Bhagavad Gita chapter 1 verse 1
Commentary by Prabhuji
mamakah pandavash caiva
kim akurvata sanjaya
Dhritarashtra said: O Sanjaya, having assembled, my sons and the sons of Pandu, in the battlefield of Kurukshetra, desirous to fight, what are they doing?
Any search for the Truth begins with a blind man asking a question…
Dhritarashtra was blind from birth, and therefore used the eyesight of his servant Sanjaya to acquire information about the battlefield events. However, this first text already exposes his spiritual blindness and illusion. Already in his question, “Mamakaha” or “my sons”, he separates his own sons from the sons of Pandu, which demonstrates that the blind man is completely immersed in the illusion of the bodily concept of life, and that his blindness is not only physical or material but spiritual as well.
The story of King Dhritarashtra is very significant. After the death of Vichitravirya, his mother sent her first son, the great sage Vyasa, to visit the two wives of Vichitravirya, Ambika and Ambalika, with the objective of guaranteeing their progeny. When Ambika saw in front of her that presence of the Truth that the sage Vyasa was, with fire in his eyes, her only response was to close her eyes. This voluntary shutting of her eyes in the face of wisdom and the Truth that caused the blindness with which Dhritarashtra was born… while the indifference of Ambalika made, as a result, her son to be pale or “Pandu”…
Egoism and attachment are a form of blindness, that is, they cover the intellect, our vision of reality. It is interesting that the word Sanjaya in Sanskrit means “he who lacks attachment and repulse”. In the context of this narrative it is the secretary of king Dhritarashtra who bears this name, which will be of service to the blind king, informing him about the events on the battlefield. If we consider the servant’s name we will reach the conclusion that he was chosen by the monarch in order to obtain reliable information, without any interpretations or prejudices. Sanjaya was the son of Gavalgama and an intimate friend of Arjuna, the power of divine vision was given to him by no less a person than Sri Vyasadeva himself, and it was that power that made possible the narration of the events in Kurukshetra to King Dhritarashtra.
Sanjaya was a dharmatma, a soul who lives strictly according to Dharma, a maryada, or a soul that lives according to the strictest moral principles, and a sastra-jna, or a perfect knower of the final conclusions of Vedic scriptures. For the monarch it was very significant that all of this will take place in Kurukshetra, which is mentioned in the Vedic scriptures as a very famous place of pilgrimage.
In the Sata Patha Sruti it is said:
Kurukshetram vai deva yajanam
“We can be completely sure that Kurukshetra is a sacred place of sacrifice”
And also the Navala Sruti says:
Brihaspatir uvaca, yajnavalkyam yandav kuru kshetram devanam deva-yajanam sarvesham bhutanam brahma sadanam
“Brihaspati, who is the preacher of the demigods, says, the demigods asked Yanjnavalkya Muni to perform a religious sacrifice in Kurukshetra for the salvation of demigods and to help the living entities to reach the spiritual world”.
Also in the Javalopanishad 1:2 Kurukshetra is described as the Yajna-sthali, a place destined for sacrifices, as much for the devatas or demigods as for all the living entities. In the Sat-Patha Brahmana it is said:
kurukshetram deva-yajanam-asa tasmad ahuh kurukshetram deva yajanam
“He performed the worship of the earth in Kurukshetra. In that way the wise have denominated the place deva-yajanam”
On the other hand, it is interesting to note that no place is sacred or diabolic in its own accord, it is us, the beings who are found in that place, are the ones who transform it through our attitude, consciousness and actions, into a field of combat or a divine site of pilgrimage. A country, an organization or an institution, a church or a synagogue, are not sacred places in their origin, they become sanctified by the holy people who dwell in them, and their pious activities. The word Kuru Kshetre is found here to indicate that the Kauravas have turned the place into a battlefield. However, first of all, the term Dhrama Kshetre reminds us that the same place was a pilgrimage site…
Dhritarashtra was aware of the elevated spiritual qualities of the five Pandava brothers who were highly virtuous, and of the influence that this sacred place, which is located in Hastinapur, to the north of the modern New Delhi, could have on the outcome of this confrontation.
The question of the king reveals something more profound. Both groups reached this encounter after a long history of lies, jealousy, vengeance, resentment and violence. Both groups were in the battlefield, armed to their teeth. Dhritarashtra asks – “what are they doing?”
And what could they possibly do? The question seems a bit out of place…
The King’s words contain much more than just a question; many times questions carry a secret hope, a hidden desire. And it is curious to see later on, that Arjuna, in moments of illusion and confusion thinks exactly according to the hopes of Dhritarashtra. And what were those hopes?
The king knew and was perfectly well aware of the Pandavas virtue and the sanctity of the place. He knew perfectly well that the Pandavas virtue, influenced even more by the sacredness of that place of pilgrimage, can compel them to decide to leave the fight and by that avoid bloodshed, pain, death and violence…
He also knew very well that Arjuna can decide to go back to the desert, to the forest, something that in a certain moment does arise in Arjuna’s mind. This desire or hope, a logical one according to the rules of human mind, is what that the monarch seeks in his question. However, the king did not take into consideration the participation of Lord Krishna, the perfect spiritual master, the presence of the transcendental, who is absolutely beyond any vice and virtue, who ordered Arjuna to fight, to go beyond vice, but also beyond virtue; to fight as a service to Divinity…
The term “yuyutsavaha” meaning “eager to fight”, refers to the Kurus. On the other hand it was very clear that the virtuous Pandavas only wanted peace. However, Duryodhana expressly rejected any possibility of peaceful arrangements or solutions, in such a way that the Pandavas went to a just war, for their own self defense, without having any other alternative.
In this context it is important that we profoundly analyze the attitude of every person that took part in these events, every one of their attitudes reflects places and corners of the human mind and of the ego, places that sometimes are hard to see or touch in our own selves, and that are, in general, much easier to see in “others”…