Shreemad Bhagavad Gita by Paramahamsa Sri Swami Vishwananda by Paramahamsa Sri Swami Vishwananda - Read Online

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Summary

The Shreemad Bhagavad Gita is one of the most ancient scriptures in the world. Of all the scriptures, it is said that Gita provides the deepest and most practical knowledge about faith, devotion, surrender, detachment, and a release of expectations and ownership over one’s own actions.
But like any teaching, time and unqualified minds can distort scriptures like this and misrepresent what is contained within. It is for that purpose that the Lord continuously takes birth on earth in the form of the Guru to revive the true essence of the Gita and to demonstrate the simplicity and power of the divine message of the Lord. One such Master is Paramahamsa Sri Swami Vishwananda, and this book is his personal commentary on this timeless knowledge.
Included here are over 900 pages of verses, translations, drawings for every chapter, and Paramahamsa Vishwananda's extensive commentary. Perfect for the beginner as well as those who have read other commentaries, this is more than just a book. It is a guiding light that can be applied to every day, to every thought, and to every moment.

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Shreemad Bhagavad Gita - Paramahamsa Sri Swami Vishwananda

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rāñjaneyam

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE SHREEMAD BHAGAVAD GITA

Jai Gurudev!

The Shreemad Bhagavad Gita is a song of life. I will quickly summarise it.

Throughout Lord Krishna’s life, He always said things for the sake of uplifting everyone around Him. Note one thing: the people around Bhagavan Krishna were elevated souls. They were not just mere human beings. Each of them was, in reality, His manifestation Itself, reminding us that each of us in this world is only Him; it is only Him who is playing in the core of each of us. I would not say in the core of the heart, but in the core of the soul itself: transpiercing the ego of the soul itself, you will find only Him.

Realisation is not just something that people think about. Realisation is to attain Him, fully! But how to attain Him? He is not separate from you. Each action, whatever you do, is happening only by His Will. Without God’s Will, nothing is possible. You will see, later on, that everything is in His Plan, but in His Plan, He also gives choice. People often ask, But do we have free will? What free will do people have when they are completely surrendered? When you have a mind, the mind has the free will to choose. The Lord gives you choice: as long as you want to be separate from Him, of course you have a choice. But once you realise that you are part of Him, that He is the One who is acting, that He is the One who is doing everything, then you see that all is just His Will.

As you know, the Mahabharat is about the war between the Kauravas and the Pandavas. Why did the fight happen? It was for the kingdom and for material gain. The fight was about who would have the power: the Kauravas or the Pandavas. Here I have to clarify that both sides were Kauravas because they were from the dynasty of Kuru: even Arjuna’s father, Pandu, was from the dynasty of Kuru. The Kaurava King, Dhritarashtra, didn’t recognise the Pandavas as being part of the kingdom. Dhritarashtra was seated on the throne of Pandu, who was the rightful king. He was on the throne of the kingdom without even having had the raja abhishekam ritual done for him. How could Dhritarashtra be the king and sit on the throne of Hastinapur without the official acknowledgement of being the king of Hastinapur? It was only because of the word of his brother.

He was on the throne when the Pandavas came to ask, Will you give us our share of the kingdom? We also have rights to this kingdom! The Kauravas refused and plotted to kill the Pandavas. They gave them a house made of wax, which Duryodhan, the oldest son of the King Dhritarashtra, burned. The Pandavas ran away and escaped. So from the time that they were very young, they had this enmity between them.

Later the Pandavas got married. Arjuna married the daughter of Drupada, Draupadi. According to the rules of that time, one woman could marry five husbands. Nowadays it is the opposite! One man marries five women, seven probably. But at that time, there were rules, even for the kings. Lord Krishna Himself had 16,108 wives. But this was just to remind us that Lord Krishna is the Lord, you know? He could marry as many women as He wanted. And, He was individually present with each one! By His power, He was present with each wife.

Draupadi married the five Pandava brothers. According to the rules, when she was with one brother, it was for just one year, and during that one year, another brother couldn’t be with her. They all had to address her with respect. And when the couple was in their private chamber, the other brothers were not allowed in.

The Pandavas conquered a kingdom and named it Indraprastha, the kingdom of Indra, because Arjuna was the son of Indra. How was Arjuna the son of Indra? Pandu was cursed. He had two wives, Kunti and Madri. He was cursed that if he ever touched one of his wives, he would die on the spot, so they could not have children. Then, where did the Pandava brothers come from? In ancient times, in the time of Dwapara Yuga, people counted on the blessing of the sages, the blessing of the elders of the family, and the father and the mother. The blessing was very important because the power of the words which the blessing had, and the faith in God that people had during that time, made it happen. Pandu’s wife, Kunti, had the blessing that whenever she wanted to know something, she would know it. Whenever she wanted something from the devas, she would get it.

Kunti said to Pandu, I have a special mantra. Let me use it to invoke the devas for their blessing. She wanted to test the mantra. She was like everyone; people always have this little doubt: Does this mantra really work or not? Is this blessing real or not? Let me try it!

One day she looked at the Sun, wondering, Why is the Sun so red? Let me ask the Sun-god. She invoked Surya Narayana and, of course, Surya Narayana appeared in front of her and asked, What do you want? Kunti said, I don’t know. I just wanted to know why you are red. But you see, when you invoke the devas, they have to give you something. They can’t just leave without giving you a blessing. Surya Narayana said, Okay, you don’t know what to ask, but I have to give you something! So Surya Narayana said, I bless you with a son! And, ping! The son was there! Kunti didn’t get pregnant. No! The son just manifested through the blessing, through the willpower of Surya Narayana. His name was Karna. She thought, What can I do with a child? I don’t know what to do. She was not yet married and she was a princess of Kunti-Bhoja. She became worried. What will people say? She couldn’t go and tell everyone, Immaculate conception.

Even when Mother Mary went to Joseph and said, I am not pregnant by any man, it happened through the Holy Spirit, did Joseph welcome it nicely? No! There were doubts in his mind, How? Anybody can say that! Like I was saying, Only the mother knows who is the father. The father can’t know whether a child is really his or not. Here it was the same! What to do? With a heavy heart, Kunti put the baby in a basket on the water so that the water could safely carry him somewhere, hoping that someone would get the baby and raise him.

