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Bhagavad Geeta 1st chapter Parama Saram by Thirukullam Narasimha Raghavachariar

From: Bharadwaj, Jaganath (
Date: Thu May 07 1998 - 11:33:19 PDT

Dhritaraashtra:	"Sanjaya!  What did my children (the Kauravas) and the
Paandavas do after assembling at Kurukshetra, in order to fight a war?"

Sanjaya:	"Oh, King!  Isn't it obvious that those assembled to fight a
battle will be waging a battle only.  Did you expect them to be engaged
in a bowling competition?  I do not seem to get the implications of your

The King:	"My friend.  I would not have put this question to you if the
Kauravas and the Paandavas had assembled at any ordinary location.  It
is only because they decided to assemble at Kurukshetra that I wanted to
know whether they are battling it out or not."

Sanjaya:	"Maharaja!  What is so special about Kurukshetra?"

The King:	"That is a Dharma Kshetra.  It is very conducive for
Kshatriyas to perform their highest duty as a sacrifice (yaaga) - that
of waging a battle.  Just as a field multiplies the number of seeds sown
many times over, insignificant pious deeds performed at this location is
multiplied many times over and becomes major pious acts.  One who dies
in the land of Kashi is assured of a significantly more auspicious
future.  One who dies either in the land, or the waters of Prayaga is
assured of such a future.  This same future is assured to one who dies
in the land, water or air in Kurukshetra.  Mere residence in the land of
Kurushetra will force one to use his intelligence to follow the path of
the wise.  If the land has managed to change the mindset of Duryodhana
and party, it is possible that the war could be called off.
Alternatively, the land could have influenced the Paandavas to decide
that it is better to let the Kauravas rule the whole country and we are
better off in the forest.  Either way, the war can be avoided.  It is
because of such (wishful) thinking that I wanted to know what they did."

Sanjaya:	"Oh King!  Duryodhana did arrive in Kurukshetra with a very
serious and purposeful demeanor.  But on taking one look at the Paandava
army, he began to tremble.  He descended from the chariot, trudged upto
his Guru Dronacharya and began to lament."

Dhritaraashtra:	"What nonsense is this, that I am hearing!  Duryodhana
trembling at the sight of the Pandava army?  I personally perceived
confidence oozing out of every pore just before his departure for
Kurukshetra.  He is the personification of boldness, and you have the
nerve to say that he was trembling!  What is your basis for making such
tall claims?"

Sanjaya:	"Where is the need for me to utter nonsense?  Only if you
yourself heard your favorite son's foolish talk, will you begin to
glimpse the truth."

The King:	"Oh Wise one (sarcastically?)!  What is it about my son's
speech that you found so nonsensical?"

Sanjaya:	"Oh Enlightened One (backhanded compliment)!  Let me make you
aware of your son's utterances to Drona.  Listen.  Duryodhana:  Quote
"Acharya!  Look at the Pandavas' gigantic forces.  It is headed by Your
disciple Dhrishtadyumna.  (In other words, since you were on my payroll,
you are my servant.  You should never have accepted my enemies as your
disciple and taught them all the skills for them to use, against me.)
He is very intelligent and brave.  Almost all the captains of the
Pandava forces are as capable fighters as Bhima and Arjuna.  It is not
possible for our forces led by Bhishma to defeat the Pandava army.  The
army of the Pandavas protected by Bhima is capable of defeating us.
Therefore all of you have to be totally alert all the time for the
protection of Bhishma."  End of quote from Duryodhana.  Oh King!  Isn't
this sufficient to convince you about Duryodhan'a cowardice?"

Dhritaraashtra:	"Sanjaya!  Everything that you have stated is true.  Now
describe in detail the events that happened subsequently."

Sanjaya:	"Oh Bharata (metaphorically calling the king by the name of the
country)!  Hearing Duryodhana's lamentations, Bhishma decided to cheer
him up by roaring like a lion and blowing his conch shell.  Everyone
else in the Kaurava army followed suit blowing their conches and beating
drums in unison making a tumultuous sound."

