Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 4, sloka 36

Newsletter on Bhagavadgita by Dr. P.V. Nath

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Sloka 36


Even if you are the most sinful of all sinners you shall cross over all sins by the raft of knowledge.


The emphasis on this Sloka is on “Papa and Papebhyaha”. It means, “The sin and those who commit acts of sin.”

We have dealt with sin several times already in the preceding chapters. “Sin” can be defined as act/acts or thoughts that generate in the mind that are contrary to the sastras and which are considered as “unrighteous.” Hatred, lust, greed, arrogance, enmity, anger etc make one commit acts of sin. The root cause for committing the sin is “Ego” which is man’s worst enemy in the spiritual progress towards “Liberation.”

In the Hindu philosophy, the emphasis is on achieving “Liberation”. Liberation is freedom from rebirth, uniting with the God principle and experiencing the “Eternal Bliss.” Attachment to the physical body, one’s family, friends, positions acquired in life prevents us progressing in the path to Liberation. Each one of us has gone through several births and deaths in the past and the probabilities are that we will continue to progress in the same path and end up having to be born again and again. The cycle of births and deaths is the “samsara”, the philosophy talks about and the samsara is compared to an ocean in this Sloka.

We need to have the knowledge that we are on an ocean and that there is a shore at the other end. We have knowingly or unknowingly out of ignorance committed a number of sins in the past that includes past births also. We have not paid for those mistakes yet. These have accumulated and it has become a big and mighty ocean. If it dawns on us that we have made ourselves drown into the ocean and we need to come out of the ocean then we have to look for means to reach the shore. The means given by Lord Krishna out of compassion to all is “Jnana”. The Jnana to dispel the ignorance will then act as the raft on our life’s boat and assists us towards having a smooth passage to the shore overcoming all obstacles in the way. The main message from the Lord to all spiritual seekers is “Nishkama karma and Karma Phala tyaga.” The sins referred to are the acts committed out of ignorance of one’s own true identity and the sinners are those who conduct such sins. The philosophy does not condemn one as sinner but points out to the sins in the actions. Swamy Vivekananda stresses on his commentary on Sloka 3, chapter 2, (Klaibyam Maa sma gamaha Partha) that any work which brings the latent divinity is punya (virtue) and that which makes the body and mind weak is verily, sin. Discrimination between “Truth and un-truth” and dispassion to worldly possessions are the keystone of spiritual knowledge which will assist in crossing over the ocean of samsara.

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Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 4, sloka 37

Newsletter on Bhagavadgita by Dr. P.V. Nath

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Sloka 37


O Arjuna, just as the blazing fire reduces fuel to ashes, so does the fire of knowledge reduce all actions to ashes.


After having referred the Jnana to the raft in the last verse, Jnana is compared to “the fire.” What does the fire do?

Any item that is burnt by the fire is considered to be the fuel for the fire. Firewood, any material made of wood like the chair, table etc, paper and any flammable product can be the fuel. The fuel would have some form of identity before being burnt. After it is burnt, there is no more identity left of the fuel. What are left are only the ashes.

All the actions we conduct do normally end up with entry of new vasanas on our mind. This would result in further new actions and consequent accumulation of new vasanas. It is an ongoing chain of actions and reactions. The purpose of Jnana given by the Lord is to clear the vasanas without formation of new vasanas. This is known as “burning of the existing vasanas.” The vasanas are technically said to have burnt to ashes with no more identity left. Those actions conducted without “the Jnana” (out of ignorance) generally are considered as “sins” because they lead to rebirth into this world of samsara. Based on this explanation, Jnana is said to burn the sins.

This is the time to introduce three popular words in the literature concerning actions and reactions. These are:

In relation to actions, Sanchita  –  past
Prarabdha  –  present
Aagaami  –  future

Whatever actions we conducted in the past life that resulted in further vasanas and such vasanas have not materialised into actions remain in our mind at the time of physical death as unfulfilled desires/hatreds etc. These are the bundles of vasanas we carry to our next birth, next stage of life. This is known as “Sanchita karmas” .It is like the sack we carry on our back as our luggage. No one can carry the bag for us and it is solely on us to take responsibility for all the unfulfilled vasanas of the past.

In the new birth or the new stage in our life, we will get the fruition of some of these accumulated vasanas. It is like taking some items from the sack we carry.

