Bhagavad Gita with Commentaries of Ramanuja | Discourse 1

Chapter 1
Arjuna-viṣāda Yogaḥ 
Arjuna’s Grief

Introduction

yat padāmbhoruha dhyāna vidhvasta śeṣa kalmaṣaḥ|
vastutām upayāto'ham yāmuneyam namāmi tam ||

I bow to the renowned Yāmunācāryā; by meditating upon whose lotus-like feet all my mental obstacles without exceptions were absolved, and I was thus led to enlightenment.

The Nature of The Supreme Being

Nārāyaṇa is the Consort of Śrī, He is absolutely auspicious and is the antithesis of all that is evil. His essential nature consists of Being (sat), Consciousness (cit) and Bliss (ānanda) and these characteristics distinguish Him from all other beings.

He is veritably a great ocean of innumerable auspicious attributes which are intrinsic to His nature and cannot be surpassed — some of them being; omniscience, omnipotence, sovereignty, energy, creative-potency and glory.

Nārāyaṇa has a divine form, which is both pleasing and appropriate. His form is inconceivable, indescribable, divine, eternal and immaculate.

He is a repository of limitless perfections such as radiance, beauty, fragrance, tenderness, pervading sweetness and youthfulness. The Lord is adorned with suitable divine ornaments which are diverse, infinite, amazing, eternal, flawless, unlimited and holy.

Śrīman Nārāyaṇa possesses appropriate divine weapons. They are countless, of fantastic potency, eternal, impeccable and matchlessly auspicious.

He is the Beloved of Śrī, whose eternal and immaculate nature, attributes, glory, sovereignty and virtues, unsurpassed and countless, are all agreeable and worthy of Him.

The feet of the Lord are constantly adored by countless numbers of perfected beings (Suris) whose nature, existence and activities are in accordance with His will and whose numerous qualities such as knowledge, action and glory are eternal, impeccable and unsurpassed. All of these beings work joyously in complete subservience to Śrīman Nārāyaṇa.

The nature and qualities of Śrīman Nārāyaṇa transcend all thought and words.

He dwells in the divine and imperishable supreme Realm which abounds in manifold, wondrous and countless objects, means and places of enjoyment. It is an abode in consonance with His being and is infinite in its wondrous glory and magnitude.

The projection, maintenance and dissolution of the entire cosmos filled with multifarious, variegated and innumerable objects is His transcendental pastime.

The Nature of the Incarnation

The Supreme Being, Śrīman Nārāyaṇa, projected the entire universe, beginning with Brahma (the creator) down to plants and minerals.

Being inaccessible in His transcendental form for meditation and worship by sentient beings including Brahma, gods, humans etc., and being an ocean of compassion and loving condescension, maternal affection and generosity —He took forms in the likeness of  various kinds of beings. In this act of self-embodiment His own transcendental nature was not in any way compromised.

Thus the Supreme Lord took birth in the world in order to receive the worship of devotees and in order to grant them their desired goals comprising of Dharma (righteousness, duty), Artha (material prosperity), Kāma (Sense gratification) and Moksha (Liberation), each in accordance with his/her individual desires.

Under the pretext of relieving the earth of its burdens, but really in order to make Himself available for us (frail humans) to take refuge in Him, the Lord incarnated on the earth as Śrī Krishna. He thus manifested Himself to all beings.

He engaged in divine pastimes which captivated the minds and hearts of all, high and low. He vanquished demoniac beings such as Pūtana, Śakaṭa, the two Arjuna trees, Ariṣṭa, Prālambha, Dhenuka, Kāliya, Keśin, Kuvalaya-pīḍa, Cānura, Muṣṭika, Tośala and Kaṁsa.

He spread joy and beatitude over the entire world with the nectar of His glances and speech, demonstrating His boundless compassion, friendliness and love for all.

He made Akrūra, Mālākāra and others the most ardent of devotees by the manifestation of His unsurpassed qualities of beauty and loving compassion.

With the ostensible intention of encouraging the sons of Pāṇḍu in their duty of engaging in war, He revealed the teaching of Bhakti (devotion) directed at Himself.

