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Bhagavad Gita: One Verse at a Time Chapter 1

ll Shreemad Bhagavad Gita ll ll Om Shree Paramatmane Namah ll ll Atha PrathamOdhyaayahaa ll Sanjaya Uvaca: Sanjaya talking to the blind King DhrutaraashTra

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Some important resources and links to commentaries on the Gita Swami Ghambiranandas translation of Adi Sankara The four VaishNava sampradayams Commentary by Srila Prabhupada Swami Krishnananda All Gita verses in original All verses This is a compilation of slokas that we chant during the Gita sessions (at the beginning and at the end). earlier compilation Gita Supersite 2.0 All slokas and commentaries. I will be using this site to copy the original Sanskrit slokas and also breaking them up the compound Sanskrit words into easy-to-read format. I really do not understand why the insistence on using the complex-compound sandhis instead of making it easy to read and propagate the teachings of the Gita. I do not see any earthly reason for the compounding of the words as used, for example, in line 2 of verse 1.2 by the Gita Supersite 2.0. I can understand compounding of PaaNDava+ aneekam or Pashya+etaam, but fail to understand why some of the others are to be used. Some compounding must be used in order to maintain the original flavor of the song. But a lot can be avoided. I hope those who have dedicated themselves to such a noble task (as the Gita Supersite and many others) will pay attention to this humble plea (which I have heard from many devotees).

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ll Om Shree Paramaatmane Namah ll

Shreemad Bhagavad Gita

ll Atha Prathamodhyayahaa ll

Chapter 1, verse 1
Dear All: I am still learning to navigate my way here. I thought it would be easy just to add a page to previous day's contents. Have not yet figured that out. (If anyone knows do send me a message or email.) I decided to move the brief message on verse 1, chapter 1 to this page. Please bear with me until I figure this FB out. I have continued the discussion of the first sloka here. DhrutaraashTra uvaca Dharmakshetre Kurukshetre samavetaah yuyutsavahaa l Maamakaah PanDavaash caiva kimakurvata Sanjaya ll 1.1 ll BG 1.1 The above is the text of the first verse of the immortal Bhagavad Gita, in Roman transliteration. I have just started using FB and thought I should post one verse each day (or with each post). Let me know if you all like it. In the next 700 days, at this rate, we will be done reading the whole Gita.

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Meaning: DhrutaraashTraa spoke thus O Sanjaya! What did my dear ones (maamakaah) and the Pandavas, who were assembled at the holy place (dharmakshetre) Kurukshetra do? Brief comments: The word "kshetra" means a field, or a place where things happen, such as a battlefield, or field where we grow crops, or a gravity field, electric field, magnetic field, and so on. It also refers to this body itself (as Krishna Himself mentions later in chapter 13 of the Gita). This "field", or body, can be a holy field, where dharma (righteous conduct) prevails, or it can turn into a battlefield of conflicts, like the battlefield at which the feuding cousins, the sons of DhrutaraashTraa (the Kauravas) and the sons of Pandu (the Pandavas) were assembled. It should also be noted that DhrutaraashTraa was born blind. The Gita starts with a question posed by a blind man. And so we are - struggling in this body like blind men who do cannot see their path. Please pass this along if you like it. Very sincerely V. Laxmanan December 13, 2012. See also commentary here


After Shivaji founded the Maratha Empire, the kingdom then passed on to the Peshwas, whose capital was the city of Poona (or Pune in Marathi), my hometown. It is of interest to point out that the Peshwas were Brahmins (the Marathas were kshatriyas) and the Peshwa dynasty, as it is called in history books, is, perhaps, the only known example, where Brahmins actually became kings and ruled. Some
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relics of this kingdom, such as the Shaniwar Wada (the palace of the Peshwas), still stands in the middle of the city of Pune, like the Red Fort in Delhi. Anyway, there was a famous Queen named Ahalyabai who followed in this succession. Her capital city was modern Indore. She was a great devotee of Lord Shiva and renovated many Shiva temples during her reign, including the famous Somnath temple, which had been ransacked by Muslim invaders, repeatedly. The story goes that Ahalyabhai wanted to be instructed on the Gita. She was a very busy Queen involved with state affairs. A learned Brahmin was summoned and he began the instructions on an auspicious day. He recited the first sloka above with the word kshetre mentioned twice. Kshetra, as already noted, means a place, or a field of activity. Ahalyabhai listened to the first verse and replied to the learned Brahmin, "So, kshetre kshetre dharmam kuru? I got the message O learned one. Thank you so much." And there ended the Gita class. Kshetre kshetre means in each and every place, in all places, wherever you are. And the 'kuru' here is a verb which means 'to do'. Dharmam kuru means "Do your dharma." The queen took the first line and rewrote -- back then many educated people knew Sanskrit and could understand it and make such rearrangements. To the busy Queen, the essence of the Gita was simply "Do your dharma in every place." Live a life of piety. The Queen was certainly a living example, or what we call a true Karmayogi. It was also in the same Dharmakshetra, called Kurukshetra, that Bheeshma preached all the dharmas to YuddhishTira and also revealed the Vishnu Sahasranamam (1000 names of MahavishNu), at the end of the Mahabharata War. When Krishna was ready to leave for Dwaraka, Queen Kunti (Krishna's aunt) wanted Him to stay for some more time and YuddhishTira also started lamenting about many of the same things that Arjuna mentions in chapter 1 - the grim consequences of the war. Krishna agreed to extend His stay with the Pandavas and then advised YuddhishTira to go to Bheeshma and seek his instructions. (He did not want to preach again like he did when Arjuna was lamenting.)
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Bheeshma instructed all the dharmas but YuddhishTira wanted to hear about the "ParamO dharmah", the highest of all dharmas. Then Bheeshma revealed the Vishnu Sahasranamam and also revealed to the Pandavas that Krishna was Bhagavan Himself and that they should not mistake Him as being just their dear friend. Very sincerely V. Laxmanan December 14, 2012. ****************************************************************** Dear All: As we have discussed so far, the very first word of the Gita is dharma, which cannot be translated into English in any appropriate way. So said, Indias great philosopher Vice President Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, who later also became President. He refused to translate it in his writings and said it can only be explained. The simplest explanation is a code of conduct, what is right, what is moral, what is ethical (not what is just legal the lowest standard of conduct). Dharma is now an accepted part of the English language. Thus, we come across words like yuga dharma, which means the dharma appropriate to the age we live in, or swadharma, which refers to ones own dharma (Krishna talks about this a lot in the Gita), or Stree dharma which means the code of conduct for women. In the Srimad Bhagavatam, when Bheeshma instructs YuddhishTira and talks about Stree Dharma, Draupadi smiles disapprovingly. (Yes, we can do that - there are, I have heard, more than 100 types of smiles!). Bheeshma asks her why. Then Draupadi asks Bheeshma, What happened to all your Stree Dharma when I was being disrobed in the court?. All of her five husbands (who had lost everything in the game of dice), Bheeshma, and other elders were present when the atrocity was being perpetuated. Bheeshma did nothing to protect Draupadis honor.
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Everyone felt bound by their dharma at that point. Finally, as you all know the story, she turned to Krishna. And, then the miracle happened. Bheeshma asks for Draupadis forgiveness and tells her, See, that sin is the reason why I am lying still on this bed of arrows and not able to breathe my last. That is dharma. Someday, we all have to pay the price for dishonorable things that we do although it might seem like we can get away for a while even a very long while. A 70+ year old was sentenced to life in prison, just this past week, for a murder (of a young girl) that he had committed when he was 17 years old. After committing that murder, he even became a cop and was a retired cop at the time of his murder conviction. Anyway, it is of interest also to note the very last word in the whole of Bhagavad Gita. The last verse is Yatra Yogeshwarah KrishNO yatra PaarthO dhanurdharahaa l Tatra Shreeh VijayO bhootih dhruvaa neetir matir ma-ma ll

Let us not worry about the meaning of this sloka now (which is a well-known one) other than to note that the very last word is ma-ma which means mine, belonging to me. In this sloka it is used with mati and means my opinion or so I think. Now, take the first and the last words of the Gita, and we get dharma ma-ma, or equivalently, ma-ma dharma, which means My dharma. What is my dharma? Very simple! Everything that Krishna teaches us between this first and the last word! That is the message of the Gita. It is the message of how to live our lives and what to live for. It is not a message for 60+ year olds who are ready to move on to their next body. It is for all the young people (the many smiling faces that I see on FB on each of your FB pages) who are just beginning their life journey. It is a message that transcends all religions.

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KrishNa tried to help Arjuna get over his delusion, just as he was ready to fight the biggest battle of his life. And so it is that we find ourselves many a time, not knowing what to do as we face the battles of our lives. The sooner we learn, each and every verse of the Gita, and imbibe it, the easier this life journey will become. In the next post, we will move on to the second verse of chapter 1. Very sincerely V. Laxmanan December 14, 2012. Like Unfollow Post December 14, 2012 at 9:39am

Sanjaya Uvaca Verses of chapter 1 Continued

Dear All: The armies of the five Pandva brothers (sons of King Pandu) and Kaurava brothers (sons of DhrutaraashTra) had assembled at the battlefield of Kurukshetra to fight the great Mahabharata war. DhrutaraashTra asks Sanjaya, his trusted minister and advisor, the question that is the topic of verse 1, chapter 1, of the Gita. Sanjaya then responds and describes the scene (verses 2 to 20) to the blind DhrutaraashTra. It is said that the description Dharmakshetra was used for Kurukshetra, since it was a very holy place. Even to this day, people visit this holy place, especially at the commencement of UttrayaNam, when the sun enters Makara raashi (Capricorn). The Srimad Bhagavatam mentions a total solar eclipse of the sun which occurred long after the Mahabharata war, when Krishna lived in Dwaraka. It is also stated that it was darker than ever during this total solar eclipse, which implies a very special alignment of the sun, moon, and earth at that time. Astronomy buffs, who
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like to run modern day computer software to come up with ridiculous arguments about so-called scientifically calculated dates when various astronomical events are mentioned in the (Hindu) scriptures, should think about this. Why was this total solar eclipse darker than all others? Never mind, computer software are NOT designed to tell us anything about the darkness of a TOTAL solar eclipse! It can only perform calculations about the positions of the sun, moon, and earth and then tag those positions that show special alignments to call attention to dates when an eclipse will occur and the extent of totality. Anyway, the point is that KrishNa knew about this (how else can I describe this? LOL) and advised all the residents of Dwaraka to visit Kurukshetra and offer special prayers. Such special prayers are still being offered at Kurukshetra. During a recent trip to India, when I stayed at Mathura for a few days (in Jan 2011), when I got on the train to Delhi at Mathura station, I met a huge group from MumbaiPune area, which was also a Gita group, who were on their way to Kurukshetra. Hundreds were traveling together. They had booked about 13 coaches in that train and group was looking forward to chanting the entire Gita at Kurukshetra at the auspicious time of UttarayaNam (when the day of the gods, devas, or celestials begins). Soon, word spread about KrishNas advice to the Dwaraka residents and everyone from Gokula and Vrindavana, and the residents of Hastinapura (the kingdom had passed on to YuddhishTira after the war), also decided to come to Kurukshetra since they felt Krishna would also be present. Thus, Yashoda and Nanda Maharaja, Devaki and Vasudeva (short vowel sound, KrishNas father) and the gopis, got a chance to see Krishna once again. All the celestials (all the gods, Brahma, Shiva, and others), sages like Narada, also assembled. The joy of the birth parents (Devaki and Vasudeva) and the foster parents (Yashoda and Nanda) of Krishna knew no bounds. It is here that Devaki and Vasudeva received divine instructions from Narada about attaining moksha. The gopis saw Krishna and wanted to hug their dear friend, like they were able to do back in the old days, but had to hold back their love and affection since Krishna was now surrounded by all His queens and wives. Draupadis conversations with the queens are described. Krishna understood the desire of the gopis and came to see them all alone (vivikta upasangatah, Canto 10, chapter 82, verse 41) and fulfilled their wish and talked to them and smiled and teased them and wondered if
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they ever thought about Him? (Api smarathash ca nah, verse 42). Then, in a very simple way He instructed them personally about how to attain moksha. The instructions, in just five verses (43 to 47), are very similar to what we find in verses 30 to 32 of chapter 6 of the Gita (starting with Yo Maam pashyati sarvatra..) This marks the end of the Karmayoga section of the Gita, and is followed by the question by Arjuna, after which Krishna describes what will happen to us after death, if we are unable to perform our yoga (the Karmayoga that was being described) properly and fail. Krishna then describes to Arjuna there is nothing to fear and that He would reward us for just making the effort by putting us in a new body and carrying us forward to the final destination. Shukaacarya, who was describing this to King Parikshit (who was destined to die in 7 days due to the curse of a Brahmin boy), then says that the gopis merged with Krishna (verse 48) and their jeevakoshas (all five, the plural is used) entered completely into Krishna. According to the Yogashastras, the body that we have has five koshas (or sheaths). We are aware of only the outermost kosha (sheath) which is called the annamaya kosha (the sheath that is nourished by food, or annam). The other four koshas are PraNamaya (the lifebreath, or the energy giving), Manomaya (the mind, which controls all our indriyas, or senses), Vijnaana-maya (the intellect), and Anandamaya (Supreme Bliss). Shukaacarya uses the plural of kosha, which is koshaahaa, to describe the merging of the gopis with KrishNa. Hence, it means that they completely dissolved into Krishna, like sugar might dissolve into water and completely disappear and leave no trace. Of course, our experience teaches us although sugar will dissolve, the water now becomes sweet and so we know that sugar was added to the water although we cannot see it. But what if sugar disappears and the taste of the water does not change? Can you imagine that? Yes, of course. If we add sugar to a huge lake of fresh water and then taste the water, it will taste just like before with no effect of the sugar being felt. Or, if you can imagine adding sugar to the waters of the biggest natural lakes on earth, like the five great lakes, which surround Michigan, even adding several tons of sugar to the lake is not going to change its taste. Well, now you can imagine want might
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happen when the individual souls (like the gopis, or jeevaatma) merge with Krishna (the Paramaatma). All the koshas are dissolved! It is all of interest to note in Pasuram 3, which is verse 3 of Andals Thiruppavai, which was posted earlier today, Andal also mentions the rewards to be gained by those who perform the divine nombu (the vratam, religious vow). Andal recalls Vamana avataram in this verse and talks about the bounties that we will receive if we offer ourselves to the Supreme Being. Although Pasuram 3 seems to describe worldly material bounties, commentators speak of the inner meaning of this verse, which implies a similar attainment of moksha (like the gopis). We will continue with the Sanjaya uvaca verse with the next post. Very sincerely V. Laxmanan December 17, 2012. ******************************************************************

