Arjuna reiterates his argument, and let us see this argument once again. This is already given in the first chapter, but now there is a reiteration of the argument:
“O Madhusudana! Tell me how shall I attack with arrows the most venerable Bhishma, the grandfather, the Guru Dronacharya in the battlefield?” (II, 4)
‘How shall I attack?’ This is a new argument in his own consciousness, as a result of the desire to run away, because all these years he has been preparing for the war. It is not as if for the first time he is thinking; he knew that they will stand before him in the war. But now this argument has come up and seized him rather powerfully and he says, “…How shall I attack with arrows the most venerable Bhishma…”
kathaṁ bhīṣmam ahaṁ saṅkhye droṇaṁ ca madhusūdana |
iṣubhiḥ pratiyotsyāmi pūjārhāv arisūdana ||4|| (II)
They are actually pūjārhās: those who are worthy of worship. ‘O, Sri Krishna! How can I, iṣubhiḥ, by arrows, pratiyotsyāmi, how shall I wound them, how shall I shoot them with arrows?’ Then he continues:
“It is better to live in this world by begging rather than killing the most venerable elders. Even if I kill these elders for worldly gains, all my enjoyments will be smeared with their blood.” (II, 5)
You can see three arguments in this statement. There is already a tradition of begging by Sannyasa, and Sannyasa is the path of inaction. He says, ‘It is better to live by begging rather than to live a life of action in which I have to kill’: so, there is an argument against action. It is a repetition of this which Arjuna has already said when he started his argument in the first chapter: na kāṅṣke rājyaṁ na kāṅṣke sukhāṁ, ‘I do not wish to have kingdom, I do not wish to have happiness.’ It is an echoing of the whole argument that is: ‘In action, why do you do action for? Enjoyment, or possession and enjoyment of happiness.’
Therefore the argument for renunciation is already granted, is involved and this is repeated by saying: “It is better to live in this world by begging rather by killing the most venerable elders.” He says: ‘Even if it is my Dharma, and even if I kill these elders for worldly gains,’ this is the word for ‘worldly gains’ that is, now he does not say, ‘killing for the sake of justice’, but it is as if, ‘even if I fight, it will be only for worldly gains that I fight, it is for enjoyment I will fight.’ He says, “Even if I kill these elders for worldly gains, all my enjoyments will be smeared with their blood.” ‘This massacre is something that is wrong, it is Adharma.’
Then he continues with the argument:
“We are not sure who is stronger amongst us and who will win the war. Moreover the sons of Dhritarashtra are arrayed against us, after killing whom we ourselves would not like to live any longer.” (II, 6)
It is an argument of blood relationship. It is a repetition of the earlier argument that enjoyment is enjoyment when we can share it with the people of our own ātmajanāḥ.
But now he has an admission, which he has not done in the first chapter:
“I am confused about my duty and owing to my low spirits,…” (II, 7) Because Sri Krishna has already blown to his heart that, ‘All your arguments are nothing but dejection.’ He now admits, “I am confused about my duty...” Actually, the word ‘duty’ is a very wrong word: ‘about Dharma’ is a higher term. He says, “dharma-saṁmūḍha cetāḥ” (II, 7), he says, “I am absolutely confused about Dharma”, what is Dharma, what is Adharma, “I am confused about my duty and owing to my low spirits, I have lost my grain. Therefore…” this, he had not done in the first chapter.
He says, “Therefore, I ask You to tell me what is certainly the best for me. I am Your disciple, I have taken refuge in You. Please do instruct me.” (II, 7) This is the saving Grace that he has now turned to the teacher:
yacchreyaḥ syānniścitaṁ brūhi tanme śiṣyaste’haṁ śādhi māṁ tvāṁ prapannam || 7 || (II)
“yac chreyaḥ, what is the best; niścitaṁ brūhi, that you tell me (niścitaṁ, with definiteness); śiṣyas te ’haṁ, I am your pupil; śādhi māṁ, rule me; tvāṁ prapannam, I am here surrendered to you”. This in brief is the argument that he has presented.
“Even if I were to attain undisputed sovereignty over the whole world and conquer even the gods, I do not see how I could remedy this grief which is consuming my senses.” (II, 8)