So, just as the big war is about to begin, Arjuna, the greatest warrior in the battlefield, drops his weapons and refuses to fight.
Arjuna says to Krishna:
Seeing, O Krishna, these my kinsmen gathered here, eager for fight, my limbs fail me, and my mouth is parched up. I shiver all over, and my hair stands on end. The bow Gandiva slips from my hand, and my skin burns. Neither, O Keshava, can I stand upright. My mind is in a whirl. And I see adverse omens. (1.29, 30)
Anxiety. This happens to most of us at some point of our life, to almost all of us unless you are a born yogi. For example, we prepare well for a presentation to be made in front of hundreds of people, but just as we stand in front of all the people and about to speak, the mind goes blank. Or just when you are about to give some kind of performance in front of distinguished audience, you suddenly forget all the training you’ve had over the years. Or just as you take up a big new responsibility in your work, you start doubting your abilities. Why does this happen? Why did it happen to Arjuna, celebrated as the greatest warrior of the time?
Arjuna says further:
Neither, O Krishna, do I see any good in killing these my own people in battle. I desire neither victory nor empire, nor yet pleasure. (1.31)
Of what avail is dominion to us, of what avail are pleasures and even life, if these, O Govinda! for whose sake it is desired that empire, enjoyment and pleasure should be ours, themselves stand here in battle, having renounced life and wealth — teachers, uncles, sons and also grandfathers, maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons, brothers-in-law, besides other kinsmen.
Even though these were to kill me, O slayer of Madhu, I could not wish to kill them, not even for the sake of dominion over the three worlds, how much less for the sake of the earth! (1.35)
Arjuna doesn’t want to kill his own people. While Duryodhana would sacrifice anybody including his teacher, dear friend, brothers, etc., to retain the kingdom for himself, Arjuna doesn’t want to harm his people. In this regard, Arjuna is a little better than Duryodhana, or so it seems. But Arjuna forgets that if he doesn’t fight with whoever is on the other side and win this war, the kingdom would go into the hands of evil Duryodhana and that would be misery for everybody. He forgets that it is his utmost duty and responsibility as a man skilled in war to fight this war, defeat the Kauravas and protect his people.
Arjuna further says,
What pleasure indeed could be ours, O Jnanardana, from killing these sons of Dhritarashtra? Sin only could take hold of us by the slaying of these felons. (1.36)
Therefore ought we not to kill our kindred, the sons of Dhritarashtra. For how could we, O Madhava, gain happiness by the slaying of our own kinsmen? (1.37)
Arjuna forgets why he has come to the battlefield in the first place, and he is worried about things like his own people, pleasures and enjoyment of the kingdom, sin could take hold of him, etc.. In other words, he has lost sense of his priorities, and hence the anxiety. Isn’t this what happens when we enter into some work or some situation without clearly defining to ourselves the purpose of entering it? Clarity of purpose is is that important, isn’t it?