Bhagavad Gita: One Verse at a time Chapter 1, verses 2 and 3

Dear All: We will now continue with verses 2 and 3 of the Bhagavad Gita. Before we do that, I wanted to clarify something about the mukthi attained by the gopis when they met KrishNa again at Kurukshetra, during a total solar eclipse. I had a chance to discuss this point with Sri Ramanujamji, who poured divine nectar into our ears for seven days during the recently concluded Srimad Bhagavata Sapthah. The gopis, he told me, attained jeevan mukti which means they continued to live like humans in the eyes of the world but were merged in every way with KrishNa.

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1.1 1.2

1.3 Note: When breaking up sandhis, the rule is that the broken ma, must be used if the next word starts with a vowel sound, as we see here. The anuswaar (or dot above) is only to be used when the next word starts with a constant sound, as in pashya etaam which is followed by paaNDu. The same goes for other broken consonant sounds which we will encounter later in other verses. In verses 2 to 20, Sanjaya responds to DhrutaraashTras question and describes what is going in the battlefield of Kurukshetra. Verses 21 to 23 are spoken by Arjuna, followed by Sanjayas narration again in verses 24 to 27. Then follows Arjunas lamentation, described in verses 28 to 46. The lamentation continues in chapter 2, through verse 10, before KrishNas instructions begin with verse 11 of chapter 2. All the verses, before KrishNas instructions begin, are so easy to understand and written in such simple and plain language (Sanskrit) that in his famous Gita commentary (Bhashyam) Adi Shankara starts with chapter 2, verse 11 and provides no bhashyam for all of chapter 1 and the first ten verses of chapter 2. Here we will cover the verses 2 and 3, in keeping with one-verse-a-day philosophy. We missed a few days, so have to catch up!

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Sanjaya uvaca DrushTvaa tu PaaNDavaaneekam vyooDham Duryodhanas tadaa l Aacaaryam upasamgamya Raaja vacanam abraveet ll 1.2 ll Pashyaitaam PaanDu putraaNaam aacaarya mahateem chamoom l VyooDhaam Drupada-putreNa tava shishyena dheemataa ll 1.3 ll Sanjaya said: 1.2 Then (tada), after seeing (dhrushTvaa tu) the army (aneekam) of the Pandavas in battle array (vyooDham), King (raajaa) Duryodhana approached the teacher (Drona, aacaaryam) and spoke thus (vacanam abraveet). 1.3 O teacher (Aacaarya), please see (pashya) this (etaam) vast (mahateem) army (camoom) of the sons (putreNa) of Pandu, arrayed (vyooDhaam) for battle by the son of Drupada, your very wise (dheemataa) disciple (shishyena). In response to DhrutaraashTra, Sanjaya tells the blind king that his son Duryodhana has approached his own accarya (DroNa) and starts speaking to him. It is important to note that in this very first verse, in reponse, the guru, or acaaryaa is mentioned. Everything begins with the grace of the guru and the blessings of the guru. Duryodhana first surveys the assembled Pandava army (drushTvaa tu). Then he approaches his guru (upasamgamyaa). He also addresses DroNa respectfully as Aacaarya which is the sambodhanam version of the noun, which is used when we call someone. In the next verse, he tells Dronaacarya also to take a look at the huge army in front of him. But, as many commentators points out, he also implicitly needles DroNa by saying that his own disciple, the son of Drupada, was now named as the commander of the Pandava army. He does not name the son. He calls him the son of Drupada, as if to give importance to Drupada. Why? Drupada was a mortal enemy of DroNa. This is what is being alluded to here. You can read about the reasons for the mortal enmity by clicking here and here. Drupada was also the father of Draupadi who was married to all the five Pandava brothers.
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Notice that vyooDham is used in verse 2 but in verse 3 it is vyooDhaam with the long vowel sound after the consonant Dh. In verse 2, the noun is aneekam and vyoodham is an adjective qualifying it. In verse 3, the noun is camoo and vyoodhaam is the adjective qualifying this noun, which is considered to be (grammatically speaking) as a female noun. Hence, also we find the female verse etaam used with pashya in verse 3. Aneeka, on the other hand, is neuter gender. Hence, according to the rules of grammar, the proper form of the adjective is vyooDham, with the short vowel sound. It is important to remember this subtle difference, as you learn to chant the Gita properly. Very sincerely V. Laxmanan December 22, 2012. ******************************************************************

Ourgitapage (Facebook)

Dear All: As discussed in detail, the very first verse of the Gita talks about the "kshetram", which also refers to the body, although it is Kurukshetra, the battlefield where the armies were assembled to fight the great Mahabharata war, is being referred to explicitly. The word "dharma" is also used. Although dharma kshetra is an adjective describing Kuruskhetra, it can also be taken to imply the body that we all possess which must become the "field" where "dharma" is nourished. The second verse of the Gita, the first in response to the question, begins with the obeisance offered by Duryodhana to his own guru. He calls him respectfully as "Aacaarya". It is also interesting that the verb used is "upasamgamya" which means to get close to. The student is approaching the guru and addressing him respectfully.

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Some commentators have expressed other opinions, even about Arjuna. Nonetheless, it is interesting that Duryodhana, inspite of all of his faults, was not devoid of basics of dharma and courtesy that must be practiced. Of course, he does use "drupada putreNa" to describe Dhristadyumna, who was named as the supreme commander of the Pandava army. Dhristadyumna was the son of Drupada and the brother of Draupadi. Duryodhana was appealing to the Drona's long felt enmity towards Drupada and did not want him to become deluded and not fulfil his role on behalf of the Kauravas. Afterall, everyone was assembled in "dharma kshetra" and there is no telling if "dharma" would triumph. This is also the reason why DrutaraashTra says "dharmakshetre" in the last hope that dharma might triumph and the Pandavas decide NOT to fight and withdraw from the battle on behalf of his sons.

Somehow this image which describes the scene from Andals Pasuram 7 and Venkatesa Suprabhatam verse 11 got incorporated here and I have left it without deletion. ******************************************************************
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Bhagavad Gita: One Verse at a time Chapter 1, verses 4 and 5

Dear All: With this, we will continue now our Gita-One-verse-at-a-time study. It is already Jan 2, 2013 and Jan 3, 2013 in at least half the rest of the world. To make up for some lost time, I will add a few additional verses with this. As already discussed in the earlier posts, in the very first verse of the Gita, starting with DharmakeshetrE kurukshetrE, Dhrutarashtra, who was born blind and fathered the 100 Kaurava brothers (the eldest being Duryodhana), asks his minister Sanjaya about what is going in the battlefield of Kurukshetra where the feuding cousins, his own sons and the sons of Pandu (together called the Pandavas) had assembled with their armies. Sanjaya then describes the scene in verses 2 to 20. Hence, we can proceed at a relatively fast pace now with the study of these verses. Verses 2 and 3 have already been discussed. Sanjaya describes Duryodhana approaching his own guru Dronaacarya, who taught the martial arts to the feuding cousins (Bheeshma, their grandfather had employed Drona, who was an expert in what is called Dhanurveda, or military sciences, for this purpose). Also, as noted in the earlier post, I am using the Gita Supersite 2.0, see to present the original Sanskrit text, without the sandhis (compounding of words) for easy reading. In verses 4 to 6, Duryodhana is essentially recalling for Drona the names of all the mighty warriors on the opposing Pandava army. The verses are presented as a conversation between Sanjaya and DrutarashTra.

Atra shooraah maheshvaasaah Bheemarjna samaah yudhi l YuyudhaanO ViraaTash ca Drupadash ca mahaarathah ll 1.4 ll
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DhrushTaketush Cekitaanah Kaashiraajasch ca veeryavaan l Purujit Kuntibhojasch ca Shaibyashca narapungavahaa ll 1.5 ll 1.5 Yudhaamanush ca Vikraanta Uttamaujaasch ca veeryavaan l SaubhadrO Draupadeyaasch ca sarva eva mahaarathaahaa ll 1.6 ll Yudhmanyu ca vikrnta uttamauj ca vryavn. saubhadr draupady ca sarva va mahrath ll1.6 ll 1.6 For verse 6 above, I have provided two versions of the English transliteration of the Sanskrit verses, the second being the one found in the Gita Supersite 2.0. Some introductory comments have been provided to make it (hopefully) easy to understand these verses. Let us consider the last words in verse 1.4 which is Maharathahaa = Maha+rathahaa. Ratha means a chariot and Maharatha is a title or rank, like different military ranks that we used today (like General, Brigadier, and so on). One who achieved a certain skill in commanding a large number of chariots is called a Maharatha. The haa (two dots after consonant, : is added at the end to denote the nominative singular case of a noun in the Sanskrit. In verse 1.6, we have the plural of the same noun. Now it is maharathaahaa where we have rathaa with long vowel sound to denote the plural. In verse 4, the adjective Maharathahaa is used to describe one warrior, Drupada. In verse 6, the same is used to describe several warriors named there.

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Duryodhana starts out by mentioning Bheema and Arjuna, the two great Pandava brothers who are great warriors. But, he says, there are many in the Pandava side who are comparable (samaah) to them in their prowess in the battlefield (yudhi). And he mentions the names Yuyudhaana, ViraaTa, and Drupada, adding the adjective Maharathah to Drupada (as if once again to needle Drona a bit and remind him of his enmity to Drupada and the great warrior in the opposing side). All of them are shooraah (very brave) and Maheshvaasaah = Mahaa+ishu+aasa and then the final haa ( : ) to denote the plural. Ishu means arrow and aasa is bow, in other words great skilled archers. There are a great skilled archers on the Pandava side, not just Bheema (who was actually known for his great strength) and Arjuna (who was an exceptionally skilled archer and could shoot a bow using both right and left hands). In verse 4, the ( : ) with shoora and maheshvaasaa is omitted because of the sandhi rules. In verse 5, Duryodhana names a few more DhrushTaketu, Cekitaana, Kaashiraaja (who is called a great warrior, with the adjective veeryavaan). The word ca used here means and and so the listing of the warriors continues. In the second line he mentions Purujit, Kuntibhoja (the father of Kunti, she was actually his adopted daughter since he had no children and adopted Kunti and he actually became even more fond of her since he and his wife were soon after adoption blessed with their own children) and finally Shaibya, who is described as a great leader among men (nara pungavah). In verse 6, the listing of the names of the warriors is completed. They are Yudhaamanyu, Vikraata, Uttamaujaa, Saubhadra, Draupadeyaah (plural which means all the sons of Draupadi, the most prominent of these was Abhimanyu, the son of Draupadi with Arjuna). Duryodhana concludes by saying all of these are the great mighty warriors on the opposing sides. Then in the following verses, 7 to 9, he describes (to Drona) the strength of his own side. We will continue with this in the next post. Very sincerely V. Laxmanan January 2, 2013.

