Let's now offer this garland of stringed flowers of summary of our Chapter 1 discussions to Lord Krishna. Our Humble prostrations and gratitude to you O Lord Krishna ! Prostrations also to Bhagvan Adi Shankara, Pujya Gurudev and Pujya Guruji. Thanks for helping us successfully finish study of this first chapter of Gita. We all pray for these blessings and grace to continue to shower on us for successful completion of Chapter 2 of Gita. My sincere thanks and Pranams to all the study group participants and also the silent readers of this forum. Big thanks to CIF for providing this facility for us to come together to study.
SUMMARY of CHAPTER 1: ARJUNA'S GRIEF
Study Group Participants: Muruganji, Meeraji, Umaji, Abhayji, Vanaja Amma, Kamalji, Vedarangaji, Padmaja
King Dhrtarastra asked – What did my people and the Pandavas who were eager to fight(and) who were assembled in the holy land of Kuruksetra do, Oh Sanjaya?
Gita begins with the word Dharma, highlighting the importance of Dharma. The words mamakah and pandavah are significant, creating a division and revealing where Dhrtarashtra’s heart lay.
Sanjaya said – Having seen the army of the Pandavas arrayed, kind Duryodhana approached Dronacarya and spoke (these) words at that time.
Duryodana approached Dronacharya first because he was certain that Bhisma ( commander in chief) was on his side, where as he was unsure of Drona.
Oh teacher! See this vast army of the Pandavas, arrayed by the son of Drupada, your skillful disciple.
Duryodana introduced to the acarya all the important people in the opposite camp and also presented to him the great men in his own army. He did this because he considered Drona to be very important to his winning the war.
Describing the army of the Pandavas, Duryodana continued. In this army there are many powerful archers who are equal to Bhima and Arjuna in war – Satyaki, the king of Virata country, and Drupada, a great warrior
Dhrstaketu, Cekitana, the powerful king of Kasi, Purujit Kuntibhoja and Saibya who is the best among men( are all assembled here.)
Moreover , the powerful Yudhamanyu, the valiant Uttamaujas, Abhimanyu and the sons of Draupadi(are all assembled here.) All of them are great warriors.
Having talked to Drona about the important people in the army of Pandavas, he then changed the topic to those in his own army. Oh best among Brahmins! May you know those who are prominent among us, the leaders of my army. I am mentioning them to you for the sake of information.
Yourself Bhisma, Karna, Krpa who is ever victorious in war, Asvattama, Vikarna, and son of Somadatta( are present in our army.)
And (there are) many other heroes ready to give up their lives for my sake. All of them have many weapons and missiles, and are experts in war.
Duryodana’s words,” other warriors … who have given up their lives for my sake” can be taken here as a divine oman for what was to come. Mysake indicates the strong Mamakara of Duryodana.
Duryodana,assessing the overall strength of the two armies, continued his attempt to arouse Dronacharya’s enthusiasm. He said, therefore our army, protected by Bhisma, is unlimited. On the other hand, this army of these (Pandavas,) protected by Bhima, is limited.
Kind D advises his army that each commander must keep to his position and fight in disciplined order and all of them should spare no pains to see that the revered Bhishma is well protected. Synchronisation of the different operations is the very backbone of an army's success, and in order to bring this about, as a true strategist, Duryodhana is instructing his various commanders working in their different wings to work out the single policy of protecting Bhishma.
All the while King D was busy in making foolish statement and putting all the commanders of his army into an uncomfortable mood of desperate unhappiness, and Bhishma was observing his pitiable confusions and noticed the urgent need to ramove all of them from their mental preoccupations. So the great Bhishma took his conch and blew it, sending forth the waves of confidence into the hearts of the people manning the array, which amounted to an act of aggression almost corresponding to the first bullet shot in modern warfare and thus the war was actually started.
Soon after hearing the Marshall's bugle, each one of them took their conches, kettle drums, tabors, trumpets, bugles and cow horns, and all burst forth into a challenging war call, which Sanjaya half heartedly describes as tremendous, who was a moral objector to the war aim of Duryodhana.
Then Madhava and the son of Pandu, seated in their magnificent chariot yoked with white horses blew their divine conches. Here it clearly reflects the sympathies of Sanjaya towards pandavas, and again he is still hopeful that these words may chnage mind of Dhritrashtra who may ask his sons to withdraw from the warfront.
Here Sanjaya is very particular even to mention the names of the conches from Pandava's side. Hrishikesha - the Lord of senses blew his conch Panchajanya , Aruna and Bhima blew respectively Devadatta and Paundra.
