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Bhagavad-Gita Chapter 1
|by BS Murthy|
Continued from Introduction to Bhagavad-Gita: Treaties of Self-help
In this opening chapter, the grand stage for the discourse nonpareil is set on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. Gathered with their armies are the estranged cousins, the Pandavas and the Kauravas, all set to join the battle. After reviewing the relative strengths of the opposing formations, Duryodhana, the Kaurava prince, fancies his chances. On the other hand, Arjuna, alias Paartha, the spearhead of the Pandava forces, is beset with moral indignation. He begins to see the futility of a fratricidal war that would result in the death of kith and kin in numbers. To Lord Krishna, who dons the role of his charioteer, a distressed Arjuna enumerates the ills that visit society in the wake of wars. Exasperated in the end, he expresses his intent to rescind from the impending war regardless.
In popular parlance, this chapter, comprising 47 slokas (verses), is known as Arjuna Vishaada Yoga, Arjuna’s Grief. However, it is worth noting that though Arjuna’s demeanor in the battlefield personifies grief, it’s the dilemma of his persona that gives cause to it. Thus, there is merit in this chapter being rechristened as Arjuna’s Dilemma. On the other hand, it is the supreme irony, or in the fitness of things, depending on how one views it, that this Treatise of Self-help should begin with Dhrutarashtra's query, whose blind love towards his son Duryodhana brought things to this pass.
One might notice the inconsistency in Duryodhana’s assessment of Pandava forces in that while in s3-s6 he considers them formidable; in s10 he dismisses them as pygmies. Maybe it has something to do with his state of mind on the eve of war.
Continued to "All About Life" : Bhagavad-Gita Chapter 2
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