Questions … Arjuna .. then .. even today!
I am sure most of us have seen a movie called ‘Kung Fu Panda’ (All parts of course!) Master Shifu, the Kung Fu tutor, takes us through wonderful insights into human behaviour. After blaming almost everyone for his failure to build an unbeatable Supreme Warrior, he finally realizes that the biggest fault rested within him and not amongst any external factor. With painstaking efforts he wins over self-doubt and creates a Dragon Warrior out of a novice! The recognition of actual problem dawns upon him at the end – lack of Inner Peace!
From the Stone Age to the present day, man has made great progress with the strength of his unwavering intelligence. Created a number of tools of material convenience. Overcame many difficulties. But some questions still remain unanswered, even today.
Are humans really satisfied with so much material progress? If so, why is it that there is a constant search for new comforts? Each individual is struggling to be happy and satisfied. But to our surprise each one’s happiness, each one’s satisfaction lies in different things. So what exactly is happiness? Just getting what you demand is not happiness, because the list of demands never ends. We are constantly sourcing/demanding something or the other. We are sad if we don’t get it, we are sad if we get it later than expected. If we get it on time we are happy for the moment but….. we want something else tomorrow!! The list just never ends.
The question haunting human mind for ages is.. What exactly is happiness and sorrow? How do we find the key to unending happiness? A way to satisfied mind without any regrets…….. Inner Peace!!
Majority of readers study Gita in anticipation of an instant remedy. They don’t make a conscious effort to assimilate the knowledge in it. Cracking code of mankind’s oldest puzzle can’t be as easy as a Sudoku riddle in a newspaper where the solution is published the next day!! Just as everyone’s happiness and sorrows are different, their queries are different too and so is the key to fathom remedies.
Here surfaces the real greatness of Gita. It is a book that brings together solutions to the problems of human beings with different temperaments, intellects and situations. For ages Gita provides solutions to mankind based on each one’s intellect, passion and efforts. With a thoughtfully bound, step by step series of 18 chapters Gita opens the door to a meaningful life.
The first chapter of the Gita ……….‘Arjuna Vishada Yoga’. The subject of each chapter is evident from its name. Vishada literally means lamenting, here it denotes reflection of self and surrounding. We’ll call it Predicament of Arjuna.
The total number of verses is 47. This chapter falls into two parts. First part describes the as is situation on the battlefield. It begins with a rollcall. Taking names of the top Generals1 in the Kaurava and the Pandava troops, the descriptions of their conch shells, and Arjuna’s observation of the army. Arjuna’s melancholy begins from verse 28 onward ….
Arjuna asks Lord Krishna to position his chariot between the two armies. He wants to observe the armies on both sides. He scans the Kaurava troops carefully. To his horror Arjuna sees thousands of elephants, horses, chariots and soldiers. Against him are standing his beloved elders like Bhishma & Shalya, sagacious teachers like Drona & Kripa, cousins like Duryodhana & Vikarna and a whole lot of the extended family. All primed to kill each other….
Seeing his own people in the army on both sides, Arjuna’s mind is ravished with thoughts.
Is this genocide really inevitable? Does winning kingdom justify slaying our own brothers? Is this going to bring satisfaction/happiness for us Pandavas?
If this is following my designated Self, occupational and religious duties then what does denouncing them mean? Is avoiding violence here unrighteous? What is the meaning of happiness if it comes through extermination of our own clan? If there is a sin in killing, then how can this crusade lead to satisfaction?
From 28 onwards for 20 verses, Arjuna describes the terrible consequences of war. The gist comes in below 3 verses:-
निमित्तानि च पश्यामि विपरीतानी केशव ।न च श्रेयोऽनुपश्यामि हत्वा स्वजनमाहवे ।।१-३१।।
निहत्य धार्तराष्ट्रान्नः का प्रीतिः स्याज्जनार्दन । पापमेवाश्रयेदस्मान्हत्वैतानाततायिनः ।।१-३६।।
उत्सन्नकुलधर्माणां मनुष्याणां जनार्दन । नरकेऽनियतं वासो भवतीत्यनुशुश्रुम ।।१-४४।।
Slaying one’s kinsmen will only lead to evil. The value system will be degraded, the clan will disappear and we will get hell.
One after the other, Arjuna presents Krishna with the disastrous aftereffects of this war. Eighteen Akshauhini2 army used to destroy their own clan. Would such a massacre really bring happiness? Isn’t it better to not fight at all? He believes he’s committing an awful sin. He feels that happiness even momentary, if achieved after the war is not worth.
Arjuna, caught in the chaotic battle of many such questions, puts down the bow. He tells Krishna, “I am so confused that it is impossible for me to wield a weapon….” The first chapter ends.
Arjuna Vishada … This first chapter of the Bhagavad Gita is of vital importance. One would naturally think that there is nothing special about this chapter when viewed from a philosophical point of view. This chapter deals with military census and Arjuna’s grief or fear. So does its greatness only rest on it being the first chapter of the Gita? Of course not.
What is the significance of Arjuna Vishada Yoga ………. in the next part
- The names of the following Knights appear in the first chapter …
- Yuyudhana: – Brother of Satyaki. Present on all the 18 days of the war.
- Dhrishtaketu: – King of Chedi kingdom
- Chekitan: – Warrior king from the clan of Vrushni Yadava. Killed by Duryodhana in the war
- Yudhamanyu and Uttamauja: – Warrior brothers from
- Draupadeya (Sons of Draupadi) :- Shrutasoma, Shrutakarma, Shatanika and Shrutasena
- Vikarna: – Good natured brother from 100 Kaurava siblings
- Soumadatti: – Son of Somadatta – Bhurishrava
Apart from this, of course, famous Generals like Dronacharya, Bhishma, Virata, Drupada, Bhima, Arjuna, King of Kashi, Purujit, Kuntibhoja, Shaibya, Abhimanyu, Karna, Ashwatthama, are also mentioned.
- Akshauhini:– The total number of troops in the Mahabharata war was 18 Akshauhini. The Kauravas had 11 and the Pandavas had 7 Akshauhini. There were multiple ascending dimensions for counting troops – Patti, Senamukha, Gulma, Gana, Vahini, Prutana, Chamu, Anikini and Akshauhini. One Akshauhini is about 218,700 troops and the 18 Akshauhini totals to approximately 3,936,600.
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