The King inquired:	"Sanjaya!  You have not said a word about the
Paandavas so far.  Tell me in detail about their situation.

Sanjaya's description:	"Oh King!  The Paandava army which was motionless
till then, also began to blow their conches upon hearing the Kaurava
conches and drums."

The King inquired:	"Oh Son of Kavalkani!  Who all blew which conches?
What was the combined effect of all this conch blowing?

Sanjaya:	"Oh King!  From a very large chariot drawn by snow white
horses, Madhava and Arjuna blew their respective conches."

The King said:	"Whose chariot are they seated on?  What are the names of
their conches?"

Sanjaya:	"Oh King!  The chariot belongs to Arjuna.  It was given to him
by Agni Bhagavan.  Madhava blew the conch called Panchajanya.  Arjuna
blew the conch called Devadatta.  It was so named because it was given
to him by the devas."

Dhritarashtra:	"Sanjaya!  What conches did the captains of various units
within the army blow?"

Sanjaya:	"Oh King!  Bhima blew the conch called Paundram.  This conch
can shatter the composure of those who hear its sound.  Yuddhishthira
blew the conch called Anantavijayam.  Nakula blew the conch called
Sughosham and Sahadeva blew a conch called Manipushpakam."

The King:	"Sanjaya!  Why did you called the eldest Pandava by the name
Yuddhishthira instead of the name Dharman as he is normally known?"

Sanjaya.	"Oh King!  I referred to him as Yuddhishthira in order to bring
out the fact that he is looking upon this war as a necessity to fulfil
his vow."  (yuddhi-drDDha = yudhishThIra)

Dhritaraashtra:	"Sanjaya!  You mentioned that the Kauravas blew their
conches in unison.  How did the Pandavas blow their conches?  What was
its effect?

Sanjaya:	"Oh King!  Each of the bold Pandavas and their associates blew
their conches separately in order to display their enthusiasm and
strength, unlike your children who sounded their conches in unison, in
order to hide their self perceived weaknesses.  The sound of Madhava's
Panchajanya and other conches rent the earth and sky.  The sound of
these conches wreaked havoc with the morale of Duryodhana and his men.
"We are finished even at this stage.", they thought."

Dhritaraashtra:	"Sanjaya!  Being influenced by the land of
righteousness, didn't anybody come forward to stop the war?  To this
question you have not yet given me an answer."

Sanjaya:	"Oh King!  Just as a divya kshetra (holy land) multiplies the
effect of pious activities manifold, it similarly multiplies the effect
of impious activities.  What are the chances of the evil minded
Duryodhana heeding wise counsel at this stage? (Practically none!).  The
supreme among the followers of Dharma, Arjuna overflowed with compassion
and sympathy towards his enemies when he foresaw the effects of the war.
 He declared - I do not want war!"

Dhritaraashtra who was finding it hard to contain his excitement probed
Sanjaya further.  "Arjuna has turned away from the battle?  What reasons
did he give for that?  What happened afterwards?  Please give me the
full details.  Leave out nothing."

Sanjaya:	"Oh King!  At the moment when the two armies were ready to do
battle, Arjuna told Vaasudeva.  "Oh Achyuta!  One who never lets one who
has taken shelter with you slip away from your firm grasp of protection!
 Please take my chariot to a spot in between the two armies from where I
can get a clear view of warriors on both sides.  Please park the chariot
there for as long as it is necessary for me to carefully inspect both
armies." - ordered Arjuna."

The King:	"Sanjaya!  Did Vaasudeva not get angry with Arjuna for having
spoken like that?  He would have said - "Just because out of supreme
compassion, I agreed to become your charioteer, it does not mean that
you can order me around.  Go here, go there - stop for as long as it is
necessary!  I am no longer ready to be your charioteer.    Go find
somebody else.  Did He not say that?  Tell me exactly what happened."

