle came to an end, something very interesting took place. He saw Dronacharya who was killed by Drushtadyumna unfairly, He sat down with bows and arrows he taken out his armor, he gave up his Kshatriya tendency & like real bramhana, that he sat down for meditation, right on his chariot, that time Drushtadyumna ran for him & severed his head with his sword. When Ashwathama the son of Dronacharya heard this he was furious & he was outraged. And by all means he thirsted revenge. After Duryodhana was defeated and his armies were liberated, they finally accepted defeat at the hand of Pandavas. Ashwathama was hiding in forest with Kripacharya & kritvarma, the truth was made and in Pandava’s army, has few were left they were only handful, they were so exhausted from eighteen days were sleeping in their tents, At that time Ashwathama convinced the other that whoever in those tents must be killed. Krsna, Satyaki & five Pandavas have left earlier to go to Hastinapur to announce to their elders that war has ended. While remaining soldiers were soundly sleep in great exhaustion, the three warriors headed by Ashwathama entered the tent & slaughtered every one of them while they were sleeping. The five sons of Draupadi and the Pandavas were amongst them. Draupadi had five children, one from each of the Pandava brother.

So Ashwathama was very proud of his heinous act and he decided to take the severed heads of these five young children, they were tin agers at that time, & He take them to Duryodhana who was hiding , suffering due to broken spine. He said Duryodhana that I have killed the five Pandavas. Duryodhana was very happy to hear that. He said I have brought their heads. Duryodhana was so much in pain he could not even  see what in his hand, he touch the heads he felt that they were very soft. He understood that these were  not the Pandava brothers. These are small children of the Pandavas. Even Duryodhana orderly disgusted, how you could have killed these children, get out of my sight, and get away.

When news came back to Arjuna & to Draupadi, that their five beloved children has been killed in cruel & unfair way, Draupadi began to cry & weep like a mother has lost only children, all five simultaneously. And of course the Pandavas were furious & Krsna told Arjuna that Ashwathama must be killed for what he has done & Arjuna who became like fire He said to Draupadi, that Draupadi by the end of the day you will be standing on the head of Ashwathama, this Demon, this rascal, who has killed our helpless children in their sleep. So boarding in his chariot he chased after Ashwathama.

Ashwathama saw Krsna driving the chariot with Arjuna, His eyes Red like coil with anger, Ashwathama began to run for life. He boarded in his chariot and want as fast as he could but He was no match with the chariot driving of Sri Krishna. When he is got tired and he realized that he is at the verge of the death, Ashwathama in great fear of his life not knowing what to do & what not to do. Through Chanting of Vedic mantra he invoke the powerful Bramhastra weapon, which is the most powerful of material weapon. He  threw the water, then he chanted the proper mantra. This weapon is like the weapon of modern warfare. It has the same basic principal of destruction of the atomic bomb. But it is far more powerful & very accurate, it is operated on very subtle material level, Only those who have protected the mystic science can invoke such weapons. It went into the sky blazing like the sun & when Arjuna saw it is directly coming to him, he become very bewildered & fearful, It is not surprising but if you see the quality of the great devotee, it is not that he is never fearful, as he knows exactly where to go & fear strives, therefore he is fearless.

Abhaya Charanarvind Re.

when we turn to Krsna, you become fearless. And these conditions are only benedictions in the skies to help us turn to Krsna, with complete shelter i.e. lotus feet is only object of meditation. So Arjuna turn to Sri Krishna, what is this happening? What am I to do? This vehicle of massive destruction heading for us, and within second it will strike. Then Krsna explained, this is the deadly Brahmastra, Ashwathama, he deserves to be punished. Therefore what you have to fear?  You have the power to counteract with another Brahmastra. We see the fact is, within around our own heart soul itself is perfectly in transcendental position & has all power to counteract all opposition in our life. But unless we surrender to Krsna it is not revealed to us, our own strength & our own glories. So after being enlightened by Sri Krsna this great Bramhastra of Arjuna went into air, when two met it created such heat & might, which felt throughout the entire universe. And then Ashwathama who had been defeated, sees by Arjuna & like animal he was tied with the ropes. And Krishna said He is murderer, kill him. But Arjuna could understand that what Krsna was doing, he is testing his Vaishnava qualities.

