Discuss the relevance of Arjuna's situation in the Bhagavad- Gita to universal ethical dilemmas.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Arjuna's situation in theGitais relevant to universal ethical dilemmas in that he is asking the central question that lies at the heart of most ethical challenges.  Arjuna asks what he should do.  Arjuna is asking how he should act.  Arjuna finds himself in an ethical dilemma, being poised between equally desirable, but ultimately incompatible courses of action.  He recognizes this agonizing predicament and turns to Krishna, his charioteer, at this critical moment before battle.  The universality of this ethical dilemma is evident in that Arjuna lacks the clear understanding of what he needs to do at a critical moment.  It is at this instant, where the divine power of Lord Krishna guides him, telling him to embrace his duty as a warrior and to understand that he is a part of something larger.  This configuration provides a sense of ethical purpose to Arjuna, who can only see his own predicament with his own blindness as a human being preventing him from seeing what Lord Krishna sees and relates to him.  When Krishna tells Arjuna that he must act with "an eye to the maintenance of world order," it provides an ethical resolution to Arjuna.  He must act.  He must take action.  Krishna tells Arjuna to recognize that he is a part of this larger configuration, and if he surrenders to it and sees himself as a part of it, the temporal condition of suffering that he endures right now can be seen in a larger context.  I think that this is where Arjuna's situation contains a universal connection to ethical dilemmas.  The most basic of ethical dilemmas revolve around what people should do, how they should live.  This is where Arjuna is at the start of theGita.  It is also the point of intense departure for him, as by the end of the "diving song," Arjuna understands what he must do.  In doing so, he provides a potential answer for all ethical dilemmas.  If they are seen in the right context, there are answers that human beings can embrace.  The trick is for them to be able to "see" these avenues and recognize the potential limitations of their own predicament in order to do so.  In this, there is relevance to universal ethical dilemmas within what Arjuna endures, making "the divine song" more mortal than we will ever know.