Bhagavad Gita for Executives – Gita Chapter 1 Summary

Chapter 1 introduces the background, characters and the circumstances of the Mahabharata war. It depicts the dilemma of Arjuna, the hero of the war, warrior par excellence.

The opening words of this chapter are “dharmakshetre kurukshetre”, meaning “the field of dharma, the field of the Kurus.” Essentially Bhagavad Gita is about Dharma. And what is “Dharma”? There is no direct translation for the word in English. It can    be explained as Duty, responsibility and character. The ‘Dharma’ of fire is light and heat. If an innocent child keeps his hand in fire, it will burn as fire will show its character (dharma) irrespective of the person. Fire does not recognize the innocence of the baby and performs its Dharma. But the “Dharma” of mother is to protect the child from fire and keep him away from it (duty). It is also her dharma to educate the child about the dangers of keeping ones hand in fire (responsibility).

How is it that the field of dharma is the field of the Kurus, the enemies of dharma? This portrays the real world of today; a world full of dualities; negativity and ignorance. The enemies of dharma dominate society in general. We find within ourselves a welter of negative impulses, conflicts, confusions, fears, and ignorance of all kinds. Yes; we are definitely in–and are–the field of the Kurus, whatever our intentions may be. We have to fight through the whole field and wipe out all the Kurus, the enemies of Dharma to survive and grow.

Next few stanzas portray the din and roar of the battlefield where many generals and their army are restlessly clamouring to start the war and annihilate their enemies. Bhishma, the grandsire blew his conch shell and declares the war, confirming that Kauravas indeed are the aggressors. Arjuna requests Krishna, his charioteer to place the chariot in the middle of both the armies to see all the people who have gathered and sided with the Kauravas to fight the war, knowing fully well that their death is certain. Arjuna sees grandfathers, fathers, sons and grandson ready to fight the Pandavas. He sees his brothers, brothers in law, friends, uncles and other close relatives. Arjuna is confused and declares that killing all these people for the pleasures of enjoying the kingdom is not worth. Arjuna gets mentally and physically paralysed and informs Krishna that he is quitting the war and sits in the chariot after putting down his arms and ammunition. He justifies the decision quoting scriptures and says that death of menfolk will ruin society and culture.

This is symbolic. Every day we face confusing situations in our life and struggle to take the right decision. People may look like friends, but their intentions could be evil. A delicacy may be appealing to our palate but may be ruinous to our health. Medicines which are bitter will help us recover from serious illness. Fortunately Arjuna had Krishna to guide, whom do we have? The Chariot symbolises human body, driven by horses which are your senses, the five senses of hearing, vision, touch, smell and taste. If the horses are under control, they will take the chariot to the desired destination, if not it will lead us to hell. Arjuna’s chariot is controlled by Krishna who resides in all of us as ‘Buddhi’. Use our Buddhi to control our senses, we will have no confusion and reach our destiny with flying colours.

Today’s Youth is Arjuna. They are confused and unsure of their future like Arjuna in the battlefield. The circumstances and situations around them are threatening and unnerving. Today’s youngsters are ambitious, hardworking, intelligent and more educated than their predecessors. Yet they struggle to achieve success in their life due to difficult and unsupportive external environment, political and economic. Today’s youth is facing Mahabharata war like situations every day in their life. Whether at home or at office we only see and hear disturbing news every day.

We have not one but many Dhritarashtra in today’s world. Every government central, state or local bodies are all controlled by Dhritarashtra whose is determined to perpetuate their political legacy by nepotism and favouritism.  It could be their children, relatives, from the same caste, community, religion, region or political affiliation. The rightful claimants for the post are discarded mercilessly! Corrupt political class is driving young and aspiring Arjunas of this world to desperation and out of their country. Similar incidents are repeated even in corporate world, though with less frequency and intensity.

Success of an organization is based on innovative products and progressive policies. Products that help customers solve their problems and create meaningful impact to their business. Policies that support the stakeholders and its proper implementation. Finally we need people who will execute these policies in letter and spirit at all levels, leadership as well as executive. If any one element is missing that organization is bound to fail if not now certainly in future.

Like an organization a country is built with the help of strong, selfless, ethical, hardworking and industrious citizens. If it is led by the likes of Dhritarashtra or Duryodhana it is bound for disaster and total annihilation like the Kaurava dynasty. When knowledgeable and matured leaders do not raise their voice against corruption and malpractices, like Bhishma and Drona, that society will disintegrate and destroy the world.

India is a country of reservation, whether it is education or employment. Seats are reserved on the basis of caste, religion, region, gender, age, political affiliations or based on whom you know in the corridors of power. Alas there is no reservation based on merit! What a story state of affairs our country is passing through.

Gita teaches us the art of living. It brings proper perspective to our thought process and guides your action towards success and fulfilment. It shows us the way forward. Knowledge gives you proficiency. Applied knowledge is efficiency. Right knowledge applied at the right time, right place and right way gives us effectiveness. Effectiveness leads us to success and glory and that is what Gita teaches us.

Arjuna in Bhagavad Gita represents today’s youth, confused and disheartened. A man of action that Arjuna is abandons his action station due to mental paralysis. Neurosis and stress overtakes his judgement and surrenders to fate by refusing to do his duty. Arjuna loses his ‘viveka’ his reasoning ability. He resigns from his job like many youngsters of today who leave their job on some or other pretext, always silly than serious. When a person is angry sad or under severe stress, his faculty for proper judgement diminishes. Under these circumstances either he gives up or take wrong decisions. That is what has happened to Arjuna.

Generally a problem looks big and insurmountable when you don’t have a solution. The moment you have the solution the problems disappears. Bhagavad Gita provides that answer to our life’s problems. Running away from the problem does not solve it; it will only come back and haunt you with even more vigour and ferocity. If you refuse to see the elephant in the room, it does not disappear. We have to face it with courage and conviction as running away is cowardice. Like Arjuna often we justify our inaction quoting precedents and rule books.

Kurukshetra is our field of activities. It is our mind, our job, our office, everything around us. The circumstances are so challenging that there are conflicting thoughts going through our mind about our life, relationships, work and society. The thoughts may be good or bad, evil or angelic, selfish or selfless. They are at constant war and lead us to physical, mental or intellectual breakup and paralysis. That is what happened to Arjuna. Generally the bad thoughts are in larger numbers than the good ones, like the Kaurava army which is bigger than the Pandava army. But with hard work and divine grace we can always achieve what we desire and more.

Why did Arjuna refuse to take part in the war and guaranteed his failure? Generally people fail in their jobs due to three reasons.

  1. They don’t know what to do;
  2. They don’t know how to do or
  3. Don’t want to do.

Arjuna knows what to do. He is the supreme commander of the Pandava forces and a warrior of unrivalled and unchallenged skills and ability. The reason is Arjuna was confused and demotivated like any other youngsters of today’s organization. He was confused between his love and affection for his friends and relatives and his duty as the supreme warrior and a Kshatriya. It is similar to often heard phrase in office these days called “work life balance”. The confusion between work and life or work and family.  For those who believe that work is life, there is no confusion. However for those who think “work after life”, work puts intense pressure that affects their performance. Here Krishna shows the way. Krishna says that no living being can exist even for a moment without action, hence work is life. Those who think and believe otherwise will have no work and soon no life too.

Gita 1.41

sankaro narakayaiva  kula-ghnanam kulasya ca

patanti pitaro hy esam  lupta-pindodaka-kriyah


When there is increase of unwanted population, a hellish situation is created both for the family and for those who destroy the family tradition. In such corrupt families, there is no offering of oblations of food and water to the ancestors.