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Bhagavad Gita: One Verse at a time Chapter 1, verses 7 to 11

Dear All: We now continue with the verses chapter 1 of the Bhagavad Gita. We will now cover verses 7 to 11 where Duryodhana finishes his description of the assembled armies. After first mentioning the great warriors on the opposing Pandava side (verses 2 to 6), Duryodhana now mentions the names of the warriors who are assembled on his own side. The first word which begins this part of the description is asmaakam, which means ours, or our side. He again addresses Dronaacaarya respectfully, as DwijOttama. The word Uttama means the greatest and dwija means a twice born, or a Brahmin (the upanayam ceremony for a Brahmin is like a second birth, this is also practiced with Kshatriyas and vaishyas, although it is more highly regarded among Brahmins). So, dwijOttama here means an exalted Brahmin, or a great acaarya since Brahmins usually served as teachers to all the others. 1.7 1.8 l ll 1.8 ll 1.9 1.10 1.11
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In verse 7, Duryodhana says, O great preceptor, I shall just mention for you to indicate some of the distinguished warriors on our side. Then he starts mentioning their names in verse 8, starting with Bhavaan which is a very respectful way of saying Yourself. The first in the list if Dronaacaarya himself. Then he mentions Bheeshma and then KarNa, and Krupaacarya (who also was a teacher for the Pandava and Kaurava brothers). Then he adds samiteenjaya which means all these warriors are always won glories by being victorious in the battlefield. In the second line of verse 8, he adds the names of Ashwattaamaa (son of Dronaacaarya, later an important character in the war), VikarNa, and Saumadatti. With each name ca is used which means and. Then in verse 9, Duryodhana brags a bit and says there are many other great warriors (Drona knows them all, as noted in verse 7, the list is just to give an brief account, samjyaartham), all eager to lay down their lives on my behalf. They are all equipped with various (naanaa) weapons (shastra) and all greatly skilled in warfare (yuddha vishaaradaahaa). In verse 10, Duryodhana concludes by stating And, therefore, the strength of our side is thus immeasurable and without limit, with Bheeshma as our commander. The strength of the opposing army is, however, limited, being protected merely by by Bheemas strength. (Duryodhana it should be noted was always envious of Bheema and was finally killed by Bheema towards the end of the war. So, naturally he now mentions Bheema as the limit of the strength of the opposing side.) Then in the final verse here, Duryodhana says, All the armies and various commanding units have all been assembled and located in a strategic manner. Now let us ensure that Bheeshma is properly shielded. Since Bheeshma was the commander-in-chief for the Kaurava army, he is merely to lead the battle and must be protected by all in order not to demoralize the forces in the event of any calamity to the commandeer-in-chief.

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(In the famous battle of Talikota, in the second half of the 16th century, when the Bahmani kingdoms, which were ruled by Muslims, finally came together to fight the Hindu Vijayanagar kingdom, they knocked out Ramaraya, the commander-inchief of the Vijayanagara army within moments after the battle began, chopped off his head and held it high on a spear. This demoralized the entire Vijayanagara army which then fled from the battlefield. Ramaraya had led the Vijayanagara army to many victories in earlier battles but on that day, history changed; see The Bahamanis chased the fleeing Vijayanagara army and what followed was the complete destruction of the Vijayanagara kingdom. Historians say that the proud city was destroyed brick-by-brick over a period of three days of total carnage. Thus, Bheeshmam eva abhirakshantu, protect or shield Bheeshma, mentioned here by Duryodhana is a very important part of the war strategy. If the commander-in-chief is knocked, the war could be over in no time at all. The defeat of the Vijayanagar kingdom also paved the way for eventual domination of India by the British. The Hindu Vijayanagara kingdom was completely surrounded by the five Muslim Bahmani kingdoms, but managed to dominate for nearly 300 years by keeping the Bahmanis divided. That changed on January 26, 1565. January 26 is important date also in modern Indian history, when India became a Republic in 1950.) The English transliteration is provided below, without the sandhis.

Asmaakam tu vishishTaah ye taan nibodha DwijOttama l Naayakaah ma-ma sainyasya samjyaartham taan braveemi te ll 1.7 ll Bhavaan Bheeshmash ca KarNash ca Krupash ca samiteenjayahaa l Ashwatthaamaa VikarNasch ca Soumadattih tathaiva ca ll 1.8 ll Anye ca bhavah shooraah madarthe tyakta jeevitaah l Naanaa shastra praharaNaah sarve yudhaa vishaaradaahaa ll 1.9 ll
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Aparyaaptam tad asmaakam balam Bheeshma abhirakshitam l Paryaaptam tu idam eteshaam balam Bheema-abhirakshitam ll 1.10 ll Ayaneshu ca sarveshu yathaa bhaagam avasthitaahaa l Bheesham eva abhirakshantu bhavantahaa sarva eva hi ll 1.11 ll

Very sincerely V. Laxmanan January 8, 2013. ******************************************************************

Bhagavad Gita : One Verse at a time

The start of the Great Mahabharata War (chapter 1, verse 12)
At least one person seems to be missing what I had promised more than a month ago, when I ventured into Facebook on December 12, 2012 - that we will read one sloka from the Gita each day. The Pandava and Kaurava armies have been assembled in the battle-field of Kurukshetra, which is also a Dharmakshetra, a great and holy place, to this day. During the Dwapara yuga, there was a total solar eclipse, when Krishna was still here. The Srimad Bhagavatam states that this total solar eclipse was the darkest ever. Before the eclipse, Krishna told all the residents of Dwaraka to go to Kurukshetra and offer their prayers and ablutions to their departed ancestors. Soon word spread that Dwarkavasis were going to Kurukshetra. All the gopis of Gokula and Vrindava, Devaki and Vasudeva, Yashoda and Nanda Maharaja, also decided to go to Kurukshetra since they knew they would be able to see Krishna again. All the celestials, Brahma, Shiva, and all the devas (small g, gods) and all the great
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rishis like Narada and VashishTa also came to Kurukshetra. The Bhagavatam describes this reunion of Devaki and Vasudeva, Yashoda and Nanda Maharaja, and the gopis with Krishna. It is in this holy kshetra that the armies were assembled for the great Mahabharata war. In chapter 1, Sanjaya describes, to the blind King DrutaraashTra, what is going on in the battlefield. This is described in verses 2 to 11, the subject of earlier posts here (see Ourgitapage). We will now resume and try to strictly adhere to the goal of Gita One-Verse-at-a-time goal. Sanjaya says that Duryodhana, the eldest of DrutaraashTra's 100 sons, approached Dronaacarya, the guru for both the Pandava and the Kaurava princes (he was appointed as the guru by Bheeshma, their grandfather) and addressed him reverentially. Thus, the Gita actually begins with salutations to the guru. Duryodhana addresses Dronaacarya as "Aacaarya and bhavaan" and describes the assembled armies and names all the leading warriors on both sides. Bheeshma is the commander-in-chief of the Kaurava army and Duryodhana, after describing the armies, says, all should ensure that Bheeshma is always surrounded and protected. (If the commander is killed, it would spell disaster on the battlefield. In this context, I had mentioned the story of the famous battle of Talikota, between the Vijanagara and Bahmani kingdoms in 1565, in this context, when Vijayanagara was defeated when their commander Rama Raya was captured and beheaded, leading to a total panic of the Vijayanagara forces.) After Duryodhana finishes his (somewhat bragging) description of the two opposing forces, the elder Bheeshma (kuruvruddhah), the grandsire (pitaamahah) of both the clans, the greatest of all warriors whose bravery was unmatched (Prataapavaan), as if to amuse him and fill his (Duryodhana's) heart with joy (sanjanyan harsham), blew his conch loudly (shankam dhadmau vinadyoccaih). It seemed like the roar of a great lion (simha naadam). This is described in verse 12, given below. Tasya sanjanayan harsham Kuruvruddah Pitaamahah l Simhanaadam vinadyoccaih shankam dadhmau Prataapavaan ll 1.12 ll BG
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The blowing of the conch on the battlefield signals the start of the war. Thus, it was Bheeshma who signaled the start of the great Mahabharata war. We often enter into speculations about "who shot the first arrow", or "who fired the first shot" when it comes to how some big war started. Here it is very clear. The start of the war was heralded by Bheeshma with the blowing of his conch. What followed is then described further in verses 13 to 19 before Arjuna takes center stage, along with his charioteer, Hrishikesha, Acyuta, KrishNa. We will continue this in the next post. Note that verse number is given as 1.12 which means chapter one (the first numeral) followed by the sloka (second numeral). Very sincerely V. Laxmanan January 29, 2013.

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Bhagavad Gita : One Verse at a time

The start of the Great Mahabharata War (chapter 1, verse 13)
And then (tatah), after the Kuru elder Bheeshma, the grandsire of the Pandava and the Kaurava clans, blew his conch loudly, like the roar of a mighty lion, signaling the start of the Great Mahabharata war, there broke out a tumultous sound and frenzy all around (sa shabdah tumulO bhavat) with the sounding of conchs (shankah ca) and the trumpets and kettle drums (bheryasch ca), and other drums (paNavaanaka) and the horns (gomukhaah) by the other warriors and those who were assembled in the Kaurava army. All these war instruments were beaten and sounded (abhyahanyanta), with great force and ease and with a lot of fervor (sahasaa eva) by the assembled warriors who were all very eager to wage the war. This is the scene described beautifully in verse 13, given below. Tatah shankhash ca bheryasch ca paNavaanaka gomukhaahaa l Sahasaivaabhya-hanyanta sa shabdas-tumulO-bhavat ll 1.13 ll Music is an integral part of our lives and various instruments are used to create melodious and soothing musical sounds. War is no exception. Even during a war various musical instruments are used to create various sounds that strike fear in the hearts of the enemy while at the same time bring joy to ones own army. Military bands are used in modern armies for this purpose and accompany soldiers to the battlefield. (Alas, all we know have is cowardly terrorist attacks and drone strikes. The enemy is faceless and hits without any warning. World War II was probably the last of such conventional battles were opposing armies came face to face in a battlefield.)

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The names of various war instruments in Sanskrit are listed here. It is interesting to note how Sanskrit seems to have influenced the words we use in the English language. Notice that I have used "tumult and tumultous" in the translation, which means a loud and deafening sound. See how close it is to "tumula" used by Vyasa (which becomes tumulO when compounded with abhavat, the next word). Also, bheree which means fierce is root of the word Bhairava, one of the attendants of Lord Shiva. We find Bhairava, or Bhairav nath, as he is called, sannidhis in Shiva temples. (Praying to Lord Bhairava relieves one of all fears. It is also said that it helps one to learn time management and not waste time in useless pursuits hence Kaalabhairava). PaNava is also a name for Lord Shiva and refers to the Damaru, or small kettle drum, we find in the hands of the dancing Shiva, Nataraja. The sounds produced from this drum can at once be soothing and inspiring or fearsome. It is said that all of the sounds of the language, all the vowels and the consonants, all of grammar, emerged as sounds from this Damaru of Shiva, as He performed the Cosmic dance at the time of creation. This is described in what is known as the PaNini Sutras, PaNini being the grammarian of the Sanskrit language -- the rishi who heard these sounds. PraNava, used for the primeval sound "OM" is a derivative of this. Gomukha refers to the instrument fashioned by using the horns of the bull (the male of the cow). When the horn is chopped off from the animal, the big end is hollow and a hole can be made in the pointed end to blow into and make a sound, just like the small hole that is drilled into a conch (some even have them naturally!) And so, began the Great Mahabharata War. The description continues in the following verses. Now, we are told about how the Pandavas responded. Very sincerely V. Laxmanan January 30, 2013.

