Introduction followed by a brief analogical comparison between the different aspects of a person and various characters and representations in the Bhagavad Gita.
Dhrtarashtra the blind king and Pandu were brothers. Dhrtarashtra had a hundred sons called the Kauravas and a daughter Dushala from his wife Gandhari; and a son Yuyutsu from Gandhari’s maid Sughada. Pandu had three sons Yudhishtra, Arjuna and Bheema from his first wife Kunti, and twins Nakula and Sahadeva from his second wife Madri. Pandu was the king of the Kingdom of the Kurus.
However, Pandu died due to the effect of a curse he had received from a dying deer which he had shot with an arrow when he was in the forest hunting. Dhrtarashtra and others decided to crown Yudhishtra as the King. Duryodhana the eldest son of Dhrtarashtra hatched a plan to eliminate the Pandavas as well as their mother Kunti. He would have almost succeeded in his plan but for the tip-off given by Viduura who was the uncle of the Pandavas and the Kauravas. Duryodhana had convinced his father Dhrtarashtra to suggest to the Pandavas and their mother Kunti to visit a fair at Varanavat . Yudhishtra wondered why Dhrtarashtra did not ask his sons to go to the fair and therefore found something suspicious in the idea. That is when Vidura, the righteous uncle of the Kauravas, informed the Pandavas of Duroydhana’s sinister plan of killing them. Duryodhana had asked his architect friend Purochana to construct a house of lac in Varanavat. The
Sanskrit name for the house of lac is Laakshaagruham. Duryodhana’s plan was to burn the house when the Pandavas were sleeping. But as Yudhishtra already knew about the plan, he discussed with Vidura about it in order to protect him and his family from the murder attempt. They sent a person who was an expert in mining, to build a secret tunnel from the house of lac that would lead them into a nearby forest.
The night arrived and Purochana was going to execute the command of Duryodhana when Bheema, who knew of the plan, locked Purochana in a room and all the Pandavas and their mother escaped through the tunnel. The house burned and people thought that the Pandavas had died in the fire.
They protected themselves by hiding in a village beyond the forest. Many things happened during the time they spent in hiding. Bheema married Hidimba and Arjuna married Draupadi. It was after Arjuna’s marriage with Draupadi, that Duryodhana and the others came to know that the Pandavas were alive. The grandsire Bheeshma asked Dhrtarashtra to invite the Pandavas and give them their share of the kingdom. After discussing with others, Dhrtarashtra gave the Pandavas a place called Khaandavprastha which Yudhishtra and his brothers accepted. They moved to their new kingdom and built a beautiful capital city called Indraprastha. They also had an amazing palace built, which was designed by Maya the architect of Vishwakarma. The Pandavas who were advised by Bhagavan Krishna, decided to conduct a Rajasuya Yagnya for the inauguration of the palace. They invited kings of many neighbouring kingdoms and also Duryodhana and his family. True to his nature, Duryodhana was overcome by envy and anger. He wanted to own that palace for which he would have to send the Pandavas away. He consulted his evil minded uncle Shakuni who was the brother of Gandhari. Shakuni gave Duryodhana a plan of inviting Yudhishthra for a game of dice. He asked Duryodhana to convince his father Dhrtarashtra to invite the Pandavas for a game of dice to be played in their court in Hastinapur where the Kauravas lived.
The Pandavas along with Draupadi arrived in Hastinapur. Uncle Shakuni went to visit the Pandavas. He spoke to Yudhishtra about the stakes for which Yudhishtra said that he would like to be fair as always. Shakuni who was notorious for his unmatched skills in gambling, told him to bravely accept whatever the outcome of the game was. He also added that if Yudhishtra wanted to quit, he could do so before the game started because once the game started, there would be no possibility of getting out. Yudhishtra felt that Shakuni was hurting his pride, so he said with a voice filled with pride that the Kauravas could call the stakes and he would bravely accept them. That was the greatest blunder that Yudhishtra committed. Duryodhana asked Yudhishtra if he agreed for the stakes to be called by himself while their uncle Shakuni rolled the dice. Yudhishtra agreed to Duryodhana’s condition.
Game after game and thanks to Shakuni’s deceit, the Kauravas won and Duryodhana kept calling the stakes. The Pandavas lost every game and therefore lost everything they had. Finally they were left with nothing except themselves and Draupadi. Duryodhana and Duhshasana humiliated Draupadi in front of
everyone and started disrobing her. Bhagavan Krishna heard Draupadi’s call for help and miraculously kept giving her saris so that Duhshasan could not succeed in disrobing her. Duryodhana then called Draupadi his maid and asked her to sit on his thigh. That is when Bheema, who was seething with anger, burst out with a loud cry. He vowed in public that one day he would drink the blood out of Duhshasana’s heart and break the thigh of Duryodhana.
All the while Dhrtarashtra the blind king couldn’t do much because he was actually blind and also because he was blind to whatever wrong deeds his sons committed. However when Draupadi screamed out in anger condemning all the Kshatriyas gathered there watching a woman’s honour being violated, Dritarashtra feared that any curse uttered by a chaste woman such as Draupadi, could bring down his entire family and destroy future generations to come. He therefore requested his son Duryodhana to give the Pandavas an alternative and release them. Duryodhana reluctantly agreed but said that he would release the Pandavas only if they were banished from the kingdom. He added that the Pandavas would be banished for thirteen years in which they should live the thirteenth year incognito. He also said that if their identity was revealed during the thirteenth year, they would have to begin another exile period of another thirteen years.
