5. Bhagavad Gita Online Course – Chapter 1, Verse 7-12 (Seeking for Recognition)


Chapter 1, Verses 7-9:

Duryodhana highlights the prominent warriors on his side to Drona, including: Bhishma (the grandsire of both the Kauravas and Pandavas); Karna (whose loyalty to Duryodhana stems from past humiliations and the support he received from him); Kripa (known for his prowess in battle); Ashwatthama (Drona’s son); Vikarna (a Kaurava prince); and Somadatta (a respected warrior). All who are ready to sacrifice their lives for him, according to him. This way he indirectly exposes his insecurity.

Karna's story is revealed, including his birth through Kunti's boon, his lifelong complex of not being recognized as a Kshatriya, and his unwavering loyalty to Duryodhana due to his validation of Karna's talents. Karna's psychological need for validation is pointed out.

Duryodhana's insecurities are analyzed, including his compensation through fake bravado.

Chapter 1, Verse 10:

Duryodhana contrasts the strength of the two armies, noting that while his is protected by the venerable Bhishma, the Pandavas' army is safeguarded by Bhima. He emphasizes Bhima as his greatest threat due to their long-standing rivalry, which includes Bhima's vow to kill Duryodhana in revenge for past wrongs, such as the incident where Duryodhana tried to poison and drown Bhima, and making Draupadi (Bhima's wife) sit on Duryodhana's lap.

Chapter 1, Verse 11:

Duryodhana shares his strategy to win the war by closely protecting Bhisma, who has a boon that allows him to leave this world only when he wants. The plot to kill Bhisma, involving Arjuna, Krishna, and Shikhandi, is detailed, showcasing Bhishma's obligation to his grandson Arjuna.

Chapter 1, Verse 12:

Bhishma, sensing Duryodhana's concerns and the gravity of the situation, blows his conch to signal the start of the battle and to boost the morale of his troops. The sound of the conch, akin to a lion's roar, serves to energize and rally the warriors, creating an atmosphere of readiness and determination. The conch's powerful resonance, much like background music in a film, sets the emotional tone for the impending conflict, illustrating the profound influence of sound in preparing the warriors for battle.

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 1, Verse 7-9:

asmākam tu viśiṣṭāḥ ye tān nibodha dvija-uttama । nāyakāḥ mama sainyasya saṃjñārthaṃ tān bravīmi te ॥ 1-7॥

bhavān bhīṣmaḥ ca karṇaḥ ca kṛpaḥ ca samitiñjayaḥ । aśvatthāmā vikarṇaḥ ca saumadattiḥ tathā eva ca ॥ 1-8॥

anye ca bahavaḥ śūrāḥ madarthe tyakta-jīvitāḥ । nānā-śastra-praharaṇāḥ sarve yuddha-viśāradāḥ ॥ 1-9॥

Oh best among Brahmins! May you know those who are prominent among us, the leaders of my army. I am mentioning them to you for the sake of information.

Your venerable self, bhīṣmaḥ, karṇaḥ, kṛpaḥ the victorious in fight, aśvatthāmā, vikarṇaḥ and somadattiḥ (are all in our army).

And (there are) many other heroes ready to give up their lives for my sake. All of them have many weapons and missiles, and are experts in war.

