Chapter 1

Arjuna grief

            When we look at the superficial meaning of this chapter, we find that, on seeing his own thick and thin, his blood relations and friends standing poised to fight with him, Arjuna was overcome with grief. He was not interested in having Kingdom of the earth by killing his own people. Instead he was willing to die by the enemy arrows, so that they may win and fulfil their desires by having more wealth and power. He lost his will to fight. He threw down his bow and sat down in the chariot. His grief was, that he had to kill his own people to regain the "Indraprastha" the Pandava capital.

            Maharshi Vyas could have easily brought out this fact in four or five verses and then proceeded to the next chapter where we see the Krishna-Arjuna conversation. But instead of doing that, he has written a total of forty-seven verses to explain Arjuna-grief. Why? In this chapter Vyasa has very cleverly brought out the three basic inborn human tendencies.

The very first verse

            As we open the Gita, we are anxious to read this famous dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna. We wonder, who would be the first to start the conversation. We open the first chapter and the first two words that daringly glare at us, are "Dhrutarashtra Uvacha". These words mean Dhrutarashtra said. Then follows the very first verse spoken by the Kaurav Emperor Dhrutarashtra to Sanjaya. Why Dhrutarashtra? What was so great about him that he be given the top honour of adoring the first page and remain as the usherer of Gita. This man refused to know what was happening on the battlefield, when Maharshi Vyasa offered him Divine sight so that he could see and hear from his throne every detail, out there on the field, even though he was blind. Probably, in the heart of hearts he knew the end result of the war. He feared that his sons would die, yet he pinned his hope on the might of Bhishma. Dhrutarashtra, in the first and the only verse given to him by Vyasa says, "O! Sanjaya, on this battlefield of Kurukshetra, also known as Dharmakshetra, Pandu's sons and my sons had gathered to fight. Tell me what have they done so far?"

            The war was already in progress. Bhishma had become unconquerable. If Pandava army had to make any progress, fall of the mighty Bhishma was essential. Even Arjuna found it difficult, at that time, to contain Bhishma. He did not know what to do. Krishna came to his rescue. Bhishma had vowed that he would not throw arrows on Shikhandi as the latter was not a "man". Krishna knew this. He asked Arjuna to stand behind Shikhandi and attack Bhishma. All is fair in love and war, they say. Arjuna immediately did as was advised. Bhishma would not throw his arrows on Shikhandi, and he, therefore, could not defend himself against the powerful onslaught of Arjuna's archery. He fell on the ground. Sanjaya was given the divine sight by Vyasa when Dhrutarashtra had refused to have it. Sanjaya saw this catastrophe in the Kaurav side and at once came to the blind king and said, "Sire, the great Bhishma has fallen," Then he narrated the incidence and stood silent. The king wept, was lost in sorrow, as he knew that the end of Kauravas was in sight. He realised that his dearest son Duryodhana's life was of a few days. His entire clan would be wiped out in no time. Now, there was nobody to stop Arjuna. The events of the past few years passed before his eyes. He could not disown to himself the ultimate responsibility of his wrong actions which were yielding unsavoury fruits now. If he had taken the right course of action and not fallen a prey to the weaknesses of his selfish desires, this catastrophe could have been avoided. But now it was too late to think and remorse.

            What wrong action had he taken? Maharshi Vyas has brought Dhrutarashtra on the scene, in the opening verse, to warn us, the mankind of this modern age, not to follow his example. The superficial meaning of this first verse, we have seen. Now, let us go deep. The first word is "Dharmakshetra" followed by the second word "Kurukshetra". "Kshetra" means field. Both these words tell us the name of the field on which the war was fought. There is no need to use these two words. The right word is "Kurukshetra" meaning, on the field of Kurukshetra. Then, what was the necessity for Vyasji to add another word of the same meaning, and that too, as the very first one.

            In my school days, I remember, we were taught how to write an essay on any given topic. In the first paragraph, we were told, to write a few sentences to describe what you were going to cover in your essay. Then to devote the next few paragraphs for the main subject and write concluding remarks in the last para. In Gita topic, Vyasa has used the first verse to tell us what we have to take from the topics discussed in the whole of Gita.

            The word Kshetra has another meaning also. It means the gross physical body. Krishna, in the first verse of chapter 13, had said, "O! Arjuna, this body is called "Kshetra".

