Chapter 1 -Arjuna's sorrow


|| Om tat sat ||
"O Sanjaya, what did my sons and Pandu's sons do when they assembled on the sacred field, Kurukshetra, eager for the battle?"


Bhagavad-Gita is a poem embedded in the book of Bhishma in Mahabharata. Mahabbharata consists of eighteen books. Book of Bhishma, the sixth book in the sequence, is about the Kurukshetra war with Bhishma as the General of the Kaurava army.

The two sides, closely related to each other, are set for a battle. On one side are the sons of Dhritarashtra, led by Duryodhana the eldest son, and all those allied to them because of past obligations. On the other side are children of Dhritarashtra's younger brother, King Pandu, led by ever truthful Dharmaraja and all those allied with them.

All the kingdoms of the sacred land of Aryans were divided by their loyalty to the two sides. Krishna, already a famous Yogi, was with Pandavas, while his Yadava army fought on the side of Kauravas. Shalya, the king of Madri, maternal uncle of Pandava's was set to fight on the side of Kauravas, having fallen for a trickery. Only Balarama, brother of Krishna refused to take sides. It was truly a fratricidal war of gigantic proportions.

The book of Bhishma, thus opens with a scene of epic proportions. Chapter 1 of the book of Bhishma, starts with the epic battle scene wherein both sides are ready, having reviewed the protocols to be followed in the battle.

Then the great sage Vyasa made his appearance. Sage Vyasa explains the ways of resolving contentious problems. The best way being both parties coming to an agreement in a spirit of accommodation. The second way is reaching an agreement by subterfuge. Such agreements will never last. The last way is to settle the disagreement by war, which is considered by all as the worst option. Sage Vyasa explained the evil of war and suggested that it should be avoided. Dhritarashtra said that his sons do not agree with him and that he cannot do anything to stop the war.

The Sage Vyasa offerred divine eyesight to the King whereby he can witness all the happenings of the battle field. The King declined the offer. Then Vyasa conferred the divine sight to Sanjaya who may see the events of the battle and keep the King informed. Sanjaya was the advisor as well as charioteer of Dhritarashtra. The divine eye sight enabled Sanjaya to perceive what was in the minds of the protagonists of the battle. Then Sage Vyasa went his way.

Dhritarashtra had no interest in the battle. However since Sanjaya had the divine sight, he asked Sanjaya about all the lands in the east, west, south, and north. Sanjaya describes the forests, fruits, and flowers all over. The discussion extended to the sky, Sun, Moon, and other stars. There is a reference to the size of the Sun and the Moon too. Hearing those enchanting descriptions of the worlds, the King felt sorry that his children pushed for war instead of enjoying the nature created by the Supreme being.

Thus nine days of war passed in these discussions. Dhritarashtra did not ask about the battle raging in Kurukshetra. Sanjaya too did not tell the King about the battle.
On the tenth day of the battle, with the fall of Bhishma, Sanjaya, in great sorrow, informed the king of the great tragedy. Dhritarashtra who had a blind faith in the victory of his son because of the presence of Bhishma and Drona, the teacher, was unable to comprehend how Bhishma could have fallen. He asked that question repeatedly in his sorrow. After being calmed, Dhritarashtra asked about the intricate details of the preparations for the start of the war and the planned formations of the rivals. Sanjaya answered all the questions. Sanjaya also described the misgivings of Dharmaraja on seeing the Kaurava formation, as well as the reassuring response of Arjuna. Arjuna told his elder respected brother that the victory will belong to those following the path of righteousness. All of these were about events before the first day of the battle.

Then Dhritarashtra asked the last question. "O Sanjaya, there on the field of battle, the warriors of which side first advanced to battle cheerfully? Whose hearts were filled with confidence, and who were spiritless from melancholy? In that battle which makes the hearts of men tremble with fear, who were they that struck the first blow, mine or they belonging to the Pandavas? Tell me all this, O Sanjaya. Among whose troops did the flowery garlands and unguents emit fragrant odors? And whose troops, roaring fiercely, uttered merciful words?" Sanjaya patiently answers all of those questions, saying both sides were equally excited to start the battle.

The final question left in that progression is 'what happened on the battle field when they met on the battle field?'.

So the chapter twenty-five of the Book of Bhishma starts with the final question of the King Dhritarashtra. "O Sanjaya, what did my sons and Pandu's sons do when they assembled on the sacred field, Kurukshetra, eager for the battle?

That is the beginning of Bhagavad Gita. The first chapter of Bhagavadgita starts with that question of the King Dhritarashtra.

