7. Bhagavad Gita Online Course – Chapter 1, Verse 24-34 (How to Make Right Decisions)


Chapter 1, Verses 24-27: Sañjaya narrates to Dhritarashtra that Krishna, upon Arjuna's request, placed their chariot in the midst of the two armies. Arjuna then saw his kinsmen, including elders, teachers, uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, friends, and well-wishers on both sides. Overcome with deep compassion and sorrow, he expressed his emotional turmoil.

Chapter 1, Verses 28-31: Arjuna, addressing Krishna, revealed his intense emotional and physical distress upon seeing his relatives ready for battle. His body was trembling, his skin burning, and his mind confused. He foresaw bad omens and saw no good in killing his own kin.

Chapter 1, Verse 32: Arjuna declared to Krishna that he had no desire for victory, kingdom, or pleasures, questioning the value of such gains without his loved ones.

Chapter 1, Verse 33: He emphasized that the very people for whom he desired the kingdom and pleasures were now present on the battlefield, having sacrificed their wealth and lives.

Chapter 1, Verse 34: Arjuna specified the loved ones on the opposing side: teachers, paternal uncles, sons, grandfathers, maternal uncles, in-laws, grandsons, cousins, friends, and other relatives.


How do I make the best choice possible (the perfect choice)?

There is no perfect choice. Recognizing that and constantly striving to be in alignment with the laws (samanya/svadharma) is the goal.

However there's a template for making the right choice:

1) Samanya-dharma: I bring my mind back to universal values, whenever personal values not keeping with universal, get too loud.  Why did Krishna prefer Pandavas? He wasn't favoring Pandavas. “I am in form of dharma, and whoever is on side of dharma, I am favorable to them, I have no partiality”.  Compensation for dharma and adharma can't be the same. Thus Krishna wasn't the same to Duryodhana and Arjuna 

2) Svadharma:  We're connected to certain people/situations. Thus can't have same relationship with strangers, as with your parents, children, siblings.  As parent/spouse/employer/friend, what are my responsibilities? And doing what needs to be done, and not being carried away by all the emotions evoked in you. Because close interactions become more challenging, thus your real feelings come out (intolerance, frustrations, etc).   So turning from “What society/people owns me”, to “What is expected of me, and doing that”.

SUMMARY: When perform action, keep in mind samanya (general conduct towards all) and svadharma (conduct in reference to situations/people I'm connected to).

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 1, Verse 24-27: 

sañjaya uvāca | evam uktaḥ hṛṣīkeśaḥ guḍākeśena bhārata । senayoḥ ubhayoḥ madhye sthāpayitvā ratha-uttamam ॥ 1-24॥
bhīṣma-droṇa-pramukhataḥ sarveṣām ca mahī-kṣitām । uvāca pārtha paśya etān samavetān kurūn iti ॥ 1-25॥
24-25: Sañjaya said – Oh Dhrtarāṣṭrā! Commanded thus by Arjuna, Krsna placed the great chariot between the two armies in front of great warriors like Bhīṣma and Droṇa and all (other) kings and said thus – “Oh Arjuna! See these Kauravas assembled”.

tatra apaśyat sthitān pārthaḥ pitṝn atha pitāmahān । ācāryān mātulān bhrātṝn putrān pautrān sakhīn tathā ॥ 1-26॥
There, Arjuna saw paternal elders, grandfathers, teachers, uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, friends, fathers-in-law and well-wishers too, assembled in the two armies.

śvaśurān suhṛdaḥ ca eva senayoḥ ubhayoḥ api । tān samīkṣya saḥ kaunteyaḥ sarvān bandhūn avasthitān | kṛpayā parayāviṣṭaḥ viṣīdan idam abravīt || 1-27
Seeing clearly all the assembled relatives, Kaunteya (Arjuna), seized by deep compassion, said this sorrowfully.

  • Krishna places the chariot in the middle. Whose on the other side? Bhishma (his grandfather) and Drona (Arjuna’s teacher). Seeing so many close relations, Arjuna breaks down.
  • CONTRAST: For Dhrtarastra, “my people” were only Kauravas. Whereas Arjuna sees everyone as “my people”. This shows maturity of mind. LESSON: Your “my” has to become larger, because everyone’s actions affect you. The more you see this, the more you grow.
  • NEXT VERSE: As fullness of situation got to Arjuna, he said…

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 1, Verse 28-31: (Arjuna breaks down)

arjunaḥ uvāca । dṛṣṭvā imam svajanam kṛṣṇa yuyutsum samupasthitam ॥ 1-28॥
sīdanti mama gātrāṇi mukham ca pariśuṣyati । vepathuḥ ca śarīre me roma-harṣaḥ ca jāyate ॥ 1-29॥
28-29: Arjuna said: Kṛṣṇa! Looking at these people, who are my own people, well stationed in battle positions and desirous to fight, my limbs are losing all their strength, my mouth is drying up, my body is trembling, and the hair (on my body) is standing on end.

