Even the grandfather of Arjuna, who loved Arjuna immensely, was on the opposite side. He loved Arjuna and he hated Duryodhana, but he loved the father of Duryodhana, Dhritrashtra, who was a blind man. Feeling compassion for the blind man he wanted his son to become the king – but he loved Arjuna. Now it was a very strange, tangled situation. Dronacharya, the teacher of both Arjuna and Duryodhana – he taught them the art of archery – was the greatest archer of those days, and he loved Arjuna because he even surpassed his master in archery. Duryodhana was far behind, but still Dronacharya had chosen to fight on the side of Duryodhana because there was more possibility of winning. Duryodhana was a cunning man and he had one hundred brothers. Dronacharya had many wives, and being old there was nothing else to do.
Those one hundred brothers had thousands of relatives and friends. They were really powerful, they were all cunning, and they were bent upon having the kingdom.
Arjuna had only five brothers. And those five brothers were deceived by Duryodhana and his brothers into a game of gambling. And in that gambling they lost everything, even their wife. The five brothers only had one wife. Then Duryodhana sent all the brothers for thirteen years to hide in forests and mountains, saying if they were found they would be killed.
So for thirteen years they had been wandering, hiding themselves in mountains and forests, and being chased. Somehow they survived. Now was their only chance. Duryodhana was already in power, he had the kingdom in his hands and the armies and everything – the treasure – and in thirteen years these people had become utterly poor, weak; they had lost contact with friends, families.
But when Arjuna saw the situation – he was certain about his archery, and he was certain that he could win. But a great question arose in his mind: What is the point? If I have to kill my own brothers and if I have to kill my own grandfather who has loved me, and if I have to kill my own master who has created a great archer out of me…What is the point, even if I win, of killing millions of my own people? Whether they are on this side or on that side, they will be killed.
It is simply a massacre without meaning. I don’t care about such a kingdom. And what is the point of sitting on a golden throne when your own people, all of whom you have loved, for whom you would have liked to live… Surrounded by their corpses, sitting on the golden throne…
Arjuna thought, I would feel so embarrassed, so ashamed that I am afraid I would commit suicide. I would not be able to tolerate that situation. If I am defeated then two million people are going to die. If I win, that victory is not worth it.
He decided not to fight. It was Krishna who persuaded him. The whole of Shrimad Bhagavadgita is a persuasion. Arjuna goes on arguing against war and violence, and Krishna goes on insisting, “It is your duty, it is your destiny. It is God’s decision that you should fight. And this so-called ideology that you are talking about of nonviolence, of no war, of not killing is nothing but hiding your cowardice, your escapism.”
So finally he managed to persuade him to be for the war. And that war destroyed this country forever. After that war – and it is called The Great Indian War, Mahabharata – after that great war India became poor, lost nerve, was invaded by all kinds of small tribes, barbarians, nomads; it has remained a slave country for two thousand years, such a vast country.