sanjaya uvaca
drstva tu pandavanikam
vyudham duryodhanas tada
acaryam upasangamya
raja vacanam abravit


Sanjaya said: O King, after looking over the army gathered by the sons of Pandu, King Duryodhana went to his teacher and began to speak the following words:||1:02||


pasyaitam pandu-putranam
acarya mahatim camum
vyudham drupada-putrena
tava sisyena dhimata


O my teacher, behold the great army of the sons of Pandu, so expertly arranged by your intelligent disciple, the son of Drupada.||1:03||



atra sura mahesvasa
bhimarjuna-sama yudhi
yuyudhano viratas ca
drupadas ca maha-rathah


Here in this army there are many heroic bowmen equal in fighting to Bhima and Arjuna; there are also great fighters like Yuyudhana, Virata and Drupada.||1:04||



dhrstaketus cekitanah
kasirajas ca viryavan
purujit kuntibhojas ca
saibyas ca nara-pungavah


There are also great, heroic, powerful fighters like Dhrstaketu, Cekitana, Kasiraja, Purujit, Kuntibhoja and Saibya.||1:05||



yudhamanyus ca vikranta
uttamaujas ca viryavan
saubhadro draupadeyas ca
sarva eva maha-rathah


There are the mighty Yudhamanyu, the very powerful Uttamauja, the son of Subhadra and the sons of Draupadi. All these warriors are great chariot fighters.||1:06||



asmakam tu visista ye
tan nibodha dvijottama
nayaka mama sainyasya
samjnartham tan bravimi te


O best of the brahmanas, for your information, let me tell you about the captains who are especially qualified to lead my military force.||1:07||



bhavan bhismas ca karnas ca
krpas ca samitim-jayah
asvatthama vikarnas ca
saumadattis tathaiva ca


There are personalities like yourself, Bhisma, Karna, Krpa, Asvatthama, Vikarna and the son of Somadatta called Bhurisrava, who are always victorious in battle.||1:08||



anye ca bahavah sura
mad-arthe tyakta-jivitah
nana-sastra-praharanah
sarve yuddha-visaradah


There are many other heroes who are prepared to lay down their lives for my sake. All of them are well equipped with different kinds of weapons, and all are experienced in military science. ||1:09||



aparyaptam tad asmakam
balam bhismabhiraksitam
paryaptam tv idam etesam
balam bhimabhiraksitam


Our strength is immeasurable, and we are perfectly protected by Grandfather Bhisma, whereas the strength of the Pandavas, carefully protected by Bhima, is limited.||1:10||



ayanesu ca sarvesu
yatha-bhagam avasthitah
bhismam evabhiraksantu
bhavantah sarva eva hi


Now all of you must give full support to Grandfather Bhisma, standing at your respective strategic points in the phalanx of the army.||1:11||

Bhagvadgita starts with the perspectives of Duryodhana. Duryodhana’s perspective is typical of a soldier. He walks in the battlefield and sees other good soldiers. He analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of each side and draws up a strategy. He says, “We should protect Bhishma and that will lead us to victory.” However strong the Pandava army may be, we shall prevail.

Duryodhana is right where he wanted to be. He had tried to get rid of the Padava brothers before but did not succeed. He had humiliated Draupadi publicly. And ultimately the Pandavas were dragged in to the war. It was not their choice. Duryodhana did not leave any options to them. The last straw broke when Krishna went to Duryodhana on behalf of the Pandavas for five villages on and the offer was totally rejected. No piece of land was offered to the Pandavas. And, that is what led to this gathering in the Kurukshetra. The time for showdown had come.

It is interesting to note that Duryodhana starts from acknowledging the greatness of the individuals from his enemy camp. This is not that common in most wars. Usually, the Chiefs start from looking at the strengths of their army and then describe the weaknesses of the other side. Duryodhana, for whatever his downfalls may be, deserves credit for acknowledging the merits of the Pandavas. He is not a man suffering from any sort of inferiority complex. He knows his strengths and he acknowledges the strengths of the opposition army.

He appears to have done a good job as a leader. He is brave and had the best of trainings in the use of weapons. He had been trained by no other than Balram the elder brother of Krishna in the gadayudha. He also seems to have collected a formidable and almost invincible army. He was a baddy. There is no doubt about that. But, somehow he managed to keep the strongest of the people of those times on his side. For one reason or the other, Bhishma, Dronacharya, Karna and all stayed with him. There have always been bad people in the history of mankind. There was Ravana in Ramayana times and there is Duryodhana in Mahabharata times. But, if you examine their character and integrity, you sometimes wonder how good strategists they might have been. They had high standards, and had some sort of integrity too. Duryodhana has been the cause of the Mahabharata war, but has done a good job of having an awesome army on his side. It does take some talent to achieve that.

When it came to selecting the General, he appointed Bhishma for that position, the most suitable warrior of the time. No wonder, he could conclude in the shloka 11 that his army guarded by Bhishma will win over the other army guarded by Bhima.