This Yoga of Devotion was promulgated together with the subsidiary disciplines of jñāna (Meditation) and Karma(Selfless works). The Yoga of Devotion has been taught as the path to the ultimate goal of Liberation.

When the internecine war between the sons of Pāṇḍu and the descendants of Kuru broke out, Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Being, the God of all gods, overwhelmed by His love for those devotees who had taken refuge in Him,

took upon Himself the humble role of the charioteer of Arjuna, so that He could be seen by all the people.

Even though the King Dhṛitarāṣṭra, who was blind both physically and spiritually, knew that Kṛṣṇa was the Supreme Being, he expressed a desire to hear about the military competence of his son Suyodhana (Duryodhana) and questioned Saṁjaya his chief minister thus: —

Dhṛitarāṣṭra uvāca
dharma-kṣetre kuru-kṣetre samavetāyuyutsavaḥ|
māmakāḥpāṇḍavāścaiva kim akurvata sañjaya || 1 ||

Dhritarāshtra said:

1.  What  did  my  people  and  the  Pandavas  do,  O  Sanjaya,  gathered  together  on  the  holy  field  of Kurukṣettra, eager for battle?

Sañjaya uvāca
dṛṣṭvātu pāṇḍavānīkaṁvyūḍhaṁduryodhanas tadā|
ācāryam upasaṅgamya rājāvacanam abravīt || 2 ||

Sanjaya said:

2. O King! Duryodhana, being moved by the sight of the Pāṇḍava army in battle array, approached his teacher Drona and said these words:

paśyaitām pāṇḍu-putrāṇām ācārya mahatīṁcamūm |
vyūḍhāṁdrupada-putreṇa tava śiṣyeṇa dhīmatā|| 3 ||

Duryodhana said

3. Behold, O master, this mighty army of the Pāṇḍavas, commanded by their Field-Marshal the son of Drupada, who is your intelligent disciple.

atra śūrāmaheṣvāsābhīmārjuna samāyudhi |
yuyodhāno virāṭaśca drupadaśca mahārathaḥ|| 4 ||

4. There (in that army) are heroes, great archers like Bhīma and Arjuna; Yuyudhāna, Virāṭa and Drupada a mighty warrior.

dhṛṣṭaketuś-cekitānaḥkāśi-rājaśca vīryavān |
purujit-kunti-bhojaśca śaibyaśca nara-puṅgavaḥ|| 5 ||

5. Dhriṣṭaketu, Chekitāna, and the valiant king of Kāśī, Purujit and Kuntibhoja, and Saibya, the best among men;

yudhāmanyuśca vikrānta uttamaujāśca vīryavān |
saubhadro draupadeyāśca sarva eva mahārathāḥ|| 6 ||

6. Yudhāmanyu the valiant, and Uttamaujas the strong; and also the son of Subhadra, and the sons of Draupadī, all mighty chariot-warriors.

asmākaṁtu viśiṣṭāye tān-nibodha dvijottama |
nāyakāḥmama sainyasya saṁjñārthaṁtān bravīmi te || 7 ||

7.  O  best  of  Brahmins,  I  shall  familiarise  you  with  our  principle  warriors - those  who  are  the commanders of my army. I shall name them to refresh your memory.

bhavān bhīṣmaśca karṇaśca kṛpaśca samitiñjayaḥ|
aśvatthāmāvikarṇaśca saumadattas tathaiva ca || 8 ||

8. Yourself, Bhīshma and Karna, the victorious Kṛpā, Aśvatthāmā, Vikarṇa and Jayadratha, the son of Somadatta.

anye ca bahavaḥ śūrāmadārthe tyakta-jīvitāḥ|
nānā-śāstra praharaṇāḥsarve yuddha-viśāradāḥ|| 9 ||

9. And there are many other heroes who are determined to give up their lives for my sake. They are all experts in weaponry and experienced in the art of warfare.

