Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 1, Slokas 23 to 25

Newsletter on Bhagavadgita by Dr. P.V. Nath

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Sloka 23

YOTSYAMANAN AVEKSE’HAM YA ETETRA SAMAGATAHA
DHARTRA RASHTRASYA DURBUDDHER YUDDHE PRIYA CHIKEERSHAVAHA

I will see those warriors assembled here for the fight, wishing to please the evil minded Duryodhana.

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Recollecting the story of the great epic, the Mahabharata, of which the Bhagavadgita is a part of, we should remember that the war was between the Pandavas and the Kauravas.

The Pandavas fought for the just cause to get the proper share of the kingdom.
Duryodhana with support from his maternal uncle Shakuni and friend Karna had persuaded his blind father, Emperor Dhritarashtra to declare the war against the Pandavas.

Those were the days, 5000yrs ago, when each kingdom had its allies and vassals. In case of war, the allies and the vassals pledged their army to their superior, the king. On that basis, the Pandavas had a total army that equalled seven battalions and the Kauravas, 11 battalions. The leaders of the various sections in the battalions would fight to die for their king.

Arjuna states that he wanted to see the warriors assembled to fight for the enemy Duryodhana. He uses the adjunctive “evil minded” in reference to Duryodhana. It was true that Duryodhana was evil minded. He devised so many evil plans to kill the Pandava brothers. When the attempts failed, he devised plans to snatch their kingdom by unjust means. He stooped down to the level of insulting Droupadi in the open assembly. Arjuna’s blood was boiling and he could not wait for the war to begin.

Those who were on the side of Kauravas could be divided into respected elders like the grandsire Bhishma, guru Dronacharya, family priest Kripacharya and others. Bhishma fought for the Kauravas because of the solemn promise he had given to his father (see explanation provided with Sloka 11). Dronacharya and Kripacharya were the employees of Dhritarashtra and had solemn duty to fight for their employer. The allies and vassals automatically had to fight for the Kauravas.

All these could not be called “evil minded”. The fact they fought for unrighteousness, they did not deserve any mercy from the Pandavas. The Pandava brothers and their allies were roaring to face the enemy and kill them.

Arjuna had entered the battle scene with this frame of mind and hence the request for placing the chariot at the most suitable spot so that he could see the assembled enemy forces and get the adrenaline flowing.

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SANJAYA UVACHA

Sloka 24 and 25

YEVAMUKTO HRISHIKESHO GUDAKESHENA BHARATA
SENAYOR UBHAYOR MADHYE STHAPAYITVA RATHOTTAMAM

BHEESHMA DRONA PRAMUKHATAHA SARVESHAM CHA MAHEEKSHITAAM
UVACHA PARTHA PASCHAITAN SAMAVETAAN KURUN ITI

Sanjaya said:

Thus addressed by Arjuna, Lord Krishna placed the noble chariot in the middle of the armies, and in front of Bhishma, Drona and all other prominent kings. He said, O Arjuna, behold the Kauravas gathered together.

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Note that Sanjaya, the war reporter/correspondent uses the words “thus addressed” and not “thus commanded”. After all, the charioteer of Arjuna was not ordinary employee but the Lord himself. Arjuna could never command Krishna, his charioteer.

Lord Krishna, obeys the request by the warrior on His chariot. He is fulfilling the request by Arjuna and placed the chariot at a suitable spot which would provide Arjuna with a good view of all the senior warriors on the side of the Kauravas.

There are three words to note from these slokas: “Hrishikesha” , “Gudakesha.” and “Partha.” Let us look at the meaning of these words:

“Hrishikesha”: “Hrishika” means “senses” and “Esa means Lord.” “Lord over the senses” is “The Lord Himself”. In this context it refers to Lord Krishna.

“Gudakesha” means “Conqueror over sleep.” As we know sleep is a tamasic quality. Arjuna is receiving the “Great spiritual lesson”, his mind needs to be constantly awake and alert to every word spoken. Krishna imparted the Gita to Arjuna because he had this special quality while listening to the highest spiritual teaching.

“Partha”: it is another name for “Arjuna.” Arjuna was the son of “Pritha” and hence he got the name. “Pritha” is another name for his mother Kunti.

Sura was a Yadava king and he had a daughter by name Pritha. He had a cousin Kuntibhoja who was childless and requested to adopt Pritha. Sura obliged with the request and gave Pritha to Kuntibhoja. As she was adopted by Kuntibhoja, Pritha got the name “Kunti.” Kunti was given the job of looking after the guests who visited the country. One of the guests she looked after was the sage “Durvasa.” Pleased by her services, the sage gave her a special boon. He gave her six special mantras. Recitation of each of the mantra would bring the deity of the mantra to her and he would bless her with a child. The five Pandava brothers and Karna came to be considered as her children by the special deities of those mantras.

There is a Sanskrit word “Parthiva” which means “made of clay.” The word “Pritha” relates to this word “Parthiva.” Clay is perishable and our body made of the five gross elements is perishable. Our body is therefore “mortal” which means “perishable.”

The sacred text is from the “Imperishable Lord Krishna” to “Arjuna who is a mortal.” Arjuna is representative for all of us, the mortals.

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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