He sees Bhima as the equivalent to be the core man of the Pandavas like Bhishma on his side. This is so interesting. We all know that it was Arjuna who was the anchorman of the Pandavas. But, wait a minute. We now know the whole story. Was it clear in the beginning of the war? Let us see who was the big guy in the Pandavas? Who ate the most? Who was the strongest physically? Who made promises of killing Dushasana and Duryodhana to avenge the insult of Draupadi? It was Bhim. To Duryodhana he was the obvious danger. Arjun is the anchor in retrospect. He actually did not want to fight. As we will see later in Gita when we examine the Arjuna perspective, Arjuna is not so interested in any of what Duryodhana is interested in. He does not even see soldiers around. He sees relations instead. It so happens that he becomes the real hero of Mahabharata as the battle progresses on.

What did Duryodhana miss in his analysis? How come he was proven wrong? We must examine this. He obviously was wrong in underestimating Arjun. But more than that he did not take into account the presence of Krishna. The unknown forces of Parmatma that changed the whole outcome of Mahabharata appeared in Krishna. Duryodhanana would not have thought of Krishna being able to persuade Arjuna if he did not want to fight. He would not have imagined that Krishna would have any influence on the outcome at all. After all Krishna had promised not to fight in the battle. He was simply a saarathi (a chauffer). The agyat (unknown) could have so much influence was out of reach of the understanding of Duryodhana.

Even in today’s warfare, the strengths of armies and the weapons are important. There are some unknowns that are taken into account. The weather is accounted for. The pressure of the world opinion is taken into account. But, besides these there are other forces. In those days of Mahabharata, the divine forces were taken into account as well. Krishna got Arjun to pray to Durga before the war. Rama in Ramayana worshipped Shiva in Rameshwaram before embarking on to the final assault on Lanka. But the forces of Parmatma especially in the form of Krishna are what Duryodhana missed completely. And, the table turned on him.

Gita may be viewed as a shashtra of different perspectives. The typical perspective as outlines here is that of Duryodhana. We will later examine Arjuna’s perspective and then finally the third perspective that comes from Parmatma himself, that of Krishna’s. And, that is what makes Gita Bhagavadgita (a song sung by Parmatma).


Declaration of War - Slippery slope (1:12 - 1:13)



tasya sanjanayan harsam
kuru-vrddhah pitamahah
simha-nadam vinadyoccaih
sankham dadhmau pratapavan


Then Bhisma, the great valiant grandsire of the Kuru dynasty, the grandfather of the fighters, blew his conchshell very loudly like the sound of a lion, giving Duryodhana joy. ||1:12||



tatah sankhas ca bheryas ca
panavanaka-gomukhah
sahasaivabhyahanyanta
sa sabdas tumulo 'bhavat


After that, the conchshells, bugles, trumpets, drums and horns were all suddenly sounded, and the combined sound was tumultuous. ||1:13||

Declaration of War
As Duryodhana finished his analysis and strategy talk with Dronacharya (1:11), Bhishma blew the concshell to declare the war. So far the war was a possibility, it was probable; now it was official. It is understandable that Bhishma was the one to start the declaration. He was the most respected amongst both the Kauravas and the Pandavas. He was the General appointed by Duryodhana and most of all was an invincible warrior.

What is more interesting is the fact that Duryodhana was delighted with this declaration of the war. This is very perturbing but is not only true in the times of Mahabharata but it holds true even today. The moot question is, does war give pleasure to any one? And if it does, then is there need for a reason for a given war? And, how do you find friends and enroll others in such an act.

Obviously, Duryodhana is happy that ultimately he got the war going. As pointed out in the last write up, this is where he wanted to be. The showdown time has come. He has the stronger army. He has a stronger General. He thinks that his side will definitely win. Once he wins, he will have an unopposed kingdom. There will be no one to challenge him. All these things must be going through his head to give him the pleasure that showed on his face when the war was declared.

Yes, there are some people who enjoy, wars. They derive some sort of pleasure from killing. It is true even today, may be more so today than in those times. How else can you justify the current day terrorism? How else can you explain killing of innocent villagers? How else can you explain hijacking and blowing up of planes? There are people who cherish violence for violence sake. They do not see the human aspect of the war. They are so blinded by their pleasure out of the war that they forget what havoc it causes to the people involved. And this leads them down the slippery path. Once the desire takes over, it feeds on itself.

It is crucial to understand the phenomenon of enjoying violence, because of how subtle the functioning of the mind is. Most of the time, we find a reason why we are upset. Buddha or Krishna will look at it differently, they will say that you are the problem; you are upset first and you find a reason to justify your upset mood later. Duryodhan wanted a war; it is obvious from his happiness shown at the declaration of the war. He kept closing all doors to peace one by one and the Pandavas were dragged to this situation. In fact, Pandavas had many more reasons to fight when compared to Duryodhana. But, no they did not want it; they derived no pleasure from conflicts.

People of very high caliber surrounded Duryodhana. There were wise people like Bhishma Pitamah, Guru Dronacharya and others. But who were his close associates? Mama Shakuni was a crook and he was the closest friend and advisor that Duryodhana had. It is not difficult to find friends in any situation. His slippery slope started with his mode of thinking and it accelerated with the company he kept. With the declaration of war it just gathered more speed.

