Relating to the Hero Arjuna

Understanding the Moral Struggle of the Warrior

Rev. Sheri Heller, LCSW, RSW
3 min readNov 19, 2019

Arjuna is immersed in a spiritual war between what is human and what is cosmic. This inner struggle is portrayed in the Bhagavad Gita (“The Song of our Lord”) as a battle between cousins over who has the right to rule. Khrisna, who is initially disguised as Arjuna’s charioteer tells Arjuna that he must accept his condition as a warrior, even if it means killing the very people he loves. It is his dharma.

Arjuna’s struggle with shedding a former self, or an old consciousness, so as to answer his call to God, is Universal.

What ensues is a discourse on the loss and restoration of natural law and cosmic order and the search for moral guidance amid the ambiguity of values.

Krishna reminds Arjuna of samsara; that a person who dies will be reborn. What dies is not essential for it is the Spirit that endures. On a personal level I understand this to mean that transformation requires a death of the personality self while trusting that the spirit will prevail.

Krishna goes on to speak of moksha, the ultimate aim in life. The state of moksha is a liberating and transcendent state of union with the Divine. Moksha is achieved through an inner realization of one’s unchanging being. This is the part of the self which is immortal and the ground of all being. To reach moksha Krishna advises Arjuna to cultivate an attitude of indifference with results and to practice complete devotion to Spirit through the practices of karma yoga and bhakti yoga.

Arjuna faces a choice. Will he obey dharma or will he retreat into the narrow ego?

After long years of exile and humiliation, leading up to the battle, at first Arjuna desires vindication. Later, when he is filled with compassion for those who he is to kill, he rejects the greed of victory and refuses to fight.

Khrishna judges this as cowardice and states that Arjuna is renouncing dharma and…

Rev. Sheri Heller, LCSW, RSW

Therapist, Coach & Author. Complex Trauma & Addiction. Dual citizen. Survivor, World traveler, love art and nature. I appreciate the absurd.