Explanation – The offspring, that are born of an intermixture of castes, are not religious-minded and do not possess righteousness and rectitude, because they themselves are the product of persons, without virtue. So they behave against traditions and decorum of a race. Not only this but the ancestors of such a family also suffer as well because  there is no descendant qualified to perform the propitiatory rites prescribed in Vedic scriptures such as sraddha and tarpana. . Being deprived of these oblations due to the absence of qualified progeny as a result of destruction of the family structure the ancestors fall down from heaven and go directly to the hellish planets.

This happens in every organization also when there are people who have joined due to corrupt means such as bribery or recommendations from influential people. If appointments are not made according to merits and suitability of the person for the job, it not only damages the organizational performance in the present but also in the future.

Gita 1.42

dosair etaih kula-ghnanam  varna-sankara-karakaih

utsadyante jati-dharmah  kula-dharmas ca sasvatah

Meaning – Due to the evil deeds of the destroyers of family tradition, all kinds of community projects and family welfare activities are devastated.

Explanation – Jati-dharma refers to the duties of the Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vysyas and Shudras as prescribed in the varnasrama dharma. Kula-dharma refers to the traditional practices observed by a particular family. Therefore, the breaking of such traditions by irresponsible leaders of society brings about chaos in that society, and consequently people forget the aim of life itself.

Every organization has certain values, culture and traditions built over a long period of time which would have helped them to be successful and weather the challenges of time and external conditions. Destroying those values destroys the organization and the leaders are solely responsible for such calamity.

Gita 1.43

utsanna-kula-dharmanam  manusyanam janardana

narake niyatam vaso  bhavatity anususruma

Meaning – O Krishna, I have heard from the learned that those persons whose spiritual family traditions have been destroyed, becomes perpetually the resident in hell.

Explanation –    Arjuna is supporting his argument by affirming that he has heard from respectable sources that those who are responsible for destroying righteousness reside permanently in hell. Therefore this decision to fight is not the wisest of choices.

If only the politicians and corrupt officials think about their life after death while damaging the society and its traditions for personal gains, they could have created a heaven in this life itself for themselves as well as others.

Gita 1.44

aho bata mahat papam  kartum vyavasita vayam

yad rajya-sukha-lobhena  hantum sva-janam udyatah

Meaning – Alas, how strange it is that we are preparing to commit greatly sinful acts, driven by the desire to enjoy royal happiness.

Explanation – Here, Arjuna is thinking about the disastrous consequences of war and so he is not willing to wage it. It is a matter of great sorrow that we are prepared to slay our kith and kin, being over powered by greed, for a transient kingdom and pleasure. It is ironic to him that he has committed himself to great sin by his intention to slay friends and kinsman in the pursuit of royal pleasures and enjoyments.

Gita 1.45

yadi mam apratikaram  asastram sastra-panayah

dhartarastra rane hanyus  tan me ksemataram bhavet

Meaning – I would consider it better for the sons of Dhritarashtra to kill me unarmed and unresisting, rather than to fight with them.

Explanation – Arjuna states that even if the sons of Dhritarashtra being devoid of wisdom and obsessed by greed would slay him unarmed and unresisting, this would still be more preferable than perpetuating sin by slaying friends and kinsman and permanently going to hell as a result. What Arjuna practically saying is that if he refrains from fighting then at the deaths of his physical body there would be no feelings of guilt or repentance from committing such a sin.

Gita 1.46

sanjaya uvaca

evam uktvarjunah sankhye  rathopastha upavisat

visrjya sa-saram capam  soka-samvigna-manasah

Meaning – Sanjaya said: Arjuna, having thus spoken on the battlefield, cast aside his bow and arrows and sat down on the chariot, his mind overwhelmed with grief.

Explanation – War, is the root cause of all evils. It will destroy a race and will lead us to hell in the next world. By thinking so Arjuna, overwhelmed with sorrow, became firmly determined not to wage war. Arjuna, who had come to the battlefield with great zeal with bow in his hand, put the bow and arrow down, and overwhelmed with sorrow, sat on the seat of the chariot. Thus, we see that it is delusion, which changes a hero’s (Arjuna’s), great courage to consternation.

Gita 1.36

papam evasrayed asman

hatvaitan atatayinah

tasman narha vayam hantum

dhartarastran sa-bandhavan

sva-janam hi katham hatva

sukhinah syama madhava

Meaning – Sin will overcome us if we slay such aggressors. Therefore it is not proper for us to kill the sons of Dhritarashtra and our friends. What should we gain, O Krishna, husband of the goddess of fortune, and how could we be happy by killing our own kinsmen?

Explanation – An ‘Atatayi’ is someone who commits any of the following major sins and killing them is permitted and justified as per scriptures such as ‘Manusmriti’ and ‘Vasishta Samhita’. The sins are 1) one who administers poison 2) one who commits arson 3) one who attacks with deadly weapons 4) one who steals ones wealth 5) one who usurps another’s property 6) and one who kidnaps another’s wife. Duryodhana and his companions have committed all these criminal offences. They secretly set fire to the residence, where Pandavas were expected to be sleeping, they poisoned Bhima and threw him into water; they made an attempt on the life of Pandavas; while gambling, deceitfully they deprived Pandavas of their wealth and kingdom, and in the assembly, Duryodhana insulted Draupadi, by calling her his waiting-maid and persuaded Jayadratha to kidnap Draupadi, and he kidnapped her.

However Arjuna thought it better not to kill his own close relatives, whatever they may have done and forgive them on the grounds of religion and saintly behaviour. After all, kingdoms and pleasures derived therefrom are not permanent, so why should he risk his life and eternal salvation by killing his own kinsmen? Arjuna addressing Krishna as “Madhava,” or the husband of the goddess of fortune, is very significant in this connection. He wanted to point out to Krishna that, as husband of the goddess of fortune, He should not induce Arjuna to take up a matter which would ultimately bring about misfortune. Krishna, however, never brings misfortune to anyone, to say nothing of His devotees.

Many times we try to justify our actions quoting precedence or law, irrespective of what we are doing is good for the society or organization that we are associated in the short as well as long term. Arjuna through his knowledge and discretion is showing us the way forward through these stanzas. 

Gita 1(37, 38)

yady apy ete na pasyanti


kula-ksaya-krtam dosam

mitra-drohe ca patakam

katham na jneyam asmabhih

papad asman nivartitum

kula-ksaya-krtam dosam

prapasyadbhir janardana

Meaning – O Janardhana, although these men, overtaken by greed, see no fault in killing one’s family or quarrelling with friends, why should we, with knowledge of the sin, engage in these acts?

Explanation – Now in support of his reason for not fighting Arjuna states that the Pandavas are not like the Kauravas because of knowing fully the sinful reaction of slaying kinsman. So why should they engage in this abominable act. Addressing Lord Krishna as ‘Janardhana’ meaning the remover of his devotees ignorance; why should Pandavas, who are his devotees, not refrain themselves from such ignorance being cognizant of the implications of unrighteousness?

Here, Arjuna is thinking about the greed of Duryodhana etc., but he is not thinking about his own, infatuation and delusion. He feels rather proud of his superiority, that he has no defect, while the fact is that, everyone generally, possesses one defect or the other. If we find fault with others, it is also a defect. Beings proud of one’s own virtues and finding fault with others are the two defects which we do not perceive in us, though we do possess these.