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Bhagavad Gita : One Verse at a time

The start of the Great Mahabharata War (chapter 1, verses 14 and 15)
After Duryodhana approached his guru, Dronaacaarya, and described the mighty armies that had been assembled in the battlefield of Kurukshetra, to fight the great Mahabharata war, the elder among the Kurus, the grandfather of the feuding cousins (Pandavas and Kauravas), Bheeshma sounded his conch to signal the start of the war. This is described in verse 12 of chapter 1. Following this, a tumultuous roar arose with sounding of the conchs, drums, horns, and various war instruments by others in the Kaurava clan, with great fury and fervor, all of whom were eager to wage the war (chapter 1 verse 13). It is interesting to note, in this context, that PaNavaanaka, mentioned in verse 13 is a compound word derived from PaNava and aanaka. The first means a drum-like musical instrument and is also one of the names of Lord Shiva. Thus, this small drum is like the damaru (kettle drum) we find in the hands of the dancing Lord Shiva, as Nataraja. The second word aanaka refers to a large military drum. When I checked the Sanskrit-English dictionary which I have this morning, I noticed that chapter 1, verse 13, of the Gita is given as the example by the author of the dictionary to convey both the meaning and the usage of these two words. After the Kauravas heralded the start of the war in this fashion, both Madhava and the Pandava Arjuna, who were seated in a huge and imposing chariot, driven by white colored horses, responded by blowing their divine conchs. This is described in verse 14. Hrishikesha, the Supreme Master of all the senses, blew His conch named Pancajanya and Dhananjaya (another name for Arjuna) blew his conch named Devadutta and the mighty Bhima, whose belly was shaped like that of a jackal, blew his conch named PauNdra. This is described in verse 15. Both verses 14 and 15 are given below.

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Tatah shwetaih hayaih yukte mahati syandane stithau l Madhavah PanDavasch caiva divyau shankhau pradadhmatuhu ll 1.14 ll BG Paancajanyam Hrishikeshah Devadattam Dhananjayahaa l PauNDram dadhmau Mahaashankam Bheemakarmaa vrukodarahaa ll 1.15 ll BG We have covered two verses today because of the context. KrishNa and Arjuna blow their Divine Conchs

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The word syandhana used in verse 14 means a chariot, actually a military chariot which is designed to move very swiftly. The passenger cars we drive are different from vehicles used by the armed forces or in motor car races. The latter are specially designed to enhance performance. (Perhaps, coincidentally, I had also made some posts yesterday about modern "supercars", some priced at several million dollars, and equipped with high powered engines that are capable of achieving accelerations in excess of the acceleration achieved by a body falling freely under the sole influence of the force of gravity.) Syandane is the saptami form of syandana, which means "in the chariot". This chariot was also imposing and huge as indicated by the adjective mahati used with syandane. The chariot is described further by the adjective shweta (white) haya (horse). The words shwetaih and hayaih are the plural forms which means the chariot was driven by several horses that were white in color, not just one horse. This is the classic image of the Bhagavad Gita that we find in various paintings and artistic depictions and sculptures in temple walls, for example, in the main entrance to the Lord Venkateswara temple at Pittsburgh, PA (the first Venkateswara temple in the entire North American continent). Unfortunately, we do not get to see it (unless we pay attention) since the Rajagopuram door is closed most of the time. Following the "American tradition" and we enter the temple through a side entrance, just like we invite people to enter through the garage door, rather than the main door of our houses. (This extraneous comment is added here since this is one of my main gripes about how we are living in the USA. It is just NOT right. At least the Rajagopuram doors to the temples should be kept open.) Next, Stithau, and other words here with the "au" ending, indicates that two personalities are seated in this chariot. This form of the noun, called the dual, indicates exactly two in Sanskrit and plural means more than two (as with the horses, hayaih). They are named in the second line of the verse: Madhava, the husband (dhava) of Maa (Mahalakshmi) and PanDava which here refers to Arjuna. Notice that the two conchs that they blew (to respond to Bheeshma and the other Kaurva battle-din), are described by the adjective "divyau" which means of divine origin. These are not ordinary conchs.

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Pradadhmatuhu is a special form of past tense usage of the verb that we often find in the epics (kavyas) such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. It means blowing, sounding. The names of the conchs are then given in the following verses. Since these conchs are divine, they also have special names. Notice also the order. Madhava, one of the names of the Lord, is mentioned first and only then PaNDava. Likewise, Pancajanya, the name of Krishna's conch is mentioned first and only then the name of Arjuna's conch is mentioned. Following this the other great warrior Bheema's conch is mentioned -- Duryodhana mentions Bheema first and then Arjuna (see verse 4 ) since he was afraid of Bheema and only he could kill Duryodhana and avenge the insult inflicted upon Draupadi. Notice also that Bheema, who is known for his voracious appetite and great strength (he was the son of the wind-god just like Hanuman) is described as vruka (jackal) udara (stomach). The compound word vurkodara is like Krishna's name Damodara (daama means a rope and udara means stomach, His mother Yashoda tied Him with a rope around His stomach to punish Him for His pranks). The jackal has a curved belly and Bheema also had a curved belly inspite of his great appetite - no pot belly. (This means that we must keep "fit" like Bheema and not develop a pot belly which leads to other ailments. Of course, GaNesha has a huge pot belly! :) ) To conclude, the word Shewta (short vowel sound), which means white, is often used as a name for baby girls (now with a long vowel sound to indicate feminine noun), especially in North India. White horse is a rare and beautiful and majestic horse. That is also the implication of the name Shwetaa - very fair and extremely beautiful. Pancajanyam Hrishikeshah... this is the first direct mention of Krishna but the name used is NOT Krishna. Instead it is Hrishikesha, which is a compound word Hrisheka + esha, where Hrishika means the sensory organs and esha means the Lord or Master. The Lord is the Master of all His senses. He is also the Master of
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all our senses. If we surrender our senses to Him, we will be able to control our senses as well. It is indeed, very telling, that the Gita uses this name for Krishna when He is mentioned for the very first time. The Gita, as mentioned earlier, starts with obeisances to the guru and now with recalling Krishna as the Master of all our senses. We will continue with the chapter 1 verses in the next post. Very sincerely V. Laxmanan January 31, 2013

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Bhagavad Gita : One Verse at a time

The start of the Great Mahabharata War (chapter 1, verses 16 to 19)
After Bheeshma, the grandfather of the Kaurava and Pandava clans, blew his conch, to signal the start of the Mahabharata war, and all the war drums, horns, and conchs were sounded by others from the assembled Kuru army, Krishna and Arjuna and Bheema responded by blowing their divine conchs, which were named, respectively, Pancajanya, Devadutta and PaunDra. Following this the son of Kunti, King YuddhishTira blew his conch known as Anantavijaya. Then, Nakula and Sahadeva, the youngest of the PanDava brothers, blew their conchs, which were named Sughosha and Manipushpaka. The King of Kashi (Kaashya), the great warrior with mighty bows and arrows (Parameshwasah), ShikhanDee, the great charioteer (Maharathah), DhrushTdyumna, the King of ViraTa, Saatyaki, who was never vanquished (aparaajitah), Drupada (brother of Draupadi), all the sons of Draupadi (Draupadeyaasha ca), the son of Subadhra (the other wife of Arjuna) with mighty arms (Mahaabahuh), each of them, separately (pruthak pruthak) blew their conchs too, in turn and all around (sarvashah), O King (said Sanjaya, addressing the blind DrutaraashTra, as he described the scene on the battlefied). This is described in verses 16 to 18 given below. Anantavijayam Raja KuntiputrO YuddhishTirahaa l NakulO Sahadevasch ca Sughosha MaNipushpakau ll 1.16 ll Kaashyash ca Parameshwaasah ShikhanDee ca mahaarathah l DhrusTadyumnO ViraaTasch ca Saatyakishca aparaajitahaa ll 1.17 ll DrupadO Draupadeyaasch ca sarvashahaa Prutiveepate l Saubhadrasch ca mahaabahuh shankhaan dadhmuh pruthak pruthak ll 1.18 ll
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Starting with verse 16, the names of all the other warriors on the PaNDava side are listed. The lists continues through 18 and only in verse 18, grammatically speaking, is the sentence completed with "shankhaan dadhmuh" where "dadhmuh", is the plural form of the verb "to blow). Hence, we have to take these three verses together. In the earlier verse 14, the dual form of this same verb (pradadhmatuhu, with the prefix "pra" which adds emphasis and here means glorious sound) is used, to indicate the blowing of the conchs by exactly two (Madhava and PaNDava, meaning Krishna and Arjuna) and in verse 15, the singular form of the verb (dadhmau) is used to indicate the blowing of the conch by Bheema. The sage Vyasa, the author of the Mahabharata and the Gita, then concludes his description of the start of the war with verse 19. The sound vibrations produced by the blowing of all these diviine conchs struck fear in the hearts (hrudayaani) of the sons of DrutaraashTra, literally taring them apart as it were (vyadaarayat), as the mighty (tumulO) and loud sound vibrations (ghosha) resonated and reverberated back and forth, again and again (vyanunaadayan), between the earth and the sky (nabhash ca pruthiveem caiva). Sa ghoshO DhaartaraashTraaNaam hrudayaani vyadaarayat l Nabhasch ca pruthiveem caiva tumulo vyanunaadayan ll 1.19 ll Again, because of the context and the grammatical structure of the verses here, we have covered four verses today. It is of interest to note here the usage of the verb vyanunaadayan as this description ends. Naada means sound. Anunaada means sound that follows a sound, in other words the echoing of the sound. The use of "vyanunaada" means the repeated multiple echoes. It is as if the earth and the sky together formed one big echo chamber for the sound vibrations produced by the divine conchs to resonate back and forth and fill all of space. The sounds of all the war instruments of the Kauravas was more of a cacophony, loud and deafening but dispersed through the environment and quickly dissipated.

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The reverberating and echoing back and forth from the sky to the earth also signifies the divinity of the latter blowing of the conchs. All the celestials in the higher worlds heard the sound of these divine conchs - starting with the divine Pancajanya of Maadhava, or Krishna Himself. As we read these verses, especially verse 19, one can feel the lingering sound of these divine vibrations through vyanunaadayan. The previous line says, hrudyaani vyadaarayat as referred to the Kauravas. While the sounds were soothing and filled the heavens and earth with joy, only the pious on earth and the celestials in the heavens could feel this emotion. The Kauravas, on the other hands, were filled with fear and terror struck their hearts. The repeated echoing of the sounds only aggravated their fears! So ends the description of the start of the great Mahabharata War in chapter one of Gita. The next verse begins with very auspicious word "Atha" which is always used at the beginning of all divine narrations, the most famous of such usages being "Athaato Brahma jijnasaa" -- And so begins our enquiry into Brahman, the great Absolute. The same "Atha" is also used to begin the narration of the birth of Krishna in the Srimad Bhagavatam and again later to tell us the story of Yashoda's churning of yogurt (dadhi), or curds, one morning which ends with Her binding baby Krishna who broke her the pots and the butter as it was rising and which prompted her to tie Him up with a rope, earning Him the name of Damodara. The teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, likewise, begin with "Atha" in chapter 1, verse 20. Very sincerely V. Laxmanan February 1, 2013.
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Ourgitapage Please see here a brief summary of the warriors on both sides in the Mahabharata war,

Combatants on the field of Kuruksetra - Lord Caitanya's Sankirtana Mission Mahendra He was one of the 10 survivors of the war.Yudhishthir never died. He was the only Pandav to enter the heaven with his mortal body.

