Obstacles to Yoga – Bhagavad Gita, Ch 11, Vs 34-35

Bishma's Death by 1000 arrows
The death of Bhishma by 1000 arrows.

This post addresses four main characters you had always thought of as your allies but are now fighting on the side of the enemy.

In the story of the Mahabharata war, this Bhagavad Gita is a conversation between Lord Krishna and his devotee and childhood friend, Arjuna. Listening in, we receive the teachings of Lord Krishna as he relates them to Arjuna.

Drona, Bhishma, Jayadratha, Karna and the others also, all warrior heroes, will be killed by Me (Krishna). So do not hesitate, but fight. You are destined to conquer the enemy in this battle.

“You are destined” is another allusion to Time.

These great warriors, all of whom are deeply respected by everyone including Arjuna, are obstacles — they are fighting on the side of the enemy:



Drona teaches Arjuna the art of archery
Drona teaches Arjuna the art of archery

Drona, a highly accomplished archer respected by both sides, is archery guru to both Arjuna, our hero, and Duryodhana, the enemy.

The word ‘drona‘ means ‘bucket’ and refers to a bucket used as a measure of capacity (ability). A master of his art, Drona represents the intellect as the reasoning capacity of the mind.

The asset of intelligence can become an obstacle. It has the ability to use logical reasoning to support actions that serve a purpose contrary to one’s natural divinity or ultimate goal, i.e., yoga. Acting on this logic, the individual believes that he is doing the right thing. He acts on this belief without conscious awareness of the mental shenanigans that have judged it a good thing and prompted this action. This increases the distance between himself and his true Self, and he wonders why his life is so unsatisfactory.

Intelligence can also become a tool for self-deception in one’s spiritual path. For instance: You have an experience in meditation that fits what you have heard about samadhi, but it was not samadhi. Nevertheless, you let yourself believe it was, and tell everyone about it, only to discover later that this was not the case. Or perhaps you receive a message in your meditation concerning your status, and intellect misinterprets it as grand when it is not, or failure when it is grand. Or you may have a longing to fulfill a socially conditioned desire, and your mind convinces you that this longing “wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t the right thing to do,” so you mistakenly act on it.


Terrible Vow

Bhishma means ‘terrible vow’, in this case, a vow of celibacy for the duration of his lifetime. Can you think of anything more difficult and requires constant reliance on will power without a break? Yet celibacy is the best way of retaining Life Energy, physical strength, and reaching the profound wisdom within, while simultaneously preserving one’s life. Sexual release on the other hand, deflates the power of the Life Energy, and therefor, one’s life. But it must be possible or it would not be taught by masters. Only guru can get you through this one.


Victorious Chariot

Jayadratha, whose name means ‘victorious chariot’, might just as well be called “Mr. Goodbody”, for he is surely all about bodily (chariot) awareness and control as exhibited by such men as he — he once abducted Arjuna’s wife! Though Jayadratha may have seen victory in such things, this was his undoing, for Arjuna kills him with his Pashupata Astra during the battle.

An astra is a supernatural weapon presided over by a specific deity, and Arjuna’s weapon was that of Shiva Pashupati, Lord of Yoga. His astra is His trident. Suffice it to say that this hand-held weapon finished Jayadratha.

Identification with the body as yourself is the antithesis of the goal of union with God, liberation and eternal happiness, and will stop you from getting there. 



Karna means ‘ear’. Karna is Arjuna’s half-brother and Duryodhana’s closest friend. (Duryodhana is the enemy’s leader; he represents ego-centered desires.)

When someone says, ‘he had so-and-so’s ear’ they are saying that he shared confidences with him. In this case, Duryodhana had Karna’s ear, and many confidences were shared. 

Karna is the only warrior believed to be able to defeat Arjuna in battle. He is one of the greatest warriors in the world. His martial exploits are recorded in the Mahabharata from which this Bhagavad Gita is taken. Karna, and Arjuna and his brothers, all have the same mother, and even though Karna is ‘family’, he is fighting on the side of Duryodhana, the bad guys who are attempting to maintain control of the kingdom.

Arjuna bows before Lord Krishna

Samjaya said:

Hearing these words of Lord Krishna, Arjuna, trembling, his hands folded, offering respects and very much afraid, bowed down before Him and spoke in a faltering voice…..

Samjaya, the king’s minster who is narrating all this to the blind king, notes that Arjuna is afraid but bows down before Lord Krishna in spite of his frightened state, and speaks to Him. We will learn what Arjuna has to say to Lord Krishna in our next installment, and also find out what the biggest obstacle to yoga is.

Namaste (I bow to the divine one you really are),
Durga Ma


Mindful Life Meditation & Mastery

Mindful Life Natural Meditation is spontaneous and non-forceful. It will take you on the most amazing journey you will ever experience. Explore shaktipat kundalini yoga meditation in three forms.

Mindful Life Mastery synchronizes you and your life with your naturally divine characteristics and the Real You emerges. Attain and maintain success. Gain greater self-awareness and a happier life.

Every step you take pulls every one of us with you.

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