            Vyasa has made clever use of this meaning in the first verse, in the word "Dharmakshetra". Dhrutarashtra says to us, the inhabitants of this world, "O! people of the next age, beware! There is going to be a constant war between the virtues (Pandavas) and vices (Kauravas) in your body. If you neglect your Dharma (the right behaviour) then you will go down the road to destruction. You and your progeny will be annihilated in the course of time. All the wealth, power, fame will vanish without a trace and even your name will be wiped out from the good pages of history. What may remain is ill fame and undesired memories. Now listen to what Sanjaya is going to say". So saying, Dhrutarashtra has disappeared from Gita. He has vanished into thin air. We never hear of him in any of the balance 699 verses. Dhrutarashtra's ace entry was primarily to warn us not to be Dhrutarashtras, not to behave as he did, not to have his attitude, but to wipe out even the smallest trace of Dhrutarashtra tendency which is dormant in all of us.

Dhrutarashtra tendency

            What is this Dhrutarashtra tendency? What is so vile about it? Dhrutarashtra tendency is to protect, at any cost, and cover up the  deeds of one's dear ones. Let me illustrate this tendency or "Vrutti" with an example.

            Gambling is a common attitude observed in men and women. People like to gamble. It is not only horse racing or card games, dominoes and various games in casinos that people gamble with money, they also use any sundry means to accept wagers. People gamble on cricket, football , tennis matches. They play fun-games on passing motor car numbers laying bets on even or odd numbers. In ancient times, the game of dice was a recognised honourable game, played between two kings or princes. Dhrutarashtra's court was no exception.

            Invitation was sent by Duryodhana to Yudhishthir, the eldest of the Pandava brothers to come to the court to play dice game. Yudhishthir could not refuse and he arrived in Dhrutarashtra's court on the appointed day. The game was rigged before it started. Duryodhana's maternal uncle Shakuni played on behalf of the Kaurav Prince. He cast the dice for the first game. Yudhishthir placed a bet and lost. Game after game followed and Shakuni won all of them. Pandavas lost everything including "Indraprastha", their kingdom. Being desperate to win back whatever he had lost, Yudhishthir staked his brothers one by one, and lost them. They became the slaves of the Kaurav Prince. Finally ,he staked himself and lost. With downcast eyes he was getting ready to pack when, encouraged by Shakuni, Duryodhana challenged his adversary to stake Draupadi. The entire audience was dumb struck. Draupadi was the daughter in law of the emperor Dhrutarashtra. She was the wife of Pandavas. Duryodhana shouted, "Come on, you can win back everything, including your kingdom and the freedom of all of you, if you win this last game. All you have to stake in the game is Draupadi. If you lose, she becomes my maid servant just as you all are my servants now." Pindrop silence prevailed. Dhrutarashtra also heard his dear son's words. It was his duty then to stop the game there and then. All he had to do was to give an order to stop playing. But he did not do so. He remained silent, implicating himself in that challenge. He said to himself, "if I stop the game which I should, my dear son will be displeased. No, let the game continue. If my son wants it, he will have it."

            Yudhishthir succumbed to the one negligible chance of winning back all that he had lost. He accepted the challenge. Dice was thrown and once again Yudhishthir lost. Duryodhana jumped with joy. In that ugly ecstatic moment he shouted. He ordered his younger brother Dusshason to go inside the queen's quarters and bring Draupadi out in the court. It was the duty of the blind emperor to, at once, stop Dusshason from going inside. Women of the royal family never entered the king's court. This order passed by Duryodhana was contrary to the accepted norms. Duryodhana talked not of any ordinary maid servant. He talked about his cousin brother's wife, the princess of the royalty. How could he do that! Yet he did, because that was his desire. But his father did not utter a word in protest. He had the power to silence his son, to admonish him and rescind that order. But he kept his silence, implying his consent. Why? Because he did not want to displease his dear son. His son's happiness was greater than anything else.

            When Dusshason entered the bedroom of Draupadi, she was shocked. " How dare you enter my room, the room of the Royal Princess, without my permission?" she asked in fury. "Princes! Royal Princes!! Madam you are no more a princes now than that servant standing in the corner. You are our servant now. You and your husband are our servants. You will do as we say. Now come out quietly and quickly. Duryodhana wants to see you in king's court." "Go, fly kite", she refused to leave the room. Dusshason returned and told Duryodhana that Draupadi refused to come. Duryodhana became mad with rage. He shouted, "What!, she refused, you say! Go back at once and drag her, if necessary. She is my servant now."