Bhagavad Gita : One Verse at a time

Arjuna Speaks to Krishna (chapter 1, verses 20 and 21)
Atha vyavasthitaan drushtvaa DhaartaraashTraan Kapidwajah l Pravrutte shastra-sampaate dhanur uddhayamya PaaNDavahaa ll 1.20 ll Hrisheekesham tadaa vaakyam idamaaha Maheepate l Arjuna uvaaca Senayor ubhayor madhye ratham sthaapaya may-cyuta ll 1.21 ll Please note that some texts merge the first line of verse 1.21 above with verse 1.20 which then becomes a three-line verse (e.g., Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad Gita As It Is). The line counts then change slightly. The line count is then restored by making verse 1.22 into a single line verse. Others (such as the Gorakhpur Press
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text) introduce Arjuna uvaca between the first and second lines of verse 1.21, as done above. As noted in the last post, the word "Atha", verse 1.20, is always used at the beginning of all auspicious narrations. After describing the start of the war, as signaled by the blowing of the conch by Bheesha Pitaamahaa, the sage Vyasa (via Sanjaya) now begins the narration that leads us to Krishna's Divine Discourse called the Bhagavad Gita. Besides the use of auspicious "Atha" in verse 1.20, Vyasa also introduces another auspicious description by referring to Arjuna as Kapidwaja. On the flag of Arjuna's chariot, if we look carefully in all artistic renditions, we see a flag (dwaja) with Hanuman. This is what Kapi (monkey) dwaja means. The mighty warrior Hanuman is being recalled here. Hanuman destroyed the Ashoka vana in Lanka (where Sita was being held captive) and then gave an eloquent sermon to Ravana after allowing himself to be bound by Indrajit's (Ravana's son) Brahmaastra. Hanuman's sermon to Ravana (in sarga 51 of Sundara KaNDam) is considered to the quintessence of dharma. Hanuman begins by praising Ravana and persuades him to uphold dharma, make peace with Rama and free Sita, Then he reminds Ravana of the dangers that lie ahead if he does not follow dharma. Hanuman employs the four principles of saama (gentle persuasion), dhana (bribery, Rama will forgive), bheda (creating dissension in the enemy ranks, everyone will abandon you), and daNDa (outright threats and instilling fear) in his sermon. The reading of these chapters (called sargas 51 and the following 52 where VibhishaNa advises Ravana to uphold dharma) of Sundara KaNDam is recommend when one faces turmoils in life due to problems created by one's enemies who indulge in adharmic (immoral and seemingly unfair) activities. By flying the Hanuman banner on top of his chariot, Arjuna is signaling that all of his efforts will be blessed by Hanuman and that he will follow the path of dharma. This is the only verse, in the entire Gita, where Arjuna is called Kapidwaja.
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It is also of interest to note that one of the 108 names of Hanuman that we chant in our temples, during Hanuman pooja, is Partha-dwajaagra-samvaasine Namah (no. 103). Here we see the reciprocal reference. Hanuman is being referred to and saluted as "The one who is seen residing on the flag of Arjuna's chariot". Hanuman's mission to Lanka, on behalf of Lord Raamaa, was a glorious success. As we know, Hanuman went above and beyond the mere finding of Sita's whereabouts, which was the task he was entrusted with. His accomplishments in Lanka brought tears of joy for Rama. The Lord, being a King, must give a gift to anyone who brings joyous tidings. He had nothing to offer to Hanuman, being exiled to the forest. So, Rama told Hanuman to accept a hug from Him. Unlike Krishna, Rama was not the huggie huggie type. Only Sita could hug Him. The rishis of DandakaaraNyaa all wanted to hug Rama, but could not. He fulfilled their desire by making all of them gopis of Vrindavana in their next janma. The same sterling success for Arjuna is implied by the use of the description Kapidwaja - One whose flag has Hanuman. I have even heard one commentator and Gita scholar say that Krishna wanted Hanuman to listen to His sermon to Arjuna. While Hanuman's mission to Lanka was an unparalleled success, Krishna's peace-making mission, on behalf of the PaNDavas was a miserable failure. So, Krishna wanted the honor of Hanuman's presence. We also see a similar reference to Hanuman in the famous sloka describing Rama seated with Sita, "Vaidehi sahitam suradruma tale haime mahaamaNDape". This sloka describes the scene after His coronation when Rama is seated on the golden throne, with Sita, giving a sermon about the great tatvaas (the Supreme philosophies). All the great sages are listening. But, Rama is honored that Hanuman, who is bowing and listening to Him with folded hands, in a kneeling posture, is listening. Every speaker also needs a great listener. That brings joy to the speaker. Hanuman's presence in the assembly of the sages (he had front row seat, right at the feet of Rama) brought joy to Raama - agre vaacayati Prabhanjana sute tatvam munibhyah param
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This is one of the most auspicious beginnings for the Gita that one can think of. After calling Arjuna Kapidwaja, Vyasa says that Arjuna surveyed the battlefield and the military formation of the armies of the sons of DrutaraashTra (dhaartaraashTraan vyavasthitaan drushtvaa). Then he picked up his bow (dhanu udyamya) as if he was ready to string it and release arrows (pravrutte shastra sampaate) against his foes. Here ends verse 1.19. "Then, O king (Maheepate)", says Sanjaya to DrutaraashTra, "he said the following words (idam vaakyam aaha) to Hrisheekesha (name of KrishNa, already discussed with verse 1.15)." This is the first line of verse 1.20. Then follows the direct words that were spoken by Arjuna. "Place (sthaapaya) my ('may' means my) chariot (ratham) between (madhye) the two (ubhayOh) armies (senayoh), O Acyuta" The word 'cyuta' means to fall, or that which is fallen. Hence, 'Acyuta', one of the names of Krishna, means "One who is never fallen". We find this name also in the Vishnu Sahasranamam, for example, at the very end of verse 11 in the 1000 names of the Lord --- Ajah Sarveshwarah Siddhah Siddhih Sarvadih Acyutah. In his purport for verse 1.20 Srila Prabhupada explains that this name used by Arjuna implies that Krishna is not being thought of a servant of Arjuna, since He has now become Arjuna's charioteer. He is still the Lord, never fallen, although He chooses to do this apparent service for His great devotee. Arjuna continues talking to Krishna in the following verses. We will continue this in the next post. Very sincerely V. Laxmanan February 1, 2013.
Ourgitapage 5 hours ago

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Significance of Arjuna's chariot with Krishna

Ourgitapage See the Kapidwaja in this image of Gita.

5 hours ago Like (Now 3:42 am, 2/2/2013) Kapidwaja

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Bhagavad Gita: One Verse at a time

Arjuna Speaks to Krishna (Chapter 1, verses 22 and 23)
Let us recap the story so far. After Bheeshma Pitamaha, the grandfather of the PanDava and Kaurva clans, blew his conch to signal the start of the war, and after all of the Kaurava army had sounded the war drums, kettles, horns, and conchs, the PaNDavas, in response, beginning with Madhava (the husband of Mahalakshmi, name of Krishna) and Dhananjaya (name of Arjuna) sounded their Divine conchs, named Pancajanya and Devadutta, respectively. The mighty Bheema, with a voracious appetite but with a curved stomach like a jackal's, then sounded his divine conch named PauNDra. Then King YuddhishTira, the son of Kunti, sounded his divine conch named Anantavijaya and the youngest of the PaNDava brothers, Nakula and Sahadeva, sounded their divine conchs named Sughosha and MaNipushpaka. Following this, all the great warriors of the PaNDava army -- the King of Kashee, ShikhaNDee, DhrushTadyumna (the son of Drupada and the commander-in-chief of the PaNDava side, also called Draupada, or Drupada putra, see verse 2), the King of ViraaTa, Saatyaki, Drupada (the mortal enemy of Dronaacaarya), all the sons of Draupadi and Subhadra (both were wives of Arjuna) --- also sounded their conchs, separately, one by one. The sound vibrations produced by these conchs resonated and reverberated, echoing back and forth between the earth and the sky, and tore the hearts of the sons of DhrutaraashTra and filled them with fear.

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Following this, Arjuna started speaking to Krishna and commanded him to place his chariot between the two armies. In briefly recapping here, I have tried to recall the names of each of the divine conchs. Just recalling these names will fill us with joy and hope as we face the turmoils of our life. The echoing back and forth of the sound vibrations, between the earth and the sky, signifies the blessings of all the celestials and the showering of and pouring down of all divine energy upon the battlefield for the victory of the PaNDavas. The Pancajanya of Krishna and the Devadutta of Arjuna were sounded first. In the concluding verse of the Gita, Sanjaya says, Yatra Yogeshwarah KrishNO yatra PaarthO dhanur dharahaa l Tatra Shreer VijayO bhootir dhruvaa neetir matir ma-ma ll 18.78 ll Great blessed fortunes (shreeh), victory (vijaya), great power and prosperity (bhootih), righteousness and morality (neetih) all reside on the side where the great Yogeshwara Krishna is present and where the son of Prutha, Paartha, Arjuna, stands holding his bow. This I am certain of, O King, says Sanjaya, as the narration of what was happening on the battlefield finally ends. Thus, victory was assured for the PaNDavaas, from the very outset, since Krishna was on their side. Now, let us see how the events unfold on the battlefield. *************************************** Atha vyavasthitaan drushtvaa DhaartaraashTraan Kapidwajah l Pravrutte shastra-sampaate dhanur uddhayamya PaaNDavahaa ll 1.20 ll Hrisheekesham tadaa vaakyam idamaaha Maheepate l
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Arjuna uvaaca Senayor ubhayor madhye ratham sthaapaya may-cyuta ll 1.21 ll Yaadvadetaan nireekshEham yOddhu-kaamaan vyavasthitaan l Kair mayaa saha yOddhavyam asmin raNa samudyamay ll 1.22 ll Yotsyamaanaan avekshyEham ya etEtra samaagataahaa l DhaartaraashTrasya durbuddhEr yuddhE priya-cikeershavaha ll 1.23 ll (As noted earlier, in some texts the 1st line of verse 21 is merged with verse 20 which then becomes a 3-line verse. The next two lines are then verse 1.21 and verse 1.22 is taken as a single line verse. This is the format used by Prabhupada. Gorakhpur press text uses the above with Arjuna uvaca interposed between the two lines of verse 1.21.) Arjuna continues speaking to Krishna after commanding Him to place his chariot between the two armies. He says, "Let me see (nireekshEham) now for a moment who are assembled here in the military formation (yoddhu kaamaan vyavasthitaan). Who are these warriors who are so eager to wage this war (yotsyamaanaan). Let me see (avekshyEham) all them who have gathered here (samaagathaah) due to the evil mind and foolishness (durbuddheh) of the sons of DhrutaraashTra (dhaartaraashtrasya). They all seem to be so enthusiastic to enjoy and wage this war (yuddhE priya cikeerkshavaha). Priya means that which we are fond of, that which we desire. The Kaurava cousins and their allies wanted the kingdom, fairly or unfairly, and it was this reward of the kingdom that they wished and were eager to wage war for it. Shree, or Shreyas, as opposed to Preyas, refers to what is good for us, what will bring us glory and lasting good fortune. This is what Arjuna is pointing out here. These fools have come to battle me here just to gain the bounty of the kingdom. Let me see who these fools are. He also means all these fools are going to die soon when I start using my bow and releasing my arrows.
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After hearing Arjuna, Krishna did as He was commanded. This is described in the following verses. We will continue this in the next post. Very sincerely V. Laxmanan February 2, 2013. P. S. More than once, while typing the date here (so I can keep track of our progress), I have mistyped the year as 2103 instead of 2013. May be it is a good sign, not just a typo! Cheers! :)
Ourgitapage To the newcomers here... You can start reading the Gita NOT because it is a scripture but because it is also one of the greatest literary works in the world that has attracted the attention of people from all walks of life. The devotional aspects will automatically follow, as you keep reading it, over and over. Try it. 26 minutes ago Like (Now 3:40 am on 2/2/2013)

Ourgitapage The correct and more accurate translation of the second line of verse 22 is "son" of DhrutaraashTra, the singular, rather than the plural is used. Hence, Arjuna is referring only to Duryodhana in this verse. The plural, sons, is used in verses 19 and 20. Vj Laxmanan As of today, 2/2/2013, fifty-one (51) days have elapsed since the first post on December 13, 2012 which launched Ourgitapage. Thus, we are averaging about one verse every other day. Hopefully, we will catch up to the "ideal average" of one verse per day. Never mind, just enjoy ....

