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Bhagavad Gītā Lesson 1

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Lesson I

(Sanskrit terms and names can be clicked for explanation)

Om !


Dhritarāshtra said:

O, Sañjaya, tell me what my own people and the Pāndavas did, assembled on the Field of Duty in the Kurus’ country [Dharmakshetre Kuruskshetre] and eager for war ! (1)

Sañjaya said:

King Duryodhana, then, having seen the Pāndava army drawn up in battle-line, went to his Teacher, and addressed him as follows: (2)

See, O Teacher, this mighty force of the sons of Pāndu, drawn up by the able pupil, the descendant of Drupada. (3)

There are heroes, great bowmen, equal to Bhīma and Arjuna in battle, Yuyudhāna, Virāta, and Drupada a mighty charioteer, (4)

Dhrishtaketu, Chekitāna, and the valiant king of Kāśī [the modern Benāres], Purujit, and Kuntibhoja, and Saibya, a bull among men, (5)

Yudhāmanyu the victorious, and the valiant Uttamanjas, Dubhadrā’s son, and the five sons of Draupadī – all of them mighty charioteers. (6)

But those who are distinguished of our own people, and leaders of my host, these know then too, O best of the twice-born [Drona]: I will name them to thee by way of example: (7)

Thyself, and Bhīshma, and Karna, and Kripa the victorious in debate, Aśvatthāman and Vikarna, and Somadatta’s son as well, (8)

And many other heroes who for my sake are ready to die and who are skilled in various weapons; all are versed in war. (9)

This our army, commanded by Bhīshma, is not strong enough; but that army of theirs, commanded by Bhīma, is strong enough. (10)

In all the movements of battle, firm in your divisions, let all of you support Bhīshma. (11)

The venerable Kuru [Bhīshma], the majestic half-brother of the Kurus’ grandfather, having shouted like a lion’s roar, loudly blew his shell, arousing awe in the Kuru chief. (12)

Then shells, kettle drums, tabors, big drums, and trumpets, were sounded with vigor: the sound thereof was mighty. (13)

At this time Mādhava [Krishna] and Arjuna, who were standing in a great war car, drawn by white horses, also sounded each his celestial shell. (14)

Hrishīkeśa [Krishna] blew his shell called Pāñchajanya, Dhanañjaya [Arjuna] his, called Devadatta, while Vrika-udara [Bhīma] of terrific prowess, blew his huge shell called Paundra; (15)

King Yudhishthira too, Kuntī’s son, sounded Anantavijaya, and Nakula and Sahadeva theirs, called Sughosha and Manipushpaka respectively. (16)

The prince of Kāśī too, best of bowmen, and Śikhandin the charioteer, Dhrishtadyumna, and Virāta, and his unconquered Sātyaki; (17)

Drupada and the Draupadeyas [the five Pāndava princes, so called because the sons of Drupada’s daughter Krishnā, who is also named Draupadī], Saubadra too the mighty youth: on all sides, O Prince, they blew their respective shells. (18)

The roaring therefrom shook the hearts of the Kurus, the tumult filling with noise both the welkin and the earth. (19)

Yet having seen that the Kurus stood firm , and the weapons were already thrown, the Pāndava [Arjuna] whose pennon is the monkey, having taken up his bow. (20)

To Hrishīkeśa [Krishna] he spoke these words, O Prince:

“Place my chariot between the two hosts, O Unfallen One, (21)

“So that I may see them, determined and longing for battle, by whom with myself this contest is to be fought out: (22)

“So that I may consider who these are who have assembled hither and are about to fight in the struggle, desirous to Dhritarāshtra’s evil-minded son.” (23)

Sañjaya said:

Hrishīkeśa being thus addressed by Gudakeśa [Arjuna], O son of Bharata, drove that finest of chariots into the space between the two hosts (24)

[Bhīshma and Drona standing at the head of all the nobles] and spoke as follows: “O Pārtha [Arjuna] observe then these ranks of the Kurus !” (25)

There Pārtha [Arjuna] saw standing [on either side] fathers, grandsires too, teachers, maternal uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, friends, (26)

fathers-in-law, and also well-wishers. Having surveyed all these, his own relations, thus drawn up, Kaunteya [Arjuna] was filled with extreme compassion, and sorrowing greatly he spoke as follows: (27)

Arjuna said:

“Now that I have seen, O Krishna, my kindred facing each other and eager for the fight, (28)

“My limbs fail me, and my mouth is dry, my body quaketh, and my hair riseth on end ! (29)

Gāndīva [his bow] slips from my hand; my skin is parched; I am unable to stand, and my mind as it were wandereth. (30)

“I see inauspicious signs, O Keśava [Krishna], nor do I see virtue in destroying my relatives in battle ! (31)

“I desire not victory, O Krishna, nor dominion, nor delight; for what to us are dominion, O Govinda [Krishna], what enjoyments or long life. (32)

“When those on whose account dominion was desired, or enjoyments, or delights, – when these very ones now arranged in battle have given up [thought of] life and possessions too ? (33)

“Teachers, fathers, sons, and grandsires too; maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons, brothers-in-law, and kinsmen ! (34)

“I don’t desire to slay them though they themselves slay, O Madhusūdana [Krishna]; not even for dominion over the three worlds. How then for this kingdom alone ! (35)

“Having slain the sons of Dhritarāshtra, O Janārdana! [Krishna], what happiness could be ours? Sin would fasten upon us did we slay them although threatening us. (36)

“Therefore it would be wrong for us to slay our kindred, the sons of Dhritarāshtra: having slain our kindred, how indeed, O Mādhava [Krishna], could we be happy ? (37)

“If in truth they, with minds infatuated by love of gain, do not see sin in the downfall of their race, nor crime in injury of their friends, (38)

“Still how should we not know how to recoil from sin, seeing as we do crime in destroying our own people, O Janārdana ? (39)

“In the downfall of a race, the ancient race-laws perish; with the destruction of these, then sin spreads through the whole people. (40)

“From the spreading of sin, O Krishna, the women of a race become corrupt; with the women corrupted, O Vārshneya, there takes place a mixture of castes. (41)

“The mixture of castes is verily [a gateway] to the lower regions, as much so for those who destroy a race as for the race itself, while the fathers of these fall, ceremonies of the pinda and of water failing [them]. (42)

“By these sins of the destroyers of the races, which work the confusion of castes, the rulers of birth and the everlasting racial rites, are overthrown. (43)

“For the men whose racial rites are overthrown, there is unquestionably a sojourn in the lower regions; – thus  have we heard [from sacred authority] (44)

“Alas ! We have resolved to commit a great crime, since through lust of the sweets of dominion we have risen up to slay our own kindred. (45)


“If the sons of Dhritarāshtra, with weapons in hand, were to slay me unarmed and unresisting, in the field, this were better for me !” (46)

Sañjaya said:

Having thus spoken on the battle-field, Arjuna sat down in his car, casting his bow and arrows aside, and his mind shaken with grief. (47)


Thus in the Holy Bhagavad-Gītā Upanishads, of the Brahmavidhyās [Knowledge of Brahma], in the Yogaśāstra [Precept of Union], in the dialog between great Krishna and Arjuna, the first lesson, by name —

The Sorrow of Arjuna