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The original Sanskrit verses and
(word for word translated) of the
Mahābhārata, Bhīshma Parva ch. 23-40.

with comments taken from the writings of



 

 

 

 

'And where there is Yudhishthhira,
the son of the ruler of religion,
Bhīma with his mighty club, Arjuna carrying his Gāndiva and
our well-wisher Lord Krishna,
the effect of time is a reversal.' - 
S.B 1:9-15

 

1 2a 2b 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18a 18b

 

Chapter 1
The Yoga of Dejection
'On the confrontation with the necessity to fight'
'Arjuna Vishādha Yoga'  

 

     "The division of the Bhagavad Gītā into various chapters is only meant to suit our convenience. The entire text has an inseparable and indivisible organic unity. All the chapters are interdependent. The human body consists of various limbs and organs, but they cannot have an independent and isolated existence. In the same way, the Omnipresent Divine Reality of the Paramātmā constitutes the "central theme of all the chapters of the Gītā and interconnects them." - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, p. 122

     "You may ask whether one would not feel sad when the bodies with which one had moved and lived for years go out of sight. But for how many have you to lament, in case it is proper so to grieve! Have you thought of that? Joy and grief are as day and night. They have to be put up with, gone through. If you refuse, they won't stop happening; if you desire, they won't start happening! They are both related to the physical, the material body; they do not affect the spirit, the soul. The moment you escape from these two, that moment you are liberated, you have moksha."

     "
The first discourse, which teaches these truths, is named Arjuna Vishada Yoga, the despondency of Arjuna. That is the very foundation of the edifice that is the Bhagavad Gītā. When the foundation is strong, the edifice too is lasting. The Gītā, built on that foundation 5000 years ago, is unshaken and unshakeable. From this you can infer how strong is the foundation on which it rests and how wise is the person who laid it."

     "You refer to it as "despondency"! But that "despondency" was very beneficial; it was no ordinary "want of courage", for it tested Arjuna's sincerity and steadfastness; it induced him to take unquestioning refuge in the Lord. That is why it is dignified by the name Yoga. The Gītā, which begins with the vishada yoga, ends with the sanyasa yoga; vishada is the foundation and sanyasa the superstructure. Vishada is the seed and sanyasa the fruit.
" - Gītā Vahini, p. 5

 

" Listen to this chapter sung!  "
[slokas 1 to 10, 21 & 22, 26 to 32, 44 to 46]

" Listen to this spoken chapter in Audio "

 

Verse 1.

dhritarāshthra uvāca
dharma-kshetre kuru-kshetre
samavetāh yuyutsavah
māmakāh pāndavāś caiva
kim akurvata sa˝jaya
 

     The Bhagavad Gītā contains the sacred lore of the spirit. Krishna gave unto mankind, through Arjuna, the core of the Gītā message on the battlefield at 10:30 a.m. on the Karthika Bahula Amasya day. This was the day on which the great Mahābhārata war was commenced. Ten days later, when Bhīshma fell in battle, Sa˝jaya was informing Dhritarāshthra of the proceedings on the battlefield. Dhritarāshthra asked Sa˝jaya:

dharma-kshetre kuru-kshetre samavetāh yuyutsavah
māmakāh pāndavāś caiva kim akurvata sa˝jaya

"Gathered on the holy plain of Kurukshetra, o Sa˝jaya,
what did my sons and the sons of Pāndu do?"

     This was on the Margasira Suddha Ekadasi day. Some consider this day as the Gītājayanti or the day on which Krishna vouchsafed the message of the Gītā to Arjuna. But this was the day on which Sa˝jaya narrated the story of the battle to Dhritarāshthra. The Gītā was actually given by Krishna to Arjuna on the Karthika Bahula Amasya day. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, pp. 158-9

     
The word dharma-kshetre is the first word in the Gītā. In the very first verse of that Song Celestial, the Kurukshetra (Field of Action), on which māmakāh (my people, as the blind Dhritarāshthra designated them, through fond affection and egoistic delusion) - that is to say, people motivated by greed and passion - and pāndavāh (the other people, the good and the righteous, the sons of the fair one, the progeny of the pure) is spoken of as already transmuted into dharma-kshetre (field of righteousness)! For victory is always for righteousness and not for greed and passion, which blind man. For the Lord is on their side; He is the charioteer, chosen as such and willing to serve as such. The word dharma-kshetre is a reminder, a warning, a lesson, an inspiration, a light. You must accept that name in your hearts - for there, too, the forces of righteousness and covetousness are locked in combat and the forces of righteousness are helped by the Lord to succeed. - Sathya Sai Speaks VI, p. 191

