The Bhagavad Gita begins with a question that Dhrirashtra asks Sanjaya (1.1), “O Sañjaya, after my sons and the sons of Pāṇḍu assembled in the place of pilgrimage at Kurukṣetra, desiring to ﬁght, what did they do?” The Bhagavad Gita ends with an answer (verse 18.78) to this question. The answer Sanjaya gives is, “Wherever there is Kṛṣṇa, the master of all mystics, and wherever there is Arjuna, the supreme archer, there will also certainly be opulence, victory, extraordinary power, and morality. That is my opinion.”
Between the question and the answer is the evergreen philosophy. This philosophy addresses the real need and goal of everyone. We don’t need to customize this philosophy according to the unique nature we each carry. The Gita purifies and empowers us within the framework of our uniqueness. Humanity, when we look from cosmological, psychological, and sociological perspectives, is a kaleidoscope of uniqueness and variety. The Gita includes a complete and feasible solution that works amazingly from all angles and for each soul. It’s a holistic treatment for our incessant suffering. The Bhagavad Gita includes the conclusion of the Vedas and also that which the Vedas don’t include. The Bhagavad Gita is a manual on high class living. It’s a roadmap to achieve the highest form of freedom. The freedom that the Gita offers is not restricted to the mind-body alone. It’s inclusive of mind-body, while it elevates the soul to the realm where we, the souls, come from and live in a state most natural to us.
Dhritrarashtra was blind from the eyes and blind from within, too. He deliberately wouldn’t access the insight that Paramatma would give him from within. His question reflects the complexity of human psychology and the contradictions it brews. Dhritrarashtra called Kurukshetra Dharmksetra. He accepted Kurukshetra as the field of Dharma. What is Dharma? It’s doing only that which pleases the Supreme God no matter how it may displease us. He knew Kurukshetra was the land where only the acts that please the Lord can be successful. But he couldn’t process his knowledge into actions. From the time of Dhuryodhana’s birth till the time when all his 100 sons were killed, many sages advised Dhritrarashtra to fix the meanness in his heart and take corrective actions. Let alone advices, even prophecies couldn’t budge him such was the hardness of his heart. In his question, Dhritrarashtra addressed Kauravas as his sons and Pandvas as the sons of Pandu. After the demise of Pandu, Dhristrastra was the father of Pandavas. The throne that he sat on with greed and attachment was actually his responsibility not his birth right. His discrimination between his sons and those of Pandus reflect the lack of geniune love in his heart. His insane attachment to his sons caused the destruction of Kauravas. Those of us who think detachment makes one hard-hearted should reflect on Dhristrastra’s life journey. We’ll then understand that it’s attachment that makes us act unrighteously, selfishly, cruelly. Dhristrastra believed in his sons’ victory and simultaneously feared their destruction. In his psychology, we get a glimpse of overall human psychology which is a bundle of contradictions. Dhristrastra asked what were his and Pandu’s sons—who desired to fight—doing on the war field where Dharma prevails. Isn’t the answer plain and clear? That they were getting ready for the fight and that they would fight. He was fear-struck, and he wanted his sons’ victory. Dhritarashtra refused the divine vision that Vyasadeva offered him so he could watch the war scene. He didn’t have the courage and wisdom to ingest the fruits whose seeds he sowed. Instead, Vyasadeva empowered Sanjaya with a vision to see the war remotely and recite the events to Dhritrarashtra as they were happening. (Side note: This was the technology of Dvapara yuga. One didn’t need dead matter but a genuine spirit to be able to see what one must see, rather than overload oneself with all type of misinformation on the name of intellectualism and freedom. )
In response to his question, Sanjaya didn’t impulsively say victory and opulence prevail wherever Krishna and his surrendered follower, Arjuna, appear. Dhrisrastra and the future generations would have thought of Sanjaya as a fanatic follower of Krishna, or he would have thought of Sanjaya as a prejudiced man. Sanjaya, being true to his duty, told everything to Dhristrastra as he heard from Krishna. He gave his opinion only after Dhritrarashtra had heard the complete conversation with Krishna and Arjuna. Why did Sanjaya say that victory is assured wherever Krishna and Arjuna are together? Arjuna didn’t want to fight the war, so he offered several arguments to Krishna in support of his understanding. Krishna defeated all that Arjuna said. Krishna advised him to follow His will because only that could save Arjuna from not creating new karmas, whether good or bad. Arjuna executed the will of the Lord. Who else could win the war if not Arjuna? In the climax verse (18.66) of the Gita, Krishna advises Arjuna to leave all the duties and surrender to Him. That is, give up all paths and the teachings of the scriptures and follow the will of the Lord. What’s the point of all the spirituality and scriptures if we can’t make His will our will?
Did Krishna Take Sides?
Krishna didn’t take sides in the war. Before the war began, Kauravas were given many chances to be reasonable with Pandavas. Krishna personally visited Dhuryodhana and suggested he should give just one village to each Pandava. Dhuryodhana refused to part with even a niddle-worth space. Even worse, Dhuryodhana tried to bind the Supreme lord who even topmost yogis can’t see a glimpse of, the Lord who can be bound only in love. Yashoda was able to bind Krishna with her loveful efforts and Radharani’s ribbons who is Hladini shakti of Krishna. Krishna showed Dhuryodhana his Ardha-Virat rupa, but Dhuryodhana dismissed it by calling Krishna Mayavi. Dhuryodhana invited his destruction mindlessly.
Why Did Dhritrarashtra Suffer the Loss of a Hundred Children?
After the Kurukshetra war was over, Dhritrarashtra asked Krishna why all his sons were killed in the war. Why did Krishna do this to him he asked. Krishna revealed that fifty lifetimes ago Dhritrarashtra was a hunter who tried to shoot a male bird, but the bird managed to escape. In anger, Dhritrarashtra slaughtered the hundred baby birds that were resting in the nest. The father-bird had to watch the killing of his children in helpless agony. Because Dhristrastra caused the father-bird the pain of seeing his children dying, he too had to go through this pain. Dhritarastra then asked why he had to wait for fifty life times. Krishna told Dhritrarashtra that he had to accumulate the punya (pious credits) of having 100 sons during the last fifty lifetimes. And, once the punya matured, he got a hundred sons, but then his prarabhada, which was accrued due to the killing 100 baby birds, matured. Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita (4.17) gahana karmano gatih, that the way in which action and reaction work is very complex. God knows best what time is most suitable for which reaction. Some reaction may come in this lifetime, some in the next, and some in a distant future lifetime. Dhritrastra was caught in his karmas. Only refuge at the feet of Krishna could have absolved him of his sins. But he took refuge in his attachment and greed. Don’t we do the same?
- My goal in life should be to think, will, and do only that which pleases Krishna.
- My happiness lies in pleasing Krishna. Any the pleasures I experience in this world are temporary and accrue new karmas that bind me in the future.
- To be truly detached, I should be attached to Krishna.
- My suffering in this life is a result of many sufferings that I caused to many souls in my past lives. I should be careful from moment-to-moment to not hurt anyone.
- My suffering is for my purification. It’s not Krishna’s revenge.