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#Gita Chapter 01 (English translation)

November 30, 2017

Acknowledgements, Translation Notes, and Vocabulary Notes

Chapter 1




Dhritarashtra speaks:

Sanjaya, what did my people and Pandu’s people do when they stood readied for battle on the holy plains of Kurukshetra? II1.1II


Sanjaya speaks:

Seeing the Pandavas ready for battle, Duryodhana approached his teacher, Dronacharya, with the following words: II1.2II


(Duryodhana speaking)

“Teacher, take a look at the mighty army of the sons of Pandu arrayed by your intelligent student, the son of Drupada (Dhrishtadyumna)” II1.3II


“Behold these heroes, equal in might to Bhima and Arjuna–there are Yuyudhana (Satyaki), Virata, and Maharathi (chariot-warrior) Raja Drupada... II1.4II


(Duryodhana, continuing with the list of warriors)

...Dhristaketu, Chekitaana, the valiant King of Kashi (Varanasi), Purujit, and Kuntibhoja, as well as Shaibya–the best of men.” II1.5II


“Strong Yudhamanyu and brave Uttamaujas, Subhadra’s son (Abhimanyu–son of Subhadra and Arjuna) and the sons of Draupadi–all masters of combat.” II1.6II


“Best among the twice-born (referring to Dronacharya’s birth as a Brahmana and his current duty as a Kshatriya) allow me to name the distinguished leaders of my army for your information.” II1.7II


“You yourself, Bhishma, Karna, and Kripa, ‘the victorious-in-war’ Ashvatthama, Vikarna, and Somadatta’s son (Bhurishrava), as well.” II1.8II


“There are many other heroes who are willing to give up their lives for my sake, armed with various weapons and skilled in warfare.” II1.9II


“This army of ours defended by Bhishma is insufficient, whereas that army of theirs defended by Bhima is sufficient.” II1.10II

(Interpretation in which Duryodhana is unsure.)


“This army of ours protected by Bhishma is unlimited, whereas that army of theirs protected by Bhima is limited.” II1.10II

(Interpretation in which Duryodhana displays bravado.)

(Both translations used verbatim from The Holy Geeta, Swami Chinmayananda.

Different meanings caused by interpretations of Duryodhana’s choice of words–aparyaaptam or paryaaptam)


(Duryodhana, addressing his warriors:)

“Therefore, you should all protect Bhishma alone from your respective positions in the array of the army.” II1.11II


(Sanjaya continues his commentary:)

Now, the glorious grandsire Bhishma, oldest of the Kauravas, sought to cheer Duryodhana. He roared like a lion and blew his conch. II1.12II


(Following Bhishma’s lead)

Conches and kettledrums, tabors, drums, and cow horns blared forth suddenly (on the side of the Kauravas). The sound was tremendous. II1.13II


Then, mounted on a chariot yoked with white horses, Madhava (the consort of Mother Lakshmi, Sri Krishna) and the son of Pandu (Arjuna) blew their divine conches. II1.14II


Hrishikesha (the one who has his senses in control, Sri Krishna) blew his conch named Panchajanya. Dhananjaya (the winner of wealth, Arjuna) blew his conch named Devadatta. Vrikodara (the wolf-bellied one, Bhima)–the doer of terrible deeds–blew his conch, Paundra. II1.15II


King Yudhisthira, son of Kunti, (blew his conch named) Anantavijaya. Nakula and Sahadeva (blew their conches) Sugosha and Manipushpaka. II1.16II


The King of Kashi, an excellent archer, Shikhandi, the mighty commander, Dhristadyumna, Virata, and the unconquered Satyaki… II1.17II


…Drupada and the sons of Draupadi, and the son of Subhadra (Abhimanyu), all mighty armed, each blew their own conches, Lord of the Earth (Sanjaya addressing Dhritarashtra, the blind father of the Kauravas). II1.18II


That tumultuous sound resounded through heaven and earth and rent the hearts of Dhritarashtra’s people. II1.19II


Then, seeing Dhritarashtra’s men arrayed with weapons ready, Kapidvaja (Arjuna, whose flag bore the ensign of the monkey god, Hanuman), took up his bow… II1.20II


…and said the following words to Hrishikesha (Sri Krishna)

Arjuna speaks:

“Place my chariot between the two armies, Achyutha (the one who never loses his inherent nature, Sri Krishna)… II1.21II