They faced a lot of hardships during the thirteen years but they handled all situations boldly and returned to Hastinapur after the exile period. The evil Duryodhana refused to part with even a small part of his kingdom. His brothers and even Karna told him that if he should go for war, they would support him. Yudhishtra tried to go the peaceful way and avoid war. He requested Bhagavan Krishna to broker peace. Duryodhana did not budge from his decision.
Krishna asked Yudhishtra to stay firm on the path of Dharma but not to give up his rights. The dilemma Krishna faced was to decide which side he would support because both the Pandavas as well as the Kauravas were equally dear to Him. Therefore when Arjuna and Duryodhana went to Him to seek His help, Krishna offered them a choice of either His entire army or Himself. When Krishna asked Arjuna what he wanted, he said that he wanted Krishna with him. Duryodhana got Krishna’s army and he went to his palace very happy and almost sure that he would be winning the war. Krishna asked Arjuna why he chose Him and not His army for which Arjuna said that he believed that Krishna’s guidance was more precious and valuable to him than His entire army. This pleased Krishna who always held Arjuna close to His heart.
The day of the war dawned and both the armies gathered at the battleground in Kurukshetra. Although the war was very challenging and difficult, the Pandavas did very well because of the Grace of Krishna’s counsel and presence on their side. Bhishma who fell on the tenth day, would have died. However, due to a boon he had received from his father, he could choose the day of his death. Bhishma lay bleeding on a bed of arrows as he decided to wait until the war was over and then die.
The situation at the battlefield of Kurukshetra was worrying the blind king Dhritarashtra very much but the fall of Bhishma shocked and shook him. He sent for Sanjaya who was blessed
with the power of clairvoyance called ‘Divyadrishti’ in Sanskrit. When Sanjaya arrived Dritarashtra asked him to use his special power and tell him all that happened and was happening at Kurukshetra. Sanjaya started narrating what happened just before the war began. He described the situation at the battlefield and the entire conversation between Krishna and Arjuna. The Divine Knowledge, that was imparted by Krishna Himself to Arjuna, could be known to Sanjaya and Dhritarashtra and is also available to all those who read the Srimad Bhagavad Gita.
Sanjaya begins by describing the scene that was set for the great Mahabharata war. The two armies of the Pandavas and of the Kauravas are lined up. Arjuna arrives on his golden chariot drawn by white horses. Krishna was the charioteer. Arjuna asks Krishna to position the chariot between the two armies so that he could take a good look at his opponents and see who all he had to fight. When Arjuna sees his cousins, teachers, uncles and friends on the other side, it saddens him and unsettles his mind. He is under severe stress as his mind is filled with various emotions which are causing his knees to tremble and make his mouth go dry. He puts his bow down and says that he cannot fight. Krishna begins his discourse by asking Arjuna where a brave warrior like him, got the unmanly quality of weakness in his mind from, and He starts counselling him. The remaining seventeen chapters of the Bhagavad Gita contain questions from Arjuna and answers with explanations from Krishna.
The Gita analogy:
The terms Karma and Dharma have several meanings. Karma generally means Action and Dharma can be translated as Right Action. The Bhagavad Gita begins with the verse:
|“Dharmakshetre Kurukshetre samavetaah yuyutsavaha
maamakaaha paandavaaschaiva kimakurvata Sanjayaa” (SBG 1:01)
|Dharmakshetre||in the sacred field|
|yuyutsavaha||eager to fight|
Paandavaas cha eva
|and the followers of the Pandavas|
|kim akurvata||What did they do?|
|Dharmakshetra||The sacred field is our body in which there is a constant fight between positive and negative forces.|
|Dhrtarashtra||One who holds on to his country. People hold on to their body by identifying themselves with it and being attached to it.
When the real Self, which is ignorant like Dhrtarashtra, marries the mind which chooses to be blind like Gandhari, the resulting offspring is ego which is difficult to fight just like Duryodhana, who was a tough opponent on the battlefield.
|‘Dharmakshetre Kurukushetre’||Kurukshetra the sacred place of right action.|
|Gandhari||The mind which can see but many times chooses not to see.
The couple, Dhritarashtra and Gandhari, produced a hundred evil sons. Similarly, a person who has a mind that does not cooperate, has a head full of over a hundred negative thoughts. The human mind is such that in spite of all the education a person has had, it drags them into unrighteous things leading them into trouble. Many people find it almost impossible to quit their harmful addictions simply because of the fact that they are not able to make up their mind. This is because the mind pretends to be blind to the harmful effects caused by the addiction.
What kind of people the children, whose parents turn a blind eye to all their actions and don’t care about their upbringing, will grow up into is anyone’s guess.
|Pandavas||The expression of good human virtues.|
|Yudhishtra||One who bravely faces challenges and is sincere and steady at all times.|
|Arjuna||A straightforward person who is fast and always straight like an arrow.|
|Bheema||One who is fearless and strong.|
|Nakula||One who is indiscriminate and considers all to be equal.|
|Sahadeva||One who is friendly to all.|
|Arjuna’s own people like his cousins, uncles, friends, etc||They are like the prejudices people have. They keep them close to their heart and find it difficult to give up any one of them.|
The Chariot analogy
|The path the chariot drives on||The physical and material world in which the body lives.|
|The horses||The five senses.|
|The reins||The Mind, which controls the senses.|
|Krishna who holds the reins and controls the horses||The intellect controls the mind and the senses.|
SBG 2:55 One who gives up all desires of the mind, O Arjuna, and when one has a purified mind and is in a pure state of the soul, he is called a man of steady consciousness.
SBG 2:56 He who is not agitated or disturbed despite the threefold miseries (anger, greed and lust), or is also not euphoric when he has comforts, and is free from attachment, fear and anger, is a sage with a steady mind.
Jai Shri Krishna.
*Special thanks to the owners of the images used on this post.