Bhagavad Gita with Commentaries of Shankara | Discourse 1

FIRST DISCOURSE.

THE DESPONDENCY OF ARJUNA.

Sanjaya narrates the course of the war.

Dhritarāshtra said:

1. What did Pāṇḍu’s sons and mine do when they assembled together on the sacred plain of Kurukṣettra eager for battle, O Saṁjaya?

Saṁjaya said:

2.  Having seen the army of the Pāṇḍavas drawn up in battle-array, prince Duryodhana then approached his teacher and spoke (these) words:

Duryodhana addresses Drona.

3. “O teacher, look at this grand army of the sons of Pāṇḍu, marshalled by thy talented pupil, the son of Drupada.

4. “Here are heroes, mighty archers, equal in battle to Bhīma and Arjuna,—Yuyudhāna, Virāta, and Drupada, the master of a great car (Mahāratha),

5. “Dhriṣṭaketu, Chekitāna, and the valiant king of Kāśī, Purujit and Kunti-Bhoja and that eminent man Saibya;

6. “The heroic Yudhāmanyu and the brave Uttamaujas; the son of Subhadra and the sons of Draupadī, all masters of great cars (Mahārathas).

7. “But know, O best of the twice-born, who are the most distinguished among us, the leaders of my army; these I name to thee by way of example.

8.  “Thyself and Bhīshma, and Karṇa, and also Kṛipa, the victor in war, Asvatthāman and Vikarṇa, and also Jayadratha, the son of Somadatta;

9. “And many other heroes who have given up their lives for my sake, fighting with various weapons, all well-skilled in battle.

10. “This army of ours protected by Bhīshma is inadequate, whereas that army of theirs which is under the protection of Bhīma is adequate.

11. “And therefore do ye all, occupying your respective positions in the several divisions of the army, support Bhīshma only.”

Both armies ready for battle.

12.  His mighty grandsire, (Bhīshma), the oldest of the Kaurāvas, in order to cheer him, sounded on high a lion’s roar and blew his conch.

13.  Then, all at once, conches and kettledrums, cymbals, drums and horns were played upon, and the sound was a tumultuous uproar.

14. Then, too, Mādhava and the son of Pānḍu, seated in a grand chariot yoked to white horses, blew their celestial conches.

15. Hrishīkesa blew the Pañchajanya, and Arjuna blew the Devadatta. Bhīma, (the doer) of terrible deeds, blew his great conch Pauṇḍra.

16.  Prince Yudhisṭhīra, the son of Kuntī, blew the Anantavijaya, while Nākula and Sahadeva blew the Sughosha and the Maṇipushpaka.

17. The king of Kāśī, an excellent archer, Sikhaṇḍin, the master of a great car, Dhriṣṭadyumna and Virāṭa, and the unconquered Sātyaki;

18. Drupada and the sons of Draupadī, O lord of earth, and the son of Subhadra, of mighty arms, all together blew their respective conches.

19. That tumultuous sound rent the hearts of (the people) of Dhritarāshtra’s party, making both heaven and earth resound.

Arjuna’s survey of the enemy.

20-22. Then seeing the people of Dhritarāshtra’s party regularly marshalled, while the discharge of weapons began, Arjuna, the son of Pāṇḍu, whose ensign was a monkey, O King of earth, took up his bow and said thus to Krishna:

“O Achyuta (Immortal), place my chariot between the two armies, that I may just see those who stand here desirous to fight, and know with whom I must fight in this strife of battle.

23. “I will observe those who are assembled here and are about to engage in battle desirous to do service in war to the evil-minded son of Dhritarāshtra.”

Saṁjaya said:

24-25. O descendant of Bharata, Hrishīkesa (Krishna) thus addressed by Gudākesa (Arjuna) stationed that excellent car between the two armies in front of Bhīshma and Droṇa and all the rulers of earth, and said:

“O son of Pritha, look at these assembled Kaurāvas.”

26-27. Then the son of Pritha saw arrayed there in both the armies fathers and grandfathers, teachers, maternal uncles, brothers, sons, grand­sons and comrades, fathers-in-law and friends.

28-29. When the son of Kunti saw all the kinsmen standing, he was overcome with deepest pity and said thus in sorrow:

Arjuna’s words of despondency.

Arjuna said:

28-29. Seeing these kinsmen, O Krishna, arrayed and desirous to fight, my limbs droop down, and my mouth is dried up. A tremor comes on my body and my hairs stand on end.

30. The Gāndīva slips from my hand, and my skin is intensely burning. I am also unable to stand and my mind is whirling round, as it were.

31.  And, O Keśava, I see omens foreboding evil. Nor do I see any good from killing my kinsmen in battle.

32.  I desire not victory, O Krishna, nor king­dom, nor pleasures. Of what avail is dominion to us, O Govinda? Of what avail are pleasures and even life?

33-34. They for whose sake dominion, enjoy­ments and pleasures are sought by us are here standing, having staked their life and wealth: teachers, fathers, sons as well as grandfathers; maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons, bro­thers-in-law as also (other) relatives.

35. These, O slayer of Madhu, I do not wish to kill, though they kill me, even for the sake of dominion over the three worlds; how much less for the sake of the earth!

36.  O Janārdana, what delight shall be ours after killing the sons of Dhritarāshtra? On kill­ing these felons, sin only will take hold of us.

37. We had then better not slay our own kins­men, the sons of Dhritarāshtra; for, how can we be happy, O Mādhava, after slaying our own people?

Arjuna’s grief at the evils of war.

38-39. Though these, whose intelligence is stricken by greed, perceive no evil in the extinction of families and no sin in treachery to friends,

yet, O Janārdana, should not we, who clearly see evil in the extinction of a family, learn to refrain from this sinful deed?

40.  On the extinction of a family, the im­memorial dharmas of that family disappear. When the dharmas disappear, impiety (adharma) overtakes the whole family.

41.  By the prevalence of impiety, O Krishna, the women of the family become corrupt. Women corrupted, there will be intermingling of castes (varṇa-saṁkara), O descendant of Vṛishṇis.

42.  Confusion of castes leads the family of these destroyers of families also to hell; for, their fore­fathers fall (down to hell), deprived of the offer­ings of piḍa (rice-ball) and water.

43.  By these evil deeds of the destroyers of families which cause the intermingling of castes, the eternal dharmas of castes and families are subverted.

44.  We have heard, O Janārdana, that necess­ary is the dwelling in hell of the men whose family dharmas are subverted.

45. Alas! We have resolved to commit a great sin, inasmuch as we are endeavouring to slay our kinsmen out of a craving for the pleasures of dominion.

46.  It would be better for me, if the sons of Dhritarāshtra, with arms in hand, should slay me unarmed and unresisting in the battle.

Saṁjaya said:

47. Having said thus, Arjuna, sorrow-stricken in mind, cast aside his bow and arrows in the midst of the battle and sat down in the chariot.