There is much to learn from these shlokas. Whenever you start enjoying a torture or a punishment, there is something wrong. It is easy to be judgmental and say how bad Duryodhana was in Mahabharata. But, we should not forget that every one of us has part of that Duryodhana in us. All it takes is the start of the slippery slope. You are angry with your son. He dares to object to what you said. You have a choice of using your love and understanding here. You choose to hit your adult son. And the slippery slope starts. There are several examples on individual levels and on public levels in the current world. How do Ranbir Sena and the Naxals in Bihar survive? How come Pakistan continues to support terrorism? The same slippery slope is evident here. And once the slope starts, there is no stopping. It is important to understand this. Once you take this path, you face the consequences of that path. And, there is a certain momentum that establishes in the process. The way to get out is to change the path completely; stop and take a fresh look at the situation.

The war has been declared from the Kaurava’s side. Some are happy and some are unhappy. A response is expected from the Pandava side. Many in the Kurukshetra might be still thinking as to what Pandavas will do. Will they accept the challenge or will they decide not to fight. There had been several occasions where the Pandavas could have picked up a fight, but they decided not to. We shall explore that in the next column.


Let’s play hardball (1:14-1:18)



tatah svetair hayair yukte
mahati syandane sthitau
madhavah pandavas caiva
divyau sankhau pradadhmatuh

On the other side, both Lord Krsna and Arjuna, stationed on a great chariot drawn by white horses, sounded their transcendental conchshells.||1:14||


pancajanyam hrsikeso
devadattam dhananjayah
paundram dadhmau maha-sankham
bhima-karma vrkodarah


Then, Lord Krsna blew His conchshell, called Pancajanya; Arjuna blew his, the Devadatta; and Bhima, the voracious eater and performer of Herculean tasks, blew his terrific conchshell called Paundram. ||1:15||





anantavijayam raja
kunti-putro yudhisthirah
nakulah sahadevas ca
sughosa-manipuspakau
kasyas ca paramesv-asah
sikhandi ca maha-rathah
dhrstadyumno viratas ca
satyakis caparajitah
drupado draupadeyas ca
sarvasah prthivi-pate
saubhadras ca maha-bahuh
sankhan dadhmuh prthak prthak


King Yudhisthira, the son of Kunti, blew his conchshell, the Ananta-vijaya, and Nakula and Sahadeva blew the Sughosa and Manipuspaka. That great archer the King of Kasi, the great fighter Sikhandi, Dhrstadyumna, Virata and the unconquerable Satyaki, Drupada, the sons of Draupadi, and the others, O King, such as the son of Subhadra, greatly armed, all blew their respective conchshells. ||1:16-1:18||



sa ghoso dhartarastranam
hrdayani vyadarayat
nabhas ca prthivim caiva
tumulo 'bhyanunadayan


The blowing of these different conchshells became uproarious, and thus, vibrating both in the sky and on the earth, it shattered the hearts of the sons of Dhrtarastra. ||1:19||

Let’s play hardball

Arjun’s readiness
Kapi dhwaj
The unseen forces of Mahabharata
Krishnafield

Now it is time for the Pandavas to respond. The war has been declared by the Kauravas. It should be clearly understood that the war has been thrust upon the Pandavas. They are not responsible for starting the fight or even declaring the war. But, to the surprise of others they are ready to respond. This time they are ready to respond.

The question is who will be the first to respond from the Pandava’s side. Bhishma is the General from the Kaurava’s and he blew the concshell first. You will think that the General from Pandava’s should respond first. If not, then one of the Pandava brothers should respond. Yudhisthir (the eldest brother) takes a different stand. And, I think that this was his winning strategy.

This in my opinion is the turning point in the whole of Mahabharata. Pandava brothers were successful in getting Krishna to come to their side. Krishna had vowed that he would only be with them as a saarathi (chauffer). The Pandavs were happy that Krishna would be with them. They did not care in what form he would be with them. Now Yudhisthir gets Krishna to respond to Bhishma’s call.

This is so important. It is worth meditating over. The response is given by Krishna. He was just a driver. He is not going to fight. But, it is significant in two ways. Firstly, the Pandavas are saying to Krishna, the Parmatma, that you got us into it, now it is up to you to see us through. We did not want the fight; we tried to avoid it by all means. Now that it is here, it is in your hands. They just surrendered the whole war to the Parmatma. Now, whatever the result, whatever the end may be, Pandavas are ready to accept.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, Krishna is not blowing the concshell as a person. His concshell has been termed transcendental. For whatever that means, Krishna the Parmatma, here represents the whole existence. It should also be clear that Krishna is not reacting to Bhishma’s call. He is simply responding to his call and accepting for whatever has to happen. In American terms, he is saying, “You want to play hardball, Let us play hardball.”