For whatever good we may have done in the past, we might get good benefit/reward in some form or other. (Example- in an examination we might have probably entitled to get 80% of marks but we may end up by getting highest marks.) On the other hand, for whatever wrong actions we might have conducted in the past and not experienced the results thereof, we would experience some form of hardship or other. (Taking the example of the student sitting for an examination – the student might have been entitled to higher marks but will end up getting lower marks.)

We can use this explanation for happy and painful experiences in our lives. The sastras say this is the “Prarabdha” which is the fate. It is the fate decreed by the Supreme for our actions of the past. In other words, it is the result of our actions committed knowingly/unknowingly in the past.

We still may have a number of unfulfilled items in the sack that would need to be taken to the next birth or next stage in our life. In our present life, we would have added more vasanas into the sack with the innumerable thoughts that cross the mind. We would have added additional desires/hatreds into the sack and death may have proceeded before the fulfilment of those at the time of death. So, we would not know what the future holds for us for tomorrow to come in our life either as a new stage in life or a new birth. This is known as “Aagaami.” It simply means “not known”. We do not know tomorrow and hence it becomes “Aagaami.”

Even though we have no control over the present from results of the past, we, the humans have the blessings of the intellect that will help us to correct the present actions and thoughts. By understanding the scriptures, knowing dharma and adharma, truth and un-truth, we can put new good vasanas in our sacks and will then be expected to have a better tomorrow. The Jnana which we are learning now will help in making for a better tomorrow not only for us but through our actions for the society.

To summarize: we can make our future blissful by our present actions conducted with the knowledge acquired (following the path of righteousness), learn to accept the hardships now as the results of our past (grin and bear and at the same time do not forget to continue to discharge the duty as far as possible.) Thus we can leave a better world for tomorrow not only for us but for our future generations to come.

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Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 4, sloka 38

Newsletter on Bhagavadgita by Dr. P.V. Nath 

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Sloka 38 


Certainly there is nothing as pure as knowledge in this world. He who is himself perfected in yoga finds it in the Self by himself in due season. 


Na hi jnanena sadrusham pavitram: there is nothing as pure as the knowledge.
Iha vidyate: certainly/indeed. 

This statement applies to all forms of knowledge, be it spiritual or be it material science, more so in relation to the spiritual knowledge. 

The root word for the Vedas is “vid”. It means “to know.” The knowledge of one’s own self, the knowledge of the eternal truth is emphasised as the real knowledge in the Vedas. Vedas are the authoritative books on Hindu philosophy. 

Opposite of the knowledge is “ignorance.” Ignorance of our true nature, ignorance of our origin has made us fall into this whirlpool called samsara. We are experiencing so much of suffering in our life and see suffering all round us. 

The Gita is to remind us of our true nature which is Tat-Tvam-Asi. “Thou Art That” says the Lord. What are we doing? What have we done?
We have forgotten this “Maha vakya” (famous statement from Chandogya Upanishad, Sama Veda.) We have covered ourselves with ignorance and the root cause for it is the development of “ego”. Finds it in the Self:
“The Self” referred to is the Atman/Soul. It is within us. The same Atman is also in all forms of life. There is no differentiation in the Self. It is “Nirakara, Nirguna”. The entire journey of every individual, taking one back to all the past births is all about the realising this statement. We start the spiritual quest with the question “Ko’ham?” – “Who am I?”
The end for the quest is finding the answer “So’ ham” – “I am That.” 

In due course:
The time taken for “Vasana kshaya and mano nasha” (destruction of all vasanas and destruction of the mind) is not in our hands. We fall prey to worldly pleasures and either fall down from the spiritual heights achieved or stay trapped in the present without upward progress. But, at the end, each one of us will realise the truth and attain Moksha. We are not told that it is possible for only selected few but only that it will happen in due course of time. 

The Lord has no favourites. In chapter 12 He enumerates 36 qualities of a true Bhakta and says that he who develops all the qualities of a Bhakta is inevitably “verily the Lord Himself” only and there is no differentiation between such a devotee and the Lord. What He is asking us is development of all divine qualities (chapter 16) / qualities of a true Bhakta (chapter 12) /qualities of a true Jnani (chapter 13) / features of Sthitaprajna (chapter 2) or features of a Gunatita (chapter 14). All of these have one thing in common and that is annihilation of “ego” and surrender to Him. 

