The Approaching Clash – Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 1: 20-21

Arjuna’s Depression

The Bhagavad Gita (God Song) is a dialogue in verse and meter between Arjuna and Krishna. Krishna is Arjuna’s childhood friend and guru.

The Characters:

Krishna – ‘Dark blue-black’, the color of the night (moon energy, apana). Divine incarnation (avatar) of Vishnu, God as Sustainer-Maintainer.

Arjuna – ‘Pale yellowish white’, the color of the day (sun energy, prana). A master archer, Arjuna is the greatest archer in all the world, He is married to Draupadi (shakti), who is the wife of all five Pandava brothers.

Having seen the Sons of Dhritarashtra [the blind king], arrayed and drawn up for battle, raising his bow as the clash of weapons began, the Monkey-Bannered Son of Pandu [Arjuna]

Monkey-Bannered Son of Pandu – An epitaph of Arjuna referring to Arjuna’s use of the image of the monkey-god Hanuman on his banner to communicate his intentions to the enemy. Hanuman, Arjuna’s standard, is the ultimate devotee of an earlier (prior to Krishna) incarnation of Vishnu, Lord Rama. Because of his supreme devotion, Hanuman achieved liberation, superhuman powers and immortality. With Hanuman as Arjuna’s standard, the message of this banner is clearly “victory”.

Why a monkey? The image of a human-like monkey attaining the highest state strongly suggests evolution and transformation from the animalness of meat and bones, to the perfection of immortal Divine Body, which is said to be the final achievement of yoga sahdana. This state is spoken of in other Sanskrit texts as “cheating death”, and in the Bible in such phrases as “this corruptible shall have put on incorruption”, “this mortal shall have put on immortality”, and “death is swallowed up in victory”. Arjuna’s standards are high indeed, and reveals the degree of his own devotion, commitment and determination.

Arjuna spoke:
To the Bristling Haired one
[Krishna], [Arjuna] then spoke these words: “Cause my chariot to stand in the middle between the two armies, Imperishable One.

Bristling Haired – An epitaph of Krishna meaning ‘master of the senses’.
Imperishable One – Another epitaph of Krishna meaning ‘permanent, firm, unfailing’.

Arjuna has asked Krishna to position his chariot between the two opposing forces. You will recall that Krishna is driving Arjuna’s chariot. Earlier I said that this was “another story”. Here is that story in short:

After having unrelentingly urged the Pandavas to take back their rightful place as rulers of the kingdom, Krishna took a neutral stance by offering his armies to one side, and himself to the other. But who would get what? To determine this, he said to Arjuna and Duryodhana, the two leaders of the two sides, that the first of them that he saw upon awakening in the morning would get to choose. Duryodhana spent the night stationed at Krishna’s head so that he could know the moment Krishna awoke and be seen immediately. Arjuna arrived before Krishna awakened and stationed himself at his feet, and as a result, was the first to be seen. Oddly, but to Duryodhana’s happy surprise, Arjuna chose Krishna, leaving Krishna’s armies to Duryodhana.

What we see here is Arjuna putting God in the driver’s seat. Even though it appears that he may have given up the victory by losing the opportunity to expand his own forces, Arjuna chose God. He did this by placing himself at his guru’s feet, so guru is now able to effectively serve him. (This scene serves as a teaching that explains the custom of bowing at the guru’s feet: It is not for the benefit of the guru, but for the devotee.) 

Being in the middle between the two opposing forces is significant. Earlier we spoke of these two opposing forces as representing the upward-flowing and downward-flowing energies in the body—sun energy that warms, and moon energy that cools. These two energies are about to come crashing together. This crashing together signals the awakening of the evolutionary force, Kundalini. In fact, the union (yoga) of these two forces is Kundalini. So now we know what this dialogue of eighteen chapters is going to be about.

We already have two opposites in union in order for this to have come about: Krishna (dark), God/guru, and Arjuna (light), devotee/disciple, are unified within the vehicle in which Arjuna takes his position: his chariot, the body.

Being in the middle between the two armies gives Arjuna a vantage point for looking things over, and we have the opportunity to listen in on his conversation with Krishna throughout the eighteen chapters that make up the Bhagavad Gita. So the fun has only just begun.

Durga Ma


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8 thoughts on “The Approaching Clash – Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 1: 20-21

  1. To exchange the power of God’s army to allow ‘Thy Will, not mine, be done’, that is, to put God in the driver’s seat, is going to take some time and contemplation to sink in.


    1. In one sense, this is what sadhana is for. Try contemplating (or better yet watch it!) the process of what occurs when we surrender in meditation.

      Jaya Bhagwan!


  2. Pingback: Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 1, Vs 41-44 | Mystical Tidbits

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