Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 1, Sloka 1

Newsletter on Bhagavadgita by Dr. P.V. Nath

Welcome all to the new format of the newsletter.

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OM SAHA NAVAVATU SAHA NAU BHUNAKTU
SAHA VEERYAM KARAVAVAHAI
TEJASWI NAVADHEETAMASTU
MAA VID VISHAVAHAI

May He protect us both (the teacher and the pupil)
May He cause us both to enjoy (the Supreme)
May we both exert together (to discover the true inner meaning of the scriptures)
May our studies be thorough and fruitful.
May we never misunderstand each other.

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The Gita is in the form of dialogue between Krishna, the preceptor and the disciple Arjuna. Sanjaya, the narrator to King Dhritarashtra, intercepts now and then with a comment of his own. There are a total of 18 chapters with 701 verses (slokas.) Each of the chapters has a title and the title ends with the word “Yoga”.
The word “Yoga” is derived from the word “Yuj” which means “Unite.”
Study of every chapter assists the seeker to unite with the Lord and hence the use of the word “Yoga.”

The seeker is he/she who is looking for attaining the union with the “Parabrahman” and experience the “Eternal Bliss.” In Sanskrit the name for the word “seeker” is “Sadhaka”. The efforts of the sadhaka is known as “Sadhana”.
To undertake the task, the seeker must have “Faith” and “Devotion” in the subject, the teacher and “Parabrahman.”

CHAPTER 1

ARJUNA VISHADA YOGA

Vishada – Despondency.

The first chapter is about the despondency of Arjuna on encountering the enemy forces in the battlefield. Arjuna as such was a great and well respected warrior who had won many laurels. The thought of death of so many soldiers and heroes in the battle and his own role in that made him loose heart. He lost the will to fight and was prepared to let wicked Duryodhana and his brothers rule the kingdom. He forgot he was fighting for his brothers in the battle of “righteousness.” He was confused and unclear of the right course of action. Instead of turning his back and leaving the battlefield, he decided to take the guidance of Sri Krishna, the charioteer, on the right path of action to take.

His grief and surrender to the Lord brought out the “Srimad Bhagavadgita” to the mankind. The Gita as the “Light of Knowledge” has given a great number of people including Arjuna himself, the first recipient of the teaching, the opportunity to attain union with the “Parabrahman.”

In life, at times, we go through extreme phases of both grief and happiness. The state of happiness unfortunately makes the “ego” strong and we feel proud of achieving the success.
On the other hand, when we encounter grief, we tend to turn to God as the final resort for help. In this way, the state of grief does help one to remember the God and this in turn helps in attaining “Liberation.” Hence, it is correct to say that “Grief” also helps in uniting with the God.

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Sloka 1:

Dhritatrashtra Uvacha:

DHARMA KSHETRE KURU KSHETRE SAMA VETA YUYUTSAVAHA
MAMAKAHA PANDAVAS CHAIVA KIMA KURVATA SANJAYA.

Having assembled together on the holy plain of Kurukshetra, desirous of fighting the battle, O Sanjaya, what did the sons of Pandu and also “my people” do?

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Dharma Kshetre :field of righteousness.
Kuru Kshetre: the place where the battle took place: ie: Kurukshetra.
Yuyutsavaha: desirous of fighting.

This sloka is very important and we must understand the meaning properly.
In this instance, it is the field of Kurukshetra that is referred to.
As we move along, when we come to the 13th chapter, we will be shifting the scene to the mind within.

Books for reference:
MAHABHARATA – by Smt Kamala Subramaniam,
Executive secretary, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Kulapati Munshi Marg, Mumbai 400 007

“Dhritarashtra spoke:”

Emperor Dhritarashtra, blind father of Kauravas is ready to receive the narration by Sanjaya of the events on the battlefield. Sanjaya was given the special powers to actually visualise the events on the battlefield by sage poet Bhagawan Veda Vyasa. As a matter of speaking we can look upon Sanjaya as the battlefield reporter giving first hand information to his king.

1) Dhritarashtra was not entitled to hold on to the throne as per the rules prevailing in those days. Because of blind love to his son, he decided to hold on to the kingdom that was not rightfully his. In a similar way, we, the common men/women of this world, are holding on to the physical body which is not actually ours.

2) Each one of us is made up of: the “Soul”, the “Energy” within and the “Physical body” that envelops the “Soul within.”
We cannot live even for a second without the energy which is the “Life Principle.” We all have got attached to the physical body and it is the “Ego” that makes us do it.

 “Kshetra”, the field referred to is the “Physical body.” We should look upon this body as the “kingdom” ruled by the “King within” which is the “Parabrahman,”, by the “Soul” which is part of the Parabrahman.
Instead of letting the “King” rule, we are letting “Ego” hold on to the body and dictate terms.

We are holding on to the field, because of the “Ego” and something which is not rightfully ours.
In this sense, we are all “Dhritarashtras” and we are getting the narration from Sanjaya.

2) Dharma: it is the “Law of the being.” There are a number of definitions to this word. As we go through the Gita, we will take up the different meanings.

 “Dharma is that principle without which, the being has no existence.”

The fire has so many qualities. The essential quality of it is “Burn.” It burns.
We can draw a picture of the fire. When we touch the picture, we do not feel the heat and it does not burn.
The real fire, on the contrary is hot and it burns. In the absence of the heat, the fire is “dead.” It is said to be alive, when it exhibits the property of “burning.”

We, the humans, are alive because of the “Energy” within. In its absence the physical body is certified “Dead” by the experts. So, our dharma has to be the dharma of the soul and not dharma of the ego.

What is dharma of the soul?
We all attribute so many qualities to God and look for Him to help us in distress. We tend to say: “God, why don’t you come down and help me out of this distress.”

If, the power inside us is the God, our dharma has to be dharma of the “Soul.” We should be showing divinity in all our actions. Our true dharma is therefore “Universal welfare.”

Dharma should be looked upon as “acts of righteousness” at the three levels of:
Moral
Social
Spiritual.

Moral actions are our “Dharma.”

Social Dharma is actions according to the law of the land. We must obey the laws of any place where we live. If not, we are considered to have broken the law of the land and must be prepared to face the consequences.

Spiritually, it is the law of the Lord. Acts according to the scriptures for the welfare of life on this universe is dharma.

Few points to ponder over:
Dhritarashtra was the uncle of the Pandavas (who had lost their father) and father of the Kauravas.
On the death of Pandu, father of the Pandavas, he had a moral duty and spiritual duty to care for the Pandavas.
Unfortunately, he does not consider the Pandavas as his own.
He deprives them of their rightful inheritance of the throne.
In this sloka, he uses the word “Mamakaha” – “My People.” Referring to his 100 sons.
He refers to the Pandavas, as “children of Pandu.”
He asks the question: “What did Pandavas do and what did “my people” do?”

Sri Shankaracharya compares the attitude of Dhritarashtra to that of a stone in the water. The stone remains in the water but the water does not enter into the stone. Sanjaya offered and gave advice to Dhritarashtra on spiritual and moral dharma. The words of advice did not penetrate the mind of the king.

Copyright for the texts on Bhagavad Gita by Dr. P.V. Nath, UK.
Questions concerning the text please direct to Dr. Nath at “snath@btinternet.com“.

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