This story is similar to the story of Moses. Moses’ mother also had to let go of her child, hoping that the child would have a good future. Because of the blessing of Surya Narayana, Kunti’s child was found and raised by a charioteer. That’s why Karna was called ‘suta-putra’ (the son of the charioteer). Later it was revealed that he was the eldest son of Kunti. Since he was not the son of Pandu, he was called Kaunteya (son of Kunti). When Kunti realised that the blessing had worked, she was reassured. Later, when she got married to Pandu, and he got the curse, she remembered the mantra and said, I can have children. I don’t really need you to have a child. Pandu said, Poor me!

Kunti first invoked the akash tattva. Akash here doesn’t mean the sky. It means the element ether, the ether tattva. Ether as an element is the void, what we nowadays call ‘the black hole’, the emptiness. When Kunti invoked the akash tattva, she had actually invoked all the devas saying, Whoever hears my voice, come! Yama answered Kunti’s invocation. Yama is the lord of death, who controls death: that’s why he is dark in aspect. Nobody knows about death – when death will come, where it will come, how it will come. It is unknown to the mind. It is unknown to normal people. That’s why when we talk about death, fear arises, no? Here akash tattva is this void. Yamaraj was pleased with Kunti’s invocation, so he appeared in front of her and blessed her with a son. Ping! A son was manifested! His name was Yudhishtir.

Then Kunti invoked Vayu, the wind God, Hanuman’s father. She got another blessing, another son: Bhima was born.

Next she invoked Indra, the king of the demigods, the king of Indra Loka. Here you have to understand what Indra Loka and the devas stand for. When you are on the spiritual path, you have a certain realisation of God Consciousness, yet you are still attached to the world. You have both: you have one foot in heaven and one foot on the earth. You are indecisive about where you want to put the next foot, because you’ll go either up or down. Indra has many good qualities, like all the other devas, but he also has an attachment to the world. Later you will see these contradictory qualities of Indra in his son, Arjuna. Arjuna was, of course, an elevated soul. Further on, we’ll see that Krishna and Arjuna have had a relationship, a bandhan (bond), through many lifetimes. In Chapter 4, Krishna reminds Arjuna of this, saying, Look, our relationship is not just for this lifetime. Every time I have incarnated, you also incarnated. This was the master plan of God. He plans everything before it happens, a long time before. The whole plan of Krishna’s life itself was in His control.

So Kunti invoked Indra and Arjuna was born. Arjuna represented the fire element, the fire tattva. After having three sons, Kunti was very happy, but Madri, Pandu’s other wife, was very sad. She thought, Oh, you know, my sister…these sons are very nice. I would also like to have sons. Of course, Pandu saw Madri’s sadness and asked Kunti, As you have had the blessing of this mantra, could you please give this mantra to Madri? Kunti was very happy to give it. She did not say, Oh, that’s my mantra. I will keep it for myself. Let her not have any children. Nowadays people would do this. Kunti gladly gave the mantra to Madri and with it, Madri invoked the Ashwin Kumars, the two brothers, who are the divine physicians, and from their blessing Nakul and Sahadev were born. Nakul represented the water element, because water has many healing properties and Sahadev represented the earth element.

So the Pandavas were all born through the blessing of the devas. Later on, one day Kunti took the children outside. Pandu and his wife, Madri, were at home and, of course, desire was eating him too much. He couldn’t control himself, he jumped on his wife, and the moment he touched her, he remembered the curse! At that moment he felt a terrible pain in his heart, had a terrible heart attack, and died. This is how lust kills people. If the mind is lustful, it will drain the life force from oneself.

The five Pandava brothers later married Draupadi, who was also called Krishna and Panchali. Draupadi had been born to king Drupada through the blessing of Lord Shiva and she represented the element of fire. One day, Duryodhan, the eldest son of Dhritarashtra, went to visit them, because the Pandavas had refused to give him their kingdom. The Pandavas finally said, Give us a land that is very far away where we can build our kingdom. That distant land was barren because it was cursed. It was the kingdom of Takshaka, a demon snake king, who was terrorising everybody who lived there. All the people had left this place and it had become the home of only the snakes. The Pandavas asked for that place and, of course, the king said, Okay, I won’t give you anything that is civilised. If you want that land, take it! I give it to you, happily! When they went there, it was inhabited by snakes, so they had to fight them. They fought and won. The demon snake, Takshaka, left, so they rebuilt the whole kingdom. The snake king had kept a prisoner named Mayasur, who had the power to make everything wonderful.

Do you know Maya? Do you know what Maya does? Maya creates illusion. Mayasur was probably the brother of Maya.

Mayasur was very happy to be freed from the demon snake king. He surrendered to the Pandavas and said, You have freed me. I had been trapped and had to serve him. Now that he is gone, please allow me to give you something. You see, this was not just about taking, taking, taking; it was also about giving. Giving and taking creates balance. People at that time respected this balance. So Mayasur rebuilt the whole kingdom of the Pandavas with his power. He created a big palace and made it beautiful. Inside the palace there were many wonderful things, but since the palace was created by the brother of Maya, there were also many illusory things.

When Duryodhan came to visit the palace, he saw a big fire everywhere. He saw people on the other side of the fire looking at him and they said, Come, come! Why are you scared? He asked, How can I come in? There is a big fire everywhere! They said, Don’t worry, it is just an illusion, come in. He walked in and, of course, the fire was just an illusion, so he went through it. As he continued walking, he saw Draupadi. She made fun of him saying, Please come, come, come! The Pandavas knew very well that he was short-tempered. Duryodhan was always aggressive, always angry. They said, Come, come, come! He saw a beautiful carpet, and as he walked over it, he fell down into it. That carpet looked very beautiful, but beneath it was water. Draupadi laughed at him and all the Pandavas laughed at him. She said, Ah, look! As his father is blind, he is also blind. The son of the blind is blind. Of course, this enraged Duryodhan even more and he said, I will take revenge on them.

