Mahabharata Bhishma Parva Chapter 26

Mahabharata Bhishma Parva (Bhagavat-Gita Parva) Chapter 26
Bhagavad Gita Chapter II

Sanjaya said,—"Unto him thus possessed with pity, his eyes filled and oppressed with tears, and desponding, the slayer of Madhu said these words.

The Holy One said,—'Whence, O Arjuna, hath come upon thee, at such a crisis, this despondency that is unbecoming a person of noble birth, that shuts one out from heaven, and that is productive of infamy? Let no effeminacy be thine, O son of Kunti. This suits thee not. Shaking off this vile weakness of hearts, arise, O chastiser of foes.—

Arjuna said,—'How, O slayer of Madhu, can I with arrows contend in battle against Bhishma and Drona, deserving as they are, O slayer of foes, of worship?[1] Without slaying (one's) preceptors of great glory, it is well (for one), to live on even alms in this world. By slaying preceptors, even if they are avaricious of wealth, I should only enjoy pleasures that are bloodstained![2] We know not which of the two is of greater moment to us, viz., whether we should conquer them or they should conquer us. By slaying whom we would not like to live,—even they, the sons of Dhritarashtra, stand before (us). My nature affected by the taint of compassion, my mind unsettled about (my) duty, I ask thee. Tell me what is assuredly good (for me). I am thy disciple. O, instruct me, I seek thy aid.[3] I do not see (that) which would dispel that grief of mine blasting my very senses, even if I obtain a prosperous kingdom on earth without a foe or the very sovereignty of the gods.[4] Sanjaya said,—"Having said this unto Hrishikesa, that chastiser of foes—Gudakesa—(once more) addressed Govinda, saying,—'I will not fight,'—and then remained silent.[5] Unto him overcome by despondency, Hrishikesa, in the midst of the two armies, said:

The Holy One said,—'Thou mournest those that deserve not to be mourned. Thou speakest also the words of the (so-called) wise. Those, however, that are (really) wise, grieve neither for the dead nor for the living. It is not that. I or you or those rulers of men never were, or that all of us shall not hereafter be. Of an Embodied being, as childhood, youth, and decrepitude are in this body, so (also) is the acquisition of another body. The man, who is wise, is never deluded in this.[6] The contacts of the senses with their (respective) objects producing (sensations of) heat and cold, pleasure and pain, are not permanent, having (as they do) a beginning and an end. Do thou, O Bharata, endure them. For the man whom these afflict not, O bull among men, who is the same in pain and pleasure and who is firm in mind, is fit for emancipation.[7] There is no (objective) existence of anything that is distinct from the soul; nor non-existence of anything possessing the virtues of the soul. This conclusion in respect of both these hath been arrived at by those that know the truths (of things). [8]



  1. The commentators betray their ingenuity by emphasizing the word ishubhis (with arrows), explaining, "how can I encounter them with arrows whom I cannot encounter with even harsh words?"
  2. Arthakaman is an adjective qualifying Gurun. Some commentators particularly Sreedhara, suggest that it may, instead, qualify bhogan. The meaning, however, in that case would be far-fetched.]
  3. Sreedhara explains that Karpanya is compassion (for kinsmen), and dosha is the fear of sin (for destroying a race). The first compound, therefore, according to him, means,—"My nature affected by both compassion and fear of sin," etc. It is better, however, to take Karpanya itself as a dosha (taint or fault). K. T. Telang understands it in this way. Upahata, however, is affected and not contaminated.
  4. What Arjuna says here is that "Even if I obtain such a kingdom on Earth, even if I obtain the very kingship of the gods, I do not yet see that will dispel that grief which will overtake me if I slay my preceptor and kinsmen." Telang's version is slightly ambiguous.
  5. The Bengal texts have Parantapa with a Visarga, thus implying that it refers to Gudakesa. The Bombay edition prints it without the Visarga, implying that it is in the vocative case, referring to Dhritarashtra, the listener.
  6. One of the most useful rules in translating from one language into another is to use identical words for identical expressions in the original. In translating, however, from a language like Sanskrit which abounds in synonyms, this is not always practicable without ambiguity. As an example, the word used in 13 is Dhira; that used in 11 is Pandita. There can be little doubt, however, that Pandita and Dhira have exactly the same meaning.
  7. Amritatwa is really emancipation or non-liability to repeated death or repeated rebirth. To render it as "immortality" is, perhaps, a little slovenly, for every soul is immortal, and this particular section inculcates it.
  8. Sat and asat are the two words which must be distinctly understood as they occur often in Hindu philosophy. Sat is explained as the real, i.e., the soul, or anything as real and permanent as the soul. Asat is the reverse of this, i.e., the unreal or the Non-soul. What is said here by Krishna is that the unreal has no existence; the real, again can have no non-existence. Is not this a sort of cosmothetic idealism?