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A View of the Battle -Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 1: 22-25

22 – 23
“I [Arjuna] would look upon these battle-hungry warriors with whom I must fight, to see those who have come together here to do battle in service to the evil-minded son of Dhritarashtra.”

The “evil-minded son of Dhritarashtra” is Duryodhana. Duryodhana, who is the son of the blind king, ignorance, represents the ego.

Arjuna has asked Krishna to draw his chariot between the two facing armies so that he can look things over to see what his own armies will be facing in the upcoming battle.

24 – 25
Samjaya spoke:
O Descendant of Bharata
, thus the Master of the Senses [Krishna], having caused the chief chariot to stand in the middle between the two armies, was addressed by the Thick Haired One [Arjuna], while standing in front of Bhishma and Drona and all the rulers of the earth. To the Son of Pritha [Arjuna] He [Krishna] said, “Behold all these Kurus assembled here.”

The “Descendant of Bharata” is Dhritarashtra, the blind king to whom Samjaya, his minister, is narrating events using his clairvoyant powers from afar.

The “Master of the Senses” is Lord Krishna, who is driving Arjuna’s chariot, implying that the devotee’s (Arjuna’s) state at this point is pratyahara.

The “Thick Haired One” is Arjuna, devotee of Krishna. This epitaph (Gudakesha) also means, “preserver of one whose lord is Prajapati (‘lord of creatures’, ‘protector of life’)”.

Krishna is calling Arjuna’s attention to the “rulers of the earth”, and He does it while they are parked right in front of both Bhishma and Drona. What does He what Arjuna to see, to notice, to pay attention to? And why has He brought them to this particular place in front of Bhishma and Drona? The answer is in what these two Kurus represent.

Bhishma – Absolute loyalty to Ignorance and ego. The word Bhishma means ‘terrible’. When Bhishma decides something, it is final; he holds on to it for all he is worth. Bhishma is known for his vow of lifetime celibacy, his wisdom, bravery, keeping his word, and his absolute loyalty. But his loyalty is to the Kurus.

Drona – Intellect and reason. Drona taught archery to the major players on both sides. The name means ‘bucket’. He is called Drona because he was born in a bucket, in other words, outside of the womb. He represents intellect, the neutral power of the mind to discern and differentiate.

Galen, this is for you; you asked the question:

Intellect is not dependent on the birth of a body for its existence; it is not born of the womb. We tend to think of intellect as a function of the brain, because we think of the mind and the brain as the same. They are associated with each other, but they are not the same thing. The brain is the gross, physical instrument, and the mind is the subtle, non-physical, instrument.

The basis of the mind is chitta, ‘piled up, collected’, as in a bucket, from the root chit, ‘knowing, understanding, perception, comprehension, consciousness’. Consciousness comes into play when a non-physical individual first becomes aware of another non-physical individual. This creates a dual situation—self and other-than-self—by which the ‘sense of self’ (asmita) becomes the core of a developing ‘mind’, and differentiation becomes a feature of this ‘mind’, called buddhi. Buddhi is the power of discernment, the ability to make distinctions, judgement, intellect, and reason. Buddhi uses the contents of the mind, which arrive there via the senses, to make these determinations. Hence, Drona is ‘intellect’, which is by nature neutral, though in this case has taken its place in support of the Kurus.

The Kurus – The verb root of the word kuru is kri, meaning ‘to do’, so you can think of the Kurus as ‘doers’. While the scope of action of the Pandavas is dharma, Truth, for the Kurus it is doership. These two, Truth and doership, are contending their right to rule. The winner will be in charge. What they will be in charge of is you. Remember that this is all about you, your life, your sadhana. (This might be a good place to review the post on the subject of Surrender and Non Doership.)

The Pandavas – The root of the word Pandu is pan, which is a stake in a game, the prize, the bet, so you can think of the Pandavas as the willingness to take chances in order to win the prize, and equate this with surrendering to God in meditation to win union with God—you don’t know what will happen and you accept that. The Kurus on the other hand, are all about control.

By placing their chariot in front of Bhishma and Drona, Krishna is showing Arjuna that what he is primarily up against is determined loyalty to the ego (this would be Bhishma), and the full support of this by the Intellect (Drona). These are his most powerful enemies. They are the mightiest “rulers of the earth”.

The ‘earth’ is the body, our chariot, and our life in this world. So we realize now that it is not just ego, but our absolute loyalty to it, that rules our personal ‘world’, and that it is intellect that supports and maintains this alliance by means of judgement and reasoning. These are the greatest enemies of graduation from the world of the will, to the world of surrender.

This gives us some idea of the kinds of things Krishna wants us to be aware of. As we consider these verses, and the previous verses and the ones to come, we will find this same teaching reiterated in many different ways in this song in verse and meter, the Bhagavad Gita, ‘the song of God’.

Love,
Durga Ma

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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.

34
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

Intellect

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.

Bhishma

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.

Jayadratha

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

Ear

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

35
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
durgama.com

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