The Kauravas felt very offended. They plotted how to take over the Pandava’s kingdom. After they had gone there, and seen how beautiful this kingdom had become, everybody started leaving Hastinapur to live in Indraprastha, and this made them even angrier! In their anger, they said, Okay, we will sort them out. They had the idea of playing a game of dice. When they played dice, they had certain rules. The rules were: whatever they bet, they had to give, and they couldn’t leave until the game was over. The uncle of Duryodhan, on the mother’s side, Shakuni, what did he do? He had a dice made of the bones of his ancestors, so that through his magical power he could control his ancestors. Whatever number he wished for when he threw the dice, he would get. If he wanted 10, he would get 10; the maximum was 36. Yudhishtir agreed to come to Hastinapur to play dice and be welcomed as the king of Indraprastha. Of course, it was just a plan of these evil people to bring them there with sweet words and then after that… you see, when people are very cunning, they appear very nice, but then they take everything from you. Here also, the Kauravas did the same thing. They invited Yudishtira and the Pandavas there, and told them, Come, we will officially recognise you as being the king of Indraprastha. In reality, it was to steal the kingdom from them. Avariciousness, you know? You always want what others have – the things that belong to others. The Kauravas were very greedy. So they played the game of dice. First, Yudhishtir gambled his treasure and his money – like you do in a gambling casino. He gambled until he didn’t have anything left. He even gambled his kingdom, the new kingdom which he had just built. He gambled it and lost it.

Yudhishtir said, Now, I don’t have anything, so I will leave. The Kauravas refused. No, the game is not yet finished! Since we are winning, we can decide when the game is finished. These were the rules they had all agreed on from the beginning – that the winning party could make the rules. Yudhishtir also gambled his brothers, one after the other. He lost all the brothers. Finally, he gambled even himself. He also lost himself!

The Kauravas asked, What else do you have? Yudhishtir said, We don’t have anything. They said, You do have something else, your wife. He refused and said, How can we gamble a woman? Women at that time were well respected. No one even dared to touch a woman or say anything disrespectful to a woman. He continued to refuse saying, No, we can’t do that! Then the Kauravas forced him saying, Everything that you have lost now belongs to us! So you also belong to us! As you are ours, we order you to gamble your wife! Yudhishtir had to agree, Okay, we will gamble our wife. They had to, you see, because Yudhishtir was very righteous. He always kept his word, so he had to gamble his wife, Draupadi. He threw the dice and, of course, lost Draupadi.

To ridicule Draupadi, the Kauravas sent a message to call her to the court. This game of dice was not played in a small room. It was played in the large king’s court, in front of the king. All the assembly, all the people, all the ministers, were present in the court, watching. The grandsire, Bhishma, was there. Dronacharya and Kripacharya were there. But they were bound by certain promises from the beginning. They could not say anything because they were part of the Kauravas’ kingdom. The Kauravas sent word to Draupadi to come to the court. She refused, No, I will not come! Why should I come?

Duryodhan got very angry and spoke with his second brother, Dushasana. Dushasana went to Draupadi, and ordered her to come. She continued to refuse. So what did he do? He dragged her! He pulled and dragged her by her hair from her room to the court! Seeing that, nobody could speak. Even her five mighty husbands couldn’t say anything, because they had also lost themselves in the gambling match. Draupadi was brought to the court and the Kauravas wanted to ridicule her to show their power. What did they do? They wanted to remove her clothes! They ordered Draupadi, Remove your clothes! She said, How can I remove my clothes in front of all these men? The king, all the queens, everyone was there. She again refused, I can’t remove my clothes. So Duryodhan told his brother, Dushasana, to strip her of her clothes.

This is the famous part of the story. Krishna and Draupadi had a great friendship and were best friends.

When Dushasana wanted to strip her of her clothes, she called out to Krishna, Govinda, come and help me! She was still holding very tightly to her clothes. Of course, the Lord was there, watching. The moment Draupadi let go of her clothes, surrendering completely to the Lord, an endless flow of sari began. Dushasana was pulling, pulling, pulling, for hours and hours. There were metres and metres of sari, but it could not be removed from her. Dushasana finally fell down, tired, completely exhausted. At that moment, Draupadi became very angry and cursed the whole court. She even cursed her husbands saying, From now on, you are not my husbands! I don’t take you as my husbands! I was the wife of five mighty husbands who have been taken control of by a stupid man. She became very angry and vowed to burn everything down with her power. She could burn everything down because she was fire, shakti. Then eventually she was pacified.

After that, they all came to an agreement because some of the Kauravas started raising their voices. Bhishma Pita said, No, it is impossible to do such things! So they all came to an agreement. The Pandavas would be in exile for thirteen years and would not even be allowed to come to their own kingdom. During the thirteenth year they would still be in exile, but they would have to be completely incognito. Nobody should ever know who they were. The Pandavas agreed to this.

The Pandavas were in exile for twelve years. The last year of exile, they were incognito in the kingdom of King Virat. Nobody knew who they were. Bhima was a cook. Nakul was working with the horses in the stable. Yudhishthira was an adviser to the king. Arjuna was dressed as a woman because he was the dance teacher of the princess. Like that, they continued hiding. Yudhishtir was such a great adviser to the king, the kingdom started to flourish and became ten times bigger.

Of course, the kings in the surrounding areas were not stupid. They started to think, especially Duryodhan’s uncle, Shakuni. Shakuni was very cunning. Krishna Himself said, There is one person I worry about. I don’t worry about anybody or anything else, but only one person, Shakuni, because he always thinks ahead. Shakuni represents the cunning mind which is always plotting for personal gain, always wanting to please the ego, to please the mind. With his cunning mind, he was always planning ahead. He knew that the Pandavas were surely hiding in Virat’s kingdom. So the Kauravas went there. Of course, King Virat knew that the Pandavas were there, but he never said anything. Nobody else knew and he protected them. The Kauravas came to King Virat and said, The Pandavas are surely hiding here. He said, No! If they were hiding here, of course we would know about it. And even if they were hiding here, it would be a big blessing for us to have them here. I can’t let you invade my kingdom and search for them here. The Kauravas said, If you don’t let us search, we will fight! He said, Fine! Bring your army and we’ll fight.