I said earlier that Krishna represents the existence. Let me explore this a little further. When President of a country (say USA) goes to another country (say India), he goes there as a person. But, with him goes an entourage of others. He may be accompanied by his wife or daughter, but in actual fact represents the whole country (say USA). He is greeted as head of the state and not so much as a person. Similarly, when a celebrity (Hema Malini) stands on a stage, she is not there so much as a person; she may be there more as her image (eg. Basanti of Sholay). Krishna has a different representation. He is manifest as a person, a human face and body. But he represents the cosmos. He is ocean inside of a drop. The drop may look as a structure with boundaries and limits, but in Krishna’s case it is vaster than the ocean. This is what I would like to call the Krishnafield. When Krishna responds, it is really the Krishnafield responding.

And he says, “Let us play hardball.” The others in Pandava side follow and blow their concshells and other instruments. This response was to some extent unexpected. The Pandavas in the past have not responded in such a manner. They backed off. This time, not only they responded, but also they responded with a resolve. This unexpected response with all their resolve drove an element of fear in the hearts of the Kauravas. The inevitable is here. Now they have to fight. The talk time is over.

This is the turning point in the whole of Mahabharata. So far, Krishna was just present with the Pandavas. His presence was important. But, by blowing the concshell first on behalf of the Pandavas in response to the Kauravas challenge Krishna just got involved. Now, it is his responsibility to see the war through. And as a strategy, what could be a better strategy for the Pandavas. Now, even if Arjun does not fight or even if the Pandavas loose, it is o.k. But, Krishna can never let that happen. We also have to remember that there were two kinds of people in those times. Those that thought Krishna was just a human being and those that knew him as Krishnafield, the Parmatma.


The Unseen forces of Mahabharata (1:20-1:27):




atha vyavasthitan drstva
dhartarastran kapi-dhvajah
pravrtte sastra-sampate
dhanur udyamya pandavah


O King, at that time Arjuna, the son of Pandu, who was seated in his chariot, his flag marked with Hanuman, took up his bow and prepared to shoot his arrows, looking at the sons of Dhrtarastra. O King, Arjuna then spoke to Hrsikesa [Krsna] these words||1:20||


arjuna uvaca
hrsikesam tada vakyam
idam aha mahi-pate

senayor ubhayor madhye
ratham sthapaya me 'cyuta


yavad etan nirikse 'ham
yoddhu-kaman avasthitan
kair maya saha yoddhavyam
asmin rana-samudyame


Arjuna said: O infallible one, please draw my chariot between the two armies so that I may see who is present here, who is desirous of fighting, and with whom I must contend in this great battle attempt.||1:21-1:22||





yotsyamanan avekse 'ham
ya ete 'tra samagatah
dhartarastrasya durbuddher
yuddhe priya-cikirsavah
sanjaya uvaca
evam ukto hrsikeso
gudakesena bharata
senayor ubhayor madhye
sthapayitva rathottamam
bhisma-drona-pramukhatah
sarvesam ca mahi-ksitam
uvaca partha pasyaitan
samavetan kurun iti


Let me see those who have come here to fight, wishing to please the evil-minded son of Dhrtarastra. Sanjaya said: O descendant of Bharata, being thus addressed by Arjuna, Lord Krsna drew up the fine chariot in the midst of the armies of both parties. In the presence of Bhisma, Drona and all other chieftains of the world, Hrsikesa, the Lord, said, Just behold, Partha, all the Kurus who are assembled here.||1:23:1:25||



tatrapasyat sthitan parthah
pitrn atha pitamahan
acaryan matulan bhratrn
putran pautran sakhims tatha


There Arjuna could see, within the midst of the armies of both parties, his fathers, grandfathers, teachers, maternal uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, friends, and also his father-in-law and well-wishers--all present there.||1:26||



svasuran suhrdas caiva
senayor ubhayor api
tan samiksya sa kaunteyah
sarvan bandhun avasthitan

When the son of Kunti, Arjuna, saw all these different grades of friends and relatives, he became overwhelmed with compassion and spoke thus.||1:27||

The Unseen forces of Mahabharata (1:20-1:27):

Parmatma
Light bulb/energy
The universe
Ishwar allah eke naam politically correct
Hanuman
Ramayana and Mahabharata
Gudakesha
Relatives
Right observation

The scene is set. War has been declared by the Kauravas and it has been accepted by the Pandavas. Arjuna gets ready. He picks up his bow and arrow and requests his saarathi Krishna to place his chariot so that he can see the ones he has to fight. Krishna does exactly that.

This is worth taking a note of. Arjuna is cool and collected. He is now ready to fight. He is ready to shoot his arrows. He wants to assess and evaluate the strengths of the people he has to fight with. If you see his statements, it is obvious that he is not angry and is not too eager to fight. He wants to evaluate first. People who are too eager to fight, people who fight with anger often loose. Arjuna knows that. His whole approach of wanting to evaluate the situation without getting emotional speaks for itself that he knows the art of winning in a battle.

But, when he goes to evaluate the scene, whom does he see? He sees relatives and friends on both sides of the army. This war is unique in that sense. A large family as if has been divided by an arbitrary line. For some body like Arjuns with intellectual mind it is hard to ignore this fact. The question is not that of enemy and friend; the question is who is less friendly and who is more friendly. Even worse, there are people on the Duryodhana side who love Arjuna more than they love Duryodhana. Dronacharya for example loved Arjuna so much that he asked Ekalabya’s thumb for his Gurudakshina simply to keep Arjuna number one in the archery. Now, Dronacharya is standing in the so-called enemy camp.

