nakulah sahadevas ca
kasyas ca paramesv-asah
sikhandi ca maha-rathah
dhrstadyumno viratas ca
drupado draupadeyas ca
saubhadras ca maha-bahuh
sankhan dadhmuh prthak prthak
Meaning – King Yudhishthira, the son of Kunti, blew his conchshell, the Ananta-vijaya, and Nakula and Sahadeva blew the Sughosa and Manipuspaka. That great archer the King of Kasi, the great fighter Sikhandi, Dhristayumna, Virata and the unconquerable Satyaki, Drupada, the sons of Draupadi, and the others, O King, such as the son of Subhadra, greatly armed, all blew their respective conchshell.
Explanation – Sanjaya addressing Yudhishthira as Raja illustrates his respect for him, though Yudhishthira did receive the title as ‘raja’ from the Rajasuya ceremony he successfully performed earlier. Thus the superiority of the Pandavas is illustrated along with the inferiority of the Kauravas.
In the Pandava side there are many famous conch shells, such as Panchajanyam of Lord Krishna, Devadatta, Paundram, Anantavijaya, Sughosa and Manipuspaka of the five Pandavas. However in the army of Duryodhana there are no famous conch shells with any names.
Then the great warriors of the Pandava army began to sound their conch shells. Sikhandi is the son of Drupada who was born out of penance especially to slay Bhishma. Dhristayumna was born from a fire sacrifice especially to slay Drona. Satyaki was invincible like Arjuna never knowing defeat. So this verse is indirectly revealing to Dhritarashtra that he should not entertain any ideas that his son Duryodhana will be victorious in the battle even with the assistance of Bhishma and Drona.
Sanjaya, mentioned only one warrior named Bhishma, who blew his conch from the Kaurava-army, while he mentioned eighteen warriors, such as Lord Krishna, Arjuna, Bhima etc., from the Pandava-army. This once again reflects the great regard for Lord Krishna, the Pandavas and the Pandava-army, because of their righteousness. From the Pandava army, each of the generals blew their Conch shells in an order, one by one, after Lord Krishna blew his conch. However from the Kaurava side it was a pandemonium of various musical instruments and in no particular order. This also reflects lack of discipline and unity among the Kauravas.
sa ghoso dhartarastranam
nabhas ca prthivim caiva
Meaning – The blowing of these different conch shells became uproarious, and thus, vibrating both in the sky and on the earth, it shattered the hearts of the sons of Dhritarashtra.
Explanation – The sounds of the conchs of the Pandava-army, was so thunderous, roaring and horrifying, that it echoed through the sky and the earth, and rent the hearts of the Kauravas, the sons of Dhritarashtra who had usurped the empire, and also of the kings, who had come to fight on their side. It means that, the sound discouraged the Kaurava-army and its warriors were horror-struck, thinking at the formidable strength of the Pandava-army.
atha vyavasthitan drstva
dhanur udyamya pandavah
hrsikesam tada vakyam
idam aha mahi-pate
Meaning – O King, at that time Arjuna, the son of Pandu, who was seated in his chariot, his flag marked with Hanuman, took up his bow and prepared to shoot his arrows, looking at the sons of Dhritarashtra. O King, Arjuna then spoke to Hrsikesa [Krishna] these words:
Explanation – The battle was just about to begin as the great warrior Arjuna, whose flag bears the emblem of Hanuman is ready with his mighty bow called ‘Gandiva’. The emblem of Hanuman on the flag of Arjuna is another sign of victory because Hanuman cooperated with Lord Rama in the battle between Rama and Ravana, where Lord Rama emerged victorious. Now both Rama and Hanuman were present on the chariot of Arjuna to help him. Lord Krishna is Rama Himself, and wherever Lord Rama is, His eternal servitor Hanuman and His eternal consort Sita, the goddess of fortune, are present. Therefore, Arjuna had no cause to fear any enemies whatsoever. And above all, the Lord of the senses, Lord Krishna, was personally present to give him direction. Thus, all good counsel was available to Arjuna in the matter of executing the battle. In such auspicious conditions, arranged by the Lord for His eternal devotee, lay the signs of assured victory.
senayor ubhayor madhye
ratham sthapaya me ‘cyuta
yavad etan nirikse ‘ham
kair maya saha yoddhavyam
Meaning – Arjuna said: O infallible one, please keep my chariot between the two armies so that I may see who is present here, who is desirous of fighting, and with whom I must contend in this great battle attempt.
Explanation – Addressing Lord Krishna as ‘Acutya’, the infallible one, Sanjaya repeats Arjuna’s request to Lord Krishna to position the chariot in the middle, between the two firmly opposing armies. The reason for placing the chariot as instructed is being explained by the verse beginning: ‘yavad etan’. The Kauravas are only desirous of war not peace and externally appear unmoved by trepidation. One might say that Arjuna is a warrior not a spectator, so what is the necessity of viewing the enemy? The answer to this is that since the battle is taking place between relatives, Arjuna desires to see just which friends have joined the ranks of the enemy that he will have to fight.
In life also we confront such confusing situation quite too often. We are unable to decide what is good or bad for us, whether you are taking up a new job, a new customer or eating something new or special. Many times we do not know who are our real enemies or real friends! That is why we need the discriminative assistance of the almighty GOD Lord Krishna.