All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga
Observing the Armies
also known as
The Dejection of Arjuna
When the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna placed the chariot between the opposing armies, Arjuna, seeing his family members, friends, relatives and revered teachers all ready to do battle and sacrifice their lives, was exceedingly moved to pity. Failing in strength, his mind bewildered, his body trembling and losing hold of his famed bow ‘Gandiva’ he fell victim to a great despondency of spirit and sat down on his chariot in deep melancholy, having lost the will to fight.
Useful Acronym to remember the chapter contents:
The spiritual journey usually starts with a doubt. Over the years, our friends, family, society and the media paint the perfect picture of “success” and we subsequently shape our lives in determined pursuance of it. At a certain point, however, we begin to doubt whether that “perfect life” is achievable or will actually make us happy. We begin to question the materialistic goals, aspirations and milestones of success that have become deeply ingrained within us. Could there be some deeper purpose to life? While this initial doubt can often bring great uncertainty and confusion, it can also bring us to the start of our spiritual journey. It is this very doubt that Arjuna expresses at the onset
of this sacred conversation.
D Dhritarashtra & Duryodhana
O Ominous result
T Turning point
D - Dhritarashtra & Duryodhana (Verses 1-12) – Innumerable soldiers have assembled on the battlefield of Kurukshetra due to the obstinacy and deep-rooted material aspirations of these two characters, bent on usurping their cousins’ kingdom. Sitting in his palace, King Dhritarashtra inquires about the latest events on the battlefield, while his son Duryodhana is busy firing up his army as it prepares for fratricidal war. Dhritarashtra is physically blind, but he and his son are also blinded by greed, envy and material desire. When the individual starts to think in terms of “I, me and mine”, primarily interested in selfish gain and personal aggrandizement, then anxiety, frustration and disappointment are inevitable. Unfortunately, one who is materially entangled becomes oblivious to the ill-effects of his actions.
O - Ominous result (Verses 13-20) - Despite Duryodhana’s boastful words, the ominous result of this confrontation is made clear from the onset. Too many signs indicate his inevitable defeat. Those who stand on the side of purity and righteousness are always victorious, regardless of whether the worldly odds seem stacked against them. One who is a carrier of goodness is never overcome by evil.
U - Uncertainty (Verses 21-27) - Despite knowing that he defends virtue, Arjuna is still uncertain about fighting his opponents, who are also his relatives. The chariots are readied, arrows are drawn, battle cries are sounded, but Arjuna wants to take a final look at the armies. He requests Krishna, who assumes the role of his charioteer, to drive to the middle of the battlefield so he can satisfy his curiosity. To his credit, despite the intensity of the situation, Arjuna takes time to reflect. Life may be crammed with responsibilities and pressing issues, but attendance to such demands should not be at the expense of quality spiritual introspection. Unfortunately, the chronic disease of modern
man is the excuse of “no time” when it comes to such soul-searching.
B - Bewilderment (Verses 28-30) – Foreseeing the imminent suffering and death that is the inevitable consequence of war, Arjuna begins to analyse his predicament. At this stage, bereft of broader spiritual vision, his uncertainty intensifies and he becomes bewildered. When one lacks an understanding of his spiritual identity, his relationship with God, and the critical purpose behind this world, one inevitably becomes disturbed and frustrated by life’s challenges.
T - Turning point (Verses 31-42) – Arjuna justifies his decision to retreat from fighting: 1) It would be cruel and heartless to prematurely terminate the lives of so many soldiers; 2) Even an unrivalled kingdom would bring no happiness, since he’d be bereft of the company of his near and dear ones; 3) One would surely accrue sinful reaction as a result of such brutal violence; 4) The wholesale killing involved would destroy the family unit and social structure, causing havoc for future generations. Thus, his mind overwhelmed by grief, Arjuna sets aside his weapons and resolves not to fight.
Questions on Chapter 1
Bhagavad-gita: The Hidden Treasure of the Sweet Absolute
With commentary of Srila B.R Sridhar Maharaj Sanskrit and English
Bhagavad- Gita As it Is
Translation and commentary by Srila AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj Prabhupad
Srila BS Govinda Maharaj chanting the Bhagavad-gita in the original Sanskrit
Chapter 1 sloka to learn:
dharma-kṣetre kuru-kṣetre samavetā yuyutsavaḥ
māmakāḥ pāṇḍavāś chaiva kim akurvata sañjaya 
dhṛtarāṣṭraḥ uvācha–Dhṛtarāṣṭra said: (he) sañjaya–O Sañjaya; dharma-kṣetre kuru-kṣetre–at the holy land of Kurukṣetra; māmakāḥ–Duryodhan and party; pāṇḍavāḥ cha–and Yudhiṣṭhir and party; samavetāḥ–who assembled; yuyutsavaḥ–desirous of battle; eva–thereafter; akurvata kim–did what? 
1 Dhṛtarāṣṭra said: O Sañjaya, what happened when my sons and the sons of Pāṇḍu assembled for battle at the holy place of Kurukṣetra?