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(The Philosophical Part)






Obeisance to the Supreme Soul who is in the form of AUM and whom only the Vedas can describe. My obeisance to you who is the Self and can only be experienced. Oh God, you are the Ganesha, who enables everybody's intellect to understand everything. Thus says this disciple of Shri Nivruttinath. ( 1:1-2).

(Dnyaneshwar Maharaj describes in beautiful poetic style the form of Ganesha the God of Knowledge and remover of all obstacles comparing each part of the body to some branch of knowledge. He then makes obeisance to Sharada the Goddess of learning and then praises his Guru Nivruttinath ascribing to him the credit for initiating the work and providing strength, enthusiasm and sense of devotion for fulfilling this immense task. He then extols the qualities of the Gita which even great Rishis respectfully read and enjoy. (1:3-84) Now the commentary on the actual text of Gita starts.

NOTE that this chapter does not contain any philosophical part and reader may skip it.

What is given below is a summary of the first chapter which describes the situation on the opening day of the Mahabharata war between the Kauravas and Pandavas on the battlefield of Kurukshetra near Delhi. Dhritarashtra being blind had requested Shri Krishna to fulfil his wish to get the news about the progress of the war sitting at home. Shri Krishna in the role of Bhagwan or God has empowered Dhritarashtra's charioteer by a Divine sight which enables him to see the battlefield scenario and describe it to the blind king. The Gita starts with instruction given by Dhritarashtra to Sanjaya to describe the battlefield scene on the opening day. ( see Mahabharata War). Following is a brief summary.)


Overcome by the love for his sons, Dhritarashtra asks Sanjaya to describe the situation on the righteous battlefield (See notes at the end of the chapter) of Kurukshetra where his sons and Pandavas have gone to fight each other. ( 1:85-87)

Sanjaya replied, "The Pandava army is agitated with fury like the waters at the time of the Great Flood. Arranged in many strategic formations it looks horrible. ( 1:88,91).

But Duryodhana looked at it scornfully and approaching Dronacharya remarked, "look at the various strategic formations of the Pandava army. These have been done by Drishtadumna, son of Drupada whom you taught and made an expert in the military arts. ( 1:92-95). There are other warriors also in their army of strength and capability comparable those of Bhima and Arjuna. They include the great warrior Yuyudhan, Virat and the great chariot-warrior Drupad. Also come are Chekitan, Dhrishtaketu, Kashiraj, Uttamouja and the great king Shaibya. Abhimanyu the son of Subhadra looks like younger image of Arjuna. Other sons of Draupadi as well as many other warriors have also come. ( 1:99-102).

Now I shall mention also the names of the warriors fighting on our side. Here is our granduncle Bhishma with a capability as bright as sun. This brave Karna is like a lion. Then we also have the powerful stalwarts like Kripacharya, Vikarna, Ashwathama, Samitinjaya, Soumadatti and innumerable other warriors. (1:103-108, 109). Besides, Granduncle Bhishma has been appointed the chief of our army. His strength imparts this army the appearance of a fort. Who can face this army? On the other hand the Pandava army is very small but even then it appears huge to me. On top of it that colossus Bhima has become the chief of their army." (1:115-120).

After talking thus to Dronacharya, Duryodhana addressed the rest of the army and calling upon them to arrange themselves in proper formations, to arrange for protection of their own great chariot-borne warriors enjoined them to obey Bhishma. He also asked Dronacharya to protect Bhishma and give him as much respect as they gave himself since the strength of the entire army depended on Bhishma. ( 1:121-125). Hearing this Bhishma was pleased and gave a battle cry and blew his conch which frightened both the armies. ( 1:130).

Now listen to the happenings in the Pandava army. ( 1:137). Shri Krishna whose love for his devotes is out of this world, is acting as Arjuna's charioteer out of love for him. Shri Krishna blew his Panchjanya conch which silenced the war cries of the Kaurava army. This was followed by the terrible sounds from Arjuna's conch and the conches of the other Pandavas. Other warriors like Drupad, Kashiraj, Arjuna's sons, Satyaki, Dhrishatadyuman, Shikhandi, Virat etc who also blew their conches the sounds from which shook the earth. ( 1:142-143, 146-153). The disoriented Kaurava army was brought under control by their leaders who began to shower arrows on pandava army. ( 1:164-165).