            Even then Dhrutarashtra maintained his silence. Dusshason went back ant returned after a few minutes. He had caught hold of Draupadi's long hair and was dragging her forcibly. She stumbled and cried. Her cries rented the king's court. Not a stone moved. Duryodhana enjoyed the sight and Dhrutarashtra sat on his throne, as if nothing had happened. Was it not his duty at that time to stop this act? He had to just say "stop it" and Draupadi, his own daughterin-law would be free to return to her quarters. But that was not all. When she was dragged and made to stand in the huge open space in the middle of the court, Duryodhana passed the most vile and hideous order which stunned everybody present in the court. There were kings, warriors, princes and princesses with their servants, other workers and some visitors. There were priests and pleaders, emissaries and messengers. In front of all of them Duryodhana shouted at his brother "What are you waiting for, Dusshason? Draupadi is standing in front of you. She is wearing a sari. Disrobe her. I and my friends want to see her naked beauty."

            Pandavas were boiling with anger but they could not lift even a finger. They were slaves of Duryodhana. Even great personalities like Bhishma, Drona, Kripa stood aghast with downcast eyes. But they could not do anything as they were indebted to Kauravas. The only man who could have blasted out Duryodhana, at that point of time, was his father, the Emperor Dhrutarashtra. Was it not his duty to stop Dusshason from performing this most obscene act? Yes, it was, but he kept his silence, thereby conniving in his son's hideous deed. Why? Because his son was so dear to him that he could not bear to see him displeased. "Let him do whatever he pleases." That was his attitude.

            This is Dhrutarashtra vrutti or attitude or tendency as you may call it. It means to turn a blind eye to the misdeeds of one's dear ones. Of course, Draupadi could not be disrobed because Krishna came to her help. He became a part of her sari. Dusshason pulled and pulled but not a millimetre of her body was uncovered. Yet, the fact remains that the Pandavas decided to avenge this blasphemous insult in future, when time provided opportunity. And it did. War was on. Bhishma fell on the ground and Arjuna finished the Kauravas. Dhrutarashtra realised his blunder but it was too late. Damage was done. The only thing he could do now was to warn posterity, not to succumb to this tendency to shield the misdeeds of your loved ones. He did that and disappeared.

            Now is the time for all of us to search, if we have this Dhrutarashtra tendency in us. Let me give two illustrations.

Dhrutarashtra tendency in Kaliyuga

            Ashok is a son of a high government official, who wields lot of power and influence. Ashok is barely 16 years of age. He can drive a car but has no licence. He is not bothered. Merrily he takes his father's car and goes for a ride with his friends. One day, he jumps the signal and is stopped by traffic police on duty. The police asks Ashok for his driving license. He does not have it, so he is taken in his own car to the nearest police station. The sub inspector on duty asks Ashok why he does not have a licence and says that driving on the road without a licence is an offence. Ashok listens and calmly asks permission to make a phone call. He calls his mother at home and says, "Mom, I am at such and such police station"

"Police station! why? What are you doing there?"

"Nothing mom, I have been nabbed for jumping the signal and they won't let me out easily."

"What! Give me the telephone number of the station."

Ashok takes the number from the sub inspector and relays it over the phone to his mother. She says,

"All right, you just wait there. I will get you out in ten minutes."

Sure enough, in less than ten minutes, the station in charge receives a phone call ordering him to release the boy without registering any complaint. The mother had called her husband at work and abused the entire police department for letting free goons and smugglers, and arresting poor young students. The father, in a state of anger, called the home minister, who in turned called the police commissioner, who promptly ordered the station in charge to release the boy. All this happens very fast. The boy comes home with a victory smile and his mother makes a few phone calls to her friends and asks them to come over in the evening for tea party.

            In the evening she proudly narrates the story, adding a bit of her own version and impresses upon her friends how influential her husband is. Ashok becomes a hero. Relatives and friends admire him and condemn the police. Two weeks after this incident, the same boy meets with an accident because of his reckless driving and loses one leg. Who is really responsible for this? The son, or the mother and father? Was it not the duty of the parents to stop the son from using the car? But no, they would not do it because they are interested in their son's happiness. They do not want to displease him. The deep-rooted Dhrutarashtra tendency influences their minds and prevents them from differentiating between right and wrong.

