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Arjuna and Duryodhana visit Lord Krishna

How to Make Wise Choices in Life: Let’s Learn From Gita

Reading Time: 5 minutes

अर्जुन उवाच |
सेनयोरुभयोर्मध्ये रथं स्थापय मेऽच्युत || 21||
यावदेतान्निरीक्षेऽहं योद्धुकामानवस्थितान् |
कैर्मया सह योद्धव्यमस्मिन् रणसमुद्यमे || 22||

arjuna uvācha
senayor ubhayor madhye rathaṁ sthāpaya me ’chyuta
yāvadetān nirīkṣhe ’haṁ yoddhu-kāmān avasthitān
kairmayā saha yoddhavyam asmin raṇa-samudyame

Arjun said: O Infallible One, please take my chariot to the middle of both armies, so that I may look at the warriors arrayed for battle, whom I must fight in this great combat.

Bhagvad Gita 1.22-23

Before we delve into how to make wise choices in life, it’s important to know how Krishna ended up as Arjuna’s charioteer.

Krishna’s Special Power

Krishna had a unique role with the Pandavas in general and Arjuna in particular. For the Pandavas, Krishna was a highly respected advisor. Earlier in the Mahabharata, Krishna revealed his cosmic form in the palace before the war took place. 

Krishan’s revelation of his cosmic form takes place in the 11th chapter, but that’s not the only time in the Mahabharata that he reveals his cosmic form. One of these times is before the war took place, Krishna revealed his cosmic form to everyone in the palace. At this point in time, he was trying to shake up Duryodhana to try and dissuade him from fighting this terrible war. Of course, it didn’t work. Krishna revealed his cosmic form. However, Duryodhana thought it was some kind of magic trick. The Pandavas were also present and saw Krisha display his cosmic form. They recognized he was no ordinary person. 

This is followed by another event that marks a significant moment before the battle begins. Krishna and Arjuna are together in the chariot, but how does Krishna end up as a charioteer? Warriors typically have specially trained charioteers. Krishna was not a charioteer at all. In fact, Krishna was the head of his own army.

How Krishna Becomes Arjuna’s Charioteer

Before the battle took place, both Arjuna and Duryodhana were engaged in forming alliances with other kingdoms and kings to try and build up their armies and the strength of their sides, respectively. Both Arjuna and Duryodhana knew that Krishna had a mighty army. So, both Arjuna and Duryodhana went to meet Krishna. Coincidentally, both Arjuna and Dryodhana arrived at Krishna’s palace at the same time. 

Arjuna and Duryodhana understood why they were both there to ask for Krishna’s help. They both saw that he was sleeping, and they decided to wait respectfully until Krisha wakes. So they waited. Duryodhana took a chair right at Krishna’s head. Arjuna, on the other hand, stood respectfully at the foot of Krishna’s bed. 

Finally, Krishna wakes up and sits up in bed and he is facing Arjuna with his back to Duryodhana. Krishna wakes up and sees Arjuna and addresses his presence. Duryodhana gets upset because he was also present in the room. 

Both Arjuna and Krishna explain how they have come to seek Krishna’s support in the battle that’s about to take place. Krishna is in a tricky position: he’s related to both sides of the family, and so he is duty-bound to help them both. 

Krishna agrees to help both of them. He offers his warriors and horses to one, while the other can have him with the condition that he will not fight. What appears like an easy decision for Duryodhana, he decides that he wants Krishna’s army.

Krishna, however, expresses that Arjuna gets the first choice since he is the younger one. 

Arjuna chooses Krishna. Arjuna has a gut feeling that Krishna is someone very special. And they are also close friends. For these reasons, Arjuna chooses Krishna to be on his side. Duryodhana is delighted to receive the vast army of Krishna. Krishna has agreed to help Arjuna, but Krishna will not fight so the arrangement develops to him becoming the charioteer, since a charioteer does not fight. Krishna can constantly be on the battlefield with Arjuna guiding him, without fighting.

Arjuna Chooses Dharma Over Adharma

Arjuna chooses dharma (righteousness) over might and power. By choosing dharma, Arjuna ensures their victory because, in the long run, dharma always wins. If you take a long enough perspective, dharma wins in the long run. This isn’t just a platitude or belief—it’s based on our understanding of dharma. Dharma comes from a Sanskrit word which means to hold and support, so dharma in a sense means that which holds the world together.

If the body is disturbed by illness, all of its systems become disordered and there is no balance. But when you move all the illnesses, the body naturally returns to its natural state (homeostasis). 

The world works in the same way: when you remove adharma (unrighteousness), the world returns to its natural state. We’ve been putting a lot of pollution into seas, rivers, and oceans. But when we stop putting pollution into those bodies of water, eventually they will become pure again. They will cleanse themselves and return to their normal, natural state if they are allowed to. 

These are examples of dharma: the self-healing, or self-restoring nature of the world. 

That’s what we mean when we define dharma as that which holds the world or sustains the world—dharma prevails in the long run. 

Why? The entire world wants to return to its natural state. Just as a body returns to its natural state when illness is removed, just as a river returns to its natural state when pollution is removed, the world returns to its natural state when adharma is removed. 

What we know about the world and dharma and any action in the world is temporary. Every human effort is finite and comes to an end. When those adharmic efforts become expended, the world returns to its natural dharmic state.

What Does The Gita Teach Us?

When Arjuna chose Krishna, Arjuna was choosing dharma even though it wasn’t the obvious choice. And having chosen dharma definitely Arjuna and the Pandavas would prevail in the long run after 18 horrible days of the war. When we are faced with such decisions in life, the easy route isn’t always the answer. The right answer might be difficult to make, but the right answer keeps us on the right path—the path to dharma.