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Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 1, Slokas 19 to 22

Newsletter on Bhagavadgita by Dr. P.V. Nath


Sloka 19


The tumultuous sounds of the Pandava army filling all sides reverberated through the earth and sky and the sound from all the warrior instruments brought in a sense of fear in the heart of the Kaurava army.


The Pandavas has 7 massive battalions of soldiers. A number of great warriors starting from Lord Krishna sounded their instruments. This sound was too loud and frightening to hear. Apart from a handful, the Kaurava army, though fighting for Dhritarashtra, respected the Pandavas. They were aware of the powers of Krishna and the Pandava brothers. To hear the sound that signalled the beginning of the great war, brought a feeling of terror for them.


Sloka 20



Then, O ruler of the earth, seeing Dhritarashtra’s host being positioned and the fighting about to commence, Pandava, whose ensign badge is Hanuman, lifting his bow spoke the following words to Krishna.


In the present war, Dhritarashtra’s hosts should be taken as the grand sire Bhishma and the rest of the Kaurava army.
Bhishma had arranged a formation with his army and the warriors had taken up their respective positions.

Arjuna, the master warrior in the Pandava army was brought to the middle of the two opposing forces in the chariot driven by Krishna. He was eager to take up the final task of regaining the lost kingdom.

The ensign badge on the chariot had the picture of Hanuman. This has some significance and we should learn about the same.

1)  Hanuman represents the path of “Bhakti.” His bhakti or devotion is only to Lord Rama.

During the period of exile, Bhima had an occasion to fulfil Droupadi’s wish. She had accidentally come across an unusual flower in the forest and fell for it. She pleads with Bhima to get the flower for her.

Bhima went on a mission to find that flower. On the way, in the narrow path, there sat an old monkey which obstructed the path. Bhima arrogantly orders the monkey to move out of his way. The monkey replies that he is old and weak and has no physical strength to move an inch. He pleads Bhima to lift him physically and place him out of the path. Bhima finds that with the massive physical strength he had, he could not even lift the tail of the monkey an inch off the ground.

He then requests the monkey to pardon him for the arrogant behaviour. The monkey in turn reveals his true identity of Hanuman. Hanuman is considered to be the son of Lord Wind. Bhima is also considered to be the son of the Lord Wind. Thus, the two were really brothers.

Hanuman blesses Bhima and promises to help the Pandavas. He would represent himself on the flag of the Pandavas on the chariot driven by Lord Krishna.
Thus comes the situation when the flag on Arjuna’s chariot gets the picture of Hanuman.

2)  Hanuman is considered to be the eternal servant of Lord Rama. For him there exists only one God and he is no other than Lord Rama.

He knew the identity of Krishna as his beloved Lord Rama. We therefore have another episode that proves that Krishna is the “Avatara” of Vishnu. Lord Rama from Treta Yuga, had reincarnated as Krishna in Dwapara Yuga.

3)  Hanuman represents Bhakti. The Pandavas led by Arjuna, had the flag with Hanuman on the chariot. It signifies that the Pandavas engaged in war had followed the path of Bhakti.


Sloka 21and 22




Arjuna said:

Place my chariot, O Achyuta, between the two armies so that I may behold the war-minded that stand here, with whom I must wage this war.


Achyuta refers to Krishna. It is one of the 1008 names attributable to Him. The word “Achyuta” means, “The one who does not fall.”

The three states of spiritual evolution of humans is said to be:
Tamasic — lazy, indolence, ignorant state.
Rajasic — active, passionate, selfish state.
Satvic — pure state.

We are supposed to lift ourselves from the lower state of “Tamas to Rajas”. We should then rise from “Rajas to Satva.”
Having succeeded in climbing up the spiritual ladder, even though one reaches the higher state of “Satva”, there develops a sense of pride in having reached the state of “Satva.” It is like getting a higher degree like “Masters” in one’s studies.

Unfortunately, human mind being what it is, sense of “Pride” takes over. We start looking down upon the ones below us. This sense of pride eventually leads to the downfall again from the spiritual heights reached.

The only ones who can climb up even further than “Satva” are those who manage to drop the “Ego” and merge with the “Supreme.” This state is called “Suddha Satva.”
Having become one with the “Supreme”, there is no further drop from the spiritual heights reached. Such an individual looses his own identity and becomes the “Supreme” by becoming one with it.

This state is the state of “Achyuta”. – “He, who does not fall down.”
The Lord never falls down from the state of “Supreme Purusha”.