     It is all in the Lord's plan. Consider, for example, how long before the Gītā was spoken, the Lord had gotten ready a Sa˝jaya, who could see and hear whatever was done or spoken at a distance; His mission was to preserve the Gītā for humanity. - Sathya Sai Speaks II, p. 168

Verse 2.

sa˝jaya uvāca
drishthvā tu pāndavānīkam
vyūdham duryodhanas tadā
ācāryam upasangamya
rājā vacanam abravīt

Verse 3.

paśyaitām pāndu-putrānām
ācārya mahatām camūm
vyūdhām drupada-putrena
tava śishyena dhīmatā

Verse 4.

atra śūrā maheshvāsā
bhīmārjuna-samā yudhi
yuyudhāno virāthaś ca
drupadaś ca mahā-rathah

Verse 5.

dhrishthaketuś cekitānah
kāśirājaś ca vīryavān
purujit kuntibhojaś ca
śaibyaś ca nara-pungavah

Verse 6.

yudhāmanyuś ca vikrānta
uttamaujāś ca vīryavān
saubhadro draupadeyāś ca
sarva eva mahā-rathāh

Verse 7.

asmākam tu viśishthā ye
tān nibodha dvijottama
nāyakā mama sainyasya
samj˝ārtham tān bravīmi te

Verse 8.

bhavān bhīshmaś ca karnaś ca
kripaś ca samiti˝jayah
aśvatthāmā vikarnaś ca
saumadattis tathaiva ca

Verse 9.

anye ca bahavah śūrā
mad-arthe tyakta-jīvitāh
nānā-śastra-praharanāh
sarve yuddha-viśāradāh

Verse 10.

aparyāptam tad asmākam
balam bhīshmābhirakshitam
paryāptam tv idam eteshām
balam bhīmābhirakshitam

     The Pāndavas made up for their inferior military strength by faith in God's omnipotence and their own impotence! And, so, God Himself led them into the field and won for them victory from the jaws of defeat! - Sathya Sai Speaks VII, p. 41

Verse 11.

ayaneshu ca sarveshu
yathā-bhāgam avasthitāh
bhīshmam evābhirakshantu
bhavantah sarva eva hi

Verse 12.

tasya sa˝janayan harsham
kuru-vriddhah pitāmahah
simha-nādam vinadyoccaih
śankham dadhmau pratāpavān

Verse 13.

tatah śankhāś ca bheryaś ca
panavānaka-gomukhāh
sahasaivābhyahanyanta
sa śabdas tumulo 'bhavat

     The agonizing years of torment, hope, and disillusion were over; the moment of decision had come, though it was sought now, by the sharp edge of the sword and not the soft words of Lord Krishna. The armies gathered by the Kauravas from their kingdom and from their allies were standing face to face with the forces of their Pāndava cousins. Cavalry, chariotry, elephantry and infantry, eager to start the destruction of the enemy, the chief actors all accoutered and equipped for the fray! Conches were blown; trumpets rent the sky with their blare. The air was tense with hope, fear, anxiety and anger. Blood in a million bodies became redder and warmer; hearts pounded quicker; arms grasped weapons in deadly grip. - Sathya Sai Speaks IX, p. 86

Verse 14.

tatah śvetair hayair yukte
mahati syandane sthitau
mādhavah pāndavaś caiva
divyau śankhau pradadhmatuh

     Krishna and Arjuna also blew their conches on the other side. The great roar of battle proceeding from the soldiers on the side of the Pāndavas rent the skies. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, p. 17

Verse 15.

pā˝cajanyam hrishīkeśo
devadattam dhana˝jayah
paundram dadhmau mahā-śankham
bhīma-karmā vrikodarah

Verse 16-17-18.

anantavijayam rājā
kuntī-putro yudhishthhirah
nakulah sahadevaś ca
sughosha-manipushpakau

kāśyaś ca parameshv-āsah
śikhandī ca mahā-rathah
dhrishthadyumno virāthaś ca
sātyakiś cāparājitah

drupado draupadeyāś ca
sarvaśah prithivī-pate
saubhadraś ca mahā-bāhuh
śankhān dadhmuh prithak prithak

