This paper was presented at
Psychology: The Indian Contribution
National Conference on
Indian Psychology, Yoga and Consciousness
organised by the Indian Council of Philosophical Research
at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education
Pondicherry, India, 10-13 December 2004

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From despondency to action: The transformation of Arjuna and Yudhishdhira in the Mahabharata

Kavita A. Sharma — Hindu College, Delhi.

Mahabharata presents a world of action. The war is pivotal and requires the Pandavas to fight with their brothers and other senior kinsmen together with their gurus for the kingdom of Hastinapur. All are aware that it would be a fratricidal war to the finish leading to annihilation. Arjuna sinks into depths of despair. The Gandiva falls from his hands and his strong frame is convulsed even at the thought of it. It creates an intense ethical dilemma. Is the Kingdom worth winning at such a cost. Is it not better to renounce? Shri Krishna through the Bhagwadgita transforms Arjuna’s consciousness, motivating him to pick up arms again as his duty, leaving the consequences at the feet of the Divine. He transforms a fragmented guilt ridden psyche into that of a determined warrior willing to face the greatest challenge that life can confront him with. This process of transformation is of great importance in our lives as we are all confronted with dilemmas that paralyze action and cause despair and despondency where life itself does not seem worth living. However, the situation is so presented that we have no choice but to act. It is the yoga of Karma and its understanding that integrates the fragmented consciousness into a whole and makes it possible to act with equanimity. The paper will explore how such a transformation takes place and how it is applicable to our own lives as we deal with our particular Karmabhoomis in life.

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