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Bhagavad Gita: One Verse at a time

Arjuna Speaks to Krishna (Chapter 1, verses 24 and 25)
Sanjaya uvaaca Evam uktO HrisheekeshO GuDaakeshEna Bhaarata l SenayOr ubhayOr madhye sthaapayitvaa rathottamam ll 1.24 ll Bheeshma Drona pramukhatahaa sarveshaam ca maheekshitaam l Uvaaca Paartha pashyaitaan samavetaan kuroon iti ll 1.25 ll Once again, based on the context, we will cover two verses today. The story continues again in the form of the narration by Sanjaya to the blind King DhurtaraashTra, the father of the 100 sons, the eldest being Duryodhana, who had assembled to fight the great Mahabharata war. Bhaarata in verse 24 actually refers to DhrutaraashTra. Sanjaya tells the blind King, "O Bhaarata, being spoken to in this way (evam UktO) by Gudaakesha (name of Arjuna), Hrisheekesha, the Lord, who is the Master of all the senses, placed the great chariot (ratha uttamam) between the armies." Then he continues in verse 25, "He placed the chariot in directly in front (pramukhatah) of Bheeshma and Drona, facing them and all of the kings (sarveshaam ca maheekshitaam) who had assembled (for the war). And then He said (uvaaca), O Paartha, 'See these (pashya etaan) Kurus who have assembled (samavetaan)'". The first direct statement by Krishna in the Gita is found in verse 1.25. The first words spoken by Krishna are "Pashya etaan samavetaan kuroon". The final "iti" means, thus spoke Krishna, who is again referred to as Hrishikesha.
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Thus, far every reference to Krishna is by the name Hrisheekesha (verses 1.15, 1.21, and now 1.24). As noted earlier Hrisheekesha means the One who controls, or is the Lord of, the Master of (eesha) all the senses (hrisheeka). In the KatOpanishad, we find an interesting conversation between Lord Yama (the god of death) and a young Brahmin boy named Nacheeketa, whose father got angry with him one day and told him "I give you to Yama", like we say "go to hell" when we get upset with someone. So, Nachiketa went to the Yamaloka, the world of the dead and met the god of death (Yama). He was given three boons by Yama, since the young boy waited for Yama, without any food or water, at the door for three days and nights, since Yama had been away. So, Yama apologized to this unexpected guest. (Remember Nachiketa was NOT dead, he just came to visit Yama, because of his father's 'curse', so he was an unexpected guest for Yama.) For the third boon, the boy asks to be instructed on what happens to the soul after death. Yama at first refuses to answer and tries to tempt Nachiketa to accept other boons. But Nachiketa is adamant and insists on receiving the instructions about the soul. Finally, Yama relents and starts instructing. Here, as a part of the instructions, we find what may be called the "chariot analogy" to understanding of the soul. Yama says, "Think of the body as a chariot and the buddhi (intellect) as the charioteer. The horses are the indriyas (the sensory organs) and the manas (mind) is the reins that control the horses. The self (atma, or soul) is the one riding in the chariot and enjoying the ride." The indriyas, the sensory organs, the horses pulling the chariot must be controlled. If the horses run wild, the chariot and the person riding in the chariot (the owner of the chariot, which is the body) will be put in danger. An expert charioteer (similar to the modern day chauffer who drives a luxurious limousine), the buddhi is required. The charioteer uses the reins (manas) to control the horses and keeps the chariot in control and riding along pleasurable paths, safely, so that the owner who is riding in the chariot can enjoy the scenery as the chariot proceeds down the road. Krishna is the charioteer for Arjuna -- the Lord of all the senses -- the buddhi that is controlling the reins (manas) and hence the horses too (indriyas). The repeated
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reference to Krishna as Hrisheekesha in chapter 1 thus far should be understood in this context. This chariot analogy becomes even more telling when we see what is about to happen. This is described in the remainder of the chapter. Notice also that Arjuna is referred to as GuDaakesha, which means one who can control (eesha) his sleep (guDaaka). When we are tired, we fall asleep, uncontrollably. But, Arjuna (like Lakshmana in Ramayana, who did NOT sleep for 14 years, during the entire period of Lord Rama's exile) could control sleep. This is the highest form of control. They say, when he was a student, Arjuna would practice archery, what his guru Dronaacaryaa had taught him, even in the dark, at night. He also practiced to shoot with both of his hands. Hence, in chapter 11, Krishna refers to Arjuna as Savyasacchee, which means ambidexterous - one who is equally skilled with both hands. Arjuna had traveled all over, even to Indraloka (swarga, or heaven) and met Indra. He even met Lord Shiva and fought with Him to obtain the divine astra (weapon) known as Pashupata-astra, in preparation for this war (Krishna advised Arjuna to seek this weapon too). Hrisheekesha and Gudaakesha. One is the Master of all the senses. The other is the master of sleep. Now listen to the story again. What happens next is truly astounding. We will continue this in the next post. Very sincerely V. Laxmanan February 2, 2013

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Bhagavad Gita: One Verse at a time

Arjuna Speaks to Krishna (Chapter 1, verses 26 to 28)
The sage Vyasa (who composed the Mahabharata with the Bhagavad Gita being a part of this epic) now tells us, through Sanjaya, what Arjuna saw on the battlefield after Krishna placed the chariot between the two armies, as He was commanded by Arjuna. Tatraapashyat sthitaan Paarthahaa pitroon atha pitaamhaan l Aacaaryaan maatulaan bhraatroon putraan pautraan sakheens tathaa ll 1.26 ll Shwasuraan suhrudasch caiva senayor ubhayor api l Taan sameekshya sa Kaunteyahaa sarvaan bandhoon avasthitaan ll 1.27 ll Krupayaa parayaavishTO visheedan idam abraveet l The last line above is the first line of verse 28, according to the Gorakhpur Press text. We again encounter this "splitting" of a verse with 'Arjuna uvaaca' interposed before the direct words spoken by Arjuna are given during Sanjaya's narration to King DhurtaraashTra. This style is employed by Vyaasa also in the Srimad Bhagavatam, where the direct quotes by another personality are interposed in the conversation between two other personalities. And there (tatra), says Sanjaya, between the two armies, Paartha saw the elders (fathers, pitroon) and grandfathers (pitaamahaah). He saw his aacaaryas (gurus, perceptors who endowed him with all the knowledge in various matters), his uncles (maatulaan), his brothers (bhraatroon), the sons and the grandsons (of various warriors who had assembled, putraan pautraan), many friends (sakheens tathaa) and also the fathers-in-law (of various mentioned, shwasuraan) and very dear friends (suhrudah ca eva) who were close to his heart. And, seeing all these family

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members and close relatives (bandhoon) in such military formation (avasthitaan) This is verse 26 and 27. He was overcome with great (parayaa) compassion (krupayaa) that seems to have entered deep (aavishTahaa) into his heart and started crying and lamenting (visheedan) and said (abraveet) the following (idam) . This is the first line of verse 28. Arjuna was really NOT interested in waging the war. He was there only as a matter of duty. This is also obvious from the remarks he makes earlier in verse 23, where he mentions the foolishness and evil-mind of Duryodhana (son of DhrutaraashTra) as being the reason for this assembly of warriors in front of him. He had a mocking tone and had picked up his bow and was ready to string it and start shooting arrows at the enemy. But, inexplicably, this great warrior suddenly broke down and started crying uncontrollably and lamenting. What Arjuna says next is described in the remaining 20 verses of this chapter. The chapter derives its name from this lament and is called Arjuna Vishaada Yoga, the great lament of Arjuna. It should be noted that even Lord Rama, when he was face to face with Ravana, who was to be slain, was overcome with compassion for a moment. The sage Agastya then appeared before Rama and started chanting a famous hymn, known as Aditya Hrudayam, the hymn to the sun god, which is a part of the Yuddha KanDam of the Ramayana. Lord Rama was born in the solar dynasty of kings. The sage Agastya invokes the glories of this ancestor of Rama and inspires him to start the battle and assures Him of victory against Ravana. We will continue with this in the next post. Very sincerely V. Laxmanan February 3, 2013
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Bhagavad Gita: One Verse at a time

Chapter 1 verses 28 to 30 Arjuna's Lamentation
Arjuna uvaca DrushTvevam swajanam Krishna yuyutsum samupasthitam ll1.28ll Seedanti ma-ma gaatraaNi mukham ca parishushyati Vepathusch ca shareerE may romaharshash ca jaayate ll 1.29ll GaNDeevam samsrate hastaat tvak caiva paridahyate l Na ca shaknomi avasthaathum bhramateeva ca may manah ll1.30ll Sanjaya was describing to the blind King DhrutaraashTra, the father of Duryodhana and the 100 Kaurava brothers, what was going on in the battlefield of Kurukshetra. After the blowing of conchs and the sounding of all war instruments by both sides, Arjuna asked Krishna to place his chariot between the two armies. Krishna did as commanded and told Arjuna, "O Paartha, see for yourself all of the assembled Kurus." The chariot was facing Bheeshma, Drona, and all the other prominent elders and leaders from the opposing army. Now, Sanjaya continues quoting Arjuna directly. From here on the narration is given as a direct back and forth conversation between Arjuna and Krishna. Arjuna said, "O Krishna, after seeing this (drushTva emam) assembly of my kinsmen (swajanam samupasthitam), who are eager to wage war (yuyutsum), all the limbs of my body (ma-ma gaatraaNi) are trembling (seedanti) and my mouth is completely drying up (mukham ca parishushyati). And (ca) all over my body (shareerE may) I can feel horripillations, i.e., the hair is standing on end. My bow (named GaNDeeva) is slipping from my hands and my whole body (literally the skin of my body, tvak) seems to be on fire. I am unable to control my mind and keep it steady. It seems to be swirling uncontrollably."
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Arjuna here is describing the classical symptoms of someone suffering from a total nervous breakdown. All of his sensory organs are failing him and his body is affected and is out of his control. More importantly, Arjuna, even his mind is swirling around (like clothes in a washing machine or a dryer). The mind (manas), as we discussed is like the reins used by the charioteer (which was compared to the buddhi) to control the horses (the indriyas) that pull the chariot. Not only are the horses running wild but even the charioteer does not seem to even hold the reins properly and bring the horses back in control. Arjuna goes on to describe further his emotional state. We will continue this in the next post. February 4, 2013.

Bhagavad Gita: One Verse at a time

Chapter 1 verses 31 to 32 Arjuna's Lamentation Continues
Nimittani ca pashyaami vipareetaani Keshava l Na ca shreyo-nupashyaami hatvaa swajanam aahave ll 1.31 ll Na kaankshE vijayam KrishNa na ca raajyam sukhaani ca l Kim no raajyyena Govinda kim bhogair jeevitena vaa ll 1.32 ll Arjuna continues, "O Keshava, and I can see (pashyaami) ill-omens (vipareetaani nimittani) all around. And I do not see (n ca anupashyaami) any great good (shreyO) by the killing of my own people (hatvaa swajanam) in this battle (aahave)." This is verse 31.
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"I do not desire victory (vijayam), O Krishna, nor this kingdom (raajyam), nor all the pleasures (sukhaani) that it promises. O Govinda, what is to be gained by us (no = plural of I, aham) with this kingdom and all the pleasures of life (bhogair jeevitena) that follow." February 5, 2013. Ourgitapage Arjuna mentions "ShreyO" or shreyas here which means that which brings us lasting good -- the highest that one should aspire for. This is opposed to Preyas, or priya, which means what we like, or what we are fond of, or what we want. What we want may not be good for us. We find Arjuna repeatedly mentioning "shreyas" in the Gita. This is the first mention. The next prominent mention is in chapter 3, where he essentially re-initiates the entire discussion by asking Krishna to clarify (much better than in chapter 2) what is "shreyas", what actions that he must perform that would bring him lasting good - not the temporary pleasures of having victory and gaining the kingdom. Shreyas and Preyas are also mentioned prominently in the conversation about the soul, between Lord Yama and Nachiketa (which was mentioned earlier in the discussion of the chariot analogy).

Bhagavad Gita: One Verse at a time

Chapter 1 verses 33 to 35 Arjuna's Lamentation Continues
Yeshaam arthe kaankshitam no raajyam bhogaah sukhaani ca l Ta imevasthitaa yuddhe praaNaan tyaktvaa dhanaani ca ll 1.33 ll Aacaaryah pitrah putraas tathaiva ca pitaamahaahaa l Matulaah shwashuraah poutraah shyaalaah sambandhinas tathaa ll 1.34 ll Etaan na hantum icchaami ghnatOpi Madhusoodana l Api trailokya raajyasya hetOh kim nu maheekrute ll 1.35 ll
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Arjuna continues: All those (yeshaam) for whose sake (arthe) we ('no', the plural of aham, I) wanted (kaankshitam) the kingdom (raajyam) and other pleasures (bhogaah), all of them are assembled (ta ime avasthitaah) in this battlefield (yuddhe) ready to give up their lives (praaNaan tyktvaa) and all their wealth (dhanaani ca). This is verse 33. Then Arjuna describes again his relation to those whom he sees ahead of him arrayed in battle formation and says, Here (in front of me) are my revered teachers (aacaaryaah), elders of the family (pitrah, the fathers), the sons (putraah) and also the grandfathers (pitaamahaahaa), the uncles (maatulaah), the fathers-in-law (shwashuraah), the grandsons (poutraah), the brothers-in-law, and those who are related through marriage alliances (sambandhinah). This is verse 34. O Madhusoodana (name of Krishna), I do not wish (icchaami) to kill (na hantum) any of them (etaan), even if I myself were to be killed (ghnatah api = ghnatOpi). I would not do it for the sake of the three worlds (trailokya raajyasya) what then to say if the only reward is the kingdom of this earth (hetoh kim nu maheekrute)? This is verse 35. Arjuna is overcoming by a sudden and inexplicable feeling of kinship, love and compassion, towards all those who were assembled to fight the great Mahabharata war. Instead of seeing great warriors who had assembled to fight to death, he sees them all as his dear relatives, in various ways. He is stating again, as he laments, with tears rolling down his cheeks, that he is not motivated by the reward of acquiring the kingdom as the bounty of this war. Starting with verse 28, Arjuna has addressed Krishna as Krishna (28 and 31), then as Govinda (32) and now as Madhusoodana (35). Govinda means a cowherd and all the cows offered themselves and everything they produced to Krishna. Likewise, by referring to Krishna as Govinda, Arjuna is saying that he would like to also offer everything to Him, like the cows did.
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Krishna killed two demons named Madhu and KaiTabha. This killing of the demons (our desires, anger, or kaama and krodha) is being alluded to here by referring to Krishna as Madhusoodana. What can be gained from all the killing that will follow when there is no one left to enjoy the kingdom, its wealth, and its pleasures (kin no raajyena, kim bhogaih)? Is life itself worth living (kim jeevitena vaa)? These are the thoughts that seem to overcome Arjuna as he is struggling with the total breakdown of all his senses. February 6, 2013.

