1.There could not be a more dramatic backdrop for a spiritual discourse than brother warring with brother. Yet, paradoxically, the site of the Mahabharata war is a sacred place. Hence the first two words of the Gita are – ‘Dharmaksetre Kuruksetre’. Dharmaksetra is the abode of righteousness and Kuruksetra means the land of strife and struggle. Our inner personality is pervaded by Atman, infinite Bliss. Instead of experiencing peace and tranquility we are stressed out, agitated and disturbed. The Gita helps restore peace and steers us to infinite Happiness.
Dhrtarastra asks his minister Sanjaya to tell him what his sons and the sons of Pandu were doing on the battlefield of Kuruksetra. The Bhagavad Gita comes to us through the narration of Sanjaya, literally meaning one who is victorious over himself. Dhrtarastra was unable to see his own brother’s sons as his own. This sense of separateness was the cause of the entire battle. Conflict prevails in our lives when we fail to feel one with our fellow beings.
Dhrtarastra, the son of Ambika, Vicitravirya’s widow, and Vyasa, was born blind. He was blind to the evil that his sons were committing. He was attached to them and could not see right from wrong. Dhrtarastra represents the mind. The mind functions on impulse, likes and dislikes, and whims and fancies. It lacks the capacity to decipher our own long-term interests. Dhrtarastra married Gandhari who could see but chose to blind herself after her wedding. She epitomizes the intellect that judges, discriminates, discerns. However the intellect also gets blinded when infatuated with the mind. It loses its clarity. The outcome of the association of a blind mind with a blinded intellect is negativity, loss and destruction. Dhrtarastra and Gandhari had a hundred evil sons. It is the mind that takes us to self-destructive avenues. The intellect needs to be strong and alert to hold the mind in place, direct it and guide it towards our own progress and happiness. If the intellect is weak, the mind takes over and causes the downfall.
The Gita begins with the word ‘dharma’ and ends with ‘mama’. The entire Bhagavad Gita explains ‘mama dharma’ – my essential being. You are not the body, mind or intellect. You are Atman. Atman is unknown. You only know the body, mind and intellect. The Gita introduces you to your very own Self, Atman.
2. Sanjaya begins his narrative. Duryodhana goes to Dronacarya, the son of the celebrated sage Bharadvaja, the guru of both the Pandavas and Kauravas. Dronacarya had instructed them in the art of archery, the very skill Duryodhana would use in the battle. Sanjaya highlights Duryodhana’s arrogance by saying ‘King’ Duryodhana approached the preceptor. A king speaks to his subjects but a teacher is sought by a student. When you approach a teacher it must be with humility, not arrogance. Only then is there true learning. It is this arrogance that was Duryodhana’s undoing. Had he approached Dronacarya in the right spirit he may have got valuable advice that could have prevented the death and destruction that resulted from the war.