Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 1, Slokas 13 to 18

Newsletter on Bhagavadgita by Dr. P.V. Nath

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Sloka 13

TATAH SHANKASCHA BHERYAISCHA PANAVANAKA GOMUKAHA
SAHASAIVABHYA HANYANTA SA SHABDA TUMULO’BHAVAT

(When Bhishma blew the conch) all the other warriors blew their conches, trumpets, drums and horns. The sound filled all sides and was tremendous.

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As was the custom in those days, all the leaders of various sections in the vast army carried their conchs with them and blew them after Bhishma did the honours first.
There were others who carried the trumpets and horns instead of the conchs. The two armies together had 18 great divisions and the sound by the war drums, trumpets and conchs filled the air on all the sides. This, the poet describes as “tremendous.”

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Sloka 14

TATAH SVETAIR HAYAIR YUKTE MAHATI SYANDANE STHITOU
MADHAVAHA PANDAVASCHAIVA DIVYOU SHANKOU PRADAMYATUHU

Then, seated in the magnificent chariot, yoked with white horses, Krishna and Arjuna blew their divine conches.

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One has to imagine the majesty of Lord Krishna, taking up the role of charioteer, bringing the chariot with Arjuna on to the centre of the battlefield. Any chariot with the Lord will be majestic to look at and be divine. In this instance, divinity was enhanced as the chariot belonged to the Lord of Fire and the horses were the property of Chitrangada, the king of Gandharvas (celestial divinities.). The chariot was a gift to Arjuna from the Lord of Fire. Arjuna, during the period of exile in the forest with his brothers, had assisted the Lord of Fire in destroying the Khandava forest and the gift was in return for the services rendered. The chariot and the horses were gifted with special magical powers. They could move from one position in the battlefield to another by flying over any obstacle and reach the selected spot within seconds. Arjuna could therefore be in any position within seconds.

The horses, the poet describes as “white horses.” One can interpret the colour white as representing “Dharma” symbolising “Purity.” As the Lord himself was the charioteer whatever that is under His control has to represent “Purity.”

Madhava:

One of the names given to Lord Krishna is Madhava. Each of the number of names given to the Hindu deities does carry a special meaning and represent a divine quality.
Madhava is one of the names of Lord Vishnu and Sri Krishna is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

Madhava means “husband of wealth.” Goddess Lakshmi, symbolising the wealth is the consort of Lord Vishnu. Poet Vyasa, by using the word Madhava is letting us know that the Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi had showered her grace on the Pandavas. There was no way the Pandavas could be defeated. By their victory over the Kauravas, they would rule over the kingdom. “Rajya” in Sanskrit means “Kingdom.” “Rajya Laksmi”, one of the eight names of Goddess Lakshmi is appropriate in this context.

The word “Vijaya” in Sanskrit means “Victory.” Another name given to Goddess Lakshmi is “Vijaya Lakshmi.” (the Goddess of victory.) By using the word “Madhava” the poet is assuring that the Pandavas will achieve victory and regain the kingdom.

Lord Krishna was given the honour to blow this conch first for the Pandavas. Arjuna was the next in line to blow his conch and others followed later.

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Sloka 15 – 18

PANCHAJANYAM HRISHIKESHO DEVADATTAM DHANANJAYAHA
PROUNDRAM DADMOU MAHASHANKHAM BHEEMA KARMA VRIKODHARAHA

ANANTA VIJAYAM RAJA KUNTI PUTRO YUDHISTIRAHA
NAKULAHA SAHADEVASCHA SUGHOSHA MANI PUSHPAKOU

KASHYASCHA PARAMESHWASAHA SHIKANDEE CHA MAHARATHAHA
DRISHTA DYUMNO VIRATASCHA SATYAKISCHA’PARADHITAHA

DRUPADO DROUPADEYASCHA SARVASHAHA PRITHIVEE PATE’
SOUBHADRASCHA MAHABAHUHU SHANKAN DADMUHU PRITHAK PRITHAK

Hrishikesha blew the Panchajanya, and Dhananjaya blew Devadatta, and Vrikodhara the doer of terrible deeds, blew the great conch Paundra.
King Yudhistira, son of Kunti blew Ananatavijayam, Nakula and Sahadeva blew Sughosha and Manipushpaka;
The king of Kasi, an excellent archer; Sikhandi, the mighty commander Drishtadyumna, Virata and the unconquered Satyakai; Drupada, the sons of Droupadi, Abhimanyu, the mighty armed, all blew their respective conchs.

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The main warriors from the Pandava army who were given the honour of blowing their respective conch are mentioned in the four verses.
Let us analyse few words in these slokas.

Hrishikesha: another name for Lord Krishna. It means “he who is the ruler over the mind and the senses.”
Sri Krishna did not conduct any actions on impulse.

Dhananjaya: it is another name for Arjuna. It means “conqueror of wealth.” Arjuna went round the country and won over many rulers and amassed a number of regions for his brother Yudhistira. By his battle skills, he expanded his brother’s kingdom.

Vrikodhara: this word refers to Bheema. It is said that he carried fire in his stomach and could consume anything. Duryodhana once drowned Bhima in the river and a number of snakes bit him. None of the poison from the bites affected him and he came back alive and strong. Duryodhana, at another time gave poison in disguise but it did not kill Bhima. Hence, he is called “Vrikodhara.”

Panchajanyam: it is the name of Krishna’s conch. Krishna was taught by the Guru “Sandipa.” The guru asked Krishna to get his son back. The story goes on to say that in this task, Krishna had to kill the demon Panchajanya. The conch was made by the bones of the demon.

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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