gāṇḍīvam sraṃsate hastāt tvak ca eva paridahyate । na ca śaknomi avasthātum bhramati iva ca me manaḥ ॥ 1-30
The bow, Gāṇḍīva, is slipping from my hand and (my) skin also is burning. I am not able to stand up and my mind is totally confused as it were.

nimittāni ca paśyāmi viparītāni keśava । na ca śreyaḥ anupaśyāmi hatvā svajanam āhave ॥ 1-31
Keśava (Kṛṣṇa)! I see bad omens and I do not see any good in killing one’s own people in this battle.

  • Arjuna tells Krishna, “I see on both sides my people”. And explains, “I’m shaken. My throat is drying up. I’m unable to speak. Hands are shaking. I’m broken down. From my hand, weapon is slipping. My skin is burning. My mind is confused”.
  • Linear thinking: We often have black-and-white linear thinking, believing that heroes are always positive and bad people have anxiety. How can a hero break down?!  In case of Duryodhana — he is coming with a false bravado, while the hero (Arjuna) is trembling and crying. This is because the hero has a conscience, sensitivity — therefore doesn't cover up his concerns with a fake bravado. A hero may cry, but also acts.
  • 2 kinds of composure when things don’t go our way:
    1. Duryodhana archetype: Initial composure where nothing affects me, I have control. But this provides no growth.
    2. Arjuna archetype: Suppose anxiety starts surfacing and don’t have knowledge to manage it, one chooses to face it with the right knowledge and introspection. This option initially seems more chaotic, but gives you quantum jump in development. Arjuna represents the hero's journey who is no longer willing to keep unresolves stuff under carpet, willing to confront, face it and resolve it.  Arjuna starts with acknowledging and describing his state in detail. The more specific you can define your inner challenge, the more likely you'll find the solution and act on it.
  • NEXT VERSE: Arjuna further describes his state…

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 1, Verse 32

na kāṅkṣe vijayam kṛṣṇa na ca rājyam sukhāni ca । kim naḥ rājyena govinda kim bhogaiḥ jīvitena vā ॥ 1-32॥
Kṛṣṇa! I want neither victory, nor the kingdom, nor comforts. Govinda (Kṛṣṇa)! What is the use of a kingdom or of pleasures, or of life itself to us?

  • Arjuna says: I don’t want to win the war, because winning it, although kingdom of Hastinapur is regained, I don’t want it nor the comforts/privileges that come with it. What will I do with this kingdom!
  • NEXT VERSE: Arjuna explains why he doesn’t want kingdom…

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 1, Verse 33

yeṣāmarthe kāṅkṣitaṃ no rājyaṃ bhogāḥ sukhāni ca । ta ime'vasthitā yuddhe prāṇāṃstyaktvā dhanāni ca ॥ 1-33॥
Those for whose sake (alone) the kingdom, objects of enjoyments and pleasures were desired by us, they have assembled in (this) battle, having given up their wealth and their lives.

  • To enjoy the kingdom, you want the people you love, who happen to be on the other side (Bhisma, Drona, cousins, etc). People I love are not on my side, but the other side. Thus no point in having a kingdom, as won’t be able to enjoy it. Need people even as renunciate or Swami.
  • STORY illustrates importance of loved ones: King got boon, where anything he touches, turns to gold. First was thrilled as table/plates turned to gold. His daughter hugged him, and turned to gold. Food he wanted to eat, turned to gold. He realized, you need people to enjoy your glories. Same with child, wants to share his accomplishments with mother. If she doesn’t listen, he can’t enjoy the accomplishments.
  • NEXT VERSE: Arjuna specifies the people who he loves on the other side…

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 1, Verse 34

ācāryāḥ pitaraḥ putrāḥ tathā eva ca pitāmahāḥ । mātulāḥ śvaśurāḥ pautrāḥ śyālāḥ sambandhinaḥ tathā ॥ 1-34॥
These are (our) teachers, paternal uncles, sons, grandfathers, maternal uncles, in-laws, grandsons, cousins, friends and other relatives.

  • I have teachers (with plural). Everyone teaches you something. Uncles. In-laws. Friends. Cousins. Grandfather.
  • NEXT VERSE: Arjuna explains, walking away is not an option either…


Course was based on Neema Majmudar's Bhagavad Gita & Swami Dayananda (Arsha Vidya) home study course.

Recorded 9 June, 2024

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