You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : September 1998

Bhagavad Gita -- Sri Pichumani Iyyengar (Triplicane)

From: Kazhiyur Manar Narayanan (
Date: Fri Sep 11 1998 - 09:19:59 PDT


Sri Pichumani Iyyengar is retired professor of English, 
Vaishnav College, Madras.  He is a learned scholar in 
Vedanta, particularly in the Sri Vaishnava sampradAya.
He is now a resident of Triplicane, Madras.

I asked him to write on his favorite topic, Bhagavad Gita,
for the Bhakti list.

During our discussions he constantly laments that the views of
advaitins in Gita are much talked about in various platforms like
business meetings, so-called Gita awareness camps conducted by modern
day schools, and Gita discourses mostly aimed at the business society
where real essence of Gita is not propagated.


Email(for bhakti group)


The Yoga of Arjuna

Srimad Bhagavad Gita begins in the 25th chapter of Bhishma parva of
Sri Vyasa Bharatam.  The 21st chapter of the same parva presents Sri
Dharmaputra with grave doubts about victory in the war. On the other
hand Sri Arjuna, a picture of confidence, assures the brother that
victory could not but be a certainty with the Lord of all creation for
his charioteer.

	In the 23rd chapter enjoined by the Lord he readily gets down
and prays to Sri Devi Durga for victory.  The prayer is readily

	The 24th chapter is all too brief, not even ten slokas for a
	There could hardly be a better background in contrast than
these two chapters to the volte-face that descends on the noble
Pandava minutes after sure indications of his determination to fight
through to victory.

	The Lord was born in a dungeon but there was peace at the
place and beyond. The signs were auspicious. So were they when Sri
Arjuna was born. A mahASAstra was born years after, on a chariot from
a dialogue between the divine twins. The music of their births had
been evident throughout in the dialogue.

	Sriman Narayana must have beckoned His man with a very big 'M'
to accompany him as Sri Arjuna when he came into the world as Lord
Krishna.  Swami Vedanta Desika, following in the footsteps of Sri
Bhagavad Ramanuja, says in his mahakavya yAdavAbhyudayam in the 21st
sloka of the 23rd sarga, that marvellous compendium of Sri
Mahabharatam, that Sriman Narayana comes into the world at once as
Lord Krishna and Sri Arjuna -- an incomparable one in an equally
incomparable two.

	A particular type of communion with the Lord resulting from
the benediction conferred on Sri Arjuna in many wombs must have led
him on to his noble grief on the eve of the great war. Hence this
grief is also yoga. His is the yoga of a born surrenderer surrendering
instinctively to the Lord at birth itself all that he is endowed with
and loving Him with all his being. The Lord too had reciprocated in
abundance Sri Arjuna's love.

	It was a task even for the Lord to turn this prapanna into an
karmayogin. He had to enjoin him to come down a few steps from his
lofty situation of surrender.

	When it hots up for the devotees of the Lord as it did for Sri
Arjuna on the eve of the war the only way out is to surrender to
him. The Stotra Ratnam of Sri Yamuna Muni, a saranagati work for its
best part, and Sri Ramanuja Muni's Saranagati gadyam dedicated to Lord
Sri Ranganatha and Sri Ranganayaki on a Panguniuttaram evening. (Like
the Lord's scripture the gadya is a dialogue between the Lord and a
priyAtma of his, quoting extensively from Gita), are perhaps the best
illustrations of the yoga of Arjuna's grief.

	To attempt a summary of Sri Arjuna's grief: "Lord, all
creation is yours and by Your infinite love for us You are ours. We
could get a whole universe out of that love. Then why this quarrel
with relations like Sri Bhishma and preceptors like Sri Drona over
a strip of land microscopically small compared to the dimensions of
Your love and all that results from it?

	"I admit that my state of mind out of kArpaNya dosha
(helplessness) is 'klaibyam'; I am already a prapanna. Now on this
field of battle where I am torn between deep compassion and a keen
sense of duty, give me 'panca-samskara' -- take me into Your presence
as Your disciple and teach me how to become a karma yogi."  Thus Sri
Arjuna's grief is that part of the mahayoga which includes karma,
jnana, bhakti-yogas as well. It is fit to be studied as carefully as
the mahASAstra from the Lord's lips.

	His blessings and yours for their strength, the studies
continue. The prayer is that they should for a long time. They are no
labour of love either; only the emoluments are different.

[to be continued]