Mera Asia Mahan 8: Somatic symptoms of acute anxiety and panic reaction are well-described in Bhagavad Gita

The Bhagavad Gita has described ten symptoms that Arjuna faced when he was indecisive facing a life event. These somatic and mental symptoms are consistent with acute panic reaction or acute anxiety.

The Bhagavad Gita is a 700-verse Sanskrit scripture that is part of the Hindu epic Mahabharata (Chapters 23–40 of Bhishma Parva).

The described symptoms are:

  1. My limbs are giving way.
  2. My mouth is drying up.
  3. My whole body shudders.
  4. My hair is standing on end.
  5. My bow (the Gandiv) is slipping from my hand.
  6. My skin is burning all over.
  7. My mind is in quandary and whirling in confusion.
  8. I am unable to hold myself steady any longer.
  9. I only see omens of misfortune.
  10. I do not foresee how any good can come from killing my own kinsmen in this battle.

Vedic Reference

अर्जुन उवाच |दृष्ट्वेमं स्वजनं कृष्ण युयुत्सुं समुपस्थितम् |सीदन्ति मम गात्राणि मुखं च परिशुष्यति ||1. 28||

arjuna uvāchadṛiṣhṭvemaṁ sva-janaṁ kṛiṣhṇa yuyutsuṁ samupasthitamsīdanti mama gātrāṇi mukhaṁ cha pariśhuṣhyati

arjuna uvācha—Arjun said; dih—on seeing; imam—these; sva-janam—kinsmen; kiha—Krishna; yuyutsum—eager to fight; samupasthitam—present; sīdanti—quivering; mama—my; gātrāṇi—limbs; mukham—mouth; cha—and; pariśhuhyati—is drying up

Meaning: Arjun said: O Krishna, seeing my own kinsmen arrayed for battle here and intent on killing each other, my limbs are giving way and my mouth is drying up.

वेपथुश्च शरीरे मे रोमहर्षश्च जायते || 29||गाण्डीवं स्रंसते हस्तात्वक्चै व परिदह्यते |न च शक्नोम्यवस्थातुं भ्रमतीव च मे मन: || 30||निमित्तानि च पश्यामि विपरीतानि केशव |न च श्रेयोऽनुपश्यामि हत्वा स्वजनमाहवे || 31||

vepathuśh cha śharīre me roma-harhaśh cha jāyategāṇḍīva srasate hastāt tvak chaiva paridahyatena cha śhaknomy avasthātu bhramatīva cha me mananimittāni cha paśhyāmi viparītāni keśhavana cha śhreyo ’nupaśhyāmi hatvā sva-janam āhave

vepathu—shuddering; cha—and; śharīre—on the body; me—my; roma-harha—standing of bodily hair on end; cha—also; jāyate—is happening; ṇḍīvam—Arjun’s bow; srasate—is slipping; hastāt—from (my) hand; tvak—skin; cha—and; eva—indeed; paridahyate—is burning all over; na—not; cha—and; śhaknomi—am able; avasthātum—remain steady; bhramati iva—whirling like; cha—and; me—my; mana—mind; nimittāni—omens; cha—and; paśhyāmi—I see; viparītāni—misfortune; keśhava—Shree Krishna, killer of the Keshi demon; na—not; cha—also; śhreya—good; anupaśhyāmi—I foresee; hatvā—from killing; sva-janam—kinsmen; āhave—in battle

Meaning:  My whole body shudders; my hair is standing on end. My bow, the Gāṇḍīv, is slipping from my hand, and my skin is burning all over. My mind is in quandary and whirling in confusion; I am unable to hold myself steady any longer. O Krishna, killer of the Keshi demon, I only see omens of misfortune. I do not foresee how any good can come from killing my own kinsmen in this battle.

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