Monday, November 24, 2008

Gitabhasya of Jagannatha Prakasa: 1:24-35

The Gitabhasya
Of Jagannatha Prakasa

Translation and Commentary by Jagannatha Prakasa (John of AllFaith © 1993/2008)

Arjuna Vishada Yoga:
The Yoga of Arjuna's Sorrow

1:24: Sanjaya said: Thus addressed by Gudakesha [Arjuna], Hrishikesha [Sri Krsna], O descendant of Bharata, placed that best of chariots in the midst of the armies.
    This is an important saintly trait: Balance. Sadhus are equal minded, seeking to understand all sides and then, employing free will and intelligence, they choose the side of Sri Bhagavan (God). Arjuna does not immediately side with his brothers but seeks to discover the truth of his situation and then accept the counsel of the One Without A Second.

1:25: In the presence of [Grandfather] Bhishma and Drona, as well as all the assembled rulers of the planet, [the Lord] spoke these words: O child of Partha, behold all these Kurus who are thus gathered.

1:26: Before him the son of Partha [Arjuna] saw his fathers, grandfathers, teachers, maternal uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, friends and fathers-in-law; indeed well-wishers were in both armies.

    In the same way as we conduct our lives here we have so many influences to contend with. We are pulled in countless directions by our friends, family, our societies and peer pressures. One who makes his/her determinations based on such pressures will never succeed in life. Though our emotions are strong, only our service to Ek Devata, the One God, will produce the results we desire!

1:27: Having seen all these relatives so situated, the son of Kunti [Arjuna] was filled with compassion and with deepest lamentation he spoke thus:

1:28, 29: Arjuna said: O Krsna, seeing all these relatives standing ready and eager to fight, my limbs falter and my mouth is parched.

My body is trembling and my hairs are standing erect. Gandiva [my bow] is slipping from my hand and indeed, my skin is burning.

    Gauging right and wrong, righteous and unrighteous, duty and dishonor with material eyes Arjuna feels himself to be stymied. He is unable to decide which course of action is correct. His power drains away and he sinks into lamentation and sore grief. This is a characteristic of our age, Kali Yuga, which was then dawning. Confusion fills our mind and we find the right path is difficult to distinguish between the wrong ones. As Kali Yuga progresses such uncertainties become more and more common. We seem forced to choose between equally undesirable options. Arjuna then is here manifesting the state of those living in this age. Being so consumed by doubt and uncertainty he approaches the supreme authority for direction, Sri Krsna. Only God can direct us through this fallen age to success.

1:30-35: I am unable to stand; my mind seems to reel and I see adverse omens O Keshava [Krsna].

I see no benefit in killing my own relatives in battle, nor do I desire victory or the kingdom nor [the subsequent] happiness [victory would bring me], O Krsna.

O Govinda, what use to us is the kingdom? Where is the enjoyment in life? For whose sake do we desire the kingdom, material enjoyment and happiness?

Those for whom we desire these things - our teachers, fathers, sons, indeed, even our grandfathers - are standing ready to battle and give up their lives and wealth.

Other relations as well, including our maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons and brothers-in-law; all these I do not wish to kill, even if I am killed by them, O Madhusudana [Krsna].

O Janardana [Krsna], what pleasure would there be, even if the three worlds were given in exchange for a kingdom; how then for the sake of this earth shall I kill the sons of Dhritarashtra?

    Realistically beholding his situation Arjuna is heartbroken! As a saintly person he is kindly disposed toward all living entities and yet he has been ordered to take part in this horrible war. By profession Arjuna was a warrior as prescribed by family tradition and social contract, but this was too much for him! In this pending war he senses the loss of everything that he would be fighting for! And so he asks for the counsel of Sri Krsna, referencing Him as Madhusudana: the Killer of the demon Madhu.

    Sometimes difficult decisions must be made and strong measures -- even though undesirable -- must be undertaken. Sri Krsna is everyone's well-wisher and friend and yet he killed this demon named Madhu for the good of everyone (ultimately including the demon himself!). And so now Arjuna asks God for the strength to slay his inner demons of doubt and confusion. He sees no way he can fulfill his duties as a Kshatriya or warrior without losing his own soul unless he is granted divine aid. This is an ancient truth and one well worth noting! Like Arjuna we must do our very best with what we have but when that's not enough, we must remember to turn to God!

    As an interesting side note to this verse, Sri Krsna, as Krsna, never killed a demon named Madhu and yet this is one of His more respected names! Krsna killed many other demons, but never one named Madhu. However Arjuna understands who Sri Krsna really is: "God is One" (Ek Oankar) despite His various past times and assumed attributes! Sri Bhagavan, as the Visnu Incarnation (or avatar) Hayagriva, slew the demon Madhu and because God and His transcendental activities are One, Sri Krsna is globally celebrated as Madhusudana! Madhu's activities are described in the Devi Bhagavata, the Kalika Purana and of course in the Mahabharata.

    Although we seek to categorize everything, thereby hoping to understand if not master reality, the reality is: Ekam Sat: Vipra Bahudha Vadante: "Truth is one; sages call it by various names". The ways are God are utterly transcendental to human conception and Ek Devata, the One God is BOTH This and That (tat tvam asi)! God is More!

Jai Jagannatha!
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