The greats souls they understand the real import of the words & actions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He knew that, if he wanted to simply give into his anger, then it will be very easiest thing to kill this deserving person, but he understood Krsna, his higher purpose. He did not kill Ashwathama, & then he pleased Krsna for higher purpose. He brought his enemy to the feet of Draupadi, threw him down to the ground. Draupadi who was in the process of crying to the will of the death of her five only children. When she saw Ashwathama she immediately could recognize, that she was the son of their teacher, the military guru & he was the Bramhana. Then Draupadi to everyone’s surprise, with all respect she offered her humble obeisance’s to Ashwathama. Then she said he is great soul, How can you keep & tied him like an animal, release him immediately. Everything you know about fighting as a Kshatriya, this is your occupation you learnt from his father. And when the father is dead & then father leaves his son, therefore it is the duty in all respect, to show respect to one’s Superior. This is the representative of Drona, our guru, we must release them. And Beside this Draupadi revealed her heart. No one can understand a Mother, her grief at the loss of her son. Only a Mother herself who has been put into such a situation, begin to imagine the sadness, no one else.

She explained that I am suffering such atonement within my heart at the lost of my only children. And the Wife of Drona, Kripi, the sister of Kripa, her husband is dead. Out of custom she should have to enter into the flame of her husband at the time of funeral. But it is explained that when son is surviving the wife is not to enter into the flame of her husband. Because it is said when husband leaving to the son, still she has her husband. That Kripi was very gentle, noble & glorious lady by nature, the ocean of good qualities. Her husband is dead & if she suffer the loss of her only son, she would be under the same mental position, as me. And I cannot bear, tolerate the thought of her having to suffer the pain, which, I am feeling within my heart. We cannot do that to her. Whatever her son has done, that is another thing. We cannot inflict this pain in her heart, and such a great soul, in Kripi, his mother. This is the natural quality of the Vaishnava. Par Dukha Dukhi. Or it is said the golden rule, Do unto others, as you want them to do to you. She was thinking beyond the offense of Ashwathama. Beyond her natural tendency for revenge. She only seeing how we can best honor his mother.

When Yudhisthir hear her words, he was in complete agreement, that yes, What Draupadi is speaking is true, we must release him, although his own son was also killed. And Nakula, Sahdev, Arjuna & Krsna they all unanimously agreed what Draupadi is saying with full love & it is truth, we must be released. For one person did not agreed at all and that was Bhima. Bhima said that he must be killed the scout Rotes Rascal he must be killed now, And He was about to kill him. It is explained that time Arjuna, he did not know, what to do? Am I to kill him, please Bhima, & Break the heart of Draupadi? Or am I not to kill him, Please Draupadi, He was completely disappointed seeing wrath of Bhima. Because they both are perfectly correct. It is explained in the shastra that one who sets your house on fire, steals your property, abducts your wife, or attacks with deadly weapon, such aggressors, you have every right to kill them. And certainly Ashwathama was an aggressor. But at the same time a Vaishnava is always forgiving.

So Draupadi was correct & Bhima was correct from different angle & vision. And they completely disagreed. Sometimes peoples are under the illusion, that all great scents agree on everything, but here we find that two these Nityasiddhas, Personal Associates of Lord in total disagreement & both are pleasing Krsna perfectly by their opinions. Because you see, even amongst most exhaulted devotees has their natural characteristics. Bhima was a Kshatriya and warrior, therefore, his tendency was justice with the sword, But Draupadi was mother, we do not expect the mother who have same characteristics as a warrior. As a motherly person, she was thinking in terms of respect to another motherly person, So they both correct & Arjuna was in dilemma what to do & he approach Krsna as Chaturbhuja, which means one who has four hands, because that time Krishna, who has two hands, he manifested his form Narayana, with four hand, two hand to pacify Draupadi & two hand to hold back Bhima. And He told Arjuna, that we must satisfy both of them, & he revealed to Arjuna, the way, how? Because for a Kshatriya Dishonor is worse than death. Therefore what he did is, He cut of the jewel on the head of Ashwathama & he cut of his hair, which is an act of humiliation, & with that act of humiliation, Ashwathama felt the pain of dishonor what was worse than death. But still  because his body is existing, His mother did not feel any loss.