We start with that first query in Bhagavad Gita.

||om tat sat||
'O Achyuta, place my chariot between both the armies'

Chapter 1
Arjuna's sorrow

Unable to contain his mix of emotions Dhritarashtra finally asks Sanjaya, "What did my children and Pandu's children do, being eager for the battle, having assembled on the sacred field of Kurukshetra."

The mix of emotions in Dhritarashtra's mind swirled around the fact that the battle is happening on the very sacred field of Kurukshetra, which is known for the many pious acts, performed to please Gods. Pandavas being pious may have a change of heart about war. Or his own son too may have a change of heart on the sacred field. Dhritarashtra quickly dismissed those thoughts, since he knew that the battle has now gone on for ten days. He waited for Sanjaya's thoughts which are enabled by the divine sight given by sage Vyasa.

Then Sanjaya closed his eyes. Mentally scanning the battle field saw Duryodhana approaching his teacher, Drona. Sanjaya started the narration, with his eyes closed.
" O King, then Duryodhana, seeing the formation of the Pandava army, spoke to the venerable teacher Drona".

"Duryodhana spoke 'O Teacher, see the formation put together by your intelligent disciple and Drupada's son, for this vast army of the sons of Pandu. Here are great archers, warriors who equal Bhima and Arjuna, Yuyudhana, Virata, also great warrior Drupada. There are also, Dhrishtaketu, Chelkitana, king of Kasi, Purujit, Kuntibhoja, Saibya the best of men., chivalrous Yudhamanyu, Uttamauja, Abhimanyu, sons of Draupadi all of whom are great warriors.'

Duryodhana paused. He realized that while enumerating all the warriors of the other side, he may unwittingly undermine his own side. So changes the direction and continues to speak with Drona, the illustrious teacher about his own warriors.

Sanjaya continued the narration, with Duryodhna talking to his teacher, Drona.

"Best among Brahmins, I am telling you, the foremost leaders of my army for your information. Your venerable self, Bhishma, Karna, Kripa, Samitinjaya as well as Ashwatthama, Vikarna, and Saumadatta. There are many other warriors, proficient in many weapons, proficient in the art of war, ready to sacrifice their life for me. This army of ours is protected by Bhishma and is unlimited. Their army is limited and protected by Bhima".

Duryodhana realizes that his strength lies in keeping Bhishma in the forefront and addresses all the assembled warriors. 'All of you in all the formations, being established in their formations, protect Bhishma in all respects'.

"Bhishma the head of all kurus, who vowed to protect the throne of Kurus, was standing next to Drona. Hearing those words of Duryodhana, to encourage Duryodhana, and also indicate the start of the war, Bhishma let go a roar of approval and blew his conch.
Then the conches and kettle drums, as well as tabors, trumpets, and horns immediately blared forth. That sound was tumultuous".

"Then Krishna and Arjuna, sitting in that magnificent chariot yoked with white horses, loudly blew their divine conches named as Panchajanya and Devadatta. That signaled everybody to follow".

"The son of Kunti and King Yudhishthira blew his conch Ananta Vijaya. Similarly Nakula and Sahadeva blew their conches Sughosha and Manipushpaka). King of Kashi having great bow, also great warrior Sikhandi, Drupada, sons of Draupadi, mighty armed Abhimanyu blew their conches allover and separately. That tumultuous sound spreading all over, echoed through the sky and earth, and pierced the hearts of Dhritarashtra sons. Everything and everyone were ready for the start of the war".

Having thus spoken so far, Sanjaya paused.
He focused his thoughts on Arjuna and Krishna.
Then Sanjaya addressed the King again.

"O King, Arjuna said the following words to Krishna. Arjuna said: 'O Achyuta, place my chariot between both the armies. So, I can see all those with whom I would be battling, and who stands with intent on battle in this impending war. I shall see those warriors assembled here with an intent on fighting, being eager to please evil Duryodhana in the war".

Sanjaya could feel something about to happen. He continued the narration.

"O King, having been thus told by Arjuna, placing the excellent chariot between the two armies in front of Bhishma and Drona, as also all the rulers of the earth, Krishna said: 'O Partha, see the Kauravas assembled here'. Then Arjuna saw standing in front of him uncles, grandfathers, teachers, maternal uncles, brothers and cousins, sons, grandsons, and friends".

"That son of Kunti seeing those uncles, friends and all the relatives who are in both the armies, overcome with supreme compassion said these words in sorrow to Krishna."

" O Krishna, seeing these relations of mine standing with intent on fighting, my limbs become languid. My mouth is becoming dry. My body trembles and hair stand up. My bow, Gandiva, slips from my hands. My skin is afire. I cannot stand steady and my mind wanders as it were. O Kesava, I see adverse omens. I do not see any good from killing our own people".

