atha vyavasthitān dṛṣṭvā
dhārtarāṣṭrān kapi-dhvajaḥ
pravṛtte śastra-sampāte
dhanur udyamya pāṇḍavaḥ
hṛṣīkeśaṁ tadā vākyam
idam āha mahī-pate
Bhagavad-gītā 1.20

“O King, after seeing your sons in military array, Kapi-dhvaja Arjuna raised his bow and prepared to shoot his arrows. He then spoke the following words to Śrī Hṛṣīkeśa.”


Sanjaya said to Dhṛtarāṣṭra, “Arjuna grabbed hold of the Gandhiva bow and said to Kṛṣṇa, “Kṛṣṇa, hear me.”

Here, there are two considerations. On one side, God instructs His devotees and on the other side, the devotees instruct God. Which one is proper? Is it better that the disciple instructs God, or God instructs the disciple?

On one side, Śrī Guru mercifully instructs his disciples for their welfare and on the other hand, sometimes the disciples request the Guru saying for instance, “Oh Gurudeva, if you tell me to, then I will go to my home and get married.”

If then the Guru says, “Yes, this is good, you may go,” Then the disciple will think, “Oh what a good day! You have so much mercy for me. You instructed me to get married.”

Did Guru give instruction to his disciple, or did the disciple instruct his Guru to satisfy his own desires? In this mood, Arjuna requested Kṛṣṇa, “Please hear me.”

Will Kṛṣṇa listen to Arjuna or will Arjuna listen to Kṛṣṇa? This is a dangerous moment. Sometimes the disciple, servant, younger brother, son or follower will try to make their superiors into their own order suppliers saying, “Listen to me. Follow what I say, otherwise you will have to leave your post.”

When Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna blew their conch shells, the hearts of all the Kauravas began to quiver. The sin and anarthas within them, the envy, hate and tendency to enjoy were all shaken by the transcendental sound of Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna’s conch shells.

They could not remain peaceful. The weapons began to shiver in their hands, the elephants began to loudly roar and the entire earth appeared to shake.

Kṛṣṇa had thus given the indication that total devastation was about to occur. Kṛṣṇa had previously warned them many times, and He even brought them to the place of dharma. The transcendental Vrajavāsīs had come there and their holy foot dust was present in that place.

If the jīvas who are full of anarthas come to Vraja-maṇḍala close to the Vrajavāsīs, thus attaining the dust of their feet, then their spiritual welfare or salvation is assured. There is no other means to help them. Therefore Kṛṣṇa brought all the Kauravas and Pāṇḍavas to the place of dharma, and by blowing his conch shell He purified their hearts of all anarthas and sinful desires. He made their consciousness clean. Thus when the mind is pure, one can properly consider what should be done and what should not be done.

arjuna uvāca —
senayor ubhayor madhye
rathaṁ sthāpaya me ’cyuta
yāvad etān nirīkṣe ’haṁ
yoddhu-kāmān avasthitān
kair mayā saha yoddhavyam
asmin raṇa-samudyame
yotsyamānān avekṣe ’haṁ
ya ete ’tra samāgatāḥ
dhārtarāṣṭrasya durbuddher
yuddhe priya-cikīrṣavaḥ
Bhagavad-gītā 1.21-23

“Arjuna said: O Acyuta! Please place my chariot between the two armies so that I may observe all who desire to fight in this great battle. I want to see all those warriors, the well-wishers of the evil-minded son of Dhṛtarāṣṭra, who have assembled here.”


Now, filial affection for his kin arose in the heart of Arjuna. He told Kṛṣṇa, “I want to see who have come to the side Duryodhana. This is the place of dharma. Who have sided with adharma to fight against the forces of truth. Who are on the side of dharma, and who are on the side of adharma? I want to see this first. Take my chariot in the midst of the armies.”

When someone gives instruction to the guru-varga or God Himself, is this favorable or not?

The disciple or jīva tries to make Guru or God follow his own wishes. In the light of scripture, is this good or bad?

Arjuna told Kṛṣṇa, “Take my chariot into the midst of the two armies.”

If Kṛṣṇa said, “I will not do so,” then Arjuna might say “You are my charioteer. I am the warrior. If from the beginning You do not hear my requests, then how will we engage in battle?”

The disciple hands over the reins of his independence to Guru, as if to make his Guru the charioteer of his life. What happens though, if the disciple tries to instruct and choose the direction for Guru and God to take him? Will the disciple lead the Guru and God, or will Guru and God lead the disciple?

This is the first teaching given in the Bhagavad-gītā.

Arjuna is the dear associate of Kṛṣṇa, but at this point he wants to lead Kṛṣṇa and order Him around according to his wishes.

Kṛṣṇa sees that it is trouble to take Arjuna to the middle of the two armies, and if He doesn’t take him it is also trouble. Ultimately He complies.

Arjuna said, “I wish to see who is prepared to serve the evil bidding of Duryodhana in this war.”

God has great parental affection for His devotees and He is the fulfiller of their desires. God will even give up His supreme word of truth, but He will not give up His parental affection. If He did not have this affection, then He would have told Arjuna, “No! This is not good for you. Hear My words!”

However, because of His affection for Arjuna, His heart melted. His name is Acyuta. He can never give up His nature. If a child pleads with his mother again and again for something, she will be bound by affection to fulfill his wants. The child is stubborn and will not listen to his mother if she tells him why the object he wants is not beneficial for him. Therefore she allows the child to see how harmful his desires are while keeping him protected at the same time. Then, intelligence will come. If one is forbidden from the start, then he will never submit to hear good instruction.

Arjuna was standing near Kṛṣṇa. He then ordered Him, “Kṛṣṇa, take my chariot into the mid-range, between the two armies on the battlefield.”

Dhṛtarāṣṭra may have thought that Arjuna was going into the midst of the armies to make some compromise, to give up on the battle. Thus Sanjaya continued describing events on the battlefield.

Arjuna might have been coming forward to ask forgiveness and to give up his arms. Thus, Sanjaya referred to Kṛṣṇa as Hṛṣīkeśa. He has all power to control the senses of the living entities. Yet on this day, it was amazing to behold God relinquishing His own controlling power instead, following the instruction of Arjuna and driving his chariot down the middle of the armies.

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