            Take another example from a poor family. Bharat is a six year kid, who goes to a school nearby. One day, his friend, Hari comes to Bharat's mother and complains, "Auntie, Bharat has stolen my pen and rubber from my school bag, and he refuses to give it back."

"Is it? let me ask him", she says and asks her son, "Bharat, have you been stealing?"

"No mummy, he is lying."

"That's what I thought!. She turns to Hari and asks "Did you see Bharat taking pencil and rubber from your bag?"

"No, Auntie, I was out, playing during recess, but my other friends, who were in the class, saw."

"I see! But you did not see. You have no proof. Look here Hari, never raise your accusing finger at any body unless you have some concrete proof. My son will never steal. Now, take this money and buy what you have lost."

            The mother does not even bother to investigate the matter. She does not want her son to be displeased. She takes the easy way out. She does not realise at that time, that this first act of stealing will give company to her son throughout his life. In later years, Bharat is arrested for house-breaking and sent to jail. He repents and says, "I wish my mother had punished me when I stole for the first time. Bharat's mother never wanted her son to be a thief. Yet the deep rooted Dhrutarashtra tendency surfaced up to shield her son's offence. This proved the downfall of her son and family.

            Instances like these happen all the time. No father or mother would like to displease the son or daughter, if is it in their hands to do so. Now is the time to stop and reflect upon our own behaviour and ask ourselves a question, "How will I react when something like this happens in my life? Will I cover up and shield the misdeed of my brother, sister, son, daughter or any other dear one?" Yes, you will, because it is very hard to see your loved one displeased. All of us have this tendency in us. It is a product of many past lives and it remains dormant in the innermost quarters of the mind. We may deny this, but it comes up at the first opportunity. And it is so disastrous that it could wipe out entire families, leave alone the individual who harbours and nurses it. It is also interesting to note that when you succumb to this tendency, no one helps you. Even God turns His back to you. Krishna could have appeared on the scene, when Duryodhana was acting foolish. He could have advised Dhrutarashtra, pointing out his mistake. He could have saved the situation. But he did not. He helped and protected Draupadi's honour, but that's all. He stayed away from Dhrutarashtra, letting him pay for his own sins in later years.

            So, after this first verse, the Emperor exits. He never comes back. His remorse is final. He has repented but too late. He suffered and paid for his uncalled for indulgence in his son. Now he wants us to learn from his mistakes and be wise. So much for Dhrutarashtra. Now we hope to see Krishna and Arjuna coming on the scene of Gita in the next verse. But no, it does not happen. Sanjaya is a disciple of Vyasa. He has been asked a question by Dhrutarashtra as to what happened on Kurukshetra. So he starts describing the course of events that took place right from the beginning, when the two great armies gathered to fight the war.

            In the next seven verses, from number two to number eight, we read Duryodhana describing to his master, Guru Dronacharya, the arrangement of both the armies. He mentions a few names of the great warriors from both sides and then reveals his own character in the 9th verse when he say's, "O, master, there are many others, skilled in the warfare, who are here to die for me."

Duryodhana tendency

            This verse brings out the Duryodhana tendency. He is concerned with himself, his own well being, happiness and sensual pleasures. Moreover, he is a person who, once used to enjoy something which does not belong to him, does not let it go so easily. He had exiled Pandavas for thirteen years, when he won the dice game. He took over Indraprastha, the kingdom under the reign of Pandavas. It was his duty to return it to them when they returned after thirteen years. But he refused. He had been enjoying the kingdom for so many years now. He wanted to posses it forever. The height of his selfish attitude is seen when Krishna acted as a mediator on behalf of Pandavas, and pleaded with him to give away only five small villages, one each to the Pandavas, if he wanted to rule over Indraprastha. But he refused. He proudly and arrogantly said to Krishna, "Forget the five villages. I will not give even the tiniest fraction of an inch of land to the Pandavas. They do not have any right to anything now."

            Then there was no other alternative than to wage war, to claim what rightfully belonged to them, and so Pandavas declared war against Kauravas. Sanjaya, on being asked by Dhrutarashtra to explain to us, the humans of Kaliyuga, what is our Dharma and how it should be followed as per the teachings of Krishna, takes the reign in his hands. Instead of proceeding to narrate the conversation between Krishna and Arjuna, he cleverly brings Dyryodhana on the scene to stress the fact that after Dhrutarashtra the other most important tendency in humans, is the one personified by Duryodhana.