Verse 19.

sa ghosho dhārtarāshthrānām
hridayāni vyadārayat
nabhaś ca prithivīm caiva
tumulo 'bhyanunādayan

     The Kauravas represent the demonic nature; the Pāndavas represent the divine. They are asat, these are sat; one is evil, the other is good. And there has ever been a struggle between the two. In this conflict between opposing forces, Krishna (the self, the ātmā) is ever on the side of dharma - the reality that sustains, not the delusion that undermines. - Gītā Vahini, p. 3

 

Verse 20.

atha vyavasthitān drishthvā
dhārtarāshthrān kapi-dhvajah
pravritte śastra-sampāte
dhanur udyamya pāndavah
hrishīkeśam tadā vākyam
idam āha mahī-pate

Verse 21-22.

arjuna uvāca
senayor ubhayor madhye
ratham sthāpaya me 'cyuta
yāvad etān nirākshe 'ham
yod dhu-kāmān avasthitān

kair mayā saha yoddhavyam
asmin rana-samudyame

Verse 23.

yotsyamānān avekshe 'ham
ya ete 'tra samāgatah
dhārtarāshthrasya durbuddher
yuddhe priya-cikārshavah

Verse 24.

sa˝jaya uvāca
evam ukto hrishīkeśo
gudākeśena bhārata
senayor ubhayor madhye
sthāpayitvā rathottamam

     Responding to Arjuna's request, Krishna stationed his chariot in the middle of the two armies. The chariot appeared so terrifying to the Kaurava soldiers that they felt as if the war horses galloped on their hearts. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, p. 18

    
On the one hand, the roaring battle sounds from the conches were being heard. The horses were neighing and the elephants were trumpeting loudly. The flags symbolizing the chariots of each army were being flown. The weapons of each army were shining brightly. In this situation, as if coming from nowhere, a chariot came and stood in the center of the battle. It appeared that in that chariot, there was one individual who was very despondent and discouraged. There was another person who was giving him courage and patting him on the back. These two were Arjuna and Krishna, the best of men and the best of gods, respectively. These two represented the deserving human of Arjuna and the supreme Avatār of Krishna. We should notice here that the avatār has descended from his high pedestal to the level of the best of human beings who deserved to be taught, and the avatār was teaching and giving the necessary encouragement to the human beings. - Summer Roses on the Blue Mountains 1976, p. 41

Verse 25.

bhīshma-drona-pramukhatah
sarveshām ca mahī-kshitām
uvāca pārtha paśyaitān
samavetān kurūn iti

     The two armies of the Kauravas and Pāndavas were standing on either side. On the side of the Pāndavas, there were seven units of armies. On the side of the Kauravas, there were eleven units of armies. It is not as if Arjuna was ignorant of the number of units on the Kaurava side and the number of units on the Pāndava side. Knowing this fully well, Arjuna requested Krishna to take his chariot and put it right in the middle of the two armies. When Krishna asked him the reason for this behavior, he replied that he wanted to determine with whom he should really fight if he should fight at all. When we examine this in the context in which he made this statement, we realize that he made this statement after he had gone with the intention of fighting. Krishna prepared the chariot and Arjuna prepared all his weapons, including the Gāndiva, and they were all set for the battle. After reaching the battlefield why did he change his mind? Was it his weakness or did he become despondent? He began asking the question as to who will benefit from the battle and who will get prosperity from the battle. He realized that the very people for whose sake he was fighting the battle will probably be killed, so he felt that the battle had no purpose. The kings want to rule over the people and build up the prosperity of the people and the kingdom, and if the people are going to be killed in a battle where is the question of prosperity and a kingdom? After the entire family and group of people are wiped out, for whose sake was he going to establish a kingdom and rule over it? Some people have described this moha or attachment to his kith and kin, and they named the chapter as vishada yoga. This cannot be described as a period of internal controversy or discussion within himself. He has entered this argument within himself to decide between truth and untruth, between propriety and impropriety. He discussed within himself the aspect that the Kauravas have been ruling unjustly and the fact that they have been having untruth and impropriety on their side and did not himself want to undertake the same impropriety and untruth. There were certain distinctive features and distinctive qualities on the side of the Pāndavas and therefore God was also on their side. Here it becomes clear to us that Krishna was on the side of the Pāndavas because of their good qualities. If we look at this situation in a somewhat superficial manner, then we will see that because Arjuna was thrown into this despondent and confusing situation, an opportunity had arisen for Krishna to preach the sacred text of Bhagavad Gītā. If Arjuna did not fall into an introspective and despondent situation like this, Krishna would not have had an opportunity to preach the sacred Bhagavad Gītā. Just as we know that pleasure is an interval between two pains, so also in the interval between two situations, sometimes good comes about. Krishna here plays the part of a typical human being and, by making Arjuna behave as a typical human being, Krishna created a situation whereby the Gītā could be expounded. Man's life is transient. It is momentary, and in this context Arjuna had a chance to recognize the permanent truth. - Summer Roses on the Blue Mountains 1976, pp. 80-1

