Shrimad Bhagavad-gita

by Narayana Gosvami | 2013 | 327,105 words

The Bhagavad-gita Verse 1.1, English translation, including the Vaishnava commentaries Sarartha-varsini-tika, Prakashika-vritti and Rasika-ranjana (excerpts). This is verse 1 from the chapter 1 called “Sainya-Darshana (Observing the Armies)”

Sanskrit text, Unicode transliteration, Word-for-word and English translation of verse 1.1:

धृतराष्ट्र उवाच–
धर्म-क्षेत्रे कुरुक्षेत्रे समवेता युयुत्सवः ।
मामकाः पाण्डवाश् चैव किम् अकुर्वत सञ्जय ॥ १ ॥

dhṛtarāṣṭra uvāca
dharma-kṣetre kurukṣetre samavetā yuyutsavaḥ |
māmakāḥ pāṇḍavāś caiva kim akurvata sañjaya
|| 1 ||

dhṛtarāṣṭra uvāca–King Dhṛtarāṣṭra said; dharma-kṣetre kuru-kṣetre–in the religious place named Kurukṣetra;samavetāḥ–assembled; yuyutsavaḥ–desiring to fight; māmakāḥ–my sons (headed by Duryodhana); pāṇḍavāḥ–the sons of Pāṇḍu (headed by Yudhiṣṭhira); ca–and; eva–indeed; kim–what?; akurvata –did they do; sañjaya–O Sañjaya.

King Dhṛtarāṣṭra said: O Sañjaya, what did my sons and the sons of Pāṇḍu do, having assembled on the sacred land of Kurukṣetra, desiring to fight?

Commentary: Sārārtha-Varṣiṇī Ṭīkā

(By Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura; the innermost intention of the commentary named ‘the shower of essential meanings’)

gaurāṃśukaḥ sat-kumuda-pramodī svābhikhyayā gos tamaso nihantā
śrī-kṛṣṇa-caitanya-sudhā-nidhir me mano
dhitiṣṭhan sva-ratiṃ karotu
prācīna-vācaḥ suvicārya soham ajñopi gītāmṛta-leśa-lipsuḥ
yateḥ prabhor eva mate tad atra santaḥ kṣamadhvaṃ śaraṇāgatasya

May Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya Mahāprabhu, who dispelled the darkness of the Earth by distributing His own name (Śrī Kṛṣṇa); who increases the bliss of the lotus-like devotees; who is the storehouse of the nectar of love of Godhead; and who is that person who bestows the most elevated relationship of divine amorous love (unnatojjvala-rasa), perform His playful pastimes in my heart. Although I am ignorant, while deliberating on the thoughts expressed by the previous Vaiṣṇava ācāryas and by following the conclusions of Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the crest jewel of all those in the renounced order, I have become greedy to taste a drop of nectar in the form of the Bhagavad-gītā. Therefore, saintly persons should forgive this surrendered soul.

Svayam Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Absolute Truth in human-like form. He is the ultimate objective of all scriptures, and He appeared as the son of Śrī Vasudeva, in Śrī Gopāla-purī. He is supremely inconceivable and beyond the perception of the material senses, yet He becomes visible to the eyes of common men through the medium of His internal potency, yogamāyā. He imparted the instructions of Bhagavad-gītā, thus delivering the souls bewildered by this material world, who were drowning in the ocean of birth and death. He submerged them in the great ocean of transcendental love of Godhead by bestowing upon them a taste of His sweetness, beauty and other qualities. He appeared in this world, being bound by His promise to protect the saintly persons and annihilate the demonic classes. Yet, on the pretext of removing the burden of the Earth, He in fact awarded supreme protection in the form of liberation to the miscreants, to those who were antagonistic toward Him, and to the souls drowning in the miseries of this vast ocean of material existence, which is compared to Kumbhīpāka, a hellish planet where sinful persons are cooked in boiling oil.

Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa instructed Bhagavad-gītā so that after His disappearance from this world, the conditioned souls, who have been influenced by ignorance since time immemorial and completely bound by lamentation, illusion and so forth, could be delivered. Furthermore to uphold His glories that are found in the scriptures and which are sung by saintly personalities, He directed these instructions of Bhagavad-gītā to His very dear associate Arjuna, who had voluntarily accepted a veil of lamentation and illusion.