Gita 1.39

kula-ksaye pranasyanti

kula-dharmah sanatanah

dharme naste kulam krtsnam

adharmo ‘bhibhavaty uta

Meaning – With the destruction of dynasty, the eternal family tradition is vanquished, and thus the rest of the family becomes involved in irreligious practice.

Explanation – When the spiritual traditions and spiritual values are destroyed in society, unrighteousness predominates and the surviving family members become degraded. In a family it is the father who is the head of the family. He insures that the family traditions are maintained. In times of war it is the father who goes to fight and sometimes the older sons who are the fathers of the future also go to war. If they are slain in battle it is understood that the family is effectively destroyed and righteousness along with the age- old family customs and Vedic traditions eventually cease to exist. The women and children not being properly protected, having lost the shelter of the father are thus overcome by the realities of basic survival and become victims of unrighteousness.

Gita 1.40

adharmabhibhavat krsna

pradusyanti kula-striyah

strisu dustasu varsneya

jayate varna-sankarah

Meaning – When irreligion is prominent in the family, O Krishna, the women of the family become corrupt, and from the degradation of womanhood, O descendant of ‘Vrsni’, comes unwanted progeny.

Explanation – when unrighteousness becomes predominant in the family due to the loss of the father who insures the continuation of the family customs and the propagation of the Vedic tradition, the females of the family become easily accessible and are placed in conditions of compromise. From this polluted and degraded position arises undesirable progeny. The purpose of Arjuna addressing Lord Krishna by the vocative ‘Varsneya’ is to remind Him that He took birth in the exalted royal ‘Vrsni’ dynasty and as such should be fully aware of all these things.

Good population in human society is the basic principle for peace, prosperity and spiritual progress in life. The varnasrama religion’s principles were so designed that the good population would prevail in society for the general spiritual progress of state and community. Such population depends on the chastity and faithfulness of its womanhood. As children are very prone to be misled, women are similarly very prone to degradation. Therefore, both children and women require protection by the elder members of the family. By being engaged in various religious practices, women will not be misled into adultery.

Gita 1(28, 29, 30)

arjuna uvaca

drstvemam sva-janam krsna

yuyutsum samupasthitam

sidanti mama gatrani

mukham ca parisusyati


vepathus ca sarire me

roma-harsas ca jayate

gandivam sramsate hastat

tvak caiva paridahyate


na ca saknomy avasthatum

bhramativa ca me manah

nimittani ca pasyami

viparitani kesava

Meaning – Arjuna said: Oh Krishna, seeing my friends and relatives present before me in such a fighting spirit, I feel the limbs of my body quivering and my mouth drying up. My whole body is trembling, and my hair is standing on end. My bow Gandiva is slipping from my hand and my skin is burning. I am now unable to stand here any longer. I am forgetting myself, and my mind is reeling. I foresee only evil, O killer of the Kesi demon.

Explanation – Dhritarashtra, in the first verse of this chapter, uses the phrase ‘Samaveta Yuyutsavah’ (gathered together desirous to fight) and Arjuna here has said, ‘Yuyutsum Samupasthitam’ (arrayed eager to fight). But there is a vast difference, in the views of the two. Dhritarashtra is partial to his sons. So, he uses the words ‘Mamaka’ (Mine), and ‘Pandava’ (Pandu’s), But Arjuna is impartial. So he uses the term ‘Svajanam’ (Kinsmen), which includes persons of both sides. It means, that Dhritarashtra is worried about the death of his sons in the warfare, while Arjuna is worried about the death of warriors, in both armies, because he thinks that both the warring groups, are his own kith and kin.

Thinking of the consequences of the war, Arjuna is worried and sad. So his limbs are giving way, his mouth is getting parched, his body shakes, and his hair is standing on an end. The same Gandiva bow, the sound of whose string, terrified enemies, is dropping from his hand and his skin is burning all over. His mind is reeling, he is in a dilemma, and he is unable even to stand at the war-front. He feels, as if he will fall unconscious, and thinks it is a sin to wage war.

This is what usually happens when we confront difficult situations in life. Sitting in the examination hall eagerly waiting for the question paper and if you see the first question itself is so difficult that you do not know the answer, this will happen to you. What happens when you are anxiously sitting outside the operation theatre where one of your very close relative is undergoing a major operation? Similarly we find that Arjuna is suffering from some kind of anxiety attack or hysteria.

The physical symptoms of anxiety attacks are themselves so frightening that many people believe they’re having a heart attack. After an anxiety attack is over, you may be worried about having another one, particularly in a public place where help isn’t available or you can’t easily escape.

Symptoms of anxiety attacks include:

•        Surge of overwhelming panic

•        Feeling of losing control or going crazy

•        Heart palpitations or chest pain

•        Feeling like you’re going to pass out

•        Trouble breathing or choking sensation          

•        Hyperventilation

•        Hot flashes or chills

•        Trembling or shaking

•        Nausea or stomach cramps

•        Feeling detached or unreal

Common symptoms and signs of anxiety can include

•        Restlessness or feeling edgy,

•        becoming tired easily,

•        Trouble concentrating,

•        feeling as if the mind is going “blank,”

•        Irritability,

•        Muscle tension,

•        Sleep problems (trouble falling or staying asleep or having sleep that is not restful).

Neuropsychologists have noted that generally the left side of the brain which specialises in analytical, logical and verbal tasks is more active in men while the right side which activates the artistic and creative functions, working with emotions, feelings and metaphor are more active in women. The masculine side reveals itself as the powers of discrimination, self-control, exacting judgement – qualities that express or respond to reason. The feminine nature consists of feeling, sympathy, kindness, mercy, joy, etc. In the ideal person, these two aspects are perfectly balanced. But if reason lacks feeling, it becomes calculating, harsh and judgemental, but if feeling lacks reason, it becomes blind emotion.

By addressing Arjuna by names such as ‘Kaunteya’ and ‘Partha’, he is indicating that in Arjuna the balancing has not taken place and he is more prone to the feminine qualities of kindness and sympathy.


Gita 1. 31

na ca sreyo ‘nupasyami
hatva sva-janam ahave
na kankse vijayam krsna
na ca rajyam sukhani ca

Meaning – I do not see how any good can come from killing my own kinsmen in this battle, nor can I, my dear Krishna, desire any subsequent victory, kingdom, or happiness.

Explanation – Here Arjuna exclaims that he cannot foresee any benefit from slaying his own kinsman in battle. In the Vedic scriptures it is revealed that in this world two types of living entities are automatically granted entrance to the heavenly planets: one being the renunciate who is disciplined in the practice of yoga and the other is the warrior slain in battle. So Arjunas argument is that although there is provision for the slain, there is no declaration of any merit for the slayer.

The meaning of this sloka can also be analysed differently. Here Arjuna is not discussing killing his own people, but his habits. Our habits are also our own and we are very reluctant to change it, whether they are good or bad. Particularly it is very difficult give up pleasurable habits.

Gita 1. 32-35

kim no rajyena govinda
kim bhogair jivitena va
yesam arthe kanksitam no
rajyam bhogah sukhani ca

ta ime ‘vasthita yuddhe
pranams tyaktva dhanani ca
acaryah pitarah putras
tathaiva ca pitamahah

matulah svasurah pautrah
syalah sambandhinas tatha
etan na hantum icchami
ghnato ‘pi madhusudana

api trailokya-rajyasya
hetoh kim nu mahi-krte
nihatya dhartarastran nah
ka pritih syaj janardana

Meaning – O Govinda, of what avail to us are kingdoms, happiness or even life itself when all those for whom we may desire them are now arrayed in this battlefield? O Madhusudana, when teachers, fathers, sons, grandfathers, maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons, brothers-in-law and all relatives are ready to give up their lives and properties and are standing before me, then why should I wish to kill them, though I may survive? O maintainer of all creatures, I am not prepared to fight with them even in exchange for the three worlds, let alone this earth.