aparyāptaṁtad asmakaṁbalaṁbhīṣmābhirakṣitam |
paryāptaṁtvidam eteṣāṁbalaṁbhīmābhirakṣitam || 10 ||

10. Inadequate is this force of ours, which is marshalled by Bhīshma, while adequate is that force of theirs, which is marshalled by Bhīma.

ayaneṣu ca sarveṣu yathā-bhāgam avasthitāḥ|
bhīṣmam evābhi-rakṣantu bhavantaḥsarva eva hi || 11 ||

11.  Therefore,  do  all  of  you  guard  Bhīshma  alone,  stationed  in  your  respective  positions in  the divisions of the army.

tasya sañjanayan harṣaṁkuru-vṛddhaḥpitāmahaḥ|
siṁhanādaṁvinadyoccaiḥ śaṅkhaṁdadhmau pratāpavān || 12 ||

(Sanjaya continued)

12. Then the valiant grandsire Bhīshma, senior most of the Kuru clan, roaring like a lion, blew his conch with a view to encourage Duryodhana.

tataḥ śaṅkhāśca bheryaśca paṇavānaka-gomukhāḥ|
sahasaivābhyahanyanta sa śabdas-tumulo’bhavat || 13 ||

13. Then suddenly conches and kettle drums, trumpets, tabors and horns blared forth; and the sound was terrific.

tataḥ śvetair-hayair-yukte mahati syandane sthitau |
mādhavaḥpāṇḍavaścaiva divyau śaṅkhau pradadhmatuḥ|| 14 ||

14. Then Sri Krishna and Arjuna, stationed in their great chariot yoked with white horses, blew their divine conches.

pāñcajanyaṁhṛṣīkeśo devadattaṁdhanañjayaḥ|
pauṇḍraṁdadhmau mahā-śaṅkhaṁbhīma-karmāvṛkodaraḥ|| 15 ||

15.  Sri  Krishna  blew  his  conch,  Pañchajanya,  Arjuna  his,  named  Devadatta  and  Bhīma  of  terrible deeds the great conch Pauṇḍra.

ananta-vijayaṁrājākuntī-putro yudhiṣṭhiraḥ|
nakulaḥsahadevaśca sughoṣa maṇi-puṣpakau || 16 ||

16.  King  Yudhisṭhīra  the  son  of  Kunti  blew  his  conch  Ananta-vijaya  and  Nakula  and  Sahadeva blew their conches Sughosha and Mani-pushpaka.

kāśyaśca parameṣ-vasaḥ śikhaṇḍīca mahārathaḥ|
dhṛṣṭadyumno virāṭaśca sātyakiś-cāparājitaḥ|| 17 ||

17. And the King of Kāśī the supreme archer, Śikhaṇḍī the mighty warrior, Dhriṣṭadyumna and Virāṭa; and Sātyaki the invincible;

drupado draupadeyāśca sarvaśaḥpṛthivī-pate |
saubhadraśca mahā-bāhuḥ śaṅkhān dadhmuḥpṛthak pṛthak || 18 ||

18.  Drupada  and  the  sons  of  Draupadī,  and  the  strong-armed  son  of  Subhadra—  all,  O  King, blew their various conches again and again

sa ghoṣo dhārtarāṣṭrāṇāṁhṛdayāni vyadārayat |
nabhaśca pṛthivīṁcaiva tumulo’bhyanunādayan || 19 ||

19.  And  that  tumultuous  uproar,  resounding  through  heaven  and  earth,  rent  the  hearts  of Dhritarāshtra’s sons.

 Rāmānuja's Commentary

Duryodhana while witnessing the strength of the Pāṇḍavas army supported by the might of Bhīmā weighed his own armies strength under the command of Bhīshma

and perceiving the mood of his preceptor Droṇāchārya, he could understand the inadequacy in his own troops and the perfection of strength on the Pāṇḍavas side to be victorious and internally this aggrieved him heavily.

Bhīshma seeing all this gave a roar like a lion and blew a mighty, reverberating blast on his conch-shell which was followed by a tumultuous beating of drums, blaring of horns and blasting of conch-shells as if indicative of the victory in order to cheer up Duryodhana.