We find here in this beautiful narration, many wonderful examples, of the heart of great souls. Draupadi was seeing that Drona, the Guru was leaving to a son & in Vedic culture, it is the natural quality to all these to honor to the spiritual master. In this regard Prabhupada explain that this is most Important Principal of Human Society. To give honor & respect to great soul. Without this we can develop no good qualities in our life, true good quality. However expert we may be, however learned we may be, however powerful we may be. If we do not properly give honor & respect to great souls, nothing we do any significance in the eyes of God. The culture, the spiritual  culture of India is based on this principal, Humility, before person who is closed to God. And what is humility mean? what is respect really mean? It is not means saying superficially just say Namaste. Respect to superior persons means that you know better than me.

In Vrindavan one time, Srila Prabhupada, This in 1976, He was sitting in his room & one of his disciples approached him. This disciple was personally trained by Srila Prabhupada. In under his Gurudev’s Training he became very sincere Devotee. And His service was to help read the Sanskrit sections from Prabhupada’s Books & in the process he became learned in Sanskrit & thus he began to read so many deeply philosophical books in Sanskrit Language. Of course, Queen Kunti explains that the tendency for one who has high birth, good education, physical beauty & strength, then person becomes proud. So this person, despite so many warnings from his Guru, He became very proud. So when he approached Prabhupada, He said, Gurudev,  I want to take your permission & get your blessings that I may accept another spiritual master who can teach me something higher & greater than your teachings. So Srila Prabhupada said to him, He explained that to think you know more than your Spiritual Master is a great offense, & to reject the spiritual master thinking you know better than him, if he is an authorized Spiritual master, Krsna will certainly send you to him to hell. Srila Prabhupada explains that, by material point of view that one may be a better manager than a Guru, one may even better scholar than Guru. Because Guru knows Krsna, we should never think we know better than him. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was the Supreme Godhead & when he approached the spiritual Master, He said, I am a fool, I know nothing. One should never reveal himself as being learned before the Guru. Otherwise they cheat us of all  about the possibility of our spiritual advancement. When approaching Guru, you must say, I know nothing. Sanatan Goswami was also the learned Scholar in all over the world. When he approached his Guru, He said that I am fool number one. I do not even know who I am? What is the use of my Education. So It is nothing but a burden. So After explaining Srila Prabhupada said to his disciple if you want I will not stop you. If you want my blessings, I will give blessings that you may go to hell. And that person accepted those blessings and accepted his position going to hell.

So We find in great souls by Draupadi, Yudhisthir, how much respect they had for their Guru. Because they knew even though He was acting unfairly, it was all under god’s Devine arrangement. There is God’s test. And Krsna is very satisfy by the Compassion & the Love & forgiveness & the natural Respect of these great Personalities.

So one who truly want to gain the mercy of Krsna, This is the Process, of learning how to respect great souls, and humble oneself before them. Of course, We must understand who great souls are? Ashwathama was not a great soul. They did not follow him, They did not receive teachings from him. They only showed the compassion out of respect to please, those who are dear to the Lord, namely his parents. So, similarly, if you have a God Brother or God Sister, that is having difficulty, even if they are fallen & committing most abominable activity, if they are loved by our Spiritual Master, we will not follow, what they are doing, We will not accept instructions from them, but out of love & mercy we must show respect & try to help them out our love for our Spiritual Master. Because it is in pleasing the Spiritual Master & it is in pleasing Krsna, that all of our spiritual advancement is made.

Yasya Prasadad Bhagavad Prasado, Yasya Prasadan Na Gati Kuto api.

One who pleases Guru, Pleases Krsna. Without pleasing Guru, one cannot please Krsna. This is the sum & substance of this wonderful verse from Bhagvad Gita.

Thank You Very much.

Hare Krishna.

Written by

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.

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About Me

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.