Verse 26.

tatrāpaśyat sthitān pārthah
pitrin atha pitāmahān
ācāryān mātulān bhrātrin
putrān pautrān sakhīms tathā
śvaśurān suhridaś caiva
nayor ubhayor api

Verse 27.

tān samīkshya sa kaunteyah
sarvān bandhūn avasthitān
kripayā parayāvishtho
vishīdann idam abravīt

Verse 28.

arjuna uvāca
drishthvemam sva-janam krishna
yuyutsum samupasthitam
sīdanti mama gātrāni
mukham ca pariśushyati

Verse 29.

vepathuś ca śarīre me
roma-harshaś ca jāyate
gāndīvam sramsate hastāt
tvak caiva paridahyate

     Beholding his grandfather Bhīshma, his guru Dronāchārya, and his friends and relations, and thinking of the bonds of affection between him and the people on the other side of the battlefield, Arjuna felt despondent. His head reeled, his limbs trembled, and the Gāndiva slipped from his hand. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, p. 17

     Arjuna entered the battlefield, fully equipped and frantically determined to destroy his enemies. But, when he stood between the serried ranks in the chariot driven by Lord Krishna, he saw "my teachers", "my grandfather", "my kinsmen", "my cousins" and he was moved so much by this sense of I and mine that he discarded the bow and desired to return, poor and beaten. - Sathya Sai Speaks VII, p. 293

Verse 30.  Verse 31.

na ca śaknomy avasthātum
bhramatīva ca me manah
nimittāni ca paśyāmi
viparītāni keśava

na ca śreyo 'nupaśyāmi
hatvā sva-janam āhave
na kānkshe vijayam krishna
na ca rājyam sukhāni ca


     "0 Krishna!" Arjuna cried, "I am forced to wage this terrible war against friends and relations with whom I should have been living in happiness and harmony. My mind rebels against this. The cause for this is neither the fear of death nor the need to kill my kinsmen." - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, p. 17

Verse 32-35.

kim no rājyena govinda
kim bhogair jīvitena vā
yeshām arthe kānkshitam no
rājyam bhogāh sukhāni ca

ta ime 'vasthitā yuddhe
prānāms tyaktvā dhanāni ca
ācāryāh pitarah putrās
tathaiva ca pitāmahāh

mātulāh śvaśurāh pautrāh
śyālāh sambandhinas tathā
etān na hantum icchāmi
ghnato 'pi madhusūdana

api trailokya-rājyasya
hetoh kim nu mahī-krite
nihatya dhārtarāshthrān nah
kā prītih syāj janārdana

    Overcome by sorrow and delusion, Arjuna turns from war and keeps aside his weapons; he is dejected in his chariot, halted between the opposing forces; he turns this way and that, puzzled and perturbed; he surveys the faces of his kith and kin; he is overcome by pity. - Gītā Vahini, p. 10

Verse 36.

pāpam evāśrayed asmān
hatvaitān ātatāyinah
tasmān nārhā vayam hantum
dhārtarāshthrān svabāndhavān
sva-janam hi katham hatvā
sukhinah syāma mādhava

     Many people argue and say that God could do anything, and they say that God should have avoided the war by his own sankalpa. Here we must notice that Krishna was not willing to use his own divine strength for the benefit of mankind directly. He was living as human beings do and he wanted to use the normal human methods by which to control various actions. - Summer Roses on the Blue Mountains 1976, pp. 48-9

