Tension was slowly mounting up in the battlefield of Kurukshetra. Duryodhana was showing signs of nervousness. It was a poignant moment; the shooting had not yet started but was imminent. Bhishma understood Duryodhana’s diffidence and therefore he enthused him by blowing the conch aloud ! Now all other Kauravas blow their conch and Pandavas also blew, signalling the beginning of the war. Just at that juncture, Arjuna feels like looking at the face of all the people in the enemies’ side, who are all his relatives. Arjuna suggests Krishna to place his chariot between the two armies so that he can see the champions of adharma lined up against him in the war. Krishna drives up the chariot and places it in front of Bhishma and Drona – who are also the Pandavas’ teachers – and says, Partha pashyaithaan samavaewthaan kurunithi “Behold, Oh Partha all these Kurus gathered together.” Krishna speaks only this one sentence in the first chapter. Though brief, this one sentence quietly uttered, triggers of the entire Gita ! Arjuna gazed at Kaurava army as well as his own. They were all his relatives, friends and acquaintances. Suddenly he is thrown into a state of utter confusion, grief and doubts. For the first time, Arjuna realised the tragedies of a total fratricidal war and develops serious doubts whether the war is legitimate at all. His composure broke down. Until now Arjuna was not emotionally upset. With his clear and bright intellect, he had analysed the situation. He knew, this was not a battle between relations, but between dharma ( on Pandavas’ side) and adharma on (Kauravas side). All his life Arjuna, as a warrior, had waited for such an opportunity, where he knew the enemies’ sly moves would be no match against his own mighty prowess. But when he came in front of Bhishma and Drona, his intellect was overwhelmed by emotion. His self-confidence deserted him and he was overwhelmed with grief. Krupayaa parayaa(aa)vishta: 1.27 Arjuna was overwhelmed by supreme compassion. He spoke thus: Dhrushtavaemam svajanam Krishna yuyuthsum samupasthitham Seedanthi mama gaathraani mukham cha parichushyathi Vaepathushcha shareerae mae romaharshascha jaayathae 1.28-29 Seeing these, my kinsmen, O Krishna, arrayed, eager to fight, my limbs fail me and my mouth is parched; my body quivers and my hairs stand on end. Thus we see, Arjuna enumerates all his symptoms. His steps become unsteady and his face is full of sweat. His speech becomes incoherent and his throat is parched. Now, the modern psychologists would say, the same symptoms are characteristic of what they would call “anxiety-state neurosis”. About his mental break-up, he adds Na cha shaknomi avasthaathum bhramatheeva cha mae mana: 1.30 I am not able to stand, my mind is reeling, as it were. The next few verses give conclusive proof of Arjuna’s hysterical state of mind. Krishna acted a typical psycho analyst and just allowed Arjuna to rattle on. Arjuna brought out all his pent up emotions as though he is in the grip of severe hysteria. Knowing that his dejection was magnified and compassion for his relatives misplaced, Krishna made no attempt to stop him. Arjuna was drowned in blind grief and despair. His outburst was escapism. He was mentally shrinking from the thought of inevitable consequences and had an impulse to shirk the weight of responsibility. He was reduced to a mental wreck. He was going in for a dangerous collapse of personality and was trying to take shelter behind superstitions, myths and beliefs. He starts passionately arguing his case for the withdrawal from the war. He said to Krishna Nimiththani cha pashyami vipareethaani keshava Na cha shraeyo(a)nupashyami hathvaa svajana-maahavae I see bad omens, Oh Keshava, and I see no good in killing my own kinsmen in battle. The cracks in Arjuna’s mental make-up slowly widened and his mental shrinkage and cowardice to face grave situations, were obvious. He rationalses his intention of renouncing the war. His actions amount to the abdication of his duty as a Kshathriya. Krishna understood that his individuality was shattered. But He was a picture of calmness. Though fully aware of the problem Arjuna is going through, He acted ignorant and wondered how Arjuna could fall a victim to feebleness. Does Arjuna’s dilemma, not happen to every one of us at some stage or other in life? When we face dire situations, we feel confused and confounded. We do not know the next course of action, when trapped in dejection and despair. We give ourselves very rational and logical excuses. Our intellect does not offer us the right line of action. How are we to break these chains of helplessness ? The treatment of such a natural, mortal illness of the inner mind is the theme of the entire Gita. The Gita gives completely scientific and cogent answers to these disturbing questions. Thus we see that the great wisdom revealed in Gita owes its origin to the sudden and brief surge of grief that overpowers Arjuna. Love, Chithra.