Explanation – When we do not desire anything (victory, kingdom and pleasure) of what use to us, is kingdom or pleasure? Victory, kingdom and pleasure, seem pleasant only, when there is desire for these. But we have no desire for these. So, how can these be pleasant to us? After killing our kith and kin, we have no desire to live, because after death, who will enjoy pleasure? The so-called pleasure, will rather lead us to worry and ‘unhappiness.

By Arjuna addressing Lord Krishna as Govinda expresses that since Lord Krishna is the knower of all the functions of the senses, Lord Krishna is also the knower of his mind. The reasons for not desiring the kingdom etc. are given in the second half of verse 32 beginning: yesam arthe. One can desire a kingdom for the happiness of one’s kinsman even at the cost of one’s own life; but in this battle when the destruction of ones kin is certain it is a fruitless desire to engage in battle. If it is put forth that although Arjuna out of compassion might not wish to slay his enemies; but it is certain that his enemies will surely slay him to keep the kingdom free from thorns. To answer this Arjuna is saying even if they intend to slay him he will not slay them. He says: I do not desire the ruler ship of the three worlds let alone this tract of land called Earth. If it is argued that Arjuna could slay only the sons of Dhritarashtra who caused the Pandavas so much troubles and leave all the others warriors alive then to answer this Arjuna is saying: what pleasure is there for us the Pandavas to kill the sons of Dhritarashtra? In expectation of temporary, earthly pleasures, fratricide is not in any way an appropriate action and will only insure eternal damnation to hell. By Arjuna addressing Lord Krishna as Janardhana which means He who always naturally protects His devotees; that since He has appeared for removing the sins from this world, then He can just slay all these sinners Himself and since Lord Krishna is the Supreme Lord there is no question of Him incurring any sinful reaction for causing their deaths.

Now a days people kill their own parents and close relatives for property or other silly reasons. Also look at our politicians, government servants or businessmen, for the sake of amassing wealth they are willing to stoop down to any level to eliminate friends and foes alike and achieve their earthly objectives. However Arjuna is displaying a very unique character by abandoning everything for the sake of peace and wellbeing of others.

Gita 1. 23

yotsyamanan avekse ‘ham

ya ete ‘tra samagatah

dhartarastrasya durbuddher

yuddhe priya-cikirsavah

Meaning – Let me see those who have come here to fight, wishing to please the evil-minded son of Dhritarashtra.

Explanation – Arjuna wanted to see all those who have joined the evil minded Duryodhana to help him fight and usurp the Kingdom rightfully belonging to the Pandavas. Since the war is about to start Arjuna wanted to know with whom he has to fight, who are his friends who have joined the enemy side and who are his real enemies.

In fact this question is a metaphor. Much before the start of the war, everyone knew who are fighting with Pandavas and who have joined Kauravas. Yet, Arjuna wanted to see them as he is confused. This is exactly what happens in our life as we always find it difficult to identify our real enemies and friends. Sometimes what looks good could be bad and vice versa. Certain things that we consume may be enjoyable, but may not be good for health. Junk foods, alcohol, smoking, etc. are enjoyable but certainly not good for health. Whereas medicines or raw vegetables are not enjoyable but certainly very good for maintaining a good health.

Gita  1 (24, 25)

sanjaya uvaca

evam ukto hrsikeso

gudakesena bharata

senayor ubhayor madhye

sthapayitva rathottamam



sarvesam ca mahi-ksitam

uvaca partha pasyaitan

samavetan kurun iti

Meaning – Sanjaya said: O descendant of Bharata, being thus addressed by Arjuna, Lord Krishna drew up the fine chariot in the midst of the armies of both parties.

In the presence of Bhishma, Drona and all other chieftains of the world, Hrsikesa, the Lord, said, just behold, Partha, all the Kuru who are assembled here.

Explanation – In this verse Arjuna is referred to as Gudakesa. Gudaka means sleep, and one who conquers sleep is called gudakesa. Sleep also means ignorance. So Arjuna conquered both sleep and ignorance because of his friendship with Krishna. As Hrsikesa, or the controller of the senses and mind of every living entity, Krishna could understand Arjuna’s purpose in placing the chariot in the midst of the armies.

Again the Lord addressed Arjuna as ‘Partha’, means son of Pritha or Kunti who is the sister of Krishna’s father. This could mean either that ‘Arjuna, no need to worry, as being your close relative, I am there to help you’. Or it could also be that oh, son of Kunti, do not behave like a woman, be brave and start fighting instead of getting confused as you have the necessary knowledge to do what is required.

Why did Krishna position the chariot in front of Bhishma and Drona and not closer to Duryodhana? May be Krishna had a hidden agenda in doing so! If the chariot was placed in front of Duryodhana, may be Arjuna would have been so angry that the war would have started instantly and the world would not have been benefitted with this great philosophical treatise called “Bhagavad Gita”. Also Krishna asked Arjuna to see the ‘Kurus’ who are assembled there and did not say to look at the children of Dhritarashtra who are assembled there. Being a Kuru himself, Arjuna for sure is going to be confused.

Gita  1. 26

tatrapasyat sthitan parthah

pitrn atha pitamahan

acaryan matulan bhratrn

putran pautran sakhims tatha

svasuran suhrdas caiva

senayor ubhayor api

Meaning – There Arjuna could see, within the midst of the armies of both parties, his fathers, grandfathers, teachers, maternal uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, friends, and also his father-in-law and well-wishers–all present there.

Explanation – When Lord Krishna, told Arjuna to behold the Kuru on the battlefield, Arjuna saw the members of his family, assembled on both sides. He saw Bhurisrava, who was just like his father. He saw his grand-fathers and uncles such as Bhishma and Somadatta etc., preceptors Drona and Kripa etc., maternal uncles, such as Purujit, Kuntibhoja, Salya and Sakuni etc., brothers and cousins- Bhima and Duryodhana etc., sons, such as Abhimanyu, Ghatotkatcha, Laksmana (Duryodhana’s son) etc., grandsons, such as the sons of Laksmana; friends of Duryodhana and Pandavas, named Ashvatthama etc.,; fathers-in- law such as Drupada and Saibya etc., and also well-wishers, such as Satyaki and Kritavarma etc.

Gita  1. 27

tan samiksya sa kaunteyah

sarvan bandhun avasthitan

krpaya parayavisto

visidann idam abravit

Meaning – When the son of Kunti, Arjuna, saw all these different grades of friends and relatives, he became overwhelmed with compassion and spoke thus:

Explanation – After seeing the warriors, who were related to him, through family and learning, on both the sides, Arjuna suddenly developed an attitude of kinship with them because he thought that on both sides there were his kinsmen and they would be killed in the war. In this way it was his family that would be destroyed ‘on either side. The use of the word ‘Kaunteyah’ in addressing Arjuna it indicates that since he is the son of Kunti he is affected by the morality and afflictions of the mundane world. The use of the word ‘kripaya’ signifies that Arjuna was naturally compassionate. By the use of the word ‘paraya’ it is intimated that not only for his own soldiers was he compassionate but for the enemy soldiers as well.

As a warrior and man of action Arjuna realizes the extend of sacrifice the society would be called upon to make in order that his ambition might be fulfilled and Duryodhana’s cruelty avenged. He reaches the highest level of compassion and his words subsequently clearly reflects his thoughts that reaffirms his feelings to avoid bloodshed at any cost including his own life.