Immediately upon hearing this Lord Krishna and Arjuna seated in their majestic chariot capable of conquering all the worlds; both seized their conch-shells and reverberated a sound that shook all the worlds.

Thereafter Bhīmā, Yudhisṭhīra, Nākula and Sahadeva and the rest of the mahā-rathas of the Pāṇḍava army blew their conch-shells

and the roar which was heard cleaved the hearts of Duryodhana and the army of the Kaurāvas and in their hearts they felt that the battle was already lost.

Thus did Sanjaya narrate to Dhritarāshtra whose only concern was for the success of his son Duryodhana and the Kaurāvas in the battle.

atha vyavasthitān dṛṣṭvādhārtarāsṭrān kapi-dhvajaḥ|
pravṛtte śastra-sampāte dhanur udyamya pāṇḍavaḥ|| 20 ||
hṛṣīkeśaṁtadāvākyam idam āha mahī-pate |

20. Then Arjuna, who had Hanuman as his banner crest, on beholding the sons of Dhritarāshtra in array, took up his bow, as the (preliminary) clashing of weapons began;

21. And he spoke, O King, these words to Sri Krishna …....

arjuna uvāca

senayor-ubhayor madhye rathaṁsthāpaya me’cyuta || 21 ||
yāvad etān nirīkṣe’haṁyoddhu-kāmān avasthitān |
kair-mayāsaha yoddhavyam asmin raṇa-samudyame || 22 ||

Arjuna said:

…….. Station my chariot, O Krishna, between the two armies,

22. So that I may have a good look at those who are standing eager to fight and know with whom I have to fight in this enterprise of war;

yotsyamānān avekṣehaṁya ete’tra samāgatāḥ|
dhārtarāṣṭrasya durbuddher yuddhe priya cikīrṣavaḥ|| 23 ||

23. I wish to see those gathered here ready to fight in this battle in order to please the evil-minded [Duryodhana] son of Dhritarāshtra.

Saṁjaya uvāca

evam ukto hṛṣīkeśo guḍākeśena bhārata |
senayor-ubhayor madhye sthāpayitvārathottamam || 24 ||

Sanjaya said:

24. O Dhritarāshtra, thus addressed by Arjuna, Sri Krishna stationed that best of chariots between the two armies,

bhiṣma droṇa pramukhataḥsarveṣāṁca mahīkṣitām |
uvāca pārtha paśyaitān samavetān kurūn iti || 25 ||

25. While Bhīshma and Drona and all the other kings looked on, and said, 'O Arjuna, behold these assembled Kaurāvas.'

Rāmānuja's Commentary

After attentively surveying the army of the Kaurāvas arranged in battle formation, Arjuna, the son of Pāṇḍu on whose flag bears the image of Hanuman, who set the kingdom of Lanka ablaze, requested Lord Krishna to place their chariot between the two opposing armies.

Requested whom?

Arjuna requested no lesser personality than the Supreme Lord Himself, the treasure-house of such attributes as wisdom, strength, sovereignty, eternality, omnipotence and splendour.

Who by His will created the complete cosmic manifestation in its triple aspect of Inception, Preservation and Dissolution for His own pleasure as in sport, the Supreme Lord Krishna, Hriṣīkeśa, the master of the senses, the Supreme Controller, internally and externally of all living entities evolving and evolved.

Who, although the Supreme Lord of all, yet descended down to Earth out of His causeless mercy for the redemption of the faithful and even more, He condescended to be Arjuna's chariot driver,

carrying out his wish to station their chariot in such a commanding position as to be able to readily view the belligerent Kaurāvas and put within the range of his vision such heroes as Bhīshma-dēva, Droṇāchārya and Kripā and the Kings of royal dynasties.

At that time the Supreme Lord Krishna said to Arjuna: see what chances there are for the Kaurāvas victory over thee.