When you are obsessed with the desire to fight, when you are guided by anger and hate, all you want to see is how you are going to win. That is what Duryodhana saw when he looked at the two sides. When a war is thrust upon you, when you are drawn in a war without any active participation on your part, you are prone to see what Arjuna sees. The same scene, the same Kurukshetra, the same people; Duryodhana sees yodhas (warriors) and Arjuna sees friends and relatives. Both judgments are true but at the same time vastly different.

The situation is getting close to take an unexpected turn. We will explore that further in later verses. But here I want to bring to attention some unseen factors that are mentioned in passing in these verses. Kapidhwaj is one of them. This refers to Hanuman. It is interesting to note that Rama and Hanuman played a different role in Ramayana when compared to Krishna and Hanuman in Mahabharata.

In Ramayana, Ram takes up the bow and arrow in his own hands. Hanuman takes an active role too. In Mahabharata Krishna takes the role of a saarathi (driver) and Hanuman has the role of a stabilizer. Hanuman’s role is almost completely silent. It is not highlighted at all. You only find some fleeting reference here and there. At the end of the war Krishna asks Arjuna to dismount first and then he dismounts himself. Hanuman then flies off and the chariot burn to ashes. This signifies what role Hanuman may have played. In my mind, this Kapidhwaj although mentioned in passing has gone deep in the psyche of many Indians. In my village, for example, many people have this kapidhwaj in their houses and have strong feelings and respect for the flag.

A question sometimes arises as to why if Rama and Krishna represent Parmatma, do they need the role of Hanuman? My feeling is that Rama and Krishna have a more global approach while Hanuman can have a more focused approach. After all, both Rama and Krishna had a human aspect as well as that of the Parmatma. Some force needs to keep a close watch on the smaller things around them as well. In today’s’ terms, a Prime Minister needs a Personal Assistant (PA) and a President needs a Chief of Staff.

The other question is how did Hanuman or Krishna influence the war? There are some places where we can see what Krishna did, but we do not see what Hanuman did. We, at least today want to see to believe. But, let us examine few things that we know about. You see a switch; turn the switch on and the light bulb switches on. You do not see the flow of electricity. You know the physics but you do not see it. Similarly, you see the fruit falling on the ground, but you do not see the gravitational force. There are many other such phenomenon that exist but we do not have an explanation yet. Similarly, the forces of Hanuman, which were perhaps evident once, are beyond our explanation range today. But that does not mean it did not exist.

We have used the word Parmatma several times since the eGita series started. I have deliberately avoided using the word God or Godhead in this reference. The reason is that to me Parmatma, God and Allah convey different meaning to different people. Gandhi popularized the saying “Allah Ishwar Eke Naam” in his time. ‘Allah Ishwar Eke Naam’ may have been a politically correct slogan but spiritually it is an incomplete statement. I am not trying to say that one is inferior to the other. I am simply saying that they are uniquely different.

Let me explain it a little further. God to an Indian may mean the same as Parmatma. He has only known Parmatma and thinks these two words to be synonymous. But, for a westerner, Parmatma means God unless the differences are pointed out to him. A western mind has not yet thought of anything beyond God. It is not exposed to the existence of Adwaita (non-duality), it is not aware of nirvichar (thoughtlessnes). The west is already exploring all this through the techniques of yoga and meditation, but has not yet been exposed to the concepts of Atma and Parmatma. It has been partly our fault too. We have been translating Parmatma to God in every literature that exists. God conveys the meaning of goodness, it reminds you of Ten Commandments, and it also raises the possibility of the opposite that is Satan. Parmatma on the other hand is all-inclusive. The east has been able to say that Parmatma includes the good and the bad, the terrible things that happen as well as the magnificent ones. It blooms through the flowers of spring and at the same time it brings destruction through the lava of volcanoes

Parmatma has to be understood in its entirety without translations and similes. We shall do this all along through our discussions on eGita and bringing in excerpts from Upanishads and other shashtras.


Arjuna’s Perspective – To kill or not to kill (1:28-1:39)


Arjuna said: My dear Krsna, seeing my friends and relatives present before me in such a fighting spirit, I feel the limbs of my body quivering and my mouth drying up. ||1:28||




My whole body is trembling, and my hair is standing on end. My bow Gandiva is slipping from my hand, and my skin is burning. ||1:29||


I am now unable to stand here any longer. I am forgetting myself, and my mind is reeling. I foresee only evil, O killer of the Kesi demon. ||1:30||


I do not see how any good can come from killing my own kinsmen in this battle, nor can I, my dear Krsna, desire any subsequent victory, kingdom, or happiness. ||1:31||





O Govinda, of what avail to us are kingdoms, happiness or even life itself when all those for whom we may desire them are now arrayed in this battlefield? O Madhusudana, when teachers, fathers, sons, grandfathers, maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons, brothers-in-law and all relatives are ready to give up their lives and properties and are standing before me, then why should I wish to kill them, though I may survive? O maintainer of all creatures, I am not prepared to fight with them even in exchange for the three worlds, let alone this earth. ||1:32-1:35||