Feeling satisfied, Arjuna eagerly glanced at the army and when he saw the Kauravas ready for war he slowly picked up his bow. Then he asked Shri Krishna to take his chariot quickly in the middle of the two armies so that he could observe the great warriors come there to fight. He said, "I must decide with whom I must choose to fight. These Kauravas generally are of evil nature and though they have the eagerness for war they lack courage." (1:167-173). Thus reporting Arjuna's speech to Dhritarashtra, Sanjaya further described,

Oh King, Shri Krishna brought the chariot in between the two armies where Bhishma, Drona and other kings were waiting. Observing them, Arjuna said, "Shri Krishna, look. These are all our own family members and teachers." Hearing this, Shri Krishna was startled and thought, "What is this that has come in Arjuna's mind?". But he kept quiet. ( 1:174-179). Arjuna saw his teachers, grand uncle, relatives and friends, sons and grandsons too, Arjuna was shaken and compassion arose in his mind and his warrior nature left him. ( 1:180-182). He said to Shri Krishna, "I see only our friends and relatives here. They have come here for war but will it be proper for us also to do the same? I am confused and my bow has fallen from my hands. ( 1:194-198). If we have to kill the Kauravas then why should we not kill my own brothers too? Both belong to our family. ( 1:207). It will be improper to fight this war. ( 1:209). I am not interested in winning the war. What use is enjoying the pleasures after killing these people? (1:210-211). I shall be burdened with the sin of killing my family members. ( 1:228).". Thus raving, Arjuna said that he was not going to touch any weapon in this war because he found it improper. ( 1:233). The body for the pleasures of which one wished for the kingdom, was itself short-lived. When we know this why should we not loathe it? (1:263). Overcome with grief Arjuna jumped from the chariot and threw his bow and arrows on the ground. Uncontrollable tears started flowing from his eyes. ( 1:268, 272).

Dnyaneshwar Maharaj says, "Listen in the next chapter how Shri Krishna advises a grief stricken Arjuna on the meaning of spiritual goal." (1:274).


NOTES by V.V. Shirvaikar:

NOTE that this chapter does not contain any philosophical part.

Note 1. Shri Krishna as Bhagwan The Gita or Bhagvadgita, on which Dnyaneshwari has been written as a commentary by Saint Dnyaneshwar, is a dialogue between Shri Krishna and Arjuna. In Mahabharata of which Gita is a part, Shri Krishna is presented in the role of Bhagwan or almighty God in incarnate form. Both Shri Krishna and Arjuna are mentioned by various names in the Bhagvadgita, but we shall maintain the names Shri Krishna and Arjuna in this translation for the sake of convenience.

As readers would have concluded from the Prologue, the dialogue in the Gita is not factual but a composition by added by Sauti to the Mahabharata. During the lifetime of Shri Krishna he was not considered as a god or an incarnation of Vishnu. He was considered so only many centuries later, but before Sauti's time (450 BC). Thus, it is natural that the additions made by Suta and Sauti to Mahabharata refer to him as Bhagwan or God. Not only that, it is also suggested that people living at that time knew him as an incarnation. This has given rise to irrational situations in the episodes in the Epic. Having assigned the role of an avatar to Shri Krishna, he is mentioned in Gita and Dnyaneshwari as Bhagwan (God). In fact much of the advice to Arjuna is rendered by Shri Krishna in this role of Bhagwan which Arjuna also recognises.

Note 2 Use of the term YOGA The term Yoga is used with different implied meanings in the Gita. Sometimes this can be very confusing. For example, title of each chapter is described as a yoga. Thus the first chapter is named "Arjuna-Vishada-yoga" which literally means "Yoga of Arjuna’s despondency". (In this translation the term yoga has been omitted from the titles as far as possible). The term Yoga is derived from the root yuj which means "to harness or to yoke". It is also used to mean to join or to unite. It has also been used to mean concentrate mind and intellect. Thus Yoga would imply combining i.e. uniting the actions of the body and of the mind (meditation, attitude etc.) to attain a goal which to spiritual seekers is the Self-realisation. It is often used to mean union of the individual soul or consciousness with the Cosmic spirit or Brahman through the process of meditation. In the Gita the term Yoga is used more liberally to mean a system of approach towards liberation or Self-realisation which is the same as the union with the Brahman. This is how the terms Jnyanayoga (or Yoga of Knowledge) and Karmayoga (or Yoga of Action) have been used. Reader should understand the implied meaning from the context to avoid confusion.

Popularly, the term Yoga is used for Hathayoga which is a system of control of the body through certain body postures together with Pranayama or breath control. However there are many other systems of Yoga techniques in which one meditates sitting in a single posture of sitting in Padmasana (or lotus posture) or Sahajasana (or easy posture also known as half-lotus posture), concentrating on a point in between the eybrows and sometimes on breath, as prescribed by one’s teacher (see Ch 6).


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Last update of the text: 2004-APR-04.