Gita 1.16-17-18

anantavijayam raja

kunti-putro yudhisthirah

nakulah sahadevas ca



kasyas ca paramesv-asah

sikhandi ca maha-rathah

dhrstadyumno viratas ca

satyakis caparajitah


drupado draupadeyas ca

sarvasah prthivi-pate

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.

Gita 1.19

sa ghoso dhartarastranam

hrdayani vyadarayat

nabhas ca prthivim caiva

tumulo ‘bhyanunadayan

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.

Gita 1.20

atha vyavasthitan drstva

dhartarastran kapi-dhvajah

pravrtte sastra-sampate

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.

Gita 21-22

arjuna uvaca

senayor ubhayor madhye

ratham sthapaya me ‘cyuta

yavad etan nirikse ‘ham

yoddhu-kaman avasthitan

kair maya saha yoddhavyam

asmin rana-samudyame

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.

Gita 1.7

asmakam tu visista ye

tan nibodha dvijottama

nayaka mama sainyasya

samjnartham tan bravimi te

Meaning – “know also, O best among twice born, the names of those who are the most distinguished among ourselves, the leaders of my army, these I name to thee for thy information”.

Explanation – In this verse, Duryodhana probably wants to say, that his side is in no way weaker than that of the Pandavas, but is rather stronger, yet according to political prudence however weak the army of an enemy may be; it should not be regarded as weak. Therefore, one should not have in the least, a feeling of neglect and indifference, towards the enemy. So Duryodhana already described the warriors of the other side, to make Drona careful and now he is giving the names of the warriors of his army.

However by addressing Dronacharya as “Dvijottama”, twice born, means a Brahmin, Duryodhana hints that as a Brahmin he may not be fit to lead an army of Kshatriyas. A kind of insulting statement and doubts the Gurus ability to fight as Brahmins basically adhere to the principles of the Vedas and practise Sanatana Dharma. Vedic Brahmin’s have six occupational duties, of which three are compulsory — studying the Vedas, performing Vedic rituals and practicing dharma. Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, wisdom, knowledge, and religiousness are the qualities by which the Brahmins work. Also by saying “my army” to the Guru, Duryodhana is displaying arrogance of the highest order.

There are managers who suspect the loyalties of their own staff and this is mainly due to their weakness or fear of failure. Passing on confidential information, not doing enough to be successful, demotivating others, etc. could be the charges that they frame against anyone when failure looms large across the horizon.

Gita 1.8

bhavan bhismas ca karnas ca

krpas ca samitim-jayah

asvatthama vikarnas ca

saumadattis tathaiva ca

Meaning – There are personalities like yourself, Bhishma, Karna, Kripa, Ashvatthama, Vikarna and the son of Somadatta called Bhurisrava, who are always victorious in battle.

Explanation – “O Acharya, in our army, there are so many valiant warriors, such as you, Bhishma, Karma, Kripacharya etc., while in the army of the Pandavas, such valiant warriors are not seen. In our army, two great warriors named Kripacharya and Ashvatthama are immortal, while in the army of the Pandavas there is none. Moreover, in our army there is no scarcity of righteous persons, therefore, we need not be afraid of them.

Duryodhana mentioned the exceptional heroes in the battle, all of whom are ever-victorious. Vikarna is the brother of Duryodhana, Ashvatthama is the son of Dronacharya, and Saumadatti, or Bhurisrava, is the son of the King of the Bahlikas. Karna is the half-brother of Arjuna, as he was born of Kunti before her marriage with King Pandu. Kripacharya is the brother in law of Dronacharya.

Once again Duryodhana is displaying his arrogance and lack of respect to elders and teachers by telling Dronacharya the members of his army that includes himself and the Grandfather Bhishma, indicating that they all are his employees and nothing more.

Gita 1.9

anye ca bahavah sura

mad-arthe tyakta-jivitah


sarve yuddha-visaradah

Meaning – There are many other heroes who are prepared to lay down their lives for my sake. All of them are well equipped with different kinds of weapons, and all are experienced in military science.

Explanation – Here Duryodhana inadvertently hits upon the fate of Kaurava army in saying that they are ready to give up their lives but the word ‘tyakta-jivita’ may also be construed to mean that they are all as good as dead.

Who would like to work in an organization where the Chief Executive Officer himself is not sure about the success and indicates that all might lose their job in due course of time as the company is destined to fail?



Gita 1.10

aparyaptam tad asmakamm

balam bhismabhiraksitam

paryaptam tv idam etesam

balam bhimabhiraksitam

Meaning – Our strength is immeasurable, and we are perfectly protected by Grandfather Bhishma, whereas the strength of the Pandavas, carefully protected by Bhima, is limited.

Explanation – Duryodhana thinks that the strength of his armed forces is immeasurable, being specifically protected by the most experienced general, Grandfather Bhishma. On the other hand, the forces of the Pandavas are limited, being protected by a less experienced general, Bhima. In fact Bhima is not the Commander in Chief of the Pandava army, yet Duryodhana has mentioned his name. This is because of the fact that Duryodhana was always envious of Bhima as he knew perfectly well that if he should die at all, he would only be killed by Bhima.

The word used by Duryodhana has double meaning and he cleverly expresses his lack of confidence in his army commandeered by grandsire Bhishma. “Aparyaptam” means unlimited, but could also mean inadequate. While the obvious meaning could be that the Kaurava army is unlimited and big compared to that of the Pandava army, it is not adequate to ensure victory as there is no unity of purpose in the Kaurava side. None of the senior generals in the Kaurava army is totally and unequivocally committed to their success like that of the Pandava generals or army.

Gita 1.11


ayanesu ca sarvesu

yatha-bhagam avasthitah

bhismam evabhiraksantu

bhavantah sarva eva hi

Meaning – Now all of you must give full support to Grandfather Bhishma, standing at your respective strategic points in the phalanx of the army.

Explanation – Duryodhana clearly felt that the victory of the Kauravas depended on the presence of Bhishma and Dronacharya in the battlefield. Although he knew that the two generals had some sort of affection for the Pandavas, he hoped that all such affection would now be completely given up by them. By saying the above words, Duryodhana wants to please Bhishma, so that he may be partial to his army. Secondly, he gives instruction to the warriors of his army, to see that Sikhandi should not face Bhishma. If Sikhandi comes in front of Bhishma, the latter will not use his arms and weapons against him, because he was a woman in the previous birth.

If anything happens to the leader, it could have a devastating impact on the morale of the entire army. They might think that if Pandavas can kill the mighty Bhishma, others are like dry grass in front of a raging fire and will be eliminated in matter of minutes.


Venu Payyanur

Gita 1.3

pasyaitam pandu-putranam

acarya mahatim camum

vyudham drupada-putrena

tava sisyena dhimata


 “O my teacher, behold the great army of the sons of Pandu, so expertly arranged by your intelligent disciple, the son of Drupada”.

Duryodhana is thinking that Drona might decline to fight in the battle, out of affection for the Pandavas who is considered more righteous and had been his best disciples. So trying to create some anger in Drona towards them, Duryodhana sneered and exclaimed “pasyaitam: Behold these! Implying that the same Pandavas whom you love so much are preparing to fight against their own preceptor. Then to incite Drona further Duryodhana says that the military formation of the Pandava army has been arrayed by another one of his disciples, the intelligent son of Drupada. Duryodhana could have called the son of Drupada by his name Dhristadyumna; but he purposely used drupada-putra because it would remind Drona of his bitter enemy, King Drupada, who performed a sacrifice specifically to get a son who would be the slayer of Drona. This son was Dhristayumna. Duryodhana is also calling Dristadyumna intelligent because he had learned the science of warfare from the very person he was born to kill. Furthermore Duryodhana is implying that it was imprudent of Drona to teach the science of archery to the very person who was destined to kill him and who was known to be his enemy.

