Bhagavad Gita Chapter 1 Arjuna Visaada Yoga; 1st part

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1St Part :

The first chapter of the Srimad Bhagavad Gita is called Arjuna Visaada Yoga or The dialectical conflict of Arjuna: Lamenting the Consequence of War.

The message of the Gita came to humankind because of the unwill­ingness of Arjuna to do his duty as a warrior since fighting in­volved destr­uction and carnage. Nonviolence or Ahimsa is one of the fundamen­tal doctrines of Hinduism; all lives, human and or non-human, are sacred. Non-violence and cowardice cannot go together, since non-violence is a perfect expression of love that casts out fear. To be brave because one is armed implies an element of fear. The power of ahimsa (non-violence) is an extremely fundamental force which does not come from physical strength. This enduring discourse between the Supreme Lord Krishna and one of the five Paandava (brothers), Arjuna occurs on a battlefield on the eve of a war and is recorded in the great epic, Mahabharata. The words that originate from the transcendental lips of the Supreme Lord Krishna have been stated in the primeval Vedic scriptures. Regarding the vastness of Srimad Bhagavad-Gita when well understood renders superfluous the necessity of various other scriptures.

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Image credit -http://dharmik.in/
Image credit -http://dharmik.in/

In the Srimad Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna advises Arjuna to get up and fight! This may create a misunderstanding of the prin­ciples of Ahimsa if the background of the war of Mahabharata is not kept in mind; the Paandavas were unwilling par­ticipants, they had only two choices; fight for their right as a matter of duty or run away from war and accept defeat in the name of peace and nonviolence, Arjuna faced this dilemma in the battlefield. All mediation by Lord Krishna and others failed, thus the big war of Mahabharata was in­evitable. The entire seven hundred verses of the Gita is a dialogue between Lord Krishna and the bewildered Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra; this discourse was narrated to the blind king, Dhritaraashtra, by his charioteer, Sanjaya, as an eyewitness account. It should be understood in the correct context that the revelatory instructions given by Lord Krishna to Arjuna in the 700 verses of Srimad Bhagavad-Gita that is revealed within Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa’s monumental, historical epic, Mahabharata. The Mahabharata records these events from a conversation between the holy sage Vaisampayana and Arjuna’s great-grandson Janamejaya and begins the Bhagavad-Gita with Dhritaraashtra spoke.

Chapter one sets in motion the view, the background, the situation and the characters involved in determining the raison d’être for the Bhagavad-Gita’s exposure. The landscape is the hallowed plain of Kurukshetra; the background is a theatre of war, the conditions are hostilities. The main personalities are the Supreme Lord Krishna and Prince Arjuna, viewed by four million soldiers led by their appropriate martial commandants. After naming the main adversaries on both sides, Arjuna’s mounting misery is described due to the trepidation of losing friends and relatives in the choice of the looming war and the subsequent offence consequent to such actions. Thus this chapter is entitled: Lamenting the Consequence of War.

The mention of the blind king at the very beginning of Srimad Bhagavad Gita is an indication that epic will be a revaluation and interpretation of moral and spiritual enlightenment. This chapter is significant for the problems posed in this chapter are of a continual kind and had continued to haunt the scruples of mankind since times immemorial. Bhagavad Gita has to be studied carefully any word used therein can mean a lot if studied carefully, like the word Dhritaraashtra–Dhrita means “A bearer or supporter” and raashtra means nation. If the sovereign of a nation, who is destined to shape the fate of the people, is morally blind and does not see justice and wisdom, the country may then become a stagnant puddle of chaos, and in such eventualities there is the desperate need to revalue and reiterate the moral tenets of personal principles and social life. Arjuna mentioned therein is taken as a representative who at all times epitomises all that is best in man together with the man’s natural weakness and misgivings; that apart in Sanskrit Arjuna means the ever wakeful. In all of us there is an Arjuna a good person of action confronted by dark and evil forces and caught between the horns of a paradoxical dilemma, an Arjuna with an awareness of our own being; yet at an individual level it is toughened and coloured by the time and place of its expression, filled with changing faces of fear and disbelief, hatred and rejection, withdrawal and resistance, a sense of guilt and emotional crisis.