  • Duryodhana talks about his side to Drona. Including…
  • Bhisma (grandfather to Kauravas & Pandavas).
  • Karna. How he became Duryodhana's friend…
    • Karna (one of sons of Kunti but was never recognized). When Kunti was a young princess, a sage came to her palace, and she treated him well. He was so pleased, he gave Kunti a boon (that she can focus on any devata and she’ll be blessed with a child). Kunti being young, didn’t take the boon seriously, but wanted to try it out. She looked at the sun, the sun blessed her with a child. Suddenly she had a child, didn’t tell anyone about it, and quietly put it on the banks, and did a prayer.
    • HOW KARNA BECAME LOYAL TO DURYODHANA: Because Karna was son of Kunti and Sun, he was bright and noble and talented. But whole life had complex that he is not acknowledged a Kshatrija (warrior) – thus never equal to Pandavas. EG: One time he wanted to prove his archery skills, before Arjuna was to be crowned “Best”. Pandavas challenged with, “Who are you! This is competition between princes”. Karna felt humiliated, as his talents were not seen. At time when he felt humiliated, Duryodhana took his side, and allow Karna to prove his archery skills. Karna felt so obliged to Duryodhana for recognizing his talents. So his loyalty tilted to extreme on Duryodhana’s side, also overlooking his inappropriateness.
    • Second time Karna felt humiliated Is through Draupadi’s engagement. There was moving target, and through reflection, had to hit eye of fish. Draupadi showed her arrogance there too, “Who are you? This competition of kings and princes!”.
    • KARNA IS ARCHETYPE: So Karna has psychology where he knows he is shining, but due to feedback of world, he feels defeated and unseen. And his need for validation is so strong, that being given by Duryodhana, he overlooks his flaws.
    • STORY (Krishna & Kunti visit Karna before war): Before war, Krishna and Kunti knew the truth. Krishna met up with Karna and asked, “Why are you taking sides of Duryodhana!”. Karna said “Because Duryodhana is the only one whose supported me. I know if I fight on Duryodhana’s side, I’ll lose. Anyway my life has been a tragedy. I’m willing to overlook all Duryodhana’s faults, just because I’m loyal to him”.
    • TAKE AWAY: Though Karna shows good quality of loyalty, he overlooked larger picture.  Then Kunti goes to Karna, and says “You are my son!”. Karna said, “Why are you telling me I’m your son now that war has come and you let me be humiliated?”. Kunti answers, “Because I felt ashamed and lived whole life with guilt because I disowned you, because I was young”.  He promised Kunti, end of war, her sons (his brothers) will be fine, but only Arjuna will be killed. Either him or me. In other words, shame/guilt, keeps one inactive, like Kunti
  • Duryodhana indirectly exposes his insecurity, by saying, “These people on our side have come to give up their life for my sake!, despite war not having started.
    • Why is he making such a statement? Conscience speaking. Voice within tells whether you’re on right or wrong side, and the consequences expected. Deep inside he knows he can’t win as he knows he is on the wrong side of dharma.
      1. Compensation: When person is insecure, they behave in certain ways. Fake bravado. How Duryodhana was showing it.
      2. Feeling defeated and talking about it. Two options (1) Intention to help oneself, (2) Speak about it as another egoic tool, feeling proud how “I have strength to be vulnerable, which isn't so easy!”.
      3. Project anger on world (common).
    • BGita teaches you to recognize (acknowledge) insecurity, understanding it, manage it.
  • What does this war show?
    • Human behaviour is same then as now. They’re architypes true even today.
      • Bhishma: someone who is guided by principles.
      • Drona: honours brilliance, but ends up on other side somehow. One of his weaknesses was bias, as shown in two situations. First, he preferred Arjuna. Second, he was disheartened upon news his son, Ashwatthama died. He lowered his guard. Showing he lacked a certain objectivity that a good teacher has.
      • Duryodhana: actively aggressively and totally inconsiderate for other.
      • Dhrtarastra: not saying anything despite unfulfilled wishes.
    • Even exalted people have their blunders (shades, intricacies). Has noble and ignoble qualities. EG: Yuddhistir was dharmic, yet his sense of appropriateness went away during dice.
    • Everyone can learn from Lord Krishna.
  • NEXT VERSE: Duryodhana reveals Bhima is his greatest direct threat…

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 1, Verse 10:

aparyāptam tat asmākam balam bhīṣma-abhirakṣitam । paryāptam tu idam eteṣām balam bhīma-abhirakṣitam
Therefore, our army, protected by bhīṣmā, is insufficient. On the other hand, this army of these (Pāndavās), protected by bhīmā, is more than sufficient (to defeat us).

  • Duryodhana says to Drona, “Our army is led by Bhisma, and Pandavas army is led by Bhima”.
  • Why does he give Bhima’s name and not Dhṛṣṭadyumna?
    • There was special rivalry between Duryodhana & Bhima since young age. EG: Duryodhana tried to poison Bhima and throw him in water. And both were learning from Balram (Krishna’s brother). Balram had slight preference for Duryodhana, another reason for rivalry. While Krishna was on neither side, but on side of dharma, and since Pandavas were on dharma side, so was Krishna
    • And after Draupadi’s disrobing, Bhima made vow, I’m going to destroy the thigh on which you tried to make Draupadi sit on, and drink it’s blood.  For these two reasons, Bhima was the biggest danger to Duryodhana.
  • NEXT VERSE: Duryodhana tells Drona, his strategy to win war…

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 1, Verse 11:

ayaneṣu ca sarveṣu yathā-bhāgam avasthitāḥ । bhīṣmam eva abhirakṣantu bhavantaḥ sarve eva hi
Stationed at all he points of entry as allocated, all of you, indeed, should closely protect bhīṣmā alone.