Though the army of the Kauravas was larger than that of the Pandavas, Duryodhana felt the Pandava army was big and formidable. This was because:-

(i) It was arrayed in such a manner, that even a small army seemed larger to Duryodhana.

(ii) All the warriors of the Pandavas army, were united and of one mind. So it seemed greater in strength and enthusiasm.

Drawing Drona’s attention to the army of the Pandavas, Duryodhana wants to say to Dronacharya, that he should not regard the army of the rival group as ordinary (small). He should fight with all his might and it would not be difficult for him to defeat the son of Dhrupad, because he was his pupil.

The leader, Duryodhana, is clearly confused. He is doubting the integrity of seniors in his team and even questioning their loyalty and judgment. If the intended purpose is to motivate and make them work harder, the result could be quite the opposite. One has to display highest level of maturity in dealing with senior managers in the team, both by experience, qualification, age, etc.

Gita 1. (4/5/6)

atra sura mahesvasa

bhimarjuna-sama yudhi

yuyudhano viratas ca

drupadas ca maha-rathah


dhrstaketus cekitanah

kasirajas ca viryavan

purujit kuntibhojas ca

saibyas ca nara-pungavah


yudhamanyus ca vikranta

uttamaujas ca viryavan

saubhadro draupadeyas ca

sarva eva maha-rathah

Here are heroes, mighty archers, equal in fighting to Bhima and Arjuna; there are also great fighters like Yuyudhana, Virata and Drupada.

There are also great, heroic, powerful fighters like Dhristaketu, Chekitana, Kasiraja, Purujit, Kuntibhoja and Saibya.

There are the mighty Yudhamanyu, the very powerful Uttamauja, the son of Subhadra and the sons of Draupadi. All these warriors are great chariot fighters.

Duryodhana’s use of the words “atra surah” in addressing Drona is an innuendo meaning: If you are thinking that the Pandavas army commanded by Dhristayumna are less than ours, they can easily be defeated and there is nothing to worry about, you are mistaken. These warriors are all mighty bowmen and equal to that of Bhima and Arjuna. Yuyudhana who is also known as Satyaki, Virata and Drupada are distinguished as “Maharathi” meaning the mightiest of chariot warriors.

Yuyudhana (Satyaki), learnt the science and art of warfare, from Arjuna, thus he was obliged to him, that he did not go to the side of Duryodhana, even though Lord Krishna had given Duryodhana, his Narayani army. In order to arouse malice in the mind of Dronacharya, Duryodhana, first of all, mentions the name of Yuyudhana, the disciple to Arjuna. He means to say, “You have taught Arjuna archery and granted him the boon that he would be a matchless archer, in this world. Thus you have so much love for him. But he is so ungrateful, that he is arrayed in the army against you, while Arjuna’s disciple Yuyudhana is arrayed on his side.”

Dronacharya had no enmity or malice against king Virata, But Duryodhana thinks that if he names Drupada after Yuyudhana, Dronacharya may think, that Duryodhana is instigating him to fight against the Pandavas, and he is arousing feelings of enmity with them. So Duryodhana names Virata before Drupada, so that Dronacharya may not see through his trick, and may fight bravely. King Virata and his three sons, named Uttara, Sveta, and Sankha were killed, in the war of Mahabharata.

How foolish this Dhrstaketu is, that he is fighting on the side of Sri Krishna, who killed his father Sisupala, with his Sudarshana, in the assembly. [Dhrstaketu was killed by Dronacharya.]

‘Chekitana- The entire yadava-army is ready to fight on our side, but that solitary yadava is fighting on the side of Pandavas. [Chekitana was killed by Duryodhana.]

The king of Kasi is very valiant, a great chariot-warrior and is fighting on the side of the Pandavas, so be careful, as you have a very formidable foe to deal with [The king of Kasi was killed, in the battle of Mahabharata.]

Though both Purujit and Kuntibhoja, being Kunti’s brothers, are maternal uncles to us and the Pandavas, yet being partial, they are arrayed to fight against us. [Purujit and Kuntibhoja-both were killed at the hands of Dronacharya,]

Saibya is the father-in-law of Yudhishthira. He is noble and very powerful. He is also our relative, but he is on the side of the Pandavas,

Yudhamanyu and Uttamauja, who are very strong and valiant warriors, have been assigned the task of protecting the wheels of my enemy Arjuna’s chariot. So keep an eye on them. [Yudhamanyu and· Uttamauja, were slain in their sleep, by Ashvatthama,]

Abhimanyu, the son to Krishna’s sister named Subhadra. He is very brave. He learnt the art of piercing and entering the “Chakravyuha”, while in his mother’s womb. So beware of him.

Draupadi gave birth to five sons named Prativindhya, Sutasoma, Srutakarma, Satanika and Srutasena respectively, from Yudhishthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva. Watch her five sons, carefully. She openly insulted me in the assembly. So avenge that insult, by killing her five sons. [Ashvatthama killed the five sons, while they were asleep at night.]

All of them are great chariot warriors. They are well-versed in the scripture and in the use of arms (A Maharathi is one who can manage ten thousand archers). There are a large number of such great chariot warriors, in the army of the Pandavas.

Here Duryodhana is explaining the strength of his enemy and at times it looked like he is praising them and admiring their competence and capabilities. May be he was so much worried about the strength of his enemy that he is confused about his own strengths and ability to win the war. While it is important to make correct assessment about our competitors, their strengths and weakness, being obsessed with them does not help.

Venu Payyanur

Chapter 1 – Arjuna Visada Yoga

Chapter one introduces the scene, the setting, the circumstances and the characters involved determining the reasons for the Bhagavad-Gita’s revelation. The scene is the sacred plain of Kurukshetra. The setting is a battlefield. The circumstance is war. The main characters are the Supreme Lord Krishna and Prince Arjuna, witnessed by four million soldiers led by their respective military commanders. After naming the principal warriors on both sides, Arjuna’s growing dejection is described due to the fear of losing friends and relatives in the course of the impending war and the subsequent sins attached to such actions. Thus this chapter is entitled: Lamenting the Consequence of War.

Bhagavad Gita 1.1

                                                                    dhritarashtra uvaca

dharma-kshetre kuru-kshetre

samaveta yuyutsavah

mamakah pandavas caiva

kim akurvata sanjaya


Dhritarashtra said – What did the sons of Pandu and also my people do when they had assembled together, eager for battle on the holy plain of Kurukshetra, O Sanjaya?

Dhritarashtra is the blind Kuru King. Just before the war, sage Vyasa offered him vision so that he could witness the war, but refused to accept it, instead pleaded with the Sage to give divine vision to his Minister cum Charioteer Sanjay, so that by sitting in his palace, Sanjay could see the developments in Kurukshetra. Dhritarashtra is blind, both physically and mentally. He is neither able to see with his physical eye nor through his mental eye. His love towards his own children, particularly Duryodhana, was so much blinding that he could not see all the adharma that is being perpetuated by them. In fact at times even he permitted and encouraged such acts.

