Gita Wisdom: The Bhagavad Gita is universally renowned as the jewel of India's spiritual wisdom. Spoken by Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead to His intimate disciple Arjuna, the Gita's seven hundred concise verses provide a definitive guide to the science of self realization. No other philosophical or religious work reveals, in such a lucid and profound way, the nature of consciousness, the sel the universe and the Supreme.
Summery of Chapter 1 The Yog of Irresolution and Grief
The Geeta is an investigation of the war of kshetr-kshetragya: of the conflict between the material body, engaged in action, and the accomplished Soul that is ever conscious of his oneness with the Supreme Spirit. A song of revelation, it strives to demonstrate what God must be in all his divine splendour. The sphere that the song celebrates is a battlefield: the body with its dual, opposed impulses that compose the "Dharmkshetr" and the "Kurukshetr.
The first chapter, as we have seen, elaborates the respective structure and base of the strength that characterize the adversaries. The sounding of conches proclaims their valour as well as intentions. There is then a review of the armies that are, to fight in the war. Their numerical strength is estimated at approximately 650 million, but the number is really infinite. Nature embodies two points of view, relevant to the opposed impulses that clash on the field of action. There is first the inward looking mind that always aims at realization of the Self and looks up to the adored God. On the other hand, there is the outward looking mind, preoccupied with the material world and dominated by unrighteous impulses. The first enables the self to be absorbed in the most sublime dharm that is embodied in God, whereas the second contrives illusion (maya) by virtue of which the material world is taken as really existent and distinct from the Supreme Spirit. The initial step of the spiritual wayfarer is to seek moral excellence so as to subdue unrighteous impulses. Subsequently, with the perception of and union with the immutable, eternal God, even the need for righteousness is done away with and the final outcome of the war between matter and spirit is revealed.
Looking at the armies an the battlefield of life we see our own families, and they have to be destroyed. The world is but an extension of attachments. Attachment to the family proves an obstacle in the primary stage of the worshipper’s devotion to the desired goal. He is shaken when he discovers that he shall have to part with his near and dear ones and treat them as though they had never existed. He finds nothing but unpropitious harm in his act of destroying his own people. Like Arjun he, looks for an escape into prevailing traditions. Arjun says that family traditions are the Sanatan Dharm. Destruction of family and caste traditions by war is thus destruction of the eternal dharm itself. And when dharm is lost, women of the family grow unchaste and there is a sinful intermingling of classes which must drive both the family and its destroyers to hell for an indefinite time. With his limited knowledge and wisdom, Arjun is desperate to protect the family traditions which he regards as Sanatan Dharm. So he pleads with Krishn and wishes to be enlightened on why they (Krishn and he), men of sagacity, should be bent upon committing the heinous sin of destroying their family. According to his view of the issue at hand, even Krishn is about to become an accessory to the crime. Finally, he asserts adamantly that in order to save himself from the sin he shall not fight. Saying this he sinks despairingly in the rear of the chariot. In other words, he turns his back on the precious enterprise of the perennial conflict that rages between matter and spirit, between godly and ungodly impulses, between forces that drag a man down to gross nature and forces that elevate and finally take the Soul to the Supreme God.
Commentators have called this first chapter of the Geeta "Arjun Vishad Yog." "Vishad" is grief. Arjun is a symbol of tender, affectionate devotion. Grief is the motive as well as instrument of the devotee who is concerned about the preservation of the Sanatan Dharm. Such was the sorrow of Manu, whom Hindus believe to be the representative man and father of the human race. Goswami Tulsidas has said, ‘’Full of grief is my heart since I have only led my life without love of God." A man sinks into grief because of irresolution. Arjun is apprehensive of varnsankar, of intermingling of classes, for such hybridization only leads to damnation. He also grieves because he fears for the safety of Sanatan Dharm. So the title "Sanshay Vishad Yog," is appropriate for the chapter.