26.  Then  Arjuna  saw  standing  there,  fathers  and  grand-fathers,  teachers,  uncles,  brothers,  sons, grandsons and comrades;

śvaśurān suhṛdaścaiva senayor-ubhayor api |
tān samīkṣya sa kaunteyaḥsarvān bandhūn avasthitān || 27 ||
kṛpayāparayā’viṣṭho viṣīdann idam abravīt |

27. fathers-in-law and dear friends in both armies. When Arjuna saw all these kinsmen in array,

28. he was filled with deep compassion and said these words in despair...

arjuna uvāca
dṛṣṭvemaṁsvajanaṁkṛṣṇa yuyutsaṁsamupasthitam || 28 ||
sīdanti mama gātrāṇi mukhaṁca pariśuṣyati |
vepathuśca śarīre me roma harṣaśca jāyate || 29 ||

Arjuna said:

O Krishna, seeing my kinsmen present here, eager for battle,

29. my limbs go weak, my mouth dries up, my body trembles and my hair stands on end.

gāṇḍīvaṁsramsate hastāt tvak caiva pari-dahyate |
na ca śaknomy-avasthātuṁbhramatīva ca me manaḥ|| 30 ||

30. The bow Gāṇḍīva slips from my hand and my skin is burning, I can stand no longer, my mind seems to reel.

nimittāni ca paśyāmi viparītāni keśava |
na ca śreyo’nupaśyāmi hatvāsvajanam āhave || 31 ||

31. I see inauspicious omens, O Krishna, I foresee no good in killing my own kinsmen in battle.

na kāṅkṣe vijayaṁkṛṣṇa na ca rājyaṁsukhāni ca |
kiṁno rājyena govinda kiṁbhogair jīvitena vā|| 32 ||

32. I desire not victory, nor empire, nor pleasures. Of what use to us is an empire, O Krishna, or enjoyment or even life itself?

yeṣām arthe kāṅkṣitaṁno rājyaṁbhogāḥsukhāni ca |
ta ime’ vasthitāyuddhe prāṇāṁs tyaktvādhanāni ca || 33 ||

33. Those for whose sake we desire the empire, enjoyment and pleasures, stand here ready for war, preparing to renounce life and wealth —

ācāryāḥpitaraḥputrāṁs tathaiva ca pitāmahāḥ|
mātulāḥ śvaśurāḥpautrāḥ śyālāḥsambandhinas tathā|| 34 ||

34. Teachers, fathers, sons and also grandfathers, uncles, fathers-in-law and grandsons, brothers-in-law and other kinsmen —

etān na hantum icchāmi ghnato’pi madhusūdana |
api trailokya rājyasya hetoḥkiṁnu mahīkṛte || 35 ||

35. These I would not slay, though they might slay me, even for the sovereignty of the three worlds -how much less for this earth O Krishna?

nihatya dhārtarāṣṭrān naḥkiṁprītiḥsyāj-janārdana |
pāpam evāśrayed asmān hatvaitān ātatāyinaḥ|| 36 ||

36. If we kill the sons of Dhritarāshtra, what joy will be ours, O Krishna? Blame alone will accrue to us if we kill these murderous felons.

tasmān nārhāvayaṁhantuṁdhārtarāṣṭrān svabandhavān |
svajanaṁhi kathaṁhatvāsukhinaḥsyāma mādhava || 37 ||

37. Therefore, it is not befitting that we slay our kinsmen the sons of Dhritarāshtra. For if we kill our kinsmen, O Krishna , how indeed can we rejoice?

yady-apyete na paśyanti lobhopahata cetasaḥ|
kula-kṣaya-kṛtaṁdoṣaṁmitra-drohe ca pātakam || 38 ||

38. Though these people, whose minds are overpowered by greed, see no evil in the destruction of a clan and no blame in treachery to friends,

kathaṁna jñeyam asmābhiḥpāpād asmān nivartitum |
kula-kṣaya-kṛtaṁdoṣaṁprapaśyadbhir janārdana || 39 ||

39. should we who see well the evil of destroying a family not know how to recoil from this crime, O Krishna?