The fight was to start one day before the thirteen years had finished, so the Pandavas needed to delay until the sunset of the last day of the thirteenth year. The Kauravas came to Virat’s kingdom to fight. They sent one group of their army to the back of the kingdom and one group to the front. But the king had gone to fight somewhere else, and there was nobody there to protect the kingdom except the sixteen-year-old son of the king. What could he do? He was a prince, yes! But against such a big army, how could he fight? Arjuna was there in disguise dressed as a woman named Brihannala. Still dressed as a woman, he came to the prince and said, Look, you are a prince, you should go and fight! The prince said, How will I fight? I don’t even know how to fight. Of course, everybody was looking at Arjuna saying, How do you know about fighting? You are a woman. Nowadays, when you see somebody dressed like this, you say, Oh my goodness, this is a man who dresses like a woman. He must be crazy! But at that time, this was normal. There was not this taboo, that this person is like this, that person is like that. No. There was respect for all people. Brihannala told the prince, Go and fight! They were all looking at Brihannala saying, What do you know about fighting? You only know how to dance. Arjuna was a master of dance; he was perfect in dancing. He said, I can dance and also fight. I’ll show you. Attack me! They attacked him and he was dancing and fighting at the same time! They were impressed. Draupadi was also there in disguise. She was the attendant of the queen. She laughed because they all knew that this would be their last day of hiding. After that, all would know who they were. At the moment of sunset, all would know. They said, Wow! Brihannala fights very well – better than any of our soldiers! Finally the prince said, Okay! Will you protect me? Arjuna replied, Yes, of course, I will protect you!

They went from behind to protect the kingdom. When the Kauravas saw that only one chariot was coming towards them and that the charioteer was just a woman, they said, Are you crazy? We will finish you like nothing! The prince went to Arjuna and said, How can I fight? Meanwhile, Arjuna was trying to delay the time for the fight. He wanted to wait until sunset so that he could reveal himself. Of course, Bhishma, the grandsire on the Kauravas’ side, was not stupid, he knew who Arjuna really was. But he kept quiet because he knew that the Kauravas were wrong. Even though he was supporting the Kauravas’ side, he knew that they were wrong.

It was nearly time for the sun to set. Arjuna turned the chariot and went with the prince into the nearby forest. Everybody thought, They ran away! That woman charioteer and the prince ran away! Arjuna said to the prince, Get down from the chariot! The prince asked, Why should I get down? Arjuna said, I want you to climb up this tree. There is a bow up there. Bring it to me! Before the Pandavas had gone into hiding, they had hidden their weapons under Divine protection. The Goddess Maha Bhagavati had protected all their weapons then, but now the weapons were needed. The prince climbed up the tree, saw the bow, and brought it down saying, How did you get this bow? This bow is the Gandiva, one of the mightiest bows, and it belongs to Arjuna! At that moment, the prince knew that Brihannala was, in reality, Arjuna.

Arjuna climbed into his chariot. It was already sunset, so he could start fighting. Finally, the thirteen years were finished, and on that night, the Pandavas revealed themselves. King Virat had known about everything and was very happy. The Kauravas said, We knew that you were here. We didn’t know who you were, but we knew that you were here.

The Pandavas said, We have kept our promise, we have done the twelve years of exile and one year completely incognito. We have kept our word. But the Kauravas didn’t agree with this and demanded to fight. The Pandavas said, Okay, war is imminent. We can’t do anything else now, if you won’t give us our share of the kingdom. It was not just about their share of the kingdom. It was about righteousness, which the king had promised. The Pandavas had kept their word and, now that it was over, the Kauravas were refusing to do what they had promised at the beginning. It was not even about giving; it was about recognising that Indraprastha was the Pandavas’ kingdom.

They were all still in King Virat’s kingdom and so they sent news to him saying, Now it is war! Get ready! Meanwhile, the Kauravas knew that Krishna had a big army, the Narayani Sena. Duryodhan, who was the disciple of Balarama, said, I will go to Balarama and ask for help. Balarama was the elder brother of Krishna, but Krishna was in charge of the army, not Balarama. Balarama was in charge of all the other things. When the Kauravas went to Balarama to ask for the army, he said, Go to Krishna! It is not me who is in charge of the army. And so it happened that Arjuna and Duryodhan arrived in Dwarka at the same time to meet with Krishna.

When Duryodhan arrived, he saw Krishna lying down, sleeping on his couch. Very proudly, Duryodhan went to sit at the head of Krishna, on a beautiful chair, and waited for Krishna to wake up. Arjuna arrived at the same time. Arjuna was very dear to Krishna. Krishna had told him to always be humble and had reminded him many times, Be at My Feet. At that moment, Arjuna remembered what Krishna had said to him, Be at My Feet. You’ll be safe. So Arjuna stood by the Feet of Lord Krishna and waited with folded hands. A few moments later, Krishna opened his eyes. The first person He saw was Arjuna and He said, Arjuna, how are you? When did you come? As Krishna got up, He felt somebody else there, too. He turned and saw someone. Of course, He knew who it was and said, Ah, Duryodhan, you are also here? Sorry, I didn’t see you. Duryodhan said, Yes, yes, I am also here. I even came before Arjuna! Krishna said, Okay, cool! What can I do for you?

Of course, Krishna knew why they had come. He said to Arjuna, You are younger than Duryodhan, so you have the right to ask first! This was the law of the country at that time. It was not the eldest who was favoured, it was the youngest. I think that nowadays it is also the same. Always favour the younger ones. Krishna said to Arjuna, Ask what you want! He continued, Look, this war is not between Me and the Kauravas. It is between the Pandavas and Dhritarashtra’s sons. It is between you. I won’t take part in this war. If one of you wants to take Me, I’ll be the counsellor; I will be there to counsel you. I will not lift any weapon. Duryodhan started thinking, What would I do with this man? Krishna continued, I will give you the choice between taking me as a counsellor, or taking my army, Narayani Sena, which has 2.4 million soldiers in it. What do you want? Do you want Narayani Sena or do you want only Me?" The Narayani Sena itself had 2,455,700 soldiers, 240,570 chariots with charioteers, 240,570 elephants and 721,710 horses.