Sin will overcome us if we slay such aggressors. Therefore it is not proper for us to kill the sons of Dhrtarastra and our friends. What should we gain, O Krsna, husband of the goddess of fortune, and how could we be happy by killing our own kinsmen? ||1:36||



O Janardana, although these men, overtaken by greed, see no fault in killing one's family or quarreling with friends, why should we, with knowledge of the sin, engage in these acts? ||1:37-1:38||


With the destruction of dynasty, the eternal family tradition is vanquished, and thus the rest of the family becomes involved in irreligious practice. ||1:39||

The same scenario is there that we analyzed in the Duryodhana’s Perspective. The armies are facing each other. They are ready to fight. The war now has been declared. Arjuna’s rath is facing such that he can see the two armies. And he is shocked to see his own on both sides of the army. The effect of this goes deep inside Arjuna. This has an impact on the whole existence of Arjuna. His body is affected profoundly by this encounter.

Before we get further we should understand the role Arjuna is playing in the Mahabharata. He is a soldier; literally speaking he is in a war and is trained to fight. Now, a soldier of today is trained to take orders and not to think. If he disobeys because of his own thinking and judgment, he is almost certain to be court-marshaled. He will have to face the court of military law apart from being disgraced for that. William Jefferson Clinton, the president of America, is said to have avoided going in the Draft in his times. He still carries that baggage on his shoulders. So, we have to see Arjuna here in this context. He is a soldier. His brothers are counting on him. Draupadi is counting on him. Krishna is counting on him. Dharma is counting on him.

It is unique in the times of Mahabharata that Arjuna being a soldier is still allowed to think. He is not expected to take orders either from the General or his elder brother. You may be in the army, but you can still use your judgment. To the army of today it will sound so dangerous. That does not mean that this is necessarily bad.

We also have to understand the difference between inquiry and curiosity. Inquiry is a much deeper phenomenon than a curiosity. Our mind is filled with curiosity, but we rarely inquire. Inquiry happens in one who has grown beyond curiosity. There is a fundamental difference between curiosity and inquiry. A curious man is filled with curiosity about everything. He does not see one thing in its entirety. Scarcely has he glanced at one thing than ten other things distract his attention. And that is why a curious man is never ready for a breakthrough; transformation does not happen to him. All of us want to know who is Parmatma, How is the creation made, what happens when we die, where are the devtas and so on. If this becomes our inquiry, a revolution will happen. This happened to Swami Vivekananda. He went to Ramkrishna and inquired about God. Ramkrishna instead of giving him a logical answer touched Vivekananda with his feet, and the realization happened. Inquiry happens when one is on the verge of a transformation. A kranti is bound to happen to such a person.

What happens here to Arjuna is a deep inquiry. He is in the dilemma of whether to kill or not. The question is not of whether killing is bad or good, but is whether to kill or not kill people who are or have been so close to him. This question goes so deep in Arjuna’s existence that his body starts showing signs as well. In medical terms it is called somatization. Some people when stressed for one reason or other develop symptoms of Peptic ulcer disease. In Arjuna’s case he develops trembling, he cannot hold on to his bow and is unable to continue to stand. All these symptoms happened from the likelihood of the death of his loved ones. It is a good thing that he did not see a psychiatrist and instead Krishna was there to handle him. Ina medical practice patients with somatization disorders are frequently subjected to multiple diagnostic testing and exploratory surgeries in an attempt to find their "real" illness. Such an approach is doomed to failure and does not address the core issue. Successful treatment is best achieved through behavior modification, in which access to the physician is tightly regulated and adjusted to provide a sustained and predictable level of support that is less clearly contingent on the patient's level of presenting distress.

Arjuna is an intellectual person. He is deeply moved by the possible death of his loved ones. The inquiry takes hold of Arjuna’s deepest core. His brain comes into his help as. Now he is coming up with all sorts of logic as to why killing of all these people has is not required. It is worth noting the sequence here. Arjuna first picks up his bow (Gandiva) and is ready to shoot his arrows. He then wishes to look at the enemy camp to decide who and how he is going to fight. Then he sees his own on both side of the fence and his body starts trembling from the possibility of death of his close ones. Mamatva takes hold of him. Now intellectualization and rationalization arises from his mind. It is important to understand that reasoning followed physical attributes. He does not want his friends and relatives to fight and then he tries to rationalize that. This is the usual sequence in our real life as well. We are angry first, an action happens next. The body acquires an aggressive posture and the hands might be used to hit the one you are angry with. We then give a reason why the action of hitting took place. Most of the time it appears that the reason came first and then came the anger; but the reality is completely opposite.

To kill or not to kill is the question. Arjuna is arguing what he will gain from killing and is it worth killing for those gains. He is not saying that I do not believe in killing. Krishna perhaps would have left Arjuna alone if it was Arjuna’s realization. But not, Arjuna is weighing the benefits and loss from killing; he is into profit and loss from the killings. Arjuna is saying that the enemy is full of greed but should he also be in the same boat. Arjuna’s logic however is all concerned about materialistic world. He is trying to say that he would be willing to forego the highest rewards and still not kill his friends and relatives. His logic is sound but is not the logic or language of a spiritualist. He is still very much in the materialist realm.

