Bhagavad Gita 1.28 Explained: Arjuna’s Crisis of Compassion

अर्जुन उवाच
कृपया परयाऽऽविष्टो विषीदन्निदमब्रवीत्।
दृष्ट्वेमं स्वजनं कृष्ण युयुत्सुं समुपस्थितम्।।

श्रीमद्भगवद्गीता 1.28

Arjuna Uvacha
Kripaya Paraya’visto Vishidannidamabravit
Drishtvemam Svajanam Krishna Yuyutsum Samupasthitam

Shrimad Bhagavad Gita 1.28

And his heart melted with pity and sadly he spoke: O my Lord! When I see all these, my own people, thirsting for battle,

English Translation of BG 1.28

In this heart-wrenching verse, Arjuna finds himself on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, not as a warrior ready for combat, but as a human being torn apart by the sight of his own family ready to spill blood. His confession to Krishna is a poignant moment, capturing the inner turmoil that marks the beginning of the Bhagavad Gita’s profound spiritual discourse.

Insights into BG 1.28: Reflecting on Swami Ramsukhdas Ji’s Divine Commentary

The Paradox of Duty

Arjuna’s predicament is emblematic of the universal struggle between duty and the emotional ties that bind us to our loved ones. His reluctance to engage in battle against his own kin highlights the often painful clash between the roles we are called to play in society and our personal relationships. This verse invites us to ponder the question: How does one reconcile the demands of duty with the bonds of love and compassion?

The Compassionate Warrior

Arjuna’s compassion, far from being a sign of weakness, is a testament to his humanity. It underscores the truth that true strength lies not in the ability to wage war, but in the courage to confront one’s own vulnerabilities. Arjuna’s emotional response is a reminder that at the heart of every decision, especially those involving conflict, there should be a deep consideration for the welfare of all involved.

The Crisis of Dharma

Arjuna’s despondency is not merely personal but indicative of a larger spiritual crisis — the dilemma of dharma, or righteous duty. The battlefield becomes a metaphor for the inner battlefield where one struggles to discern the path of righteousness amidst conflicting duties and emotions. This moment underscores the Bhagavad Gita’s central theme: the search for an ethical and spiritual clarity that transcends mere physical or material considerations.

The Role of the Divine Guide

In turning to Krishna for guidance, Arjuna exemplifies the seeker who recognizes the limits of his understanding and seeks a higher wisdom. Krishna’s role as Arjuna’s charioteer symbolizes the divine guidance available to all who are willing to surrender their ego and seek the truth beyond their personal biases and attachments. This verse sets the stage for the profound teachings that Krishna imparts, teachings that serve as a spiritual compass for humanity.


Verse 1.28 of the Bhagavad Gita marks a crucial turning point, not just in the epic but in the spiritual journey of every seeker. It teaches us that moments of doubt and despair can become opportunities for profound spiritual awakening if we are willing to confront them with honesty and humility. Arjuna’s heartfelt plea is a call to each of us to examine the deeper motivations behind our actions and to seek a path that harmonizes our duties with our highest values. In the dialogue that follows, Krishna offers insights that illuminate this path, guiding Arjuna — and through him, all of us — towards a deeper understanding of dharma, duty, and the ultimate purpose of life.