Verse 37-38.

yady apy ete na paśyanti
lobhopahata-cetasah
kula-kshaya-kritam dosham
mitra-drohe ca pātakam

katham na j˝eyam asmābhih
pāpād asmān nivartitum
kula-kshaya-kritam dosham
prapaśyadbhir janārdana

Verse 39.

kula-kshaye pranaśyanti
kula-dharmāh sanātanāh
dharme nashthe kulam kritsnam
adharmo 'bhibhavaty uta

     ...the words of God always represent truth, and whatever He does is an act of dharma. His words constitute and His actions constitute dharma. There is nothing in the world that He wants or that He has to do. All actions of His are undertaken for the good of the people. Our duty is to do what He asks us to do without question. We have no right or the capacity to question or enquire into the actions of the Lord ... Whatever He does, it is for our good. In the eyes of God, there is no difference between one and another. In this context, He gets neither angry nor pleased. The Pāndavas did not fight the battle, nor did they plan the battle. Victory cannot be ascribed to them. Krishna is the one who made them fight and achieve victory. It is very difficult to understand His līlās. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1978, p. 37

Verse 40.

adharmābhibhavāt krishna
pradushyanti kula-striyah
strīshu dushthāsu vārshneya
jāyate varna-sankarah

     The Srutis (scriptures) have declared that the destruction wrought by war may lead women away from the path of virtue and bring social disorder. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, pp. 17-8

Verse 41.

sankaro narakāyaiva
kula-ghnānām kulasya ca
patanti pitaro hy eshām
lupta-pindodaka-kriyāh

     It would be better to live on alms than to fight for a kingdom and be responsible for this great sin and repent later ... Arjuna also was telling Krishna that it is better to beg for food and live than to achieve victory by killing all those who are near and dear. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, p. 18

Verse 42.

doshair etaih kula-ghnānām
varna-sankara-kārakaih
utsādyante jāti-dharmāh
kula-dharmāś ca sāśvatāh

Verse 43.

utsanna-kula-dharmānām
manushyānām janārdana
narake niyatam vāso
bhavatīty anuśuśruma

     Dharma is the moral code, the experience of sages, the controlling discipline that checks the mind and the senses. There are many such brakes operating on man: vyakthi-dharma (controls affecting the individual as such), sahaja-dharma (controls affecting the nature of man, as man), āśrama-dharma (controls affecting the stage of life, like student, householder, ascetic), varna-dharma (controls pertaining to the fulfillment of the duties cast upon man as a limb of the community), etc. All these brakes are complementary, they do not cause confusion, they help progress, each in its own way. Krishna reminded Arjuna of his varna-dharma as a kshatriya, and also of his sahaja-dharma as a jīvi (an instrument in the hands of the Lord). Besides these, there is also the visesha-dharma (obligations on special occasions or when faced with special situations). You must therefore walk warily towards the goal. - Sathya Sai Speaks IV, p. 292

Verse 44.

aho bata mahat pāpam
kartum vyavasitā vayam
yad rājya-sukha-lobhena
hantum sva-janam udyatāh

Verse 45.

yadi mām apratīkāram
aśastram śastra-pānayah
dhārtarāshthrā rane hanyus
tan me kshemataram bhavet

Verse 46.

sa˝jaya uvāca
evam uktvārjunah sankhye
rathopastha upāviśat
visrijya sa-śaram cāpam
śoka-samvigna-mānasah

     Thus the great hero Arjuna entered into a state of despair. His dejection proceeded from his concern for the preservation of dharma and his anxiety to strictly obey God's command. Dharma, which is concerned with the welfare of all, should override the dictates of mamakara (attachment), which confines itself to the interests of one's kith and kin. That dharma which relates to societal well-being should be held higher than man's duty to a few and therefore should not be sacrificed for the latter. The attachment one has for one's relations may be compared to the clouds that suddenly gather in the sky and disappear in no time. Dharma, however, is that which sustains this earth. Thus, Arjuna felt dejected out of his anxiety to protect dharma and adhere to God's injunction as indicated in the srutis. Had Arjuna merely felt sorry for his kinsmen, it might have been only vishada or dejection; but since he felt agonized for the sake of the protection of dharma and obeying the word of God, his mental state is described as vishada yoga or the yoga of righteous despair. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, p. 18

 

 

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