Summary of Bhaghavad Gita class on 12/5/2015:
Verses 14 – 23
Verse 14 – “Thereafter, Krishna and Arjuna, seated in a grand chariot with white horses, blew their divine conches.”
After the Kaurava army signaled their readiness, it is the Pandavas’ turn to signal their readiness. Even though he is not the oldest, Krishna blows his conch first, because he is the most important member of the Pandava army. The focus of the verse is also on the white horses of Arjuna’s chariot. Katha upanishad equates a chariot to the body, the horses to the sense organs and the reins of the chariot to the mind. The white horses of Arjuna’s chariot symbolizes knowledge. The celestial chariot is driven by Madhava, the Lord ( dhavaha) of knowledge ( Ma).
Verse 15: ” Krishna blew ( the conch) Panchajanya, Arjuna (blew) ( the conch) devadatta, Bhima, of terrible deeds, (blew) the big conch, paundra.”
Here, Vyasa shows his partiality to the Pandavas. When explaining about their conches he only made a general statement. But with the Pandavas, he names all the conches.
Verse 16: ” King Yudhisthira, the son of Kunti, ( blew the conch) anantavijaya. Nakula and Sahadeva ( blew the conches) sughosa and manipuspaka.”
Verses 17 & 18: ( Sanjaya to Dhrithrastra) ” Oh king! The king of Kasi who is the wielder of a big bow, the great warrior Sikhandi, Dhrstadyumna, the king of Virata, the unsurpassed Satyaki, king Drupada, the sons of Draupadi, and the mighty Abhimanyu who is the son of Subhadra blew the conches distinctly from all directions”.
Verse 19 : ” Resounding throughout the sky and earth, that tumultuous noise pierced the hearts of the Kauravas.”
With the 19th verse the first phase is over.
Verse 20: ( Turning point of the Geeta begins with this verse) “atha” is the word indicating this turning point.
(Sanjaya says)” Oh king! Then, at that moment, when the discharge of the arrows was to be commenced, the monkey-bannered Arjuna saw the Kauravas arrayed, raised the bow, and spoke the following words to Krishna. ”
Swamiji says here that it is worth noting that both the Pandavas and the Kauravas belong to the Kuru family. So both are technically Kauravas. Just as the sons of Pandu are called Pandavas, the official name for Duryodhana’s family is Dhartharashtaraha, meaning sons of Dhrithrashtra. In verse 20, Vyasa uses this official name ” dhartarastran”.
Verses 21 -23: ” Arjuna said- Oh Krishna! Place my chariot between the two armies till I see those who are assembled with a desire to fight. Let me see those with whom I should fight in this event of war. I wish to see those who are assembled here eager to fight, and who want to fulfill the desire of the evil-minded Duryodhana in this war.”
Swamiji says that till this point Arjuna has no sentimental fear of war because he is on the side of dharma.( The war here is not between the families, but between dharma and adharma.)
Once Arjuna gets to the middle of the battlefield, change happens. Sentiments cloud his judgment.
Vedanta is not against sentiments. It is sentiments that make us human. But when sentiments cloud our intellect, that leads to delusion and then samsara begins.