Bhagavad Gita: One Verse at a time

Chapter 1 verses 36 to 37 Arjuna's Lamentation Continues
Nihatya DhaartaraashTraan nah kaa preetih syaat Janaardana l Paapam evaashrayet asmaan hatvaitaan aatataayinahaa ll 1.36 ll Tasmaan naarhaan vayam hantum DhaartaraashTraan swabaandhavaan l Swajanam hi katham hatvaa sukhinah syaama Maadhava ll 1.37 ll DhaartaraashTraah, mentioned in both these verses, means the 100 sons of DhrutaraashTra, the eldest being Duryodhana. In this context, it also includes all these warriors in the opposing army who are aligned with them. Arjuna continues his lament and now makes a summary statement in verse 37. He says, "O Janaardana (name of Krishna, One who is filled with compassion towards all people), what possible pleasure is there (kaa preetih syaat) for us (nah, same as 'no' in earlier verses, 'no' is with sandhi) in the killing of the sons of
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DhrutaraashTra? Killing these relatives will certainly ensure that sin (paapam) itself will enter into and find refuge (aashrayet) in us (asmaan)." In other words, Arjuna is making a categorical statement here that killing his near and dear ones, all mentioned in earlier verses, in great detail, is a sinful proposition. The word aatataayi, plural aatataayinah, literally means relatives who can claim a share of ancestral property, and hence there is an adversorial relationship implied. Such relatives, in days gone by, would typically show up when some elder in the family dies. (They still do, when some wealthy person die and his will is read.) And, now he concludes with tasmaat (after sandhi with naarhaah it becomes tasmaan), which means therefore. Arjuna says, "Therefore, it is not fitting upon us (na arhaah = naaarhaah) to kill our own kins, the sons of DhrutaraashTra." Thus, the first important conclusion, or rationalization, that Arjuna presents is that what he is about to engage in, the killing of his relatives, the near and dear, is SINFUL. Then, in the second line of verse 37, he adds, "O Maadhava (name of Krishna), how can we really be happy (katham sukhinah syaama) after killing our own kin (swajanam hatvaa)?" The second rationale presented is that all of this killing is also ultimately not going to lead any form of happiness - preeti - even a temporary 'feel good' February 6, 2013.

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Bhagavad Gita: One Verse at a time

Chapter 1 verses 38 and 39 Arjuna's Lamentation Continues
There are exactly ten more slokas left in chapter one of the Gita, based on the Gorakhpur Press text. The numbering of the verses is slightly different in Prabhupada's Bhagavad Gita As It Is, starting with verse 28. As explained before, this is due to the the different way of introducing "Arjuna uvaca" between the first and second lines of verse 28. Prabhupada makes verse 26 a three line verse (by including the 1st line of verse 27). Hence, all verses are "shifted" by one line in these two versions of the texts. Attention is again being called here to avoid confusion with verse numbers. As Arjuna continues his lament, he states clearly his belief that killing of the assembled relatives and friends is a SIN and it does not even promise happiness, or a temporary feeling of good (preyas versus shreyas). "How can we be really happy, O Madhava, after killing all of our kith and kin?", he says. Now he expands on this further. Yadyapyete na pashyanti lobhopahata-cetasahaa l Kula-kshaya-krutam dosham mitradrohe ca paatakam ll 1.38 ll Katham na jnyeyam asmaabhih paapaat asmaat nivartitum l Kula-kshaya-krutam dosham prapashyadbhir Janaardana ll 1.39 ll At this point, the verse numbers differ by exactly one in Prabhupada's text. Verse 39 above is verse 38 in the latter text. Arjuna says, "Even if these folks (yat+api+ete = yadyapete), whose entire consciousness (cetas) has been overcome, conquered, and subdued by greed (lobha upahata, i.e., they are completely under the control of greed), how is it that we (asmaabhih) are unable to see through this and turn away from and avoid this sinful path (paapaat asmaat nivartitum)? May be they do not see the sinfulness
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(paatakam) in this betrayal of friends (mitra droham) and the destruction of the whole clan and family (kula-kshaya). But, how is it, O Janaardana, that we, who are supposed to be wiser and capable of seeing through all this (prapashyadbhir), fail to do so?" We should really ponder. Arjuna states clearly here that two wrongs do not make a right, as they say. He says that we must be strong enough to resist the urge to succumb to our basest feelings and retaliate. Just because one person, in a situation where a conflict has arisen is being foolish, or unfair, it does not mean that we should take the same attitude and indulge in a 'tit-for-tat" behavior. Perhaps, the on-going gun control, gun ban, gun safety debate that we are going through now in the United States should be viewed and understood within this framework. Yes, we all know "something" about the Gita. We all know that Krishna eventually rejected all of Arjuna's arguments and advised him to take up arms and fight. If we take that attitude, we are "jumping the gun", as they say. To understand the Gita fully, we must also understand the reasons for Arjuna's lament. He was not a fool. As we see here, Arjuna is laying out his reasons in a logical manner - as best as he has understood them. In these verses, Arjuna states clearly that the onus is upon us to rise to a higher level inside of falling into the gutter, or getting into a mud wrestling match with foolish folks. February 7, 2013.

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Bhagavad Gita: One Verse at a time

Chapter 1 verses 40 to 42 Arjuna's Lamentation Continues
It is of interest to note that in verse 38, Arjuna talks about betrayal of friends (mitra droham) and the sin that is associated with it (paatakam). We all value friendships. That is what Facebook is all about. But, there are times when our own selfish interests triumph and we end up betraying our friends. Indian history is littered with stories of betrayal for accomplishing material gains like a kingdom, or power. Even Jesus was betrayed. Arjuna is pointing out that such betrayal, especially when it is motivated by selfish desires, is SINFUL. Now, Arjuna continues and presents some additional arguments about dharma, some of which might be perceived as being controversial (or even repugnant) to the modern "secular" mind. He says, KulakshayE praNashyanti kuladharmaah sanatanaahaa l DharmE nashTE kulam krutsnam adharmObhi-bhavatyuta ll 1.40 ll Adharmaabhi-bhavaat KrishNa pradushyanti kulastriyaahaa l Streeshu dushTaasu VaarshNEya jaayate VarNasamkarahaa ll 1.41 ll SamkarO narakaayivaa kulaghnaanaam kulasya ca l Patanti pitarO hyeshaam lupta-piNDodaka-kriyaahaa ll 1.42 ll In these verses, we find the use of the word "dharma" which was discussed at length when we started this study of the Gita. The word "dharma" is the very first word in the Gita. Dharma, as India's first Vice President (later President) Dr. Radhakrishnan (also a great Hindu philosopher) would say, cannot be translated. It embodies the core moral principles of our conduct and how one must live.
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Arjuna is lamenting here about the wholesale destruction that will ensue because entire families, entire family lineages, will be wiped out in the devastating war that was about to begin. He has already told us, in detail, who all are lined up in the armies that he is facing: fathers, sons, grandfathers, grandsons, uncles, nephews, brothers-in-law, fathers-in-law, all relatives enjoined by marriage. Not only that, there are revered gurus and acaaryas too. All are about to perish. Who will be left after this whole destruction? Arjuna knows he can destroy the entire armies with his arrows and other divine weapons that he had acquired for this war (e.g. the Pashupata, which Krishna advised him to get from Lord Shiva, and the Brahmaastra, which only he knew how to use properly, and so on). Kulakshayam that we encounter here, and in the earlier verses 38 and 39, means the destruction of entire family lineages. Although those who are assembled on the battlefield will perish, there are others, particularly children and women (stree in Sanskrit, verse 41, striyahaa and streeshu are plural forms of stree) who are NOT in the battlefield, who will survive. What happens to them? This is what Arjuna is talking about in these verses. Arjuna says that the "kuladharma" will perish because the children who will survive this war will have no elders, no gurus, no acaaryas that they can turn to learn about their "dharma". Each family has its own unique traditions. That is what makes us the pluralistic society that we are. This is what "kuladharma" means - it is a mosaic, a lovely tapestry of morals that we learn and is passed on particularly by elders, especially grandparents to the grandchildren much more than from parent to child. All this will be lost and is about to be destroyed. These are "eternal" dharmas - the word used is "sanatana". And, now all this is about to perish. This is the first line of verse 40. What will happen when dharma is destroyed in this way (dharme nashTe)? What happens when the entire family is destroyed (kulam krutsnam nashTe)? Arjuna answers this question himself.
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He says, adharma, impious behavior, inappropriate conduct, immorality, irreligion (Prabhupada's translation) will rise and flourish. Bhavati means to be. Abhibhavati means to more than just be. Like a tree growing and spreading, adharma will also grow and spread. That is the implication of the "abhi" prefix. Abhavati+uta = abhavatyuta. The addition of "uta" adds force and certainty to this outcome. And, then what happens? The first victims of such a rise of "adharma" are the women of the society. They are bound to be ravished, abused, raped, etc. This is often the ugly effect of every war. The victorious army goes on a rampage of rape a horrible crime and atrocity - but a reality. Other commentators and spiritual leaders are more "proper", or demure, in their translations but I have not tried to avoid addressing what "dushTaasu" implies. Raping of women by the victors is definitely implied and it becomes clear when we read the next verse. Arjuna is talking about "admixture of the varnas" (varna samkara). Besides the immediate rape, Arjuna is also talking about a longer term devastation and degradation. Arjuna is also talking about the total breakdown of the social order itself via "varNa samkara". Now, we come to the difficult part which many modern secularists will find totally repugnant. What is varNa? Literally speaking, the word means a "color", like red, blue, white, yellow, green etc. We classify the US states as being red states, blue states etc. In industrial plants and production operations, we use various "color codes" to distinguish and separate and identify similar and dissimilar objects. Likewise, in ancient India, people were also classified and divided into various groups, depending on their roles in society. This is what is meant by "Varnaashrama dharma". It was a societal order. Today, we translate this as "caste system" (thanks, to the British Sanskritists) a very repugnant term for secularist thinking. Yes, the caste system, as we call it, turned into India's bane and has done tremendous harm to society in the way it degenerated in practice. But, think again about what Arjuna is saying. He is saying that the social order is about to crumble and with this a total destruction that he sees is lying ahead.
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The children and the young will be growing up without knowing anything about the family traditions and the "varnas" they belong to. Today, we see that happening. Many of us do not much about out family traditions, or simple facts about our family genealogy. This is NOT a defense of the caste system and all of its evils. Rather, this is about social order. There was nothing rigid about the boundaries of castes (varnas) in ancient India. In recent times, the Azhwars (saint poets) of South India were from different castes, including the lowest or shudra caste and are revered, to this day, by all including the Brahmins. Their works are sung in all temples. In ancient times, Vishwamitra was a kshatriya (the warrior class), who became a great rishi. Soota Maharshi was a shudra (the laborers, the lowest in the four-fold system) who was revered by Brahmins (the priest, the first among the four-fold). Parashurama, the son of a Brahmin sage, engaged in killing and whole destruction of kshatriyas. Krishna called himself a Vaishya (the business community). Even in Britain, where there are no "castes", we still have "classes". The royalty is still different from the peasants. And, even in the USA, some are not equal, never mind what the declaration of independence says. The "evil" effects of such inequality are well known and, to some extent, dog us to this day in the form of blatant racism faced even by the President of the United States. "You lie", said one Congressman to a President of color during the State of the Union address, in utter disrespect to the office and he paid no price, other than gain media attention! Would he have dared to say the same to a white President? One can only wonder! So, I ask Hindu secularists to reflect rather than express their outrage at what seems to be a defense of caste system in the Gita, one of our most revered texts. (In fact, I read the Gita and chapter 1, when I was about 16 years old, in the original Sanskrit. I too felt 'outraged'. I read a part of chapter 2 to see what Krishna's response was and then quit reading. I did not get back to studying the Gita again until age 40!)
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Arjuna says that all of this social order will be destroyed because the children of the coming generation will grow up without knowing anything about their family traditions. But, he also laments about one important religious and spiritual implications of this devastation. He points out that the children of the next generation will not know anything about ancient traditions like offering water (udaka) and food (in the form of balls made of cooked rice, which is called piNDa). This is offered annually as a part of rituals, even today, in traditional families, for ancestors. It is believed that ancestors who might be suffering in hell are, in due course of time, liberated due to such offerings made by the children and grandchildren. Such traditions will not be followed and so these ancestors are destined to suffer for a long time in hell. Was Arjuna right to bemoan all this? Just look around and you will see this happening in front of your own eyes! Such traditions are to some extent still preserved among people from the Southern states of India but have mostly been lost in the Northern parts of India. Why? A study of Indian history and the waves of invasions that North India suffered might provide some clue. W will continue with this in the next post. Th verses just discussed are, perhaps, the most controversial in that they challenge our modern secular beliefs. To those who disagree, I say, "So be it. The answer to the objections is actually buried in Arjuna's own statements." But, wait, Krishna objects too. But, He is objecting about something entirely different than what our minds find objectionable. That is why we must continue past chapter 1. February 7, 2013.

