After reading my earlier post on the Bhagwat Gita, someone smugly pointed out that the first word of the Bhagwat Gita is ‘Dhrutarashtra’.
So the first verse starts with ‘Dharmakshetrae-Kurukshetrae’ and the Gita itself starts with ‘Dhrutarashtra’. So unless one understands what this Dhrutarashtra is, one cannot really understand the Gita.
The entire Gita is technically an answer to a question posed by Dhrutarashtra to Sanjay in the first verse. The Gita is narrated by Sanjay to Dhrutarashtra. As the Gita is itself highly esoteric, the question, the questioner and the answer-er all are equally cryptic too.
In brief, the story-allegory of the Mahabharat goes like this. This Dhrutarashtra is the blind king of a kingdom named Hastinapur. He has 100 sons called the Kaurav-s. He has a brother named Pandu, whose sons are called Pandav-s. Pandu was king but had abdicated and gone to the forest for spiritual practice. Now, a war is being fought between the grown-up Kaurav and Pandav princes. The Bhagwat Gita is recited by Krishna to Arjun-Pandav on the battleground before the war starts. After listening to this Gita, Arjun is enthused and with all his doubts resolved, gets ready for the war.
Dhrutarashtra is blind, Sanjay is his guide. Dhrutarashtra asks a question, the first verse of the Gita. Sanjay replies with Krishna’s Gita as a narration within a narration layout. This layout is intentional and has a very deep meaning. There are two levels of understanding here.
The Bhagwat Gita starts with these words. Dhrutarshtra’s question.
‘Dharmakshetre Kurukshetre Samaveta Yuyutsavah, Mamakah Pandavashchaiva Kimakurvata Sanjay.’
So here is the real meaning of the first word of the Bhagwat Gita, ‘Dhrutarashtra’.
Dhruta rashtram yaena sah Dhrutarashtrah, this is the sandhi-vicched, the splitting of the compound word, Dhrutarashtra. The Sanskrit word Dhrutarashtra literally is the one afflicted by large scale calamity. The enjoyer of a kingdom. The one who is linked to subjects. Also the owner of a dominion.
- Dhruta means – holder, enjoyer, linked to, owner of etc
- Rashtra means – affliction on a mass scale, calamity on a large scale, kingdom, subjects, dominion, etc.
Basically Dhrutarashtra is another name for your mind/manas. He is the father of the 100 Kaurav princes. The mind generates 100 basic types of tendencies. (Refer to this post on tattva-s. I have drawn a table in this post, reproduced below.) The 10 products of the Ahamkar+Satva and the 10 products of Ahamkar+Tama multiplied together give the 100 tendencies of the mind. The mind has no power to get things or do things, it must work on the gross level through the 5 organs of senses and the 5 organs of action (10 tattva-s). On the subtle level it works through the 5-bhoot and the 5-tanmatra (10 tattva-s).
Thus the mind is considered to be handicapped, specifically it is blind, it acts without ‘seeing’ the real thing. The mind desires the kingdom ie the body, its actions and desires. Dhrutarashtra is the king of the Kuru-s. Kuru is the ‘action to be performed’. The mind rules over the actions and is always swayed by objects external to itself. It is dependant on the sense and action organs in every way. It desires subjects and is insatiable. It wants to hold on to its dominion in a tight grip. It is very strong. It desires to possess the body and to enjoy vishay-objects of desires. The mind is deep down aware that there is more but it cannot bring itself to accept it. It is swept away in desires, its 100 sons.
In the story, the Gita is set as a dialogue between Dhrutarashtra and Sanjay. The waking state of the Sadhak/ aspirant is called Dhrutarashtra while the spiritual insight achieved during Sadhana/ spiritual practice is called Sanjay. This ‘Sanjay’ is a Sanskrit word again. It literally means Samyak Jay, all-conquering, triumphant, complete victory. The all-pervading complete Sun, accurate truth, white brilliant lightning and the mind who knows its exact self-reality. The perfection of eternal union is Sanjay.
Sanjay is the one who knows himself, the realised soul, the Guru. The enlightened Guru tells the blind mind to practice the Yog-shastra Gita.
During your spiritual practice, there will be so many things, questions, blockages, setbacks, progress and ultimately victory. The mind has several doubts which are systematically addressed by the Guru. All this experience of the ‘Gita’ is the influence of the Guru on the Manas-mind. The internal Guru guides the mind during the spiritual process. This is the real reason why the Gita is placed as a story within a story. Sanjay is the guide to the blind king, Sanjay ’sees’, ie he is a seer, he is the one who knows the absolute reality.