Hearing these beautiful numbers, Duryodhan was very happy, Okay, what would I do with this one person who is not even taking a weapon? A counsellor? I have my beautiful uncle, Shakuni Mama. What would I do with somebody else to counsel me? Knowing all this from the beginning, Krishna asked Arjuna, What do you want, My dear? At that moment, Arjuna fell at the Feet of Lord Krishna saying, My Lord, I don’t want your army, I want You. Duryodhan thought, How stupid he is! Of course, Krishna could read Duryodhan’s mind and said, My dear Arjuna, are you sure? What would you do with Me? You can’t do anything! Arjuna said, Lord, if You are the Lord of the universe, if You are with us, it doesn’t matter. Even if there are thousands or even if there are hundreds of thousands of people, we will win. Duryodhan was surely thinking, Arjuna has gone crazy. Even before the war has started, it has already stressed him too much! Very proudly, Duryodhan said, Okay, fine! This is cool! Take Krishna, but give me the Narayani Sena! Yes, Krishna said, take the Narayani Sena.

When Duryodhan reached Hastinapur, he announced very proudly to his uncle, Shakuni, Uncle-ji, I have gained a big army! His uncle said, You stupid fool! What will you do with this army? You should have taken Krishna! In his cunningness, Shakuni knew that Krishna was not just a normal human being.

Later on, you will see that even if they were all living with Krishna at that time, they were not regarding Him as God. They were regarding Him as somebody who had been sent by God, like Christ, when He was alive on Earth. Even though Krishna had done so many miracles, through His Maya, He had covered the eyes of the people so that they didn’t really recognise His full glory, who He was in reality. The same was true with Christ. Jesus had done so many miracles, but at the time of the crucifixion, everybody said, Crucify Him! Crucify Him! Crucify Him!

So, Duryodhan was now very proud, but his uncle, Shakuni, was extremely unhappy. Even if his uncle was very bad, he was also very wise. He was too wise, and the wise can become stupid. Very often, you see people who are so intelligent, but where are they? In the mental institute! The brain can only handle a certain amount. And when it is too much, it collapses. It was the same with Shakuni. Because of his cunningness, he thought that he was always right. This would later cause his own destruction. He would lose everything, including his life, because he was killed in the Mahabharat War.

The Kauravas were still plotting to win the war. They wanted to invite Krishna to their palace and kill Him. Duryodhan invited Krishna saying, Please come to my house to eat. We will have nice food for you. They wanted to poison Him, but Krishna knew the dark mind. He said, No! How can I eat your food when your heart is filled with so much darkness? I can’t.

Krishna went instead to visit Vidura, the uncle of the Pandavas, but Vidura was not home. Vidura’s wife was in bliss when she saw that Krishna had come to her place. Krishna asked, Can you please give Me some food to eat! She said, Yes, yes, I have some food for You. We don’t have much, we have very simple food here. I have only fruits. Krishna said, Please, give Me whatever you have. She began to peel the bananas and gave the banana peels to Krishna to eat, and threw the bananas away! Yet, Krishna joyfully ate the peels. When Vidura returned and saw that all the bananas were on the floor and that his wife was feeding Krishna the peels, he tried to stop her. Krishna pushed his hand away and said, It’s not about eating. What does the Lord need to eat? The Lord doesn’t need to eat anything. What He was taking was the love, the pure love, which she was offering to Him. Maybe in her last life she was Sabari, who lovingly offered fruits to Rama. So, in this life, she was feeding banana peels to Krishna with such deep love, such sublime love, that even the Lord was joyfully eating the peels! That’s why it is said, If you love Him, you don’t need to offer much to Him. Just a few drops of water with Tulsi leaves will please Him more than anything else. How simple it is! How easy it is!

From Vidura’s home, Krishna went to the Kauravas’ palace. The evil ones tried to fight Him. At that moment, He showed – not to all of them – only to Bhishma and Drona who He was in reality, His true form. He appeared with four hands, as Chaturbhuja, Narayana Krishna. So they knew who He was. Not everybody in the court could see this clearly. Many of them saw just a big bright light. Only Bhishma and Drona could see His true form. The Kauravas still refused to stop the fight and return the kingdom to the Pandavas. The war had to happen.

They all prepared for war and went to Kurukshetra to fight. Kurukshetra is a very holy place. It is about 160 kilometres from Delhi. It was the place where King Kuru himself did penance. This was also the place where the ankle of Sati, of Maha Bhagavati, fell to the Earth. And when Krishna was young, He went to Kurukshetra four times. Krishna and Balarama did their mundan ceremony in Kurukshetra: their hair was shaved in Kurukshetra. The last time that they went there was for the war. Now the battle was imminent, and the big army of the Pandavas and the big army of the Kauravas stationed themselves on the battlefield.

People often ask, "The Gita is so long. How could Krishna give the Gita to Arjuna in just one hour?" How could Krishna give the Gita, the Brahma Jyaan, the supreme knowledge, to Arjuna in such a short time? You have to know one thing: war then was not like war nowadays. You didn’t shoot whenever you felt like shooting. There was a certain code of conduct, and there were the rules of war. Before the war even started, both sides had already agreed that the war would start in the morning with the sunrise and end with the sunset.

The first chapter of the Gita is about the dejection of Arjuna. Arjuna says, How can I fight my own people? He felt a profound pain and sorrow inside of him to go and fight. Krishna gave him the Gita, the knowledge of the Gita at that time. People nowadays will say, You had the Kauravas on the battlefield, and Arjuna says to Krishna, ‘Please take my chariot there so I can fight.’ Then everyone just sat there and started talking right in the middle of the war! In the minds of people nowadays, they think, Oh my goodness, this is impossible! But first you have to understand the code of conduct for war in that time. If everyone was not ready, on both sides, and didn’t blow their conches to announce that the war should start, the war would not start. Even if Krishna had taken five days to explain the Gita to Arjuna, they would all have waited for five days before starting to fight. And Arjuna was not ready to fight.

Arjuna says, I can’t even hold my bow in my hand, how will I fight? Krishna says, It is your duty, you have to fight! Here you will see that Krishna is taking the role of the Guru. But He also tells Arjuna, Fight! This is your dharma! This is your duty! Krishna doesn’t say, Oh, My dear, you are sad. Don’t fight now! Let’s go home! Imagine – if Krishna said that, what would have happened? A warrior goes on the battlefield with a gun and says, Oh my goodness! No, I can’t fight now! I am going home! Would you call him a warrior? No, you would not! And Arjuna was known to be one of the best warriors. Krishna tells him, No, you can’t leave, you have to fight! Then Krishna gave the Gita to Arjuna. This, in short, is the story of how the Mahabharat War started and why it started.

