Bhagavad Gita

Start Free Trial

Does the writer of the Bhagavad Gita excerpts raise any criticism or questions about the reading? What is the most important thing about the excerpt? Are there any similar problems in today's society that can be compared to Arjuna's decision to fight?

The most important thing about the excerpt is that it shows the power of social convention. As a great warrior, Arjuna is expected to fight, whether he wants to or not. In today's society, people are often faced with demands that they do not wish to meet yet must because it is expected of them.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In the Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna is unwilling to fight the Kaurava army. On the face of it, Arjuna's decision seems extraordinary. As a brave, noble warrior, a man with a fearsome reputation on the field of battle, Arjuna has no good reason to worry about being killed. Nor, given his vast experience of battle, should he suddenly have moral qualms about killing people.

But the real reason for Arjuna's not wanting to fight soon becomes clear. He tells Lord Krishna that he can't fight because opposite him, he can see his grand-uncle Bhishma and his Acharya Drona. For Arjuna, the very idea of killing the eldest member of one's family or one's teacher is simply anathema.

And yet, whatever Arjuna may think about the situation, he has a duty to fight. His own personal feelings don't enter into it at all. As Lord Krishna tells him, if he leaves the battlefield, then his opponents won't think that he left out of compassion for his brothers and his grandfather; they will think of him as motivated by cowardice.

What we see in this excerpt is the importance of social convention and duty and the enormous power it can exert over individuals. It is unlikely that any of us will find ourselves in the exact same position as Arjuna, but there are certainly many times when we do things not because we want to, but because we have to—because society expects us to perform certain duties.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on