Sanjaya:	"Oh King!  I thought that because of your mother's fault, you
were physically blind.  It now appears that because of misplaced
attachment towards your evil children, your spiritual vision has been
blinded as well.  Otherwise, such negative thoughts will not cross your
mind.  Oh King!  Your expectations have been belied.  Bhagavan,
immediately upon receiving the word from Arjuna, stationed the chariot
between the two armies.  "Arjuna!  Take a close look at the warriors on
both sides.  Whenever you are ready to take position again, just let me
know."  Is Arjuna not a part of Krishna's body that deserves Krishna's
total protection?  Bhishma and the others' hearts melted upon witnessing
this sight and they rained tears (upon seeing the combined gunas of
Sowlabhyam, vaatsalyam etc of Sri Krishna, who was taking orders from an
insignificant mortal, despite being the Lord of all)."

Dhritaraashtra:	" Oh you embodiment of wisdom!  What did Arjuna say upon
seeing the warriors on both sides?"

Sanjaya:	"Oh descendent of Bharata!  Arjuna carefully inspected both
armies.  He saw people who were like a father to him, grandfather,
uncles, fathers-in-law, brothers-in-law, sons, grandsons, friends,
Acharya - practically every relative, some on this side and some on the
other, eager to battle one another.  Upon seeing them, Arjuna felt
extreme, compassion not understanding his own position and duties.  This
beast called compassion took total control over Arjuna's senses and made
him dance like a puppet, to its tunes."

King:	"Sanjaya!  What did Arjuna's compassion make him do?"

Sanjaya:	"Oh Kurava!  Arjuna began pleading with Bhagavan on behalf of
his enemies. - "Vaasudeva! Seeing all my relatives assembled in the
battlefield, my whole body totters.  My mouth is parched.  My body
trembles and my hair stands up on one end.  My bow the famed Gaandiva
slips from my hands and I am barely able to stand.  Wave after wave of
unpleasant thoughts surge up the walls of my mind.  I see evil omens
foreboding the ripening of the sins of our opponents.  I do not see any
gains for us by killing our kith and kin in this war", thus concluded
Vijaya (Arjuna).

Bhagavaan asked a probing question:	"Arjuna!  If you do not fight this
war, you will not win."

Arjuna:	"Vaasudeva! I do not seek victory in battle."

Sri Bhagavaan:	"Paartha!  You will lose the title 'Vijaya' if you do not
return victorious from this battlefield."

Arjuna:	"Kanna(Tamil equivalent of Kanhiyaa in Hindi)!  I do not seek
name, fame and the like."

Sri Bhagavaan:	"Paandava!  You will not win back your kingdom, if you
get defeated."

Arjuna:	"Maadhava!  I have no interest in winning back the kingdom."

Sri Bhagavaan:	"Kaunteya!  If you do not win back your kingdom, you will
not be able to enjoy the pleasures of this world."

Arjuna:	"Krishna!  I do not seek any of the pleasures of this world."

Maadhava:	"Arjuna!  Without having the necessities of life, one cannot
sustain life."

Arjuna:	"Madhusoodhana!  I have no interest in even staying alive."

Sri Bhagavaan:	"Oh Friend!  You have one thing in your mind, but your
speech reflects something quite different.  How do you expect Me to
conclude that everything you are saying is the truth?"

Arjuna:	"Govindaa!  You dwell in my mind.  Are you not aware of all the
thoughts going through my mind?  (Go means senses.  Bhagavaan who
resides in one of the senses called the mind, is called Govindaa.)

Sri Bhagavaan:	"Kaunteya!  Even if you do not fight the war, your
enemies will kill you."

Arjuna:	"Kanna!  Even if they were to attempt to take my life, I do not
wish to kill them in self defense.  Even if I were to become master of
all the three worlds by killing them, I will not commit that act.  What
is the use of material pleasures that are tainted by the blood of our
relatives?  (In other words, I will always remember that everything I am
enjoying, has been obtained by murdering my relatives.)

Sri Bhagavaan:	"You fool!  What can be a greater source of joy for
Kshatriyas like us, than to give a fitting reply to those who have
tormented us in innumerable ways till now."  (Here Sri Krishna indicates
that the torment of the Paandavas was no different from tormenting Him

Arjuna:	"Parandhaama!  On the contrary, not only will I get no joy out
of killing merciless murderous relatives of mine.  I will be incurring
sin as well."