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Bhagavad Gita: One Verse at a time

Arjuna Speaks to Krishna (Chapter 1, verses 43 and 44)
After commanding Krishna to place his chariot between the two armies (verse 21), Arjuna picks up his bow and is ready to shoot. As he looks carefully (nireeksha means to look carefully, piercingly) at all those who are assembled in the opposing side, Arjuna is suddenly and inexplicably overcoming with deep love for all his kith and kin, elders and friends and suffers a classic case of total nervous breakdown. In the Ramayana as well, we find a similar description about Lord Rama, in the widely read chapter known as the Aditya Hrudayam - Tatho yuddha parishraantam samare citanyaa sthitam -- citanyaa means being pensive, thoughtful. Lord Rama is face to face with Ravana but appears hesitant. Why? We should think about that as well. Then the sage Agastya suddenly appears before Lord Rama and chants the glorious hymn to the sun-god (Aditya). Rama was born in the solar dynasty of kings. The sage thus inspires Rama to fight and blesses Him with victory in His battle against Ravana. Arjuna was ready to fight and draw his arrow at first and says, as if mockingly, "Let me see, O Acyuta (name of Krishna), who these warriors are have assembled here, so eager to battle!" (verse 21). Then, he becomes thoughtful and starts talking about the foolishness of Duryodhana to insist upon going ahead with this war. And then, as he surveys the armies, he is overcome with immense love and compassion. He can only see near and dear ones, and revered gurus, like Dronaacarya, and respected elders, like Bheeshma. His body suddenly seems to have lost all of its functional potency.
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As we are told in the final verse of this chapter, Arjuna is overcome with a great sense of grief and sorrow. He is also shedding tears profusely, as we are told in verse 1 of chapter 2. Arjuna expresses his love for the assembled warriors and the futility of the war. He feels that there is nothing to be gained from acquiring the kingdom of this earth. He puts forth the proposition that the act of killing that he and the Pandava army are about to engage is SINFUL. He talks about betrayal of those who are near and dear and the elders and the revered. He talks about dharma and the utter devastation that would follow when entire families and family lineages are wiped out by the war. In particular, he laments about the fate of women and also about the fate of ancestors, who would be deprived of ritual offerings by their children and grandchildren, since the latter would no longer have anyone to even teach them about these essential duties of a human being. Now, he continues. Doshair etair kulaghnaanaam varNa-samkara-kaarakaih l Utsaadyante jaati dharmaah kuladharmaah ca shaasvataahaa ll 1.43 ll Utsanna kula dharmaaNaam manushyaaNaam Janaardana l Narake-aniyatam vaasO bhavateet-yanu-shushruma ll 1.44 ll The word 'kulaghna' (plural form of this word is used above) means one who is the killer, destroyer, of the whole family and/or family lineage. The sins that are about to be committed by such warriors, the sins accrued by those who will responsible for the admixture of the 'varnas' (i.e., the 'intercaste' births that will result from breakdown of the social order and/or by the raping of women survivors of the war), will lead to a total uprooting of the dharma followed by individual families (kula dharma) and by individual castes and subcastes, as determined by birth (jaati dharmaah, jati is derived from the verb meaning birth, the word jananee for mother has the root). The kula, those who are killed, also suffer. This is verse 43. Then he says, "O Janaardana (the One who understands the distress of janas, i.e., humans), when such uprooting of dharma occurs and the destruction of dharma occurs, the ancestors will be condemned for a very long and indefinite (aniyatam,
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opposite of niyatam, which means a scheduled duration) stay in hell and will not be able to attain liberation. This is what we hear (anu-shu-shruma)." In other words, Arjuna is citing what he has heard from his gurus and elders, the authorities on these matters, about dharma, the right code of conduct. And, above all, he is most concerned about those who are not living anymore, those who are already dead and who may be suffering in various hells (due to their sinful actions when they were here on earth). Not only that, he says that these dead will continue to suffer for an indefinite time, being deprived of progeny who would liberate them through devout practice of the annual rituals for departed ancestors. Arjuna then breaks down completely and utters "aHo", which is like a loud and uncontrollable wailing. We will continue with this in the next post. There are only three more verses left in chapter 1. February 8, 2013.

Bhagavad Gita: One Verse at a time

Chapter 1 Concludes: Arjuna Drops his arms (Chapter 1, verses 45 to 47)
Aho bata mahat paapam kartum vyavasithaah vayam l Yad raajya-sukha-lobhena hartum swajanam udyataahaa ll 1.45 ll Yadi maam aprateekaaram ashastram shastra-paaNayahaa l DhaartaraashTraah raNE hanyuh tanme kshemataro bhavet ll 1.46 ll Sanjay uvaaca Evam uktvaarjunah sankhye rathOpastha upaavishat l Visrujaya sasharam caapam shoka-samvigna-maanasahaa ll 1.47 ll
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ll Om tat saditi Shreemad Bhagavad Geetasu Upanishadsu Brahma vidyaayaam YogashastrE Shree KrishNaarjuna samvaade Arjuna vishaada yogo naama prathamOdhyaayahaa ll Finally, Arjuna now laments aloud, and utters "Aho" as if wailing. "It is so strange (bata)", he says. "We (vayam) are now all set and ready (vyavasithaah udyataahaa) to commit (kartum) this great sin (mahat paapam) driven entirely by greed (lobhena) for kingdom (raajya) and its pleasures (sukha)." Then, Arjuna decides that he will not fight and says, "If the sons of DhurtaraashTra were to kill me (hanyuh) in this battle (raNE), with all their weapons in their hands (shastra paaNayahaa) while I am unarmed (ashastram) and am offering no resistance (aprateekaaram), that may be much better (kshemataram) for me (than this war and all the killing)." Now, King DhrutaraashTra, who has been listening to Sanjaya narrate this seems to have asked, as if eagerly, "What happened next?" Sanjay says, "Having spoken thus (evam uktvaa), in the middle of the battlefield (sankhye), Arjuna entered deep (upaavishat) into the interior (upastha) of his chariot (ratha). He dropped (visrujya) his bow (caapam) along with the arrows (sa sharam) and his mind (maanasahaa) was filled with (samvigna) great grief and sorrow (shoka)." And so we say "Om tat sat", that is the supreme truth. Thus ends, within the Shreemad Bhagavad Gita, which is the embodiment of all the Upanishads, of the Supreme knowledge called Brahma vidya among the Yoga shastra (the science of all the yogas), in the conversation (samvaade) between Krishna and Arjuna, the chapter (adhyaayah) one (pratham) of the Gita, known as the chapter of Arjuna Vishaada (despondency). Kshemam means lasting good and kshmetaram that which is even better. Arjuna realizes he has the choice to fight and it might do some good (like gaining the kingdom). But the killing will mean committing sins. Also the kingdom and all of its pleasures would not worth it after there is no one to share it with. The better
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course is to let the sons of DhrutaraashTra actually kill him after he has dropped all his weapons and offers no resistance to them. It is traditional to recite the long prose statement at the end of the recitation of each chapter. Following this one should read the Gita Mahatmyam story, which tells about the glories of this chapter and the benefits of a devout and regular (daily) recitation of this chapter. Indeed, one should commit all these verses to memory. According to the story in the Padma PuraNa, just reading this chapter is enough to destroy all of our sins - the main theme of Arjuna's despondency. Do read the story now, see links given below. (I use this often).


Arjuna's lament about sin Hells for sinners: How long?

Dear All: In chapter 1, Arjuna talks about killing that he is about engage in the impending war as being a sin, and also laments the impending destruction of dharma kuladharma and jathidharma - which will lead to departed ancestors suffering in hell for a very long and indefinite period of time. I was reading the Gita Mahatmyam story for chapter 13 (our Canton Gita group has just finished chapter 13 and will be meeting again on Sunday Feb 10, 2013). The story describes how a woman, who was married to a very pious Brahmin, nevertheless lived a very sinful life and suffered in many ways before she finally obtained moksha. She attained moksha merely by listening to a very pious person reciting chapter 13 of the Gita. She listened to it over and over.
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However, before she attained moksha, the story says that she suffered in various hells, one of them called Raurava (one of the most fierce hells) for a period of 100 manvantaras. This caught my attention today as I was reading the story. In one day of Brahma (which is called a kalpa), there are fourteen Manus. We are now living in the reign of the 7th Manu of the present kalpa of Brahma (known as shweta varaha kalpa). But, the above story talks about 100 manvantaras. Now 14 times 7 equals 98 and so this woman suffered in hell for a little more than 7 kalpas. (In one kalpa there are 1000 cycles of the four yugas, or 1000 Chaturyugas. Each cycle of four yugas equals 4.32 million years and so one kalpa equals 4.32 billion years. In one year of Brahma there are 360 kalpas and Brahma's lifetime is 100 such years or 36,000 kalpas, so the 7 kalpas plus that this woman suffered is still quite a small duration relative to Brahma's lifespan.) The main point is suffering in hell for sinful activities can last for a very long time, indeed, almost for an indefinite time, as Arjuna laments (verse 44, following Gorakhpur Press numbering, it would verse 43 if we follow Prabuhpada's numbering). The Gorakhpur Press text says "Aniyatam" while some other texts say "niyatam", see also Aniyatam and niyatam are both, however, translated as a very long duration, indefinitely, or perpetually. Also, as noted, Arjuna is NOT expressing his own beliefs. By saying anushushruma, he is referring to the opinions of authorities on these matters (his elders, his gurus, from whom he has heard "shushruma", and over and over is anushushruma). February 8, 2013.

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Commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita

Dear All: It is with Krishna's grace and mercy that we have concluded the posts on chapter one of the Bhagavad Gita, today (February 8, 2013, in 58 days since the posts started on December 13, 2012). The link given here provides several commentaries on the Gita by leading VaishNavite acaryas of various traditions. Hard copy versions of Bhagavad Gita As It Is, by Srila Prabhupada, are also readily available, at all ISKCON temples around the world. This momentous work has now become a standard reference text on the subject. The commentary by Prabhupada that is found in the link given here is a much more concise version and is therefore highly recommended. In the hard copy versions that are now available (which is a second edition), the commentaries have been greatly expanded by his disciples to include ALL of the original notes by Prabhupada. In the first edition (1972), published by Macmillan Company, Srila Prabhupada (then an unknown author) faced the challenging task of limiting himself to about 400 pages. Hence, Prabhupada provided extremely condensed and concise purports for each verse which many first-time readers of the Gita might find very useful. Copies of this Macmillan version (1972) can still be purchased (see online resources).

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