King Yudhisthira blew Anantavijaya, Nakul and Sahadev blew the Sughosha and the Manipushpaka respectively.
Verse 17 and 18
The king of kashi, an excellent archer, Shikhandi, the mighty commander of eleven thousnad archers, Dhristadyumna, Virata, Satyaki, Drupada and the sons of Draupadi and the son of Subhadra, the mighty armed blew their conches. From Pandava's side all the Maharathas blew their conches with enthusiasm and in an ascending cadence. This report is addressed to Dhritrashtra who is addressed as Oh Lord of the Earth.
Thus a tumultuous sound rent the hearts of Dhritrashtra's party and made both heaven and earth reverberate. Sanjaya is trying his best to bring out the superiority of Pandava forces and tries to present the disastrous end of the war to the blind king who may change his mind and will send a command to stop the deadly war.
At that time Arjuna, the son of Pandu, seated in the chariot bearing the flag marked with Hanuman, took up his bow and prepared to shoot his arrows. O King, after after looking at the sons of Dhrtarastra drawn in military array, Arjuna then spoke to Lord Krishna these words. This is the moment of the highest tension and war was about to begin, and the entry of the great champion of this war Arjuna is noted here.
Arjuna asked Lord Krishna to draw his chariot between the two armies. These stanzas show that Arjuna was impatient to start the righteous war. In expressing his wish to review enemy lines Arjuna was showing daring, chivalry, great courage and firm determination. Up to this stanza Arjuna was unaffected by any mental hysteria. His reference to Krishna as Achyuta means “One who does not abandon his stand.”
In this stanza Arjuna justifies why he wanted to see the enemy lines. As a man of action, Arjuna did not want to take any undue risk and so wanted to see for himself who were the low-minded, power-mad, greed-ridden men who had joined the forces of the Kauravas. As we read the stanza, we can almost hear the great warrior's teeth grinding as he spits out these hot words which express his mental estimate of his relentless cousins.
Lord Krishna having stationed the chariot between the two armies, right in front of Bhishma and Drona, said, "O Partha, behold these Kurus gathered together". These are the only words Lord spoke in this chapter. They represent sparks that set fire to and brought down the egoistic edifice of false valuations which Arjuna had built. These verses also discuss various meanings of “Gudakesha” “Bharata” “Partha”. The suggestive implication of word Partha connotes that the Gita is the Song of Truth told by the Immortal to the mortal Arjuna, man's all time representative.
Verse 26 –27
Arjuna saw fathers, grandfathers, teachers, maternal uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, father-in-law and friends in both armies. For the first time it brought to his mind full realization of the tragedies of a fratricidal war. His mind welled with pity and compassion. However it was not an honest emotion. Analysis and causes of Arjuna’s mental repressions are discussed in these verses. It was also pointed out that shattering of his mental equilibrium has been mis-named and glorified as ‘pity’ by Sanjaya.
Arjuna said “Seeing here my people, Krishna, gathered here to fight. My limbs fail and my mouth is parched up, my body quivers and my hairs stand on end!” In these two stanzas there is an exhaustive enumeration of the symptoms that the patient recognizes in his own physical body as a result of his mental confusions. We see in these verses, that which Sanjaya had glorified as ‘pity’ , when coming out of Arjuna’s own mouth, gains a more realistic expression.
In this verse Arjuna adds few more details of his symptoms like “Gandiva-bow slips from my hand, and my skin burns all over; I am also unable to stand and my mind is whirling round, as it were.” He gives list of symptoms of mal-adjustment at mental level . Not only is his mind has become unsteady, agitated and chaotic, but it has lost all its morale. It has come down to accepting superstitious omens of disastrous failures. This stanza shows how far Arjuna's discrimination has been drained off, and his morale destroyed.
Arjuna is lamenting that he sees adverse omens and doesn’t see any good in killing his kinsmen in battle. The strife between Arjuna’s objective and subjective mind is evident here. His ardent desire for victory and shattering of that hope after seeing the challenging army of Kauravas with great , eminent warriors is reflected in his words in this verse. Verse also gives another name for Krishna – Keshava ( Kleshava )
Arjuna goes on lamenting further saying that he doesn’t desire victory or kingdom or any pleasures arising out of that. He addresses Krishna as “Govinda” in this verse and questions the use of all these pleasures or even life ( after killing his own Kinsmen ).
He is saying further that all those for whose sake kingdom, enjoyment, pleasures are desired, are standing here to fight this battle renouncing their life and wealth.