Sri Bhagavaan:	"Arjuna!  Who are the merciless killers?"

Arjuna:	"Parampurusha!  One who sets fire (to people or property), one
who administers poison, one who always carries arms, one who steals
land, money, or attempts to rape another's wife, all these people are
merciless killers."

Sri Bhagavaan:	"Arjuna; out of all the evil qualities mentioned by you,
if a man possesses even on of these, he is a merciless killer.  If you
see him, kill him without any question.  Manu says in the Manu smriti,
that no sin occurs by killing such a person.  Duryodhana alone has all
the six evil qualities mentioned by you.  How can you then say, that by
killing him, you will incur sin?"

Arjuna!	"Vaasudeva!  It is my considered opinion that Manu's words do
not apply to relatives and Acharyas.  It is my principled stand, that in
whatever way an Acharya or people in similar positions may behave, a
disciple has no right to punish them."

Vaasudeva declared:	"Paartha!  It is your opinion that Acharyas and
relatives should not be killed.  But Duryodhana and company do not seem
to share this opinion.  Are all of you not his relatives?  They do not
seem to have any qualms about either killing you, or grabbing your
rightful share of the kingdom or having any interest in preventing the
war.  Only you seem to look upon them as your relatives!"

Arjuna:	"Maadhava!  The Kauravas have acted hastily, because they have
lost their power of discrimination between right and wrong, as a result
of greed for power.  They do not foresee the sins that will accrue to
them as a result of the destruction of the race and the betrayal of
friends.  They are eager to commit any sins for the sake of some
immediate gain.  They have absolutely no notion of the enormity of
suffering that is to come upon them in the future for the sins they are
about to commit now.  Just because they are about to engage in acts of
self destruction, due to loss of discriminations, should the likes of us
who have not lost our discrimination, jump off the same cliff?"

Sri Bhagavaan explained:	"Oh Wise One (sarcastically)!  You have claimed
to have the power of discrimination (between right and wrong).  Can you
elucidate that a little more?"

Arjuna:	"Vaasudeva!  If the elders in the family are destroyed, the
customs and traditions based on the Vedas that set us apart from
uncivilized tribes (kuladharma), will be given up.  If these customs and
traditions are given up, wanton chaos and genocide will take place.
This will cause the corruption of womenfolk.  If this corruption takes
place, then mixing up of castes will occur.  If this happens then both
the parties causing this mix-up and the victims will end up in hell.  If
there are no worthy people to do karmas like tarpannam, sraadham etc,
then the ancestors will suffer as they will not be fed in their lands.
Kanna!  Because of greed, I was about to commit a great sin!  The
blessings of righteous elders and ancestors has given me timely
intelligence to prevent this calamity.  I will not bear arms.  Even if
they attack me, I will not respond.  Who can be more blessed than I, who
gets killed unarmed?" - said the most righteous Arjuna.

Dhritaraashtra:	"Sanjaya!  I think it is fear that is making Arjuna talk
like this.  After all, it was only after carefully inspecting forces on
both sides, has he started talking like this."

Sanjaya:	"Oh King!  Arjuna is not a coward like your son.  After having
the strength of Vaasudeva in his chariot and the total blessings of
Anjaneya (who occupied the flag on the chariot), will he have any fear
about facing any opposition?  All his worries are about the welfare of
your associates."

Dhritaraashtra:	"It does not matter which one of us is right.  If the
war can be called off, that would be my sole objective.  What happened
next?  Give me all the details."

Sanjaya:	"Oh best of kings!  Arjuna's mind is perplexed with fear and
anxiety.  He threw down his bows and arrows, which are the essential
ingredients for the sacrifice (yaaga) of war.  He moved out of the
position he should occupy as a warrior, in the chariot.  He sat down in
the middle of the chariot.  Since he did not believe that he will be
have sufficient control over his limbs as long as they were bearing
arms, he threw them down.  Since he suspected that Sri Krishna will
persuade him to change his mind as long as he was seated in the
warrior's seat, he moved to another location."

Thus ends the essence of the first chapter.

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