Unique exposition of the meaning of the first shloka of Bhagavad Gita

Unique exposition of the meaning of the first shloka of Bhagavad Gita

I give below the exposition of Pujya Ma* on the first shloka of Srimad Bhagavad Gita, extracted from the book Srimad Bhagavad Gita – A Guide to Daily Living,  Arpana Publications, ©2000

*  A short note about Pujya Ma given below the extract, taken from http://www.arpana.org/ma/ma/

Bg 1.1

dhṛtarāṣṭra uvāca

dharma-kṣetre kuru-kṣetre
samavetā yuyutsavaḥ
māmakāḥ pāṇḍavāś caiva
kim akurvata sañjaya

Dhritrashtra questioned Sanjay:
Assembled at Kurukshetra, the field of dharma, eager for battle, what did my sons and the Pandavas do ?

The term dharma kshetra  denotes:

  1. The field of spiritual progress.
  2. The storehouse of meritorious deeds.
  3. The individual’s arena of action.
  4. A situation full of adversity where right and wrong, can be determined.
  5. Where righteousness and duty can be distinguished from that which is sinful and contrary to duty.
  6. An ideal environment for the practice of divine qualities.
  7. The field of discrimination between  shreya (ascendence towards the highest good) and preya (descendence towards ignorance and demerit).
  8. Where one can distinguish between duty and that which does not constitute duty.
  9. An environment where one’s life can become a devotional offering.
  10. The womb of divine attributes.
  11. The fertile environment in which supreme devotion is born.
  12. That arena where one’s life can be offered in the Lord’s Name.
  13. The venue of union and mergence with the Supreme.

Dharma kshetra  is that arena of conflicting forces, that domain of mental tendencies, where a person views his internal state.

Only when confronted simultaneously by friend and foe can we:

  1. watch the mind’s conflicts;
  2. discern the mind’s spiritual state;
  3. gauge the mind’s knowledge  and its propensity to apply that knowledge in daily life;
  4. become aware of our attachments and mental aberrations;
  5. perceive our desires, cravings and greed;
  6. see our strength, importance and pride;
  7. recognise our attachment to the body;
  8. clearly watch our mind, intellect and ego;
  9. note our temper and our enmities;
  10. become conscious of our knowledge and ignorance, as also our mental trends;
  11. watch the forming of negative attributes within;
  12. see the extent of our likes and dislikes;
  13. perceive our arrogance and conceit;
  14. observe our deceitfulness and our predisposition to behave in a manner contradictory to scriptural injunction.

It is in such a situation that a decision is taken either to adhere to a life of dharma and sanctified action or adharma a life devoid of the spirit of yagya and contrary to the scriptures.

In this situation, the righteous Arjuna, was facing in the battlefield, an enemy comprising of his dear and loved relatives. Accompanying him was the Supreme Master Lord Krishna, the Essence of Spirituality — the upholder of righteousness and the epitome of Dharma.  That arena where all these powers coexists, will necessarily be a dharma kshetra.

For a sadhak or spiritual aspirant with an extreme love for the Truth and dominated by the discriminatory faculty of the intellect, whenever such a conflicting situation arises:

  • his very life becomes a dharma kshetra.
  • his every action is enacted in that arena of dharma.

What transpires in the dharma kshetra ?

It is here that the individual can learn to:

  1. renounce attachment to the fruits of actions;
  2. divest himself of his bodily attachments;
  3. free himself from the bonds of desire and greed;
  4. eradicate the idea of doership;
  5. become a Sthit pragya — one who has attained stability in equanimity;
  6. become a Gunatit — one who is unaffected by others’ qualities as well as his own.

Where Lord Krishna’s divine essence reigns, that is verily the arena of dharma. An arena where a problematical situation exits and the aspirant, acquainted with the method of spiritual practice and discerning between good and bad, right and wrong, proceeds on the spiritual path.