All round us we see most people who are not mindful of any moral scruple, the people who slight their consciences and engage in various acts of criminal deprivation; who just elbow their way through life and are successful in their worldly pursuits. The first chapter of Bhagavad Gita portrays intensely how sensitive is the mind of Arjuna to every values involved in the total war situation; the very same sensitivity that can be seen in anyone who is spiritually vibrant.  In a war situation the clash of values is at its worst, also you cannot hold out scorching retaliation to one whom you dearly love, revere, or look upon with gratitude. In a life and death contest the inner strength of purpose, dedication, consistent adherence to basic principles and identity with the absolute is put to stern test. In answer to the origin of Arjuna’s affliction the Supreme Lord Krishna to assuage Arjuna’s intone tells him that he is hurt over that which is not defensible.

The first chapter in Srimad Bhagavad-Gita begins with the blind king Dhritaraashtra inquiring about his hoped for victory for his sons. He is assailed within by way of qualms owing to Arjuna’s valour; with a grave obsession he is asking Sanjaya who had been bestowed by Vedavyasa, the capacity to envisage everything (clairvoyance) that was happening on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, between the army of his sons the Kauravas and the army of the Paandavas. King Dhritaraashtra asks his minister, Sanjaya “What did my sons and the sons of Paandu, assembled at the righteous land of Kurukshetra desirous of battle do?” Now the question which arises, is what was the necessity of Dhritaraashtra asking Sanjaya what they did; when he himself in the same verse says: they are assembled desirous of battle; the reason he is asking is Kurukshetra is the land of righteousness. By using the word mamakah and pandavah in referring to his sons and the sons of Paandu points to inconsistency and shows that Dhritaraashtra did not accept the sons of his deceased brother Paandu as his own sons and this exposes his hostility to them. Similarly the use of the word dharma kshetra is indicative that the unrighteous sons of Dhritaraashtra will also be uprooted.

Sanjaya, who was righteous by nature, could understand the actual frame of mind of Dhritaraashtra; whose sympathy is cosseted in affection for his son’s welfare despite the consequences of unrighteousness. The answer of Sanjaya that Duryodhana upon seeing the formidable army of the Paandavas assembled in close array, approached Drona his instructor in archery and weaponry and this seems to suggest albeit subtly that on the inside he (Duryodhana) was feeling fearful at the strength of the Paandavas. With the pretence of going to offer respect, Duryodhana adept in the diplomacy of politics implies that he would speak terse sentences filled with heavy import concerning the subject of war. Sanjaya articulated these words to Dhritaraashtra;   “Duryodhana, upon seeing the formidable army of the Paandava troops assembled in close array approached Drona his mentor in archery and weaponry and uttered these words. O respected preceptor Behold the mighty army of the Paandavas in bellicose formation displayed in battle by Dhrishtadyumna, the son of Drupada.” Duryodhana in order to kindle anger in the mind of his preceptor Drona speaks about the superiority of the Paandava army by resentfully using the words O respected preceptor, please behold the army of the Paandavas consisting of seven aksauhini’s arrayed in battle formation by Dhrishtadyumna, the son of Drupada.  Stirred by affection for the Paandavas who had been his best disciples, Duryodhana thinks Drona might hesitate to fight in the battle; hence Duryodhana mentions on purpose Dhrishtadyumna the commander of the Paandava army calling him as drupada-putra; to remind Drona of Dhrishtadyumna being the son of his (Drona’s) mortal enemy; because it would thump a chord in Drona of his bitter foe and that there would be no empathy for them. To create hostility towards Paandavas in Drona, Duryodhana scoffed and exclaimed; behold these! Meaning the Paandavas are contemptible because they are manifestly ignoring the acharya by preferring to fight their own preceptor. In calling Dhrishtadyumna intelligent Duryodhana suggests that everything as a pupil he learned from Drona would now be used against him so there should be no hesitation or neglect towards him (Dhrishtadyumna) as he has made up his mind to take Drona’s life. What Sanjaya is subtly conveying to Dhritaraashtra is that his son, King Duryodhana is uninfluenced by the sanctity of Kurukshetra, he possesses no inclination for righteousness.   

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About Sridharan Lakshmanan 12 Articles
Retired officer from Syndicate Bank
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