Kurukshetra is the place where Mahabharata war is fought and is also known as “Dharma Kshetra”. It is said that anyone who dies in this holy place goes to heaven directly. The name Kurukshetra is derived from the fact that King Kuru, the king who started the Kuru dynasty did penance here. This is also the place where Parasuram did obeisance to his father by killing all the Kshatriya kings on earth five times and collected their blood as a revenge for his father’s murder.

The very question that the blind king asked is irrelevant as there is no point in asking “what my children and the sons of Pandu is doing in Kurukshetra where they have assembled eager for the war”. Because that exactly what they would be doing, war, fighting each other, except that Dhritarashtra had a glimpse of hope due to the significance of the place.  The phrase dharma-Kshetra Kurukshetra used by Dhritarashtra signifies two things. The first is that he is inwardly thinking that his sons who are not righteous might give back the kingdom to the Pandavas which they appropriated by fraudulent means, due to being influenced by the righteousness and holiness of the land where they have assembled for the war.  The second is that if the Pandavas who are virtuous by nature, increase in righteousness due to contact with the holiness of Kurukshetra and thereby lose all desire in regaining the kingdom after duly weighing the sinful consequences of slaying their kinsman and relatives.

Sanjaya means a person who has become free from attachment and aversion and thus speak only the truth. By addressing Sanjaya, Dhritarashtra expects him to speak the truth as it is.  By using the word ‘mamakah’ and ‘Pandava’ in referring to his sons and the sons of Pandu indicates disparity and shows that Dhritarashtra did not accept the sons of his deceased brother Pandu as he did his own sons and this reveals his enmity or dislike towards them.

Nepotism and favouritism is a common problem in many organizations that demotivates loyal and committed employees. If a Manager shows or showers special favour to a person, because of his religion, cast, creed, language or region, colour, sex or cronyism, the very structure and essence of that team loses and infighting, demotivation and disintegration starts. Whether it is hiring, promotions or compensation, performance and merit should be the only criteria for decision making.

In Government departments or organizations hiring and staffing is done based on religion or cast (reservation policy) but their main objective is social equity rather than performance or profitability. However hiring in private industries or organizations have to be based on merit as performance is critical for survival and growth of the company. As a manager if you compromise, you are not only compromising the company’s growth but also that of yours as well as those working with you. If the situation continues then good people will leave the company making it even more vulnerable to performance deterioration. If Dhritarashtra has shown equanimity, being the king, towards his as well as his brother’s sons, who consider and respect him as their father, Mahabharata war would not have taken place. Large scale destruction and death would have been avoided. Similarly you as a manager can avoid demoralisation of your team and destruction of your company by treating all your employees equally and reward them based on performance only.

Gita 1.2

Sanjaya uvaca

drishtva tu pandavanikam

vyudham duryodhanas tada

acaryam upasangamya

raja vacanam abravit

“Sanjaya said: O King, after looking over the army arranged in military formation by the sons of Pandu, King Duryodhana went to his teacher and spoke the following words.”

Sanjaya, the minister and charioteer of Kind Dhritarashtra, was loyal to him but always advised the king not to ill-treat Pandavas. Having given special powers by sage Vyasa, Sanjaya was able to view the war as well as hear what they say and think wherever he is and will not be killed by weapons even if he walks through the battlefield unarmed.

Pandavas had 7 Akshouhini or regiments while Kauravas had much larger army of 11 Akshouhini.  Yet, Duryodhana was concerned about the strength of Pandava army and therefore went to the teacher to discuss the subject.

Duryodhana is the eldest son of Dhritarashtra and who was solely responsible for the war against Pandavas due to his greed and jealousy and by refusing to give them their rightful share of the kingdom. The word means ‘one who could not easily be fought against, He is also known as Suyodhana, ‘one who fights with ease’ denoting his valour. He is said to be an Avatar of the demon Kali, and was an incredibly powerful person.

Drona is the preceptor for both the Kauravas and Pandavas. Born as the son of Sage Bharadwaja, Drona got his early education, including training in Dhanurvidya (archery) from Rishi Agnivesa. Drupada, who became the King of Panchala was his classmate and best friend and also promised any kind of help when in need. However Drona was humiliated by the king when approached for financial help due to extreme poverty and the hurt Drona decided to take revenge. Drona took higher education under Parasuram and gained many divine weapons. On advice from his brother in law Kripacharya, Drona approached Bhishma and got appointed as the teacher for the young Kaurava and Pandava princes. With the help of his most loved and favourite student Arjuna, Drona attacked the Panchala kingdom, took King Drupada as prisoner and usurped half his kingdom.

Throughout the conflict Drona advised the king and Duryodhana to desist from evil ways and make peace with the Pandavas, but all in vain. He fought the war with the Kauravas, first under Bhishma and then as Commander in Chief of the Kaurava army. Born a Brahmin, he lived a life of Kshatriya, like his Guru Parasuram.

There are many questions that arise from this stanza. Why did Duryodhana go to Acharya Drona and not to Bhishma, who is the Commander in Chief? Was it a political move, particularly when Drona’s love towards Pandavas in general and Arjuna in particular was a well-known fact? Or is it because Bhishma’s loyalty towards the Kaurava side is taken for granted because of his oath taken earlier to protect the kingdom and lineage? And finally why did Sanjay address Duryodhana as King when he is only a princess and representing the king in the battle field.

Was Duryodhana behaving like a king even though he was not already the king? Those who are working in family owned companies such experiences are very common. You may be working there for many years and may already be the head of sales or marketing. The owner director of the company has full trust in you, having seen you perform over the years, yet, when his young sons joins the company after his graduation becomes your Boss and starts guiding you as to what and how to do the job! Some withstand the humiliation but many others look out for alternate opportunities!


Venu Payyanur.

The philosophy contained in the pages of the Bhagavad Gita is considered relevant and essential to our understanding of ourselves even in the western world. Leading business schools in the USA such as Kellogg have included the Bhagavad Gita as an elective subject in their curriculum. For thousands of years, the Bhagavad Gita has inspired millions of readers. Here’s what some of the greats have to say in praise of this venerable scripture.

J. Robert Oppenheimer, American physicist and director of the Manhattan Project, who developed the first nuclear bomb, learned Sanskrit in 1933 and read the Bhagavad Gita in the original, citing it later as one of the most influential books to shape his philosophy of life. Upon witnessing the world’s first nuclear test in 1945, he later said he had thought of the quotation “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”, (verse 32 from Chapter 11 of the Bhagavad Gita).

“When I read the Bhagavad-Gita and reflect about how God created this universe everything else seems so superfluous.” ~ Albert Einstein

“The Bhagavad-Gita has a profound influence on the spirit of mankind by its devotion to God which is manifested by actions.” ~ Dr Albert Schweitzer

“The Bhagavad-Gita is the most systematic statement of spiritual evolution of endowing value to mankind. It is one of the most clear and comprehensive summaries of perennial philosophy ever revealed; hence its enduring value is subject not only to India but to all of humanity.” ~ Aldous Huxley

“The Bhagavad-Gita is a true scripture of the human race a living creation rather than a book, with a new message for every age and a new meaning for every civilization.” ~ Sri Aurobindo

“The idea that man is like unto an inverted tree seems to have been current in by gone ages. The link with Vedic conceptions is provided by Plato in his Timeous in which it states…” behold, we are not an earthly but a heavenly plant.” ~ Carl Jung

“In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavad-Gita, in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seems puny and trivial.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

“The marvel of the Bhagavad-Gita is its truly beautiful revelation of life’s wisdom which enables philosophy to blossom into religion.” ~ Herman Hesse