Warning to the sadhak

Remember O sadhak, sadhana  is not:

  • an escape from a situation or duty;
  • indifference to one’s duty;
  • a life bereft of responsibility.

Do not endeavour to divest yourself of duty; the Lord Himself undertook and performed all His so called ‘duties’. Sadhana is life. It is a process of imbuing one’s life with the spirit of Yagya and moulding it in the Lord’s likeness.

For the seeker, the arena of dharma lies within.

  1. The dharma kshetra changes the internal view point.
  2. The body provides the field wherein this ‘war’ takes place.
  3. The battle is between one’s own mental tendencies.
  4. When the blind intellect is lacking in discrimination, its son, the mind, begets a host of demoniac qualities.
  5. The smallest spark of knowledge of Truth leads the aspirant towards divine qualities and divinity. Thus ensues the tussle between the divine and the demoniacal.

The great war of Mahabharat can be taken as an external symbol of our internal warring tendencies. The father of the Kauravas, Dhritrashtra, was blind. He may be likened to the intellect deprived of its discriminatory powers. His hundred sons signify an army of a hundred negative and dangerous tendencies within us.

The Kauravas, sons of the sightless Dhritrashtra — the blinded intellect, can be taken to denote tendencies that:

  1. crave gross satiation;
  2. revel in enjoyment of gross pleasures;
  3. demand ego satiation and the fulfillment of pride and arrogance;
  4. decline towards greed, craving and desires;
  5. consider themselves most superior;
  6. believe they are the doer, sustainer, and enjoyer of all;
  7. reel under the intoxicating influence of personal prowess, wealth and fame;
  8. are oblivious to justice and injustice or right and wrong.

All such tendencies are born of the blind, attached intellect and are sustained by an attitude of non-discrimination. They lead the jivatma towards:

  • the path opposed to spirituality or the preya path;
  • the ‘southward’ path of darkness;
  • rajoguna which fosters greed and desire;
  • attachment to the body and the strengthening of the tamoguna.

Arjuna and his four brothers

Arjuna with is four brothers can be likened to the five organs of knowledge or the five organs of action. They were followers of Truth. Arjuna’s charioteer was Lord Krishna, the embodiment of Truth, of the discerning intellect the Lord Himself.

Qualities of the Pandavas

Qualities of the Kauravas

1.Great souls — Mahatmas 1.Evil.
2.Followers of righteousness and virtuous deeds. 2.Perpetrators of unrighteousness, injurious deeds.
3.Spoke the truth. 3.Deceitful and untruthful.
4.Compassionate. 4.Hard hearted and unforgiving.
5.Knowledgeable, shrewd, courageous, obedient, loving. 5.Ignorant, lazy, cowardly, self-willed, jealous and full of hatred.
6.True heirs to the throne. 6.Usurpers, thirsty for power.
7.Just — with good qualities. 7.Unjust – steeped in vice and sin.
8.Illustrious and renowned. 8.Greedy and arrogant.
9.Of strong resolve. 9.Stubborn, obstinate.
10.Had no enemies. 10.Bore enmities.
11.Predominantly sattva guna. 11.Predominantlt rajas and  tamas.
12.Ruled by intellect. 12.Blind intellect, lacking in discriminatory abilities.

Even though the kauravas were predominantly evil, they did their work diligently, with tremendous strength, wit and prowess. From the point of view of the world, they were impressive, but they did not possess an iota of divine attributes. Each act of theirs bespoke of desire, greed and avarice. They were never prepared to do anything for the welfare of others. Such demoniacal beings live only for their personal, selfish interest.

The Pandavas possessed the treasure of divine qualities. They were ever helpful to others. Their actions were not motivated by selfish reasons but by the attributes of Sattva, which culminated in the service of the Lord.