…so that I may see those who wish to fight, and before I fight, be aware of those who I must fight with.” II1.22II


“I want to take a look at those who are assembled here to fight, wishing to please the evil-minded son of Dhritarashtra (Duryodhana).” II1.23II


Sanjaya speaks:

Descendant of Bharata (Dhritarashtra): Hrishikesha (Sri Krishna) parked his chariot between the two armies, instructed by Gudakesha (the conqueror or sleep, Arjuna) II1.24II


Facing Bhishma, Drona, and other rulers of the earth, Sri Krishna said to Partha (Arjuna, son of Pritha--another name for Kunti), “Behold these Kurus gathered together.” II1.25II


Partha (Arjuna) saw fathers, grandfathers, teachers, maternal uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, and friends as well, in both armies. II1.26II


(Seeing) Fathers-in-law and friends arrayed in both armies, Kunti’s son (Arjuna) spoke sorrowfully, filled with deep pity: II1.27II


Arjuna speaks:

“Seeing these, my kinsmen, Krishna, readied and eager to fight… II1.28II


…my limbs fail, my mouth is dry, my body shivers and my hairs stand on end.” II1.29II


“My bow (Gandiva) slips from my hand. My skin burns all over. I am unable to stand and my mind is spinning.”  II1.30II


“I see bad omens, Keshava (long-haired, Sri Krishna). I do not see any good in killing my people in battle.” II1.31II


“I do not want victory, Krishna, nor kingdom, or pleasures. What is the use of a kingdom, Govinda (the finder of cows and alsoVedas; Sri Krishna), or pleasures…or even life?” II1.32II

(Note: In Samskrita, the word "go" means both cow and Veda.)


“Those for whom we want the kingdom, they have renounced their wealth and are standing here ready to die in battle.” II1.33II


“Teachers, fathers, sons, and grandfathers, maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons, brothers-in-law, and other relatives,... II1.34II


...I do not want to kill them even if they want to kill me, Madhusudhana (slayer of the demon Madhu, Sri Krishna). I do not want to kill them even to rule over the three worlds (heaven, earth, and the nether world), let alone for the sake of this earth.” II1.35II


“What good comes to us from killing these sons of Dhritarashtra, Janardana (one who is worshipped by all for prosperity and salvation, Sri Krishna)? Only sin will accrue from killing these felons.” II1.36II


“How will we be happy by killing our own people, Madhava (Sri Krishna)? Therefore, we should not kill the sons of our uncle Dhritarashtra.” II1.37II


“Overpowered by greed, they do not see any evil in the destruction of families, nor sin in hostility to friends,”… II1.38II


...“But those of us who see clearly, Janardana (Sri Krishna), why do we not see evil in the destruction of families and turn away from this sin?” II1.39II


“In the destruction of a family, the eternal rites (performed for ancestors) of that family perish. With this destruction, sin overcomes the whole family.” II1.40II


“When sin prevails, Krishna, men and women start mingling without restraint. When this happens, Varshneya (a descendant of the Vrishni clan, Sri Krishna), there is an unhealthy intermingling of incompatible cultural traits.” II1.41II


“This intermingling causes the family to go to the nether world–which results in their ancestors also falling to hell as the offerings that are traditionally made to the ancestors (rice balls and water) can no longer be made.” II1.42II


“These evil deeds of the destroyers of the family, which cause the confusion of castes, subvert the eternal religious rites of that caste and family.” II1.43II


“Janardana (Sri Krishna), we have heard that those whose family duties are destroyed spend an unknown period of time in hell.” II1.44II


“Alas, we commit great sin that we are prepared to kill our kinsmen due to greed for the pleasures of a kingdom.” II1.45II


“It would be better for me if Dhritarashtra’s sons with their weapons in hand, kill me, unresisting and unarmed.” II1.46II


Sanjaya speaks:

“Having spoken in the middle of the battlefield, Arjuna cast away his bow and arrow, and overwhelmed with sorrow, sat down in his chariot.” II1.47II


Concluding verse:

Om! Such is the Truth in the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads. This is the knowledge of Supreme Consciousness. It is a scripture of union; a dialogue between Sri Krishna (the teacher) and Arjuna (the student). The first discourse ends, titled “Yoga of Arjuna’s Grief–Arjuna Vishaada Yoga”.

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