kula-kṣaye praṇaśyanti kula-dharmāḥsanātanāḥ|
dharme naṣṭe kulaṁkṛtsnam adharmo’bhibhavaty-uta || 40 ||

40.  If  the  family  is  destroyed,   its  ancient  traditions  perish,  and  when  traditions  perish, unrighteousness overtakes the whole clan.

adharmābhi-bhavāt kṛṣṇa praduṣyanti kula-striyaḥ|
strīṣu duṣṭāsu vārṣṇeya jāyate varṇa-saṅkaraḥ|| 41 ||

41.  When  unrighteousness  prevails,  O  Krishna  the  women  of  the  clan  become  corrupt;  when women become corrupt, there arises intermixture of classes.

saṅkaro narakāyaiva kula-ghnānāṁkulasya ca |
patanti pitaro hyeṣāṁlupta-piṇḍodaka-kriyāḥ|| 42 ||

42. This mixing of classes leads the clan to hell along with its destroyers; for the spirits of their ancestors fall, degraded, deprived of the ritual offerings of rice-balls and water.

doṣair etaiḥkula-ghnānāṁvarṇa-saṅkara-kārakaiḥ|
utsādyante jāti-dharmāḥkula-dharmāśca śāśvatāḥ|| 43 ||

43.  By  the  crimes  of  the   clan-destroyers  who  bring  about  intermingling  of  classes,  the  ancient traditions of the clan and class are destroyed.

utsanna-kula-dharmāṇāṁmanuṣyāṇāṁjanārdana |
narake’niyataṁvāso bhavatīty-anuśuśruma || 44 ||

44. For those whose family virtues are destroyed, dwelling in hell is ordained, O Krishna, thus have we heard.

aho bata mahat pāpaṁkartuṁvyavasitāvayam |
yad rājya sukha lobhena hantuṁsva-janam udyatāḥ|| 45 ||

45. Alas! we have resolved to commit a great crime in that we are ready to slay our kith and kin out of desire for sovereignty and enjoyments.

yadi mām apratīkāram aśastraṁ śastra-pāṇayaḥ|
dhārtarāṣṭrāraṇe hanyus tan-me kṣemataraṁbhavet || 46 ||

46. If the well-armed sons of Dhritarāshtra should slay me in battle, unresisting and unarmed, that would be better for me.

evam uktvā’rjunaḥsaṅkhye rathopastha upāviśat |
visṛjyasaśaraṁcāpaṁ śoka saṁvigna mānasaḥ|| 47 ||

Sanjaya said:

47. Having spoken thus on the battle-field, Arjuna threw aside his bow and arrows and sat down on the seat of the chariot, his heart overwhelmed with grief.

Rāmānuja's Commentary

Sanjaya frankly speaks to Dhritarāṣṭra at this time saying that Arjuna, who is the most noble minded, the most compassionate, the eternal well-wisher and the most virtuous;

although frequently fraught with difficulties along with his four brothers, instigated by thee and thy son, including horrid acts of treachery against them with intent to kill,

such as attempting to burn them all alive in a specially made house of combustible lac, administering poison and other unworthy deeds as well.

It is surely known to you that by Arjuna the destruction of all your clan is certain due to the fact that he has the support of the Parama Puruṣa, Krishna Himself, by his side.

He felt weak, overcome by his love and extreme compassion for his relatives. He was also filled with fear, not knowing what was Dharma(righteous) and what was Adharma (unrighteous). His mind was distracted by grief at the thought of losing his relatives.

So he cast aside his bow and arrow and sat down on the floor of the chariot as if to fast to the death.

hariḥ oṁ tatsat
iti śrīmad-bhagavad-gītāsupaniṣatsu
brahma-vidyāyāṁ yoga śāstre
śrī-kṛṣṇārjuna saṁvāde arjuna viśāda yogo nama
prathamo’dhyāyaḥ

Thus in the Upanishad of the Glorious Bhagavad Gita
The science of the Eternal, the Scripture of Yoga
The dialogue between Sri Krishna and Arjuna
ends the first discourse entitled -"Arjuna’s Grief.”