Now, Krishna gave the Gita to Arjuna just before the war began. One might ask, "Who wrote the Gita?" Actually, this is a fact that even many scholars don’t know! Veda Vyasa wrote the Gita 150 years before the Mahabharat War took place. One will ask, How was this possible? It was very possible! Veda Vyasa was a great sage. He had the vision of the Gita 150 years before the Mahabharat War and he later gave the gift of clairvoyant vision to Sanjaya to also see the Gita.

At the time of the Mahabharat War, Veda Vyasa was about 250 years old. His son, Sukadev, the ever-youthful, was also there. Veda Vyasa had already written and compiled the Gita 150 years before the Mahabharat War, and later on, you’ll see that the knowledge of the Gita was even much older than that. Many years before the Mahabharat War, Krishna gave the knowledge of the Gita to the Sun-god, Surya dev, and then to others in this long lineage of enlightened beings. After King Rama, this knowledge was lost until Veda Vyasa had the vision of it. He could foresee everything before it happened. That was why he knew what Krishna would be doing, and what Krishna would be saying in the Mahabharat War.

The war lasted for eighteen days; that is why there are eighteen chapters in the Gita.

Sanjaya related the events of the war to the blind king, Dhritarashtra, ten days after the war had begun. Why only then? It was on the tenth day of the war that Bhishma was felled in battle by Arjuna and laid down on the bed of arrows. Before that happened, Dhritarashtra didn’t want to know anything about the war. He trusted so much that his sons would win because the Kauravas had the power, they had the mighty Bhishma with them. Bhishma was also called Ganga putra. He had a great blessing: that he would only die when he wanted. He would die when he let go of his bow. But, who could take his bow out of his hand? Nobody! On the tenth day of the war, Bhishma was pierced with many arrows; he laid down on this bed of arrows on the battlefield. He had been pierced by the arrows of Arjuna.

Only then did King Dhritarashtra take interest in what was happening in the war. Before that, Sanjaya had also been in the war. Sanjaya had received the blessing from Veda Vyasa to also be able to see what was happening at a distance. Just by sitting in the court next to the king, he could see everything, like it was on a TV screen in front of him. On the tenth day of the war, when King Dhritarashtra hears that Bhishma, this strong pillar, had fallen, he starts to take an interest in the war and says, Oh, my goodness! Now it is very bad for my sons! Bhishma was the main shield for the Kauravas. If he has fallen, I should show more interest in what has been happening. As Bhishma has fallen, his fear starts rising and he says, What I have perceived, what I have heard, will surely happen. I now feel that my sons will die. He knows, but he still chooses to be blind. He still chooses to be ignorant. Sanjaya then begins to narrate to him all that has taken place from the beginning of the war.

The Shreemad Bhagavad Gita has eighteen chapters that symbolise the eighteen days of the fight between the Kauravas and the Pandavas. It is said in the shastras that for someone who wishes to surrender to the Lord, it will take eighteen steps to fully surrender. One must go through these eighteen steps, step by step. This can happen very quickly. We will go through the same eighteen steps as we go through the eighteen chapters of the Gita.

The greatness of the Gita is that at the end, whatever one wishes for with a pure heart, one will receive. Going through the Gita, the heart goes through a sieve and gets purified. The mind goes through transformation, and the soul is cleansed.

The first chapter of the Gita is Arjuna Vishaada Yoga, the Dejection of Arjuna. It presents the eighteen forms of yoga, which we will travel through.

The second chapter is Sankhya Yoga, the knowledge of the Self.

The third chapter is Karma Yoga, which is the power of action.

The fourth chapter is Jyaana Vibhaaga Yoga, the power of knowledge, action and renunciation.

The fifth chapter is Karma Sannyasa Yoga. The word ‘karma’ is usually translated as ‘action’, but here in this chapter is connected to ‘sannyasa’, so Karma Sannyasa Yoga is the yoga of the renunciation of action.

The sixth chapter is Dhyaana Yoga, the power of meditation.

The seventh chapter is Jyaana Vijyaana Yoga, the path of knowledge.

The eighth chapter is Akshara Brahma Yoga, the path to supreme spirit, elevated spirit.

The ninth chapter is Raajavidyaa Raajaguhya Yoga, the path of royal knowledge, kingly knowledge and royal secrets.

The tenth chapter is Vibhuti Yoga, the Divine Glory.

The eleventh chapter is Vishwarupa Darshana Yoga, the path of vision, the supreme vision of the universal form of the Lord.

The twelfth chapter is Bhakti Yoga? What is it? Simple! The path of devotion.

The thirteenth chapter is Kshetrakshetrajna Yoga, discrimination between Nature and the Self, the difference between Nature and the Self, how the Self is beyond Nature.

The fourteenth chapter is Gunatraya Vibhaaga Yoga, the separation between the three gunas.

The fifteenth chapter is Purushottama Yoga, union with the Supreme Being.

The sixteenth chapter is Daivaasurasampad Vibhaaga Yoga, the distinction between the divine and the demonic qualities, the discrimination between good qualities and negative qualities. Here I am using the word discrimination. Discrimination is not judging. True discrimination helps you discriminate between good and bad, and yet you are above good and bad. You just distinguish.

The seventeenth chapter is Shraddhaatraya Vibhaaga Yoga, distinction between the three types of faith. We’ll go into that later.

Then, the eighteenth chapter, Moksha Sannyasa Yoga, is the path of liberation. People long for Moksha, for liberation. Even that, though, you have to renounce, because the Grace of the Lord Himself is above that.

These are the eighteen forms of yoga which we will go through.

CHAPTER 1

ARJUNA VISHAADA YOGA

Chapter 1, Verse 1

dhṛtarāṣṭra uvāca

dharmakṣetre kurukṣetre

samavetā yuyutsavaḥ

māmakāḥ pāṇḍavāś caiva

kim akurvata sañjaya

Dhritarashtra asks: On the field of Kurukshetra, the field of the working out of the dharma, gathered together, eager for battle, what did they do, O Sanjaya, my people and the Pandavas?

