|You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : May 1998|
From: Bharadwaj, Jaganath (jbb0_at_nreca.org)
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 question." 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 directly). 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. If you found this posting useful, and would like to submit a dakshina to the Acharyas that made this possible, then please send your tax deductible contribution to P O Box 120, Pomona New York - 10994, or visit http://dileepan.busi.utc.edu/ahboard.html to make a monthly contribution towards construction of Sri Ranganatha Temple or visit. http://www.geocities.com/~ahobilam/ranga.html for other sponsorship schemes. H.H. Srimad Mukkur Azhagiya Singar has said, "If for the presentation of just broken rice, Sri Krishna could shower such riches on Kuchela (SudAma), then just imagine what He would give if we cook Mysore Paaku and other tasty dishes for Him." We can only imagine the blessings in store for those taking part in this kainkaryam in whatever way possible. adiyen jaganath.