This is always a problem with intellectuals in the entire universe. A civilization that becomes advances is always in danger of being attacked. After the time of Budha and Mahavir, India became too much interested in intellectual pursuit. There was no interest in defending or attacking. This was great for some reasons, but not so great for the national interests. The balance was lost. The armies from inferior civilizations were ready to attack. They were not worried about the question of ‘to kill or not to kill.’ They were ready to kill and so they did. This is the whole basis of the thought process of terrorists today. They do not stop and think, they want to make a point and there goes an airplane, up in flames.

Arjuna is deeply touched by the possibility of death to his close ones. He is in the dilemma of “To kill or not to kill.” The inquiry has arisen. All Arjuna’s questions are still on the materialist plane. Soon a kranti is bound to happen. We shall see how Krishna takes Arjuna on a spiritual journey and transforms his very being.


Arjuna’s state of mind (1:40 – 1:47)





When irreligion is prominent in the family, O Krsna, the women of the family become corrupt, and from the degradation of womanhood, O descendant of Vrsni, comes unwanted progeny.||1:40-41||




When there is increase of unwanted population, a hellish situation is created both for the family and for those who destroy the family tradition. In such corrupt families, there is no offering of oblations of food and water to the ancestors. ||1:42||


Due to the evil deeds of the destroyers of family tradition, all kinds of community projects and family welfare activities are devastated. ||1:43||


O Krsna, maintainer of the people, I have heard by disciplic succession that those who destroy family traditions dwell always in hell. ||1:44||


Alas, how strange it is that we are preparing to commit greatly sinful acts, driven by the desire to enjoy royal happiness. ||1:45||


I would consider it better for the sons of Dhrtarastra to kill me unarmed and unresisting, rather than to fight with them. ||1:46||

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CHAPTER 01 - The Unseen forces of Mahabharata (1:20-1:27) PDF Print E-mail
Gita - Gita Articles by Krishna Bhatta
Article Index
CHAPTER 01
Declaration of War - Slippery slope (1:12 - 1:13)
Let’s play hardball (1:14-1:19)
The Unseen forces of Mahabharata (1:20-1:27)
Arjuna’s Perspective – To kill or not to kill (1:28-1:39)
Arjuna’s state of mind (1:40 – 1:47)
All Pages

The Unseen forces of Mahabharata (1:20-1:27):




atha vyavasthitan drstva
dhartarastran kapi-dhvajah
pravrtte sastra-sampate
dhanur udyamya pandavah


O King, at that time Arjuna, the son of Pandu, who was seated in his chariot, his flag marked with Hanuman, took up his bow and prepared to shoot his arrows, looking at the sons of Dhrtarastra. O King, Arjuna then spoke to Hrsikesa [Krsna] these words||1:20||


arjuna uvaca
hrsikesam tada vakyam
idam aha mahi-pate

senayor ubhayor madhye
ratham sthapaya me 'cyuta


yavad etan nirikse 'ham
yoddhu-kaman avasthitan
kair maya saha yoddhavyam
asmin rana-samudyame


Arjuna said: O infallible one, please draw my chariot between the two armies so that I may see who is present here, who is desirous of fighting, and with whom I must contend in this great battle attempt.||1:21-1:22||





yotsyamanan avekse 'ham
ya ete 'tra samagatah
dhartarastrasya durbuddher
yuddhe priya-cikirsavah
sanjaya uvaca
evam ukto hrsikeso
gudakesena bharata
senayor ubhayor madhye
sthapayitva rathottamam
bhisma-drona-pramukhatah
sarvesam ca mahi-ksitam
uvaca partha pasyaitan
samavetan kurun iti


Let me see those who have come here to fight, wishing to please the evil-minded son of Dhrtarastra. Sanjaya said: O descendant of Bharata, being thus addressed by Arjuna, Lord Krsna drew up the fine chariot in the midst of the armies of both parties. In the presence of Bhisma, Drona and all other chieftains of the world, Hrsikesa, the Lord, said, Just behold, Partha, all the Kurus who are assembled here.||1:23:1:25||



tatrapasyat sthitan parthah
pitrn atha pitamahan
acaryan matulan bhratrn
putran pautran sakhims tatha


There Arjuna could see, within the midst of the armies of both parties, his fathers, grandfathers, teachers, maternal uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, friends, and also his father-in-law and well-wishers--all present there.||1:26||



svasuran suhrdas caiva
senayor ubhayor api
tan samiksya sa kaunteyah
sarvan bandhun avasthitan

When the son of Kunti, Arjuna, saw all these different grades of friends and relatives, he became overwhelmed with compassion and spoke thus.||1:27||

The Unseen forces of Mahabharata (1:20-1:27):

Parmatma
Light bulb/energy
The universe
Ishwar allah eke naam politically correct
Hanuman
Ramayana and Mahabharata
Gudakesha
Relatives
Right observation

The scene is set. War has been declared by the Kauravas and it has been accepted by the Pandavas. Arjuna gets ready. He picks up his bow and arrow and requests his saarathi Krishna to place his chariot so that he can see the ones he has to fight. Krishna does exactly that.