Dhritarashtra asks Sanjaya what is happening in the war, what is happening on the battlefield. This verse starts with the word ‘Dharmakshetra’. ‘Dharma’ means righteous, ‘kshetra’ means the field - the field of righteousness. Kurukshetra: ‘kuru’ comes from ‘ku’, ‘kriya’, to do, to act, to work; ‘kshetra’ is the working field. Dhritarashtra asks, What are my sons and the Pandavas doing?

The moment Dhritarashtra uses the words ‘Dharmakshetra’, ‘Kurukshetra’, he knows automatically that the place, the battlefield is not just a normal place. The battlefield is a holy place.

This Kurukshetra was not just a normal place where they had chosen a field to have a war. It was a place where dharma was fulfilled. It was a place where one was liberated. That’s why it is said that whoever dies at Kurukshetra, even nowadays, is elevated into higher spheres, or liberated according to their merit, their punya. Kurukshetra is also referred to as Punyakshetra, because on this field one gets good merit, good punya.

What was this field where the war happened? The war has different meanings. One of the meanings of this war is life, where the ‘good’ side fights with the ‘not good’ side. This war is not outside, it is also happening inside the human body. Your physical body is the Dharmakshetra. You have incarnated to do your dharma in this field. That’s the Dharmakshetra. Life in itself is also Dharmakshetra. You have come to fulfil the Divine purpose. When you are in tune with your true Self, you realise what is your true purpose in life: to attain the Lotus Feet of the Lord, to attain His Grace. And that’s what the word ‘Dharmakshetra’ is reminding you. Do your dharma! Awake! This dharma can be done with the greatest gift which God has given - this field, this body. And when you start doing your dharma, you’ll get good merit, you’ll get good punya! But, if you run away from your dharma, then you turn towards the dark side.

In this verse, Dhritarashtra refers to his sons, gathered on this battlefield. This battlefield represents the battlefield of life. On the battlefield of life, you have both: the ‘good’ and the ‘not good’. Dhritarashtra says, my people, meaning his sons and the Pandavas, and asks, What are they doing?Dhritarashtra had a hundred sons and the Pandavas were the five sons of his brother, Pandu. And now, there was war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas.

What does the blind king represent? This blind king, Dhritarashtra, represents the mind - the mind which is blind and wants to stay blind. The mind is hanging on to the outside so much that it has power only when it is focused on something exterior: on the material, on relationships, on gaining this or gaining that. This is the nature of the mind. The mind is blind. When Dhritarashtra asks, What are my sons doing?, don’t think that he is very concerned about the Pandavas. He is only concerned about his sons. He is more bothered about, What will I gain? Somebody with a crooked mind will always try to find what he will gain. This is avariciousness.

Before, he was not concerned about the war, but when he sees that he will lose something, then his mind feels threatened, his mind starts to react. In his mind he has doubts and asks, What is happening? Now that Bhishma has fallen down, what is the reaction of my sons? What is the reaction of the Pandavas? Surely, this must cause a reaction in their minds. With the fall of Bhishma, did my sons realise that they have to change or not? The mind is always the same. The mind thinks, thinks, thinks, and thinks, but when you try to control it, what happens? It’s a fight, right? It rebels!

He continues to inquire: Will there be changes happening to my people and the Pandavas? Both families were from the Kuru dynasty. But the king refused to recognise the Pandavas. The mind doesn’t recognise the good qualities which are present in oneself. The mind can only look towards the senses, looking always towards the outside. The Self, the positive qualities which are present inside, are not comprehended by the mind. So, then Sanjaya continues saying:

Chapter 1, Verse 2

sañjaya uvāca

dṛṣṭva tu pāṇḍavānīkaṁ

vyūḍhaṁ duryodhanas tadā

ācāryam upasaṅgamya

rājā vacanam abravīt

Sanjaya says: Then the King Duryodhan, having seen the army of the Pandavas arrayed in battle order, approaches his teacher, Dronacharya, and speaks these words:

Why does Sanjaya refer to Duryodhan as ‘raja’ (king) in this verse? Because Duryodhan was a great man of state. His father, Dhritarashtra, was blind, so it was actually Duryodhan who was controlling the kingdom. His blind father, Dhritarashtra, represents the blind mind. What comes out of the blind mind is pride. Duryodhan represents this great pride that is born from the mind. When the mind is very active, one becomes proud, proud of many things: proud of knowledge, proud of what one has.

The army of the Pandavas was arrayed in a very special formation. Seeing this orderly formation, Duryodhan felt much nervousness and anxiety inside himself. Anxiety appears when one is proud. Even if pride appears very strong on the outside, in reality, it has a lot of weaknesses in it. Why does pride arise? Do you think it is out of strength? No! In reality, pride arises due to the weakness that one has inside. Even if somebody says, Ah yes, I am very proud of this and I am very proud of that, you can feel that this pride is actually weakness. When pride arises, people think, Yes, I am very confident! No. It’s the mind that perceives pride as being confidence. In reality, one is running away from something, from the opposite of pride, humility. When one is running away from humility, one only appears to be very grand and confident.

Seeing the army formation of the Pandavas, Duryodhan became anxious. When you start on the spiritual path, your pride sees all your good qualities, but then the mind becomes anxious. This pride tries to make you reason, tries to make you go sideways in a cunning way. That’s why Duryodhan rushes to Dronacharya, the great teacher of both the Kauravas and the Pandavas.

Dronacharya represents attachment to the material. He represents the greed in man. Dronacharya also had good qualities. He was a great teacher of military science. Sometimes he would even advise Bhishma. He was the royal guru. But when the pride of Duryodhan saw the greed in Dronacharya, he said to himself, Let me go and feed his greed. Let me corrupt him. Let me change him. Let me excite him! Actually, Dronacharya didn’t want to fight, but he was bound by his duty. He could not quit his position and say, No, I can’t! Being the guru, he had to be there to advise.

Duryodhan approaches him and tries to poison his mind. Duryodhan only wants to please himself. He knows that this great teacher has taught the Pandavas how to fight. Seeing how the Pandavas’ army was arranged, he asks the teacher, How can we use this army formation to our own advantage? He goes there for his own personal gain. Dronacharya was the second commanding officer of the army and Bhishma was the first commanding officer. Duryodhan knew that Dronacharya would become the first commanding officer of the army after Bhishma. So he wanted to be on good terms with him. Duryodhan starts to honour Dronacharya and praises him. He tries to impress Dronacharya with nice words.