“When doubts haunt me, when disappointments stare me in the face, and I see not one ray of hope on the horizon, I turn to Bhagavad-Gita and find a verse to comfort me; and I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming sorrow. Those who meditate on the Gita will derive fresh joy and new meanings from it every day.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

“The Bhagavad-Gita deals essentially with the spiritual foundation of human existence. It is a call of action to meet the obligations and duties of life; yet keeping in view the spiritual nature and grander purpose of the universe.” ~ Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru

“The Bhagavad-Gita is an empire of thought and in its philosophical teachings Krishna has all the attributes of the full-fledged monotheistic deity and at the same time the attributes of the Upanisadic absolute.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“In order to approach a creation as sublime as the Bhagavad-Gita with full understanding it is necessary to attune our soul to it.” ~ Rudolph Steiner

Another concern expressed by aspiring seekers is that it is too deep in philosophy and metaphysical theories that understanding is too difficult for a common person like me! It is true that you need coaching and assistance of a learned Guru to understanding the sublime meaning hidden in the texts of Bhagavad Gita. It is a process and one need to practice it by reading or listening for a long time to get a reasonable understanding of the holy text. At the same time one can start getting the benefits of Gita even before you start understanding the inner meaning of the book. There is a story that is being circulated in the internet which provides an insight into this theory.

An old Farmer lived on a farm in the mountains with his young grandson. Each morning Grandpa was up early sitting at the kitchen table reading his Bhagavad Gita. His grandson wanted to be just like him and tried to imitate him in every way he could. One day the grandson asked, “Grandpa! I try to read the Bhagavad Gita just like you but I don’t understand it, and what I do understand I forget as soon as I close the book. What good does reading the Bhagavad Gita do?” The Grandfather quietly turned from putting coal in the stove and replied, “Take this coal basket down to the river and bring me back a basket of water.” The boy did as he was told, but all the water leaked out before he got back to the house. The grandfather laughed and said, “You’ll have to move a little faster next time,” and sent him back to the river with the basket to try again. This time the boy ran faster, but again the basket was empty before he returned home. Out of breath, he told his grandfather that it was impossible to carry water in a basket, and he went to get a bucket instead. The old man said, “I don’t want a bucket of water; I want a basket of water. You’re just not trying hard enough,” and he went out the door to watch the boy try again.

At this point, the boy knew it was impossible, but he wanted to show his grandfather that even if he ran as fast as he could, the water would leak out before he got back to the house. The boy again dipped the basket into river and ran hard, but when he reached his grandfather the basket was again empty. Out of breath, he said, “See Grandpa, it’s useless!” “So you think it is useless?” The old man said, “Look at the basket.” The boy looked at the basket and for the first time realized that the basket was different. It had been transformed from a dirty old coal basket and was now clean, inside and out. “Son, that’s what happens when you read the Bhagavad Gita. You might not understand or remember everything, but when you read it, you will be changed, inside and out. That is the work of Krishna in our lives.”

Whether you understand it or not, regular reading of Gita can bring tremendous change in your life for the better, as long as you read it correctly, clearly and with total devotion and involvement.

As mentioned earlier, Bhagavad Gita can be studied from many different angles and perspectives. It can be studied as a great Religious scripture or a philosophical treatise. It is one of the best books on psychology besides providing many useful tips on health sciences. You can study Gita from the historical perspective or as a literary text. And, of course, it offers great many ideas on Management and human behaviour. Let us briefly try to understand each of these perspectives.

As a religious text, Gita is considered as part of the “Prasthana Traya”, the top three authoritative philosophies on Hindu religion. As per the religious leaders the entire philosophy of Vedas is compiled in Bhagavad Gita and therefore it is also known as Vedanta or Gitopanishad. In this scripture, Sri Krishna is always referred as “Bhagavan”, meaning GOD. Gita has the same stature among the Hindus as Bible has for Christians and Quran among Muslims.

As a Philosophical treatise Gita is unrivalled. It helps people struggling in ignorance and trains them in the art of living and finally elevates them to the highest level of perfection and happiness. Unlike other Upanishads, Gitopanishad is not taught to the aspiring student at the serene and calm environment of Himalayas but in the middle of the battlefield. The circumstances under which Sri Krishna taught Gita to Arjuna represents internal and external conflicts that are so common these days to any living being, more so to a business executive. Externally there is war between two warring factions of the royal family and internally Arjuna is split between his love and loyalty towards his elders, Gurus, relatives and friend and his duty as a Kshatriya, as a warrior.

Gita can also be seen as the first book on Psychology. Much before Freud or Jung, Sri Krishna talked about various states of mind, how a healthy mind can breakdown under difficult circumstances, it talked about the impact of lust and desire to the very existence of human being. Unlike Freud, Gita states that desire and lust do not die if they are fulfilled, they only disappear for a brief moment and returns with equal vigour sooner than later. It is like hunger, disappears once you eat, only to appear few hours later. And Gita also offers us practical methods to control desire that leads us to a happy and contented life.

Gita could also be studied from the historical perspective. The Gita that we know was taught by Krishna to Arjuna during the Mahabharata war and many historians claim that the war took place during 3100 BC based on certain celestial descriptions given in the book.  While many others claim that the book is written time anytime between 3000BC to 1000 AD. However there is also a mention in the Gita where Krishna says that Gita was first told by him to the Sun God who in turn taught the same to Manu, Manu advised Ikshaku and then on to the humanity at large by successive teachers over many generations. Therefore the origin of Gita could be seen many millions of years ago!

Bhagavan discusses about many different type of food and its impact on human mind and body in the Gita giving it a touch of health sciences. What is satwick, rajaisic and tamaisic food, who eats what and how one should live, are all explained in a clinical precision in this holy book.

At the same time Bhagavad Gita is a great resource for students of management. Management is the act of getting people together to accomplish desired goals and objectives using available resources efficiently and effectively. Management comprises planning, organizing, staffing, leading or directing, and controlling an organization (a group of one or more people or entities) or effort for the purpose of accomplishing a goal. It is about keeping oneself engaged in interactive relationship with other human beings in the course of performing one’s duty. Its task is to make people capable of joint performance, to make their weaknesses irrelevant and build up a team spirit – says the Management Guru Peter Drucker. An effective Management strikes harmony in working – equilibrium in thoughts and actions, goals and achievements, plans and performance, products and markets. It resolves situations of scarcities be they in the physical, technical or human fields through better allocation and utilization processes. The negation of management is disorder, confusion, wastage, detention, delay, decadence and destruction.

There are commentaries written for the Bhagavad Gita by great many scholars and realised souls that provides in-depth analysis and understanding of this holy book. At the same time the number of management books available these days are in plenty and written by world acclaimed gurus. I am neither a Yogi nor a Guru. But certainly a student of Bhagavad Gita and Management and making a bold attempt to combine the two based on my understanding and experience. What I will be publishing are my study notes and not a thesis, so errors are possible and seek your pardon and understanding. I have taken reference of many commentaries for my work, that includes Swami Chinmayananda, AC Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada, Swami Gambhirananda, Sri Paramahamsa Yogananda, Swami Ramsukhdasji, and articles on Gita by many more Yogis and scholars. I pay my respectful obeisance to all those venerable and respectable Gurus and Acharyas whose guidance I have taken in writing these notes. If you find anything good in these, the credits are fully due to them. Mistakes, if any, are mine only and seek apologies in advance. I seek your blessings and support for this long journey and help me to overcome this onerous task successfully. And finally I offer these notes at the feet of Jagat Guru Sri Krishna and seek his blessings!

Hari Om.