Family Conflict In The Bhagavad Gita

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Though a story of family conflict, The Bhagavad Gita presents a cosmic struggle between desire and duty. Arjuna, the central character, is justly tasked with a leading war against a branch of his family that has usurped the throne, but struggles with fulfilling his role because of his close ties to the perpetrators. The god Krishna, presenting himself as Arjuna’s charioteer, advises Arjuna. In the eleventh discourse, Krishna chooses to reveal his divine form to Arjuna, encompassing his roles as Creator, Protector, and Destroyer. Out of all Krishna’s forms, the text describes his role as the Destroyer in the greatest, most discomforting detail. Though Arjuna is distressed, Krishna uses his harrowing form to emphasize the importance of the destruction …show more content…
Krishna commands Arjuna to act in accordance with his sacred duty and resolve the family conflict on the battlefield, for all the heroic enemies “have already been struck down by me (11.34). However, Arjuna can only kill the illusionary, physical forms of the soldiers. Like Krishna was infinite and divine beyond his physical incarnation as a charioteer, the soldiers contain atman, or individual expressions of brahman, which is eternal and will survive after their deaths. With his new understanding, Arjuna can fulfill both his familial and cosmic duties. He can reinstate justice and order in a manner befitting one of the warrior class, while still honoring the members of his family and not mourning their temporary, earthly states. Following Krishna’s instruction, Arjuna is uninhibited as he performs his duty, because there is a clear split between the illusionary forms he kills and the soldiers’ true, eternal nature. Krishna praises him, saying “The one who acts on my behalf, who holds me as highest, who is devoted to me, who lets go of clinging and is free from hatred towards all beings, comes to me, Son of Pandu” (11.55). After Krishna edifies Arjuna, Arjuna exclaims he has “seen what has never before been seen; filled with delight; my mind is shaken with fear”

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