“O King, at that time Arjuna, the son of Pandu, who was seated in his chariot, his flag marked with Hanuman, took up his bow and prepared to shoot his arrows, looking at the sons of Dhritarashtra. O King, Arjuna then spoke to Hrishikesha [Krishna] these words:” (Bhagavad-gita, 1.20)Download this episode (right click and save)
Bhagavad-gita means “Song of God.” It didn’t take long to deliver. If you come across a translation version today, which has the proper respect for the teacher and the disciple, then from the many pages the task of reading seems daunting. The verses themselves don’t take up much space; the majority of the content is commentary.
After all, the battle of Kurukshetra was some five thousand years ago. The two main speakers conversed in Sanskrit, which is the oldest language known to man. The script for Sanskrit is called Devanagari, which literally translates to “city of the gods.” Needless to say, the language is reserved for the highest class people, those with a sharp intellect.
In Kali Yuga man is generally unfortunate and dull-witted, in comparison to ages past. For these reasons commentary is necessary. The basis is the content, the words themselves. But there is also tremendous significance to the objects of the scene. The conversation took place on a battlefield, with the picture zoomed in on a particular chariot.
1. The best bow
The Gandiva bow was present as the Bhagavad-gita was spoken. This was a special weapon handed down through the generations, first coming from Lord Brahma, who is the creator. Imagine a painter sitting down to work. They have their palette of colors in front of them, and from there the possibilities are endless.
In a similar manner, Brahma takes the three ingredients of goodness, passion and ignorance and sets about creating. The result is up to 8,400,000 different suits or sets of clothes. We generally refer to these as species, but they are nothing more than a certain combination of material ingredients occupied by an individual spark of the spiritual energy.
2. The best bow-warrior
What good is a bow without someone to use it? Arjuna possessed the Gandiva. He was seated on the chariot, ready to go to war. Arjuna was worthy of receiving the Gandiva, as it was a weapon revered by the pious.
As there is a limited amount of independence in a material existence, a weapon can be used in any direction. Arjuna would not use the powerful bow for evil. He was a protector of the innocent. His party, the Pandavas, had been wronged consistently for too long. Now it was time to uphold justice. Arjuna was the leading fighter for his side and everyone understood just how skilled he was in combat.
3. The best well-wisher
Arjuna and his Gandiva were enough to ensure victory, even if there were millions of soldiers gathered on the battlefield. Also decorating that chariot was the greatest well-wisher known to man. We typically measure greatness in numbers. Quantity. Magnitude. Shri Krishna is the greatest well-wisher using this method of measurement.
This is because He is the well-wisher to everyone. As the Supersoul He resides in the heart. Not just mine. Not just yours. Everyone’s. He is the same individual. It looks like He is divided and spread out, but He is actually one.
Krishna is a well-wisher, but the corresponding party has a decision to make. They either accept His friendship or ignore it. Arjuna accepted it, and for this reason Krishna was seated on the chariot.
4. The best feet
Krishna’s feet are worshiped throughout the world since time immemorial. They are soft and beautiful. They resemble the lotus flower. In God the person we find contradictory features. He is both the most delicate and the strongest. He is the richest and the most renounced. His influence is everywhere yet He is never divided.
A person doesn’t even need to read the entire Bhagavad-gita or fully understand its contents. Simple attachment to the lotus feet decorating that famed chariot is enough to achieve perfection in life. Arjuna had such attachment, and so his senses were directed towards pleasing the master of all senses, Hrishikesha.
5. The best symbol
The Gandiva bow in the hand of the most skilled warrior who was directed by the greatest well-wisher whose feet are the supreme shelter. What else was needed? The arrows? The “go”order? Another important decoration on that chariot is the flag. Not merely a sign of which side Arjuna was on, this flag symbolized great heroism in a specific cause.
The flag is of Hanuman. Many years prior Hanuman was engaged in a similar task. He took on a group of people dedicated to adharma, or unrighteousness. They had committed grievous sins, and Hanuman was there to play a part in correcting the wrong. He was guided by the same well-wisher, receiving instructions from Him in His transcendental form of Rama.
Hanuman had attachment to the same lotus feet, and not surprisingly he was successful in the mission. Now Arjuna was engaged in a similar task, and so he had the flag of Hanuman flying on his chariot. In this way success was guaranteed. The ultimate message of the Gita, protection through surrender to the Divine, is perfectly illustrated in just the image of the chariot.
Sacred Bhagavad-gita to read,
To reach the end no need.
From chariot image just,
In greatest well-wisher trust.
Warrior wielding Gandiva bow,
With lotus feet of guide ready to go.
Flag of devoted Hanuman flying,
Work while on Supreme Lord relying.