            What is this Duryodhana tendency? It means to hold others in contempt, to make others toil and sweat, even die for one's own pleasures and freely use anything that belongs to others. The root cause of this tendency is the greatly inflated ego consciousness. "I" am the greatest, everything must be for "ME". This is the motto of this tendency. Duryodhana enjoyed the kingdom and the kingly status for as long as he could. He could not succeed in the end. He was humiliated and mercilessly defeated in the war.

Duryodhana tendency in Kaliyuga

            Do we have this tendency in us? Let us take an example. Murli and Jayant are two friends. Murli gets a two year contract job in Dubai. Before leaving, he tells Jayant, "Jay, I will be away for two years. You can use my residence during that period, instead of being a paying guest. You will save some money." "O! thanks, Murli, I will shift in tomorrow, thanks",says Jay.

            Jay comes to stay in Murli's two room tenement. Murli returns after two years but before coming home he has got his contract job extended by another four years. After his brief vacation he returns to Dubai. Years pass and Jay gets married. He has a child. His wife is working in a nearby factory. After 3 years Murli, who has been writing regularly to Jay, informs Jay that he will be returning finally after 1 year and requests him to look for another accommodation. He reminds Jay after six months and comes home when his contract is over. Jay is happy to see Murli, but when Murli brings up the subject of accommodation, Jay gives excuses for not vacating. He says, "Murli, I am quite settled here. My wife has a job. My son goes to kindergarten school. I am known as a social worker and respected in this area. How can I leave all this? Why don't you look for another place? After all, you do have lot of money now."  "No, Jay, that money is to pay for our land which has been mortgaged by my father to a local moneylender. Also I have to get my sister married. No, I cannot use this hard earned money to buy a new accommodation. After all, this place belongs to me, and I have given you sufficient notice. You should have made alternate arrangement for yourself, by now". Jay and Murli go on talking, then enter into arguments. Finally Jay lays his cards on the table. He says, "Look, I am not leaving. You do what you want."

            What can poor Murli do? He has no written evidence of giving his tenement to Jay for temporary use. The Duryodhana tendency in Jay shows its fangs. It is observed even in seemingly small matters, like not caring to return borrowed books, pens; using something which does not belongs to us, as if we own it; showing utter disregard to others possessions; hating others who are superior to us, despising those who surpass us in getting what they want and in claiming top priority for us in everything.

            Krishna could have appeared in Dhrutarashtra's court and counselled Duryodhana, but de did not. He let Duryodhana have his own way. Krishna ignored him when he gave his most obscene order to disrobe Draupadi. It must be realised, therefore, that a person, who indulges in this tendency, remains alone. Even God turns His back upon him.

            Having brought out this selfish brutal tendency in the King Duryodhana, Sanjaya continues further. In the 11th verse, Duryodhana tells his warriors, "As the war is fought, I want you all to be at your positions and protect Bhishma alone".

Bhisma, the ego

            Duryodhana does not want Bhishma to leave the battlefield. He is fully aware that as long as the great Bhishma stands on his own, Kauravas cannot lose. They have nothing to fear. Bhishma personifies "ego", the root cause of all evil in the world. Ego itself is not bad. in fact it is a necessary entity for the development of anyone. And ego is the main part of our personality. We cannot get rid of it. We have to make use of it in a controlled manner. It is only when it is inflated, that trouble starts brewing. No body can kill ego. Bhishma could not be killed by anybody. He had the boon that he would die only when he desired. Same applies to our ego. It never dies. Bhishma knew that Pandavas were right, yet he supported Kauravas and fought for them. He gave courage and strength to them.

            Ego gives courage to the bad qualities and vices. When ego is hurt, we go on wrong path and commit blunders. Many of the unjustifiable actions spring from inflated ego. Sanjaya has now brought into limelight the two main persons with typical characteristics. These are the Duryodana and the Bhishma. Then, in verses 12 to 19 he has described how the warriors on both sides blew their conches, after Bhishma gave a war cry and blew his own conch. War commenced. The main cause for this war is Dhrutarashtra and Duryodhana. The former supporting and indulging in the bad karma of the latter and the latter with all his army, relying totally on Bhishma.