This is worth taking a note of. Arjuna is cool and collected. He is now ready to fight. He is ready to shoot his arrows. He wants to assess and evaluate the strengths of the people he has to fight with. If you see his statements, it is obvious that he is not angry and is not too eager to fight. He wants to evaluate first. People who are too eager to fight, people who fight with anger often loose. Arjuna knows that. His whole approach of wanting to evaluate the situation without getting emotional speaks for itself that he knows the art of winning in a battle.

But, when he goes to evaluate the scene, whom does he see? He sees relatives and friends on both sides of the army. This war is unique in that sense. A large family as if has been divided by an arbitrary line. For some body like Arjuns with intellectual mind it is hard to ignore this fact. The question is not that of enemy and friend; the question is who is less friendly and who is more friendly. Even worse, there are people on the Duryodhana side who love Arjuna more than they love Duryodhana. Dronacharya for example loved Arjuna so much that he asked Ekalabya’s thumb for his Gurudakshina simply to keep Arjuna number one in the archery. Now, Dronacharya is standing in the so-called enemy camp.

When you are obsessed with the desire to fight, when you are guided by anger and hate, all you want to see is how you are going to win. That is what Duryodhana saw when he looked at the two sides. When a war is thrust upon you, when you are drawn in a war without any active participation on your part, you are prone to see what Arjuna sees. The same scene, the same Kurukshetra, the same people; Duryodhana sees yodhas (warriors) and Arjuna sees friends and relatives. Both judgments are true but at the same time vastly different.

The situation is getting close to take an unexpected turn. We will explore that further in later verses. But here I want to bring to attention some unseen factors that are mentioned in passing in these verses. Kapidhwaj is one of them. This refers to Hanuman. It is interesting to note that Rama and Hanuman played a different role in Ramayana when compared to Krishna and Hanuman in Mahabharata.

In Ramayana, Ram takes up the bow and arrow in his own hands. Hanuman takes an active role too. In Mahabharata Krishna takes the role of a saarathi (driver) and Hanuman has the role of a stabilizer. Hanuman’s role is almost completely silent. It is not highlighted at all. You only find some fleeting reference here and there. At the end of the war Krishna asks Arjuna to dismount first and then he dismounts himself. Hanuman then flies off and the chariot burn to ashes. This signifies what role Hanuman may have played. In my mind, this Kapidhwaj although mentioned in passing has gone deep in the psyche of many Indians. In my village, for example, many people have this kapidhwaj in their houses and have strong feelings and respect for the flag.

A question sometimes arises as to why if Rama and Krishna represent Parmatma, do they need the role of Hanuman? My feeling is that Rama and Krishna have a more global approach while Hanuman can have a more focused approach. After all, both Rama and Krishna had a human aspect as well as that of the Parmatma. Some force needs to keep a close watch on the smaller things around them as well. In today’s’ terms, a Prime Minister needs a Personal Assistant (PA) and a President needs a Chief of Staff.

The other question is how did Hanuman or Krishna influence the war? There are some places where we can see what Krishna did, but we do not see what Hanuman did. We, at least today want to see to believe. But, let us examine few things that we know about. You see a switch; turn the switch on and the light bulb switches on. You do not see the flow of electricity. You know the physics but you do not see it. Similarly, you see the fruit falling on the ground, but you do not see the gravitational force. There are many other such phenomenon that exist but we do not have an explanation yet. Similarly, the forces of Hanuman, which were perhaps evident once, are beyond our explanation range today. But that does not mean it did not exist.

We have used the word Parmatma several times since the eGita series started. I have deliberately avoided using the word God or Godhead in this reference. The reason is that to me Parmatma, God and Allah convey different meaning to different people. Gandhi popularized the saying “Allah Ishwar Eke Naam” in his time. ‘Allah Ishwar Eke Naam’ may have been a politically correct slogan but spiritually it is an incomplete statement. I am not trying to say that one is inferior to the other. I am simply saying that they are uniquely different.

Let me explain it a little further. God to an Indian may mean the same as Parmatma. He has only known Parmatma and thinks these two words to be synonymous. But, for a westerner, Parmatma means God unless the differences are pointed out to him. A western mind has not yet thought of anything beyond God. It is not exposed to the existence of Adwaita (non-duality), it is not aware of nirvichar (thoughtlessnes). The west is already exploring all this through the techniques of yoga and meditation, but has not yet been exposed to the concepts of Atma and Parmatma. It has been partly our fault too. We have been translating Parmatma to God in every literature that exists. God conveys the meaning of goodness, it reminds you of Ten Commandments, and it also raises the possibility of the opposite that is Satan. Parmatma on the other hand is all-inclusive. The east has been able to say that Parmatma includes the good and the bad, the terrible things that happen as well as the magnificent ones. It blooms through the flowers of spring and at the same time it brings destruction through the lava of volcanoes

Parmatma has to be understood in its entirety without translations and similes. We shall do this all along through our discussions on eGita and bringing in excerpts from Upanishads and other shashtras.



 

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