Some evil acts of the Kauravas towards the Pandavas

  1. Administering poison to Bhima.
  2. Attempting to burn the Pandavas in the house of inflammable sealing wax.
  3. Fraudulently winning the game of dice against the Pandavas.
  4. Divesting Draupati of her robes in the midst of a full assembly.
  5. Forcing the Pandavas to twelve years of exile and a year of dwelling incognito after cheating them in another game of dice.
  6. Repeated attempts to kill the Pandavas.
  7. Usurping the kingdom of the Pandavas.
  8. Indefatigable efforts by the Kauravas to humiliate the Pandavas in order to satiate their own jealousy, hatred and enmity towards them.

Attitude of the Pandavas towards the Kauravas

Despite being strong and courageous, the Pandavas repeatedly urged the Kauravas to make a peaceful settlement. Lord Krishna and Sanjay both approached the Kauravas to advise Duryodhana to heed the request of the Pandavas and to desist from war.

On behalf of the Pandavas, they pleaded:

  • “Return our kingdom.
  • Give only five villages for the five brothers.
  • We will forget all your deceitful and evil acts of the past.
  • We will overlook even the insult to Draupati.
  • We will forgive the atrocities you have perpetrated on us.
  • Even though we can retaliate, we will humbly remain silent and live in peace with you.”

Dhritrashtra knew that the fault lay with the Kauravas. He knew that the kauravas were unjust, evil and resorted to wrong means to achieve their ends. They were avaricious and covetous. Yet he stayed blind to all this, bound by the ties of moha or attachment to his progeny. He forgot where Truth lay and chose to keep his eyes closed. He, too, was afflicted by greed, therefore he was unable to control his eldest son Duryodhana.

The fall of the intellect

When the intellect becomes attached to the mind, it loses sight of the Truth. It loses the ability to restrain its own mind. It becomes feeble and gets affected by the intricacies of the mind. The well-being of such an individual is no longer ensured. His downfall is imminent.

*******************  A short note about Pujya Ma given below the extract, taken from http://www.arpana.org/ma/ma/*************

·        Param Pujya Ma

Pujya Ma was born on the 26th of August, 1924, in the illustrious family of Mr C.L. Anand and Mrs Santosh Anand. Her father was the principal of the Law College, Lahore, for 30 years. He was a deeply respected, high principled and learned scholar. Her mother was a highly educated social worker of repute, who was spiritually inclined and well respected in society.

Even in her early life, Pujya Ma always exhibited a rare detachment towards herself, and an exemplary attitude of compassion towards others. She gave her all to those who sought refuge in her, knowing each one to be sent by the Divine Master. She would expend her physical energies and material resources with complete self forgetfulness to help others, not paying the slightest heed to her own wellbeing.

Pujya Ma said, “Do not dwell upon another’s negativity. Appreciate the other’s beautiful traits and endeavour to bring them within your own life. What greater worship, what finer prayer and what better proof of spiritual practice can there be?”

In 1957, Ma reached the pinnacle of her professional and social success as Director Physical Education Punjab University. Deeply committed to public good, she was involved in several spheres of service. Whilst contesting the elections at the invitation of the Congress, she was asked to address a large congregation. Endowed as she was with a impressive eloquence, her public orations often had a strong impact on her audiences. On one such occasion, she said that religion had become an opiate for the people – often discouraging initiative and promoting apathy in action, thus precluding progress and prosperity. This speech drew forth a thunderous applause and the audience rose to their feet, endorsing her statement whole heartedly. This response evoked a deep sense of restless enquiry within her.”Lord, what right did I have to speak against Your Word that has provided direction, comfort and succour to multitudes through the ages when I neither know You nor am I acquainted with Your injunctions.” She then made an irrevocable commitment to herself to discover the essence, and meaning of the Scriptural texts.

Her conscious, intense spiritual journey commenced on 9th March, 1958. She was then 34 years of age. The period of “sadhana” or spiritual practice refers to that period of her life which provided a blueprint of what spiritual practice should consist of for every true seeker. A fount of divine knowledge flowed forth from within her. The Srimad Bhagavad Gita and all the principal Upanishads were elucidated by her in the same manner, a spontaneous divine flow of song.



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