Now Krishna means the deepest consciousness which is present at your Ajnya chakra and a prelude to whatever is beyond it. Krishna is the final apex point of the Dharmakshetra-Kurukshetra section of your energy body. He is the charioteer, the sarathi. He leads the way up the Sushumna and Pandav-Arjun follows him.
Now I will need to describe ‘Arjun’ too. Arjun is the son of Pandu. Pandu means the Nirmal-Buddhi. There are several sub-divisions of intelligence-Buddhi, Pandu means the Nirmal-clear conscience, from whom all attachments have departed. Kunti is Arjun’s mother, the word ‘Kunti’ means Nivrutti, emancipation, involution, rejection of illusion/Maya. He was born by the blessings of the deity Indra, ‘Indra’ means the individual soul. Arjun in Sanskrit means the brilliance of lightning. He is the Tej mahabhoot. The one not free from bondage, still bound by the karmas and under the influence of Raja-Gun. The stage of the aspirant from the Muladhar to the Manipur chakra is ‘Arjun’.
“The Gita is narrated by Krishna to Arjun on the battleground of the energy body named the Dharmakshetra-Kurukshetra.” I hope you have opened your mind to the new meaning and the import of this statement has deepened for you. (There are layers and layers of meanings. It is the magic of Sanskrit, Devbhasha Samskrutam.)
All the gods of Sanatan Dharma and you yourself are rays of light from the Source. The only difference is in the level of awareness. You follow the ray of light back to the source. Every deity, Ganapati, Shiv, Vishnu, Devi etc are conscious intelligence, you can request their help on your way. These are defined, with attributes (Sa-gun). And each one of these deities are shown to be meditating. Ever wonder what they are meditating on? What could be their true nature? This is the deepest experience.
When I was a small child I understood Krishna to be something that my baby brothers were dressed up as once a year. I thought that Krishna was a cute kid always getting into mischief. Then I read the Mahabharat and I realised that Krishna systematically organised the biggest war in history, 18 akshohini अक्षौहिणी army units destroyed, entire nations wiped out. (A अक्षौहिणी is an army unit of 21,870 elephants, 21,870 chariots, 65,610 horse and 1.09,350 foot soldiers. 18 times these numbers were destroyed)
When I started doing my Sadhana in earnest, I realised that Krishna is the ‘undefinable darkness’ seen at the Ajnya chakra, he is the route I walk on, the guide I follow. As I progress, the subtler aspects of Krishna will again change and change till I reach Myself. At this point, me, the route, the guide will all merge back into the source, Myself. At this point there will be no more options as I will have finally realised the Nirvikalp Advaita. The non-dual goal of the aspirant.
So always think, experience, change, there is so much more, expand your mind, your ideas. Do not hold to one idea or concept rigidly. Allow yourself to evolve, allow your mind to expand. The defining quality of the spiritual aspirant is said to be ‘vivek’. This means that you have to be able to discriminate between the real and the material, but to be able to distinguish these, you will need to know their actual natures first. There is a concept from the Rudra Chamaka य॒ज्ञो य॒ज्ञेन॑ कल्पताम् yadno yadnena kalpantam. It means, ‘let evolution itself evolve’. This is a very deep concept which means that there is no stagnation, things are always evolving always. Even the very act of evolution is ever-evolving. (These concepts are all discarded when you reach the Ajnya chakra in your personal evolution. Till then you should assiduously use them as crutches and support on your way.)
Your body is composed of the tattva-s derived from Prakruti. You are the individual soul, who believes itself to be separate from the singular Parabrahma. This belief is incorrect and the entire goal of spiritual practice is to remove this erroneous belief and recognise oneself as the Para-brahma, the beyond Para. This state is called Moksh. Freedom from false notions, freedom from karma, freedom from ignorance.
The Bhagwat Gita is a detailed manual. Most of us have a copy of this manual in our houses. If you are given a step-by-step manual for building a nuclear war-head what would you do? You are required to build this war-head, there is no option on this, do it now or a few lives later, that is the only choice available. You cannot keep your manual shut in your puja-ghar. Open it, read it, re-read it, discuss, try to absorb its intent, understand it. And most importantly practice it, let your mind evolve. Your Dhrutarashtra has asked the question, now listen to your Sanjay. Take your kundalini to the very top, your Arjun has to follow your Krishna. Use your manual and experience your Sadyo-Mukti.
(I now realise that I will need to write about Nara and Narayan too now, will do so in my next post. Edit: wrote it! here)
(The sequence of studying the Bhagwat Gita is this – first read just the Sanskrit shloks, then read the Pranav Gita. Then start your study of the Vedant/Upanishads and then come to the Shankarbhashya. This is written by Adi Shankaracharya, he expounds on the true essence of the Gita as the pure distillation of the Vedant is explained)