One can also see that from this sloka onwards, Arjuna uses the word “my”, “I” many number of times. This demonstrates the power of “Ego” in him.

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Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 1, Slokas 13 to 18

Newsletter on Bhagavadgita by Dr. P.V. Nath


Sloka 13


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


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.”


Sloka 14


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


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.”


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.


Sloka 15 – 18





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.


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.

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Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 1, Slokas 10 to 12

Newsletter on Bhagavadgita by Dr. P.V. Nath


Greetings from Dr. Nath and Dasha on the auspicious day of Deepavali.

The following sloka is significant because it applies specially to this day and the Gita:


Please lead me from untruth to truth
Lead me from darkness to light
Lead me from death to immortality
OM Peace Peace Peace

The sacred text is to remove the ignorance / ahamkara which is the worst enemy for each one of us.


Sloka 10


This army of ours defended by Bhishma, is inadequate. Whereas that army of our enemies defended by Bhima is quite adequate.


The two words “Aparyptam and Paryaptam” have been given contradictory meanings by the dictionarians. Therefore, there are two versions of explanations for this verse.

The first meaning is:
Aparyaptam: unlimited
Paryaptam: limited
Accordingly, the verse reads as follows:
This army of ours defended by Bhishma is unlimited and the army of theirs defended by Bhima is limited.

The Kaurava army had 11 battallions and the Pandava army had 7 batallions. It is therefore natural to gloat about the large size of the army and Duryodhana is doing the same.

Second meaning:
Aparyaptam: incomplete, inefficient, insufficient
Paryaptam: complete, efficient, sufficient
This army of ours defended by Bhishma is inefficient and the army of theirs defended by Bhima is efficient.

Mahatma Gandhi has given this second explanation to this sloka.

It is interesting to note that Duryodhana says “Army defended by Bhima.” Drishtadyumna was the commander-in-chief for the Pandavas but still Duryodhana considers that Bhima is in charge. Why?
The most important person Duryodhana was frightened was Bhima. Bhima was his sworn enemy.

During the game of dice that was played which decided the fate of the Pandavas, Duryodhana with the help of cunning Shakuni cheats Dharmaraya (Yudhistira). He makes him gamble one after another of his possessions, then his own brothers and finally his wife Droupadi. Like adding salt to the open wound, he lets his own brother Dushasana derobe Droupadi in the open assembly.

Bhima who was bound by the laws of the game to be subservient to Duryodhana could not bear the insult any longer. In front of the large assembly, he takes a solemn oath to kill all the brothers of Duryodhana and drink the blood of Dushasana.
This oath had made Duryodhana frightened of Bhima.
Hence the importance Duryodhana attaches to the presence of Bhima in the opposite camp.


Sloka 11


Therefore, do you all, standing firmly in your respective positions, in the divisions, guard Bhishma alone.


One can see the tone of a command from Duryodhana to his guru. True, Duryodhana, the heir apparent to the throne had everybody at his command including his own guru. During the battle, he has the highest authority.

Having said that, there is what is called as “humility.” The fact that Drona was fighting for the Kauravas should have been sufficient for him. He did not show “humility and reverence” to his elder statesman and guru.

Why is he asking everyone to guard Bhishma alone?
We should recollect the life of Bhishma in his younger days.
Bhishma’s father Shantanu had fallen madly in love with Satyavati, the fisher woman. Satyavati’s father, a clever person, had realised that Bhishma would be the heir to the throne after Shantanu. The children born out of wedlock of Satyavati to Shantanu would not inherit the throne. He therefore objects to his daughter marrying the king.
Shantanu was torn between the duty to Bhishma, the son of his first wife Ganga and his infatuation towards the fisher woman. He showed signs of depression for a long time.

Bhishma came to know of the dilemma his father was facing. He therefore brings Satyavati to his father and takes a solemn oath that he would not demand the throne. Instead, he would let the child born from Satyavati to ascend the throne and protect the kingdom at any cost. He swears to be a bachelor for life and be subservient to the throne.

For the sacrifice he made, father Shantanu blesses his son and bestows on him a rare boon. The boon was that death will not approach Bhishma, but Bhishma can decide where and when he wanted to leave his mortal body.
The war of righteousness was to be fought to the bitter end. It was victory or death to either armies. By cleverly making Bhishma, the commander-in-chief Duryodhana had already won the tactical battle. Bhishma would not die in the war and so Pandavas could not win.

