Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 1, Slokas 2 and 3

Newsletter on Bhagavadgita by Dr. P.V. Nath


Sloka 2



Sanjaya said:

Having seen the Pandava army arranged in a battle order, King Duryodhana approaching the teacher Dronacharya spoke these words.


Sanjaya starts his narration with Duryodhana as he is the son of Dhritarashtra. He says that Duryodhana went to the teacher Dronacharya and spoke to him first.

We need to analyse the psychology behind his actions. To do so we need to know a little about the important warriors on the side of the Kauravas.

1)  Bhishma, the grandsire, was the commander-in-chief. One would expect Duryodhana to approach Bhishma first. But he did not do so. Why?

Bhishma was the eldest of the family and a master warrior. He was the recipient of a rare boon from his father Shantanu. He could depart from the world when he wanted to and the time of death will be under his control. The Sanskrit word for it is “Itcha Marana”.

Bhishma loved the Pandavas and Arjuna was his favourite great grand-son. Yet, because of the promise to his father Shantanu that he would always protect the throne of Hastinapura (capital of Kauravas), he had no option but to fight for Emperor Dhritarashtra.

Duryodhana was frightened of Bhishma. He dare not speak to him. He knew that he would only get rebuke from Bhishma. So, he went to the next best, ie: Teacher Drona.

2)  Dronacharya: He was the teacher for both Kauravas and the Pandavas. He was appointed by Dhritarashtra to teach the young Kauravas and Pandavas the art of warfare using the various weapons of those days. Arjuna was his favourite student. Still, as he was under the employment of Dhritarashtra, he had no option but to fight against the Pandavas. Duryodhana could build up the courage and talk to him because he was literally speaking, an employee of the Kauravas. He wanted to remind his teacher that partiality to the Pandavas does not work. He looked forward to hear words of reassurance from Drona that there would be no partiality to the Pandavas.


Sloka 3


O teacher, behold the great Pandava army, formed in the battle order by the son of Drupada, your wise disciple.


Duryodhana is trying his best to rouse the pent up anger in his teacher Drona against king Drupada, father of Droupadi, wife of the Pandava brothers. He is specifically pointing the enemy armed forces arrayed skilfully in the battle order under the control of Dhrishtadyumna, son of Drupada.

Here it is essential that the reader should know the background for this request by Duryodhana.

Drona and Drupada both learnt under the same teacher in their younger days and were good friends. Drupada was in line to become the king after his return and Drona, a poor Brahmin, had to go back to his little hut. On the day of parting from the gurukula ashrama, Drupada gives an open invitation for Drona to come for help/assistance at any time in future.

Few years later, Drona’s wife, unable to live the life of poverty, reminds Drona of the promise by his friend Drupada. Drona makes a trip to the court of Drupada with a view to get some help.

Unfortunately, Drupda chooses not to recognise his old friend and insults him in the open court. Unable to bear the insult, Drona returns home empty handed.

Circumstances changed for the better in the next few years and Drona became the teacher for the Pandavas and Kauravas. Arjuna becomes the best and favourite pupil of his teacher.

One day, Drona commands Arjuna to catch Drupada and fetch him to his hut. Arjuna, a great warrior by that time, fulfils the command by his teacher. He defeats Drupada, ties him to a rope and brings him to the presence of Drona.

This time, it was the turn of Drupada to beg of mercy from Drona. Instead of being merciful, Drona reminds Drupada of the insult at the court, kicks him and sets him free.

Unable to bear this insult, Drupada takes a vow to get a son who will avenge insult to his father. Conducting special penances he manages to get a son and that son was Dhrishtadhyumna, the commander-in-chief of the Pandava army.

Dhrishtadhyumna, surprisingly was also a student in his early days of Drona. (In days gone by, the Brahmin teachers followed a code of practice. They would not refuse to accept any student who wanted to learn.)

Duryodhana who knew this side of Drona’s past life history, used this opportunity to name Drupada and Dhrishtadyumna and increase the flow of adrenaline in his teacher Drona. This way, he hoped that despite the presence of the favourite pupil Arjuna in the opposite camp, Drona would use all his skills to defeat the Pandavas.

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