  • Every war has strategy to win. Duryodhana understood Bhishma had a boon; where he can leave this world only when he wants to; meaning he was invincible. So we protect the invincible, brave, skilled Bhishma, who can win the war. In fact Bhishma was killing so many, and no one could contain him. Further, Arjuna couldn’t face Bhishma due to his emotional connection.
    • PLOT TO KILL BHISHMA: Pandavas one night asked Krishna, “How do we get Bhishma?”. Krishna said, Bhishma knows Pandavas are on right side, and he’s helplessly on other side. There’s only one way: For Arjuna to go to Bhishma at night and ask what is way to kill him”. So Arjuna visits Bhishma at night. Bhishma said, “What do you want from me?”. Arjuna said, “You tell me how to kill you?”. Bhishma responded, “I was waiting for you to come and ask me. Because I know as long as I’m alive, you can’t win, as I’m head of army, and I made vow to protect Hastinapur at any cost. Only one way. I’ve taken another vow; not to fight a woman”. Bhishma continues, Shikhandi was woman in previous birth. If Shikhandi comes and shoots an arrow, I will not defend myself”.
    • Why did Bhishma give his secret to Arjuna (seemingly betraying Kauravas)? Bhishma told Arjuna as he also had obligation towards grandson Arjuna, and knew Arjuna was on right side, but maybe also gave away his secret because of personal weakness (misinterpreted situation as he did in court when didn’t act to save Draupadi, and blamed Yudhishthira for continuing the game).
    • Next day, Arjuna puts Shikandi in front, and shoots an arrow, and Bhishma doesn’t defend himself. Then there were bed of arrows shot at him. But still Bhishma had boon to die whenever he wants, despite lying on bed of arrows. “I will only leave during Uttarayanam, and when see end of war, and make sure Hastinapur is in safe hands”.
    • TAKE AWAY: Arjuna asked question to a big problem to the Lord. Lord replied. Arjuna took action and succeeded. Situations have to be at right place, right time, right context, for you to intelligently exercise your free will (as Pandavas did asking Krishna how to kill Bhishma).
  • NEXT VERSE: Bhishma knows what’s going on between Duryodhana and Drona. So he wants to reassure Duryodhana, but unable to talk under the circumstances. So how does he reassure Duryodhana? He blows the conch…

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 1, Verse 12:

tasya sañjanayan harṣam kuru-vṛddhaḥ pitāmahaḥ । siṃhanādam vinadya uccaiḥ śaṅkham dadhmau pratāpavān
Generating enthusiasm in him, the powerful grandsire, the oldest among the Kurus sounded a lion-roar and blew the conch.

  • Bhishma blew his conch, saying war is about to begin and I’ll do my best.
  • What does blowing of conch do? Energizes. EG: In movie, there’s background music which changes to convey mood of moment. The conch creates atmosphere.
  • STORY CONVEYING POWER OF MUSIC: Akbar in his court had a musician called Tansen, who was supposed to be best musician. One day Akbar went out into woods and saw simple man who was singing wonderfully, and it moved Akbar. Akbar ran back to court and told Tansen, I thought you were best, but I saw simple man in forest, and his voice had magic, that shook me deeply. Who is this man?”. Tansen said, “It’s my guru Haridas. Akbar said, “Your guru didn’t teach you everything because he was another level”. Tansen said, “He taught me everything. The reason for difference is, I’m singing for you O king. While my guru is singing for Ishvara!”. Humans are sensitive to sound harmonies. That’s why conch was used.
  • NEXT VERSE: After Bhishma blew his conch, now everyone else follows with their conch to get into mood for fighting…


Course was based on Neema Majmudar's Bhagavad Gita & Swami Dayananda (Arsha Vidya) home study course.

Recorded 26 May, 2024

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