Even though Bhishma could not be killed, it was possible that he could be mortally wounded and may have to retire from the war. As long as Bhishma was holding the fort, the Pandavas had no chance to win.
It was therefore imperative that Bhishma was not going to be injured. Hence the command, not a request by Duryodhana to Dronacharya to guard “Bhishma alone.”


Sloka 12


In order to embolden Duryodhana, Bhishma, the mighty grandsire, the oldest of the Kurus, now raised a lions’ roar and blew his conche.


It was the policy in ancient times to blow the conche during the war at the beginning of each day. It was the signal to start fighting. The honour of blowing the conche usually went to the eldest statesman on either side. No soldier dared to use his weapon before this ritual.

Bhishma being the eldest of the race of Kurus was therefore given the honour to blow his conche.

It is interesting to note that Dornacharya did not give any reply to Duryodhana. He just went on his duty to fight for the Kauravas. Why did he do so?

He knew that Duryodhana was a spoilt prince and so did not merit a reply.
Drona was on the side of Kauravas not by choice but because of sense of duty to the employer.
He took the option of not replying to the prince.

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Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 1, Slokas 4 to 9

Newsletter on Bhagavadgita by Dr. P.V. Nath


Sloka 4, 5 and 6




In the Pandava army, there are heroes and mighty archers equal to Bhima and Arjuna. they are Yuyudhana, Virata, Drupada, of the first order of warriors. Drishtaketu, Cekitana, the valiant king of Kasi, Purujit, Kuntibhoja, Saibya, the best of men, the strong Yudhamanyu, (Satyaki), valiant Uttamouja, Abhimanyu, the son of Subhadra and Arjuna, and the sons of Droupadi, all of them divisional commanders.


Herein are the names of the warriors of repute in the Pandava army.
Duryodhana is giving those names to his teacher Drona. He puts some adjectives like valiant, best of men, strong in front of some warriors.

All these were given the title of “Maharati.” “Maharati” is he who can fight single handed with 10000 archers. He is also a master in the use of various weapons of warfare.


Sloka 7


O best of twice born, now, I will recall to you, for your information, the names of those who are most distinguished amongst ourselves, the leaders of our army.


Duryodhana continues his discussion with his teacher Drona and reiterates the names of the great warriors on the side of his Kaurava army.
He addresses Drona as “best among twice born.” Drona was brahmin by birth. The brahmin have a tradition of “sacred thread ceremony” about the age of 7-11yrs. After the child passes through the infancy and learns the alphabets and early childhood and comes out of playful moods, it is time for initiation into the higher studies. It was also the arrangements for the kshatriya (warrior group of men/women) and vysya (business class) men in the community.

The Hindu philosophy stresses that every individual is ignorant at birth irrespective of the caste he/she is born into. To let the individual into society to act according to the dharma needs initiation into the spiritual education.
The first common entry for all is “entry into the material world (ignorance).”
The entry after the ceremony is “entry into the world of knowledge.”
This initiation into spiritual education is considered to be “second birth” for the individual.
Drona is therefore addressed as “best among the twice born.”

There is another subtle hint Duryodhana is throwing at his master. Even though Drona was a great warrior, he was a brahmin by birth. Brahmins generally are not warriors and not physically strong to take part in the battle. Duryodhana was a tactical warrior. He knew how to get the adrenaline flow in his master. By stressing that Drona was a brahmin (timid) and by giving names of great warriors on his side, Duryodhana is making Drona get madly angry.


Sloka 8 and 9



Yourself, Bhishma and Karna, also Kripa the victorious in war, Ashwathama, Vikarna and also the son of Somadatta, as also many other heroes who are prepared to give up their lives for my sake, armed with various weapons and missiles, all well-skilled in battle.


This is the list of main warriors on the side of Kauravas. It is not as though Drona did not know anybody. If we read the Mahabharata we will know more about these great skilled warriors.
While naming the warriors it is interesting to note that Duryodhana places the name of Drona first, ahead of Bhishma the commander-in-chief. It is possible that Duryodhana realised that he had gone too far and used the word “Brahmana” by addressing Drona as “twice born.”

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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.

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

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Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 1, Sloka 1

Newsletter on Bhagavadgita by Dr. P.V. Nath

Welcome all to the new format of the newsletter.



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.


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.”



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.


Sloka 1:

Dhritatrashtra Uvacha:


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?


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 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 ““.

Find out more at

Posted via email from International Gita Foundation Trust