Arjuna tendency

            Now is the time to bring forth Arjuna. In the verses no. 20 and 21, Sanjaya narrates that, as the enemy was advancing, Arjuna spoke to Krishna. He said, "Drive my chariot and place it between the two armies so that I may see, whom I have to fight". This is the Arjuna-vrutti or tendency. It is the realization of one's duty at any given time. It is the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, or understand what is right and then get ready to do it. This tendency is diametrically opposite to the first two, which go hand in hand. When these two are reigning, the Arjuna tendency will not come out. So in order to make way for this tendency to bloom, we must suppress totally the first two. In the examples cited above, because the first two tendencies dominated and were supported by ego, there was no scope for Arjuna tendency to spring up. If Bharat's mother did not have the Dhrutarashtra tendency to shield the wrong deed of her son, she would have come forward to investigate the matter and then taken the right course of action. But somebody had to help her in curbing down the Dhrutarashtra tendency. Unless we take some action to calm down and slowly cast off the two dangerous tendencies, we cannot make room for the Arjuna in us to come forward. Unless this is done, it is extremely difficult to put into practice the teachings of Krishna which start from chapter 2.Saint Dnyaneshwar, who brought out the meaning of Gita verses in Marathi verse form, has clearly stated in his introductory 'verses, that only those aspirants who are qualified to sit side by side with Arjuna should now pay attention to the Gita Upadesha. Why? Because when Krishna Himself stayed away from Dhrutarashtra and Duryodhana, how can those having these two tendencies dominating their lives, expect to understand and practice what Krishna has said in Gita?

Arjuna's grief

            Arjuna is all set to perform his right duty. He knew who his enemy was. Yet he asks Krishna to drive the chariot', so that he may have a glimpse of those standing in opposition to him. Krishna does what he is told. He places the chariot, in between the two armies, and says in verse 25, "Look at these Kauravas whom you have to fight". Arjuna looks ahead and is dismayed to see Bhishma, Drona and Kripacharya surrounded by his own near and distant relations. When he sees them, Arjuna is suddenly seized with great compassion. He trembles, the bow drops down from his hands. He describes his unwarrior like state to Krishna and says, "my mind is boggled. I cannot stand firmly. What is the point in killing our own people, just to get the kingdom. I don't want victory. I do not wish to have the kingdom of heaven". He goes on and on, trying to justify his inaction and finally sits down. On his part he has resolved not to fight. He is prepared to die at the hands of his enemy.

The message

            This is the end of chapter 1. The message conveyed by Vyasa in these 47 verses is , in short, as under.

1.      Get rid of Dhrutarashtra tendency and the Duryodhana tendency.

2.      Beware of your ego. Contain it, as it generally supports the dormant evil tendencies in you.

3.      Develop the Arjuna tendency.

Getting rid of harmful tendencies

            How do we yet get rid of these two giants and then make room for the valiant warrior to come up? Is there any way? Yes, there is. Let me elaborate on the methods to be applied, to curb these giants first.

Containing the Dhrutarashtra in us:    

            Make a strong determination that, no matter what happens I will not lose my initiative, nor stray away from my duty, to shield my dear ones when they take wrong actions. The loved one may be my son, daughter, brother, sister, wife, husband and so on. I will not give in to that fleeting deceptive emotion, mistakenly called love, because, by so doing I will do more harm to my loved one and ultimately to all. Loving someone does not mean doing everything to please that person. On the contrary it means taking such action as would help the loved one to have a healthy mind, which will not get corrupted by evil influences. If this principle is held firmly in mind and all actions are based upon it, then slowly, in due course of time, one of the two evil giants will disappear.

Containing the Duryodhana in us:

            Start respecting others, and whatever they possess. Believe firmly that you have no right to use, without the permission and consent of that person, what belongs to him or her. When you are tempted to use, even for a little while, anything that does not belong to you, hold your horses. Deny yourself that short lived pleasure. Remember always that as your own possessions are sacred and dear to you, so are the possessions of others to them. If you are going out and you do not have an ironed shirt, do not just pick up the one from the wardrobe if that belongs to your brother or father. Ask the brother's or father's permission, and if they are not at home, simply do not go out. Consider it as a punishment for not getting your own shirt ironed in time. This example may look trifle but it is the instances like these which have an impact on our lives.