In order to gain acceptance from Krishna, and suffering his critical silence, Arjuna goes on arguing that he is seeing his gurus, fathers, sons, grand fathers, maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grand sons, brothers-in-law and other relatives here, in the opposing army. Arjuna is trying to justify his mental state and gaining intellectual sanction from Krishna reiterating his arguments.
Arjuna now declares, addressing Krishna as “ Madhusudana” , that he wouldn’t fight against all his relatives and kill them, even if they kill him. He doesn’t wish to do so even for winning three worlds of this universe, let alone for the Hastinapur kingdom. This is Arjuna’s mock spirit of renunciation and quixotic exaggeration.
Arjuna goes on raving hysterically saying that what pleasure can be gained by killing the sons of Dhritarashtra ? Arjuna is calling Krishna, as “Janardan” here and calling Kauravas as felons and still says that by killing them only sin will be gained. Krishna , being stoically silent all the time, Arjuna is trying to bring forth Ahimsa principle in the Hindu Dharma. But given the situation, he is misconstruing Hindu Dharma at this juncture. Whatever acts performed and motives entertained, which create grosser mental impressions and create a divide between one and his cognition of Divine spark with himself, are “sins”.
Addressing Krishna as “ Madhava”, Arjuna concludes his arguments that they shall not kill sons of Dhritrashtra, because how can they be happy killing their own people. After putting forth all his misconstrued arguments, Arjuna is making personal appeal to Krishna out of his long standing affection with him, and begs him to endorse his lunatic conclusions.
Arjuna says that Karuravas ‘s intelligence is clouded by greed and they are seeing no evil in destruction of families in the society and no sin in cruelty to their friends.
Addressing Krishna as “ Janardan” again, Arjuna says that, even if Kauravas see no evil, we can clearly see the evil in the destruction of the families , then why should we not turn away from this sin ? Arjuna has forgotten / misconstrued the very kernel of Hindu way of living – Active resistance to evil, and hence trying to convince Krishna with his arguments, and trying to gain his acquiescence
Arjuna brings forth further arguments in support and says that when the families get destroyed, religious rites of those families perish, spirituality gets destroyed and then there is era of impiety. Family is an integral unit of society and culture can be built through traditions of families over a period of time. Culture and integrity of the society / nation depends upon the families and their destruction will bring forth destruction of the entire culture.
Arjuna had a fear that due to adharma, women would become corrupt and then there would be intermingling of castes. With depletion of the general morality of the society, there is no control over passion and then there is unhealthy intermingling of incompatible cultural traits. Castes here are defined on the basis of intellectual and mental capacities of the individual.
Again further Arjuna points out that such admixture of castes would lead to fall of the forefathers due to flouting and ruining of the family traditions and rituals. ( kula dharma ) It has been explained that kula dharma is nothing but the rules of living, thinking and acting in a united, well planned family and thereby becoming better citizens. What Arjuna feared was not merely about rituals being forgotten, but about culture and family values being destroyed leading to chaos in the society.
Again the statement that because of destruction of the families and caste confusions, the eternal religious rites of the caste and family are destroyed. Due to the war, the existing cultural values in a society suddenly get cracked up. Not only people get physically mutilated, but even all get scarred in the mind, thus forming deformities in the mind. Here, Arjuna acts as conscientious objector to war, with splendid pacifist arguments good for all times.
Krishna, still being silent, Arjuna again reiterates the same point that when the family values are shattered, there surely is hell for unknown period of time. When the unity of home life is shattered, purity of living and sanctity of thoughts get destroyed and the not only the generation responsible for this suffers as if in hell, but consequent generations too have to suffer.
Arjuna goes on arguing that it would be great sin, if he is prepared to kill his own kinsmen out of greed for the pleasures of the kingdom. Arjuna is intellectually exhausted and emotionally worn out and out of growing inner cowardice, he has started justifying his own fickle arguments. His ulcerated mind is responsible for these thoughts and he has forgotten his own strengths.
Arjuna again goes on to say that it is better for him to die in the battle unresisting and unarmed even if Kauravas shoot him in the battle. However, all the earlier arguments of Arjuna were that such war was against the spiritual culture ( moksha ) and here he says that instead of fighting war, getting killed at the hands of Kaurava is better ( kshema ). This goes to show that all earlier arguments of Arjuna were due to getting mentally demoralized at seeing the size of the Kaurava army and being anxious about the outcome of the war and not out of spiritual concern.
With all these arguments, Arjuna sat down on the seat of the chariot casting away his bow and arrow, his mind distressed with sorrow. Arjuna was shattered within and in spite of Krishna maintaining silence, he went on putting forth whatever arguments that came to his mind and justifying his own emotions and ultimately being thoroughly exhausted sat down on the seat of the chariot.