"O Krishna I do not seek victory, not even the Kingdom nor any pleasures. O Govinda what is the need for kingdom? Or enjoyments or even life. For whom this kingdom was sought those teachers, uncles, sons, similarly the grandparents, maternal uncles, father-in-law, grandchildren, brother in laws, as well as other relatives, all of them stand arrayed for the battle risking their life and riches".

" O Madhusudana, I do not want to kill, even if the lordship of the three worlds was on offer, what to speak of the kingdom of the earth? O Janardana, killing the sons of Dhritarashtra, what happiness will accrue to us? Killing these felons, only sin will accrue to us. Hence, O Madhava, we have no right to kill the sons of Dhritarashtra, our own relations. Killing our own people how can we be happy? When the mind is conquered by greed, one may not know or see the evil arising out of destroying family and the evil arising out of sin against friends. We know only too well the evil arising out of destroying the family. How can we be unaware of the need to turn away from this great sin?

Sanjaya paused. Took a deep.

Sanjaya knew Arjuna as a focused archer. He won Draupadi shooting a moving fish by only focusing on the reflection of the moving fish in a mirror. He could shoot his arrow into the eye of flying bird without being affected by the surroundings. Here Arjuna is seeing beyond the target. He was seeing the family and the community.

Sanjaya resumed his narration.

'Arjuna said "With the destruction of the family, the ancient laws of righteousness will perish. When righteousness perishes, unrighteousness will overpower everything. O Krishna, with the sway of unrighteousness, women of the family will be ruined. O Krishna, if the women are ruined, the confusion of classes will ensue."

"The confusion of classes, will lead to a veritable hell. Their forefathers too fall, bereft of the traditional offering of water and rice, thus wrecking the families. Because of these misdeeds of the wreckers of the families and creators of the confusion of classes, the traditional rights and duties of the race and families will be destroyed. O Janardana, it is known that a place of dwelling is made in hell for such persons."

"O What a pity. Because of that greed for Kingdom and pleasure, we are ready to kill our own people. We have committed ourselves to do a great sin. If the sons of Dhritarashtra holding weapons kill me, being free of weapons, that will be more beneficial to me, than my taking up this battle."

Sanjaya said," Having spoken thus, throwing away his bows and arrows in the battle, Arjuna sank into the seat of the chariot with a grief-stricken mind ".

Then Sanjaya paused.

The picture of that moment was Arjuna throwing down the arms and squatting on the chariot. That was imprinted on Sanjaya's mind.

Sanjaya, for a moment, remembered Arjuna's assuring words to his elder brother Dharmaraja, that the ones following the path of righteousness will win the war. Now the same Arjuna is confused about righteous action.

Sanjaya saw the crisis into which Arjuna got himself because of self-inflicted confusion. As he was relating the happenings on the first day of the war to the King, the tenth day of the battle has just ended. So Sanjaya knew that Krishna, the Yogi, has guided Arjuna through that crisis.

Sanjaya's mind goes into a whirl.

He realized that he, Sanjaya, was about to divine and relate that most likley wonderful conversation of Krishna and Arjuna, which freed Arjuna this crisis.

Sanjay also realized that it is part of life's pattern that everyone continuously encounters some problems however big or small. At that moment of crisis, it is but natural that the individual's confidence is shaken much like Arjuna's. Everyone would be better off understanding how Krishna guided Arjuna through such a crisis. Understanding what Krishna taught Arjuna, will allow everyone to face their mental battles too.

Sanjaya, long time ago realized that the root cause of this epic battle was the attachment of Dhritarashtra to his children. What was new to Sanjaya was the attachment of Arjuna too for his near and dear. The attachment of Arjuna is leading him to a confusion about his duty.

Momentarily, Sanjaya became philosophical. This is not just a battle of Pandavas and Kauravas. That is about the battle between good and evil. Pandavas represent the good and Kauravas represent the evil. There is a struggle in every one's mind between that internal evil and good. Several times one may not even be sure which is "good," and which is "evil". When that veil of Moha or ignorance is removed, the evil is seen in its true light and good is recognized, that leads to the triumph. The war of Kurukshetra is nothing but the daily war between good and evil that is fought in every body's mind. The man is blinded, much like Dhritarashtra, by the sweetness of good life which masks the path of evil.

After a momentary pause, with all those flashing thoughts, Sanjaya continued to relate the conversation of Krishna and Arjuna, to the blind king Dhritarashtra.

||om tat sat ||









||ōm tat sat ||