Controlling ego:

            Start rendering some selfless service to others. If you go to your neighbour or a friend, or even a friend's friend for a party, keep your eyes open and see what you can do to help the host. Menial jobs such as sweeping the floor, cleaning utensils, in another's house on occasions like above, even if you have four servants in your house, do a lot to deflate the ego.

            When you do any service for others, without expecting any returns, you make a progress in controlling ego. You hold a very high status in society. People look at you with respect and reverence. You get one day, Sunday, off from your work. The town library is looking for somebody to work on Sunday. You can offer your service, a couple of hours, and help them thus. There are hundreds of ways one can offer one's own time, however short it may be, to serve others. Let your mind think from time to time, how you can be useful, what you can do so other person can be relieved of some pressure. There is a sick man in the neighbourhood. He has nobody to fetch medicine and on Saturday's and Sundays, the cleaning woman is off from work. You can spare some of your time to go to the dispensary and fetch medicine, as well as, work in his house on weekend. There is never any dearth for opportunities. If you really wish to control the ego in you, you can do so. Moreover, when ego is controlled, the other two automatically become weak. Then is the time for Arjuna to rise up to do the right thing at the right time. Arjuna was strong and mighty but equally humble and kind. Humility is not weakness. It is strength. Arrogance, hatred, disrespect to others are all weaknesses.

            You need to be strong if you want to succeed in life. Hence you have to qualify yourself first, before you can even think of getting something out of this huge world. All the material things that have an impact on your senses can be yours, though not permanently, if you qualify to have them. I say not permanently, because nothing is permanent except the energy which enables you to breathe. It was there before you were born, and will remain there after you leave this world. Everything else is temporary. So what! You can have temporary enjoyment of the object you like. But there are others and many of them like you. Thousand students appear for an examination. Only one of them stands first. Why? Because he has laboured hard to qualify himself to get that position.

Effect of harmfull tendencies

            In the struggle between vices and virtues, the former will win, if you have an inflated ego. All the good naturedness within you will be of no use against the combination of Dhrutarashtra, Duryodhana and Bhishma. You allow these to dominate, and your life will be ruined. When you are counting your last days, if you care to go over the history of your own life, that you have lived, you will see your mistakes. But it will be too late. Ill-gotten money, fame, power will not give you peace and happiness in your last moments. When you may need others to be with you, no one will come near. The hand of death will bring in mental misery and sorrow. Your fate will be sealed. This is God's Prakruti or nature. If you do not wish to land in this state, then NOW is the time to act.

Lesson from first chapter

            The first chapter of Gita prepares us mentally. It draws our attention to the fact that power and wealth are meaningless in the end. Both Dhrutarashtra and his dearest son Duryodhana perished. Even Bhishma fell down, and it was the kind hearted, humble Arjuna who triumphed in the end. So we are warned by Dhrutarashtra himself. He says "Do not be like me, do not shield your loved ones when they do wrong things".

            Duryodhana is in absolute power. He does not care for his own father. He is not going to have remorse, because he is not aware of his miserable end. His blind father had the sense to see, but this arrogant king had eyes which had gone blind to the truth. So, Sanjaya comes forward and points out to us the bad character in Duryodhan's being. He warns us not to be like him and, knowing fully well that as long as these two are supported by Bhishma, the ego, the Arjuna in you will be powerless. Hence he very cleverly but clearly tells us in the words of Duryodana, addressed to his warriors "protect Bhishma alone".

            The lesson to be learnt from this chapter number 1 of Gita is, we have to strive to put down the two vile characteristics, control ego and thus pave the way for the Arjuna to rise. Alright, Arjuna in you is wide awake now, and ready to take the right action. But alas! what happens? Even Arjuna falls a victim to the weakness of his own mind. In a moment of false perception and ignorance about self, ignorance about gross body, mind, intellect, life, death etc., he loses courage and cries.

            Same thing may happen to you. However strong you may be, there may be some instances and moments in your life, which will take away your strength, sap your energy and reduce you to a weakling creature. But there is no need to worry. The higher spirit, the God, will come to your rescue. He will show you the way, dispel your ignorance, and guide you to understand for yourself wherein your strength lies. You will then be twice more strong, devoid of fear, and you can march ahead victorious.

            How this is done, is the essence of the second chapter of Gita. It is time now to pause and reflect. It is time to act, to curb Dhrutarashtra and Duryodhana along with Bhishma, So act now.

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R.P.L. Kornet®
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