The Bhagavad-Gita begins with the preparation of battle between the two opposing
sides: on the left stands the collected armies of the one hundred sons of

Dhritarashtra and on the right lies the soldiers of the Pandava brothers.

Warring relatives feuding over the right to govern the land of Kurukshetra, both
forces stand poised and ready to slaughter one another. The warrior Arjuna,
leader of the Pandava armies, readies himself as his charioteer, the god

Krishna, steers toward the opposition when the armies are ready to attack.

Arjuna stops Krishna short before the two sides clash together. Hesitation and
pity creeps into Arjunaís heart as he surveys his family and relatives on the
other side; he loses his will to win at the cost of the lives he still loves. As

Arjuna sets down his bow and prepares for his own death, the god Krishna begins
his council with Arjuna, where Krishna uses various ideas on action,
self-knowledge, and discipline to reveal to Arjuna the freedom to be attained
from the suffering of man once Arjuna finds his devotion to Krishna. Before

Krishna begins his teachings, Arjuna analyzes his emotions and describes to

Krishna the way his heart feels. "Krishna, I seek no victory, or kingship or
pleasures" (The Bhagavad-Gita, p. 25). Arjuna admits that he stands to gain
nothing of real worth from the war. He knows he cannot consciously triumph over
family for his own wealth and glory. "We [Pandava brothers] sought kingships,
delights, and pleasures for the sake of those assembled to abandon their lives
and fortunes in battle" (The Bhagavad-Gita, p. 25). Arjuna continues on to
state that once the family is destroyed and family duty is lost, only chaos is
left to overcome what remains. He goes so far as to describe how chaos swells to
corrupt even the women in the families, creating disorder in society. Arjuna
tells Krishna that the punishment for men who undermine the duties of the family
are destined for a place in hell. Finally, Arjuna asks Krishna which is right:
the tie to sacred duty or reason? Krishna begins his explanation by stating that
all life on earth is indestructible. "Never have I not existed, nor you, nor
these kings; and never in the future shall we cease to exist" (The

Bhagavad-Gita, p. 31). Because life has always been, reasons Krishna, then how
can man kill or be killed when there is no end to the self? Also, Krishna tells

Arjuna that his emotions of sorrow and pity are fleeting, and that endurance is
all that is necessary to outlast the temporary thoughts. "If you fail to wage
this war of sacred duty, you will abandon your own duty and fame only to gain
evil" (The Bhagavad-Gita, p. 34). Krishna reinforces the idea of dharma,
reminding Arjuna of the consequences faced when one does not fulfill the duty
set before him. "Your own duty done imperfectly is better than another manís
done well. It is better to die in oneís own duty, another manís duty is
perilous" (The Bhagavad-Gita, p. 46). Doing oneís job poorly is preferable
to doing anotherís well. Even if talents lie in a different area, the duty one
is assigned to is the responsibility of the individual. Failure of Arjuna to
abide by his duty would have a profound effect on his worldly life as well.

Enemies would slander Arjuna and companions would lose faith and respect in the
man they once held in such high favor. If Arjuna loses his life, then he gains
heaven and if he wins then he gains the earth; thus there is no need for Arjuna
to fear for his own fate. To complete his sacred duty, Arjuna must perform the
necessary actions for the duty to be achieved. "Be intent on action, not on
the fruits of action; avoid attractions to the fruits and attachment to
inaction!" (The Bhagavad-Gita, p. 36). In the third teaching, the abstinence
from action fails because one cannot merely reject oneís actions and find
success. Inaction threatens the well-being of the physical body, warns Krishna.

Discovered through techniques like yoga and inner reflection, action allows the
freedom of the self to be found and attained. Once Arjuna loses desire in the
consequences of his actions, then a new kind of discipline can be realized.

Understanding, rated superior to action by the god Krishna, provides the
necessary tools to perform the skills needed to execute the action. Krishna
warns Arjuna that this understanding can be lost once man begins a downward
process by lusting after pleasurable objects which creates desire, and from
desire anger