A Symbolic Battlefield

Chapter I, Summary

I begin “The Devotee’s Gita” commentaries with Chapter II because Chapter I is distracting by the degree of its complexity.

The primary goal of “The Devotee’s Gita” is to provide a “Helpful Translation” to my fellow members of the Kshatriya caste. The secondary purpose is to provide hints about using the original “Bhagavad Gita” as a Sanskrit Primer. Since some readers may be new to the Gita, here is an oversimplified summary of the first chapter, including a few quotations from the texts that I use for reference.

The Battlefield

Chapter I sets up a specific battlefield. The chapter refers to many warriors from either the “good” or the “evil” forces and to their past deeds. Arjuna, the prince of the good side, rides his chariot into the middle of the battlefield with his trusted confident Krishna. Before the battle begins, they take account of who is present and discuss the battles that must be fought. Arjuna, realizing that the warriors on the “evil” side are his relatives, becomes depressed and questions if it is necessary to fight.

Thoughts for Reference

Swami Premananda:

“Dharmakshetre-Kurukshetre may be translated into English as ‘on the holy field of Kurukshetra.’ The entire human body is the spiritual kingdom. But the field of the subjective battle between the qualities of the soul, the Pandavas, and the propensities of the ego, the Kauravas, is the spinal column encompassing the region between the Muladhar, the coccygeal center at the base, and Ajna, the spiritual eye, located in the brain, back of the point between the eyebrows. That part of the body which lies below the coccygeal center is to be considered as relatively physical, and is designated by the term Kurukshetra.

“The Sahasraram, the sphere of the symbolic thousand-petalled lotus, situated at the top of the brain, is known to be purely spiritual, Dharmakshetra. Accordingly, the area extending from the Kurukshetra below, to the Dharmakshetra above, is designated by the compound expression Dharmakshetra-Kurukshetra. It is Kurukshetra because it is still the domain of psychosensory perception, and Dharmakshetra, as well, for the reason that the preliminary revelation of the soul is also attained therein. This is the mystic battle ground of the Bhagavad-Gita. This is the holy field of the subjective struggle between the qualities of the soul and the propensities of the ego. Such is the mystic setting of the Bhagavad-Gita.”

Swami Premananda, trans., Srimad-Bhagavad-Gita (Boston: The Christopher Publishing House, 1949), 13-14.

“At the beginning of the Gita the armies of the two sides were already arrayed in their respective battle positions. The war was about to ensue. Arjuna, impelled by his spiritual instinct, became confused and sought the guidance of his friend and charioteer. Krishna responded with wisdom and authority. Thus came into being the marvelous Bhagavad-Gita, the profound dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna.”

Premananda, Gita, 21.

Mahatma Gandhi:

“No acquisition of knowledge is possible unless there is in us a sense of something lacking and a desire to know the truth.”

Saluk, A., trans., Living from the Heart – Gandhi’s Discourses on the Gita, (San Francisco: SIFTSOFT, 1985), 14.

Sri Nerode:

“The First Discourse has been a stumbling block to most of the Eastern and Western readers of the Hindu Bible. Two meanings, one within the other, runs through the major portion of the first discourse; one meaning is literal and the other symbolic. From Verses 1 to 27, the symbolic meaning is intended to be understood. It makes the dramatic start with the Eternal Battle that rages in the human mind between the forces of good and evil. In rapid movement, the diverse characteristics of positive and negative mental forces are described in symbolic terms of fighters, their weapons, missiles, and conches.

“The battlefield called Kurukshetra stands for the battlefield of the Mind or Inner self. Dhitrarashtra represents the concrete mind. His sons are the diverse inimical forces of mind that the human soul meets in its march towards unfoldment and illumination. Arjuna represents the striving soul while Sri Krishna represents the Cosmic Intelligence.”

Sri Nerode, trans., The Song Divine, Bhagavad Gita, The Hindu Bible, (Los Angeles: Science of Divine Power, 1944), 11.

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Ancient History

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