Chapter 1, Verse 3

paśyaitām pāṇḍu-putrāṇām

ācārya mahatīṁ camūm

vyūḍhāṁ drupada-putreṇa

tava śiṣyeṉa dhīmatā

Behold this mighty host of the sons of Pandu, O Acharya, arrayed by Drupada’s son, your intelligent disciple.

Duryodhan is very clever. He wants to excite Dronacharya and reminds him of Drupada’s vow of revenge against him. He wants to put the full spirit of revenge inside of Dronacharya. That’s why he says, "drupada-putreṇa, referring to the son of Drupada named Dhrishtadyumna. He says, Drona, look there! In front of you, there is the son of Drupada, your best childhood friend, who is now your enemy. Fight him! With this cunningness, Duryodhan wants to awaken revenge, Wake up! Be vengeful!" That’s why he refers to the ‘the son of Drupada’.

When they were young, Dronacharya and Drupada had been best friends. Dronacharya’s father, Sri Bharadwaja, was the guru of his son and of Drupada. Drona and Drupada studied together and were best friends during their whole youth. Later on, Drupada became the king. Dronacharya remained very humble. He was the son of the great sage, Sri Bharadwaja, and was a simple person. He had a problem, so one day he went to his friend, King Drupada, to ask him for some advice. When he got there, Drupada didn’t acknowledge him as being his friend. Drupada had become very proud of his kingly status and when he looked at the poor brahmin, he didn’t feel like saying, Yes, he is my friend. Rather, he said, He’s not my friend. Dronacharya was very hurt, and said, I will overthrow you!

Drupada represents faith and strength, and Dronacharya greed. When greed arises, it overruns faith. When you are a pillar, you are strong in your true faith; but when greed is there, it will try to battle faith. Faith doesn’t acknowledge greed. That’s why Drupada said, No, I don’t know you. So because of that, Dronacharya said, I will take revenge! Dronacharya brought Arjuna to fight King Drupada. Arjuna won and Dronacharya took over the kingdom of Drupada. Sometimes greed can be very powerful, but Dronacharya was very good towards Drupada. He said, When you were the king, you didn’t acknowledge me as your friend, but I acknowledge you as my friend. I will not take over your whole kingdom. I will only take the northern part of your kingdom; you can keep ruling the southern part of your kingdom. But King Drupada was very hurt. He did a big yagna, a fire ceremony, hoping that through the blessing he would have a son who would kill Drona. But he didn’t get a son. A daughter came out of the fire, by the name of Shikhandini. Shikhandini was the one who would later kill Bhishma Pita, the grandsire, the mighty Bhishma. But to kill Bhishma, later she would have to become a man. This will come later on in the Gita. Now, however, Drupada was not happy having only a daughter. He carried on doing his ritual. Finally, a son, Dhrishtadyumna, came out of the fire. He was born with only one purpose: to kill Dronacharya.

Everybody knew why King Drupada had done this yagna. This yagna had been done to get the son who would kill Dronacharya. That’s why in this verse, Duryodhan says, Look, Dronacharya, here is the son of Drupada! This is very important: Duryodhan uses the words, the son of Drupada - drupada-putrena. He doesn’t say his name, even though he knows that the name of Drupada’s son is Drishtadyumna. He is reminding Dronacharya that Drupada’s son was born only to kill him! That’s why he was created. Duryodhan is saying, See what I am seeing! I am telling you this because the purpose of Drupada’s son is to kill you. You have to be revengeful. You have to kill him. In his cunningness, Duryodhan wants to brainwash Dronacharya. He is reminding him that Dhrishtadyumna is very clever and a master in archery, He is the commander of the Pandavas’ army. He is here to kill you.

Duryodhan uses the words tava śiṣyeṉa dhīmatā, your intelligent disciple, your talented student. He is referring to the Pandavas saying, The Pandavas were your favourite students, people you have favoured throughout your life. Look what they have become! They have put in the front lines the one who will kill you. Dhrishtadyumna represents humility. The Pandavas have put humility in front. Duryodhan continues, How clever they are! Don’t be weak! You have to wake up and fight them! He tries to get the attention of Drona, and to take control of him. He says, Look at the mighty army of the Pandavas, the mighty hosts of the sons of Pandu.

Here Duryodhan also uses the word ‘mighty’ describing the army of the Pandavas. In Sanskrit, an army unit is called akshauhini. The Kauravas army had eleven akshauhini and the army of the Pandavas had only seven. Even though the Kauravas’ army was bigger than the Pandavas’, the arrangement of the Pandavas’ army was far better. They were more disciplined than the Kauravas. The Kauravas had a big army, but they were completely like the Kauravas themselves; whereas the Pandavas were very disciplined. You see, these are the good qualities in man. That’s why it is said, You just need a little goodness to win. You don’t need a lot. A little goodness can overcome all the bad qualities inside of a man. When you culture good qualities, you are disciplined, but when you culture negative qualities, it is a mess. Duryodhan is pointing out to Drona, Look at this big army we have, it’s a complete mess! But this little army of theirs is well-arranged.

Let’s look at the size of the armies in the Mahabharat War. The Pandavas’ army had 7 akshauhini, which is 153,090 chariots with charioteer riders. They had 153,090 elephants plus the riders. They had 459,270 horses with horse riders. They also had 765,000 soldiers walking on foot, plus 450 more backing them. All together it made 1,530,000 soldiers and 900 reserve soldiers. The Kauravas army had 240,570 chariots and charioteers, 240,570 elephants, 721,710 horses and 1,200,850 walking soldiers. All together there were 2,455,700 soldiers in their armies. These were extremely big armies. Considering how many millions of people were there, we can say that the Mahabharat was the biggest war that has ever been fought until now. You won’t get millions of people in a war nowadays, even if there are that many people in the world. That’s why Duryodhan, in his cunningness, says to Dronacharya, Look at the Pandavas’ army! We have a big army, but their little army is much more disciplined and organised. He wants to get the attention of Dronacharya and to push him