This Bhagavad-gītā has three divisions:

(1) Karma-yoga, the path of spiritual advancement where the fruit of one’s pious action is offered to the Lord

(2) Jñāna-yoga, the path of spiritual advancement through transcendental knowledge

(3) Bhakti-yoga, the path of loving devotion to the Supreme Lord (Śrī Bhagavān).

In the eighteen chapters of Bhagavad-gītā, Śrī Kṛṣṇa describes the ultimate goal of life by revealing the purport of the Vedas and the eighteen types of knowledge. In the first six chapters of Bhagavad-gītā, karma-yoga is taught; in the last six chapters, jñāna-yoga is instructed; and in the six chapters placed between them, bhakti-yoga, which is more rare and confidential than the other two types of yoga, is taught. This bhakti-yoga is also the very life of both karma and jñāna. Without devotion, karma and jñāna are fruitless. Only when combined with devotion are they partly acceptable.

Devotion, or bhakti, is of two types: exclusive devotion (kevalā-bhakti) and devotion that is prominent but not yet pure, being mixed with another process (pradhānī-bhūtā). Exclusive devotion is in itself independent and supremely powerful, and it does not require any assistance from karma and jñāna. It is therefore described as extremely potent, possessed of nothing other than the desire to please Kṛṣṇa (akiñcanā), unalloyed, or one-pointed (ananyā), and so on. However, the practice of pradhānī-bhūtā bhakti remains mixed with karma and jñāna. This will be examined later in depth.

To explain the nature of Arjuna’s lamentation and illusion, the speaker of the Mahābhārata, Śrī Vaiśampāyana, a disciple of Vyāsadeva, is reciting the Bhīṣma-parva section of the Mahābhārata to his listener, Janamejaya. He begins with the words dhṛtarāṣṭra uvāca (Dhṛtarāṣṭra said). Dhṛtarāṣṭra is asking his minister Sañjaya, “O Sañjaya, what did my sons and the sons of Pāṇḍu do, having assembled on the battlefield of Kurukṣetra, desiring to fight?”

Here a question arises. Dhṛtarāṣṭra has mentioned that his sons and the Pāṇḍavas have assembled with the sole purpose of fighting. It is therefore certain that they will fight. What, then, is his intention in asking, “What did they do?” The reply is that Dhṛtarāṣṭra says dharma-kṣetre, ‘the land of dharma, or religion’. In the Śrutis, the body of literature that was directly manifest from the Supreme Lord and which has been heard from authorities, it is said “kurukṣetraṃ deva-yajanam –Kurukṣetra is the sacrificial arena of the demigods.” Therefore, this land is famous for nourishing religious principles. By its influence, the anger of irreligious persons like Duryodhana and others can be subdued, and they may become inclined to follow and accept religion. The Pāṇḍavas are already religious by nature. Therefore, when their discrimination awakens and they understand that the killing of one’s friends and relatives is improper, both parties may agree to a peaceful settlement.

Outwardly Dhṛtarāṣṭra is showing that he will be pleased with such a peace treaty, but internally he is feeling great unhappiness. He considers that if they negotiate a truce, the presence of the Pāṇḍavas will continue to remain an impediment for his sons.

Dhṛtarāṣṭra is thinking, “The warriors on my side, like Bhīṣma and Droṇa, cannot be conquered, even by Arjuna. Therefore, since our victory is certain, it will be beneficial to fight.” His internal sentiments, however, are not discernible to others.

Here, by the component kṣetra in the term dharma-kṣetre (the land of religion), Sarasvatī-devī, the goddess of learning, is indicating a special meaning. Religion, or the embodiment of religion, Yudhiṣṭhira, and his associates are like plants of rice, and their maintainer, Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa, is like a farmer. The various kinds of assistance Śrī Kṛṣṇa gave to the Pāṇḍavas is likened to watering the crop and making an embankment around the field. The opposing party, the Kauravas, headed by Duryodhana, are like blackish weeds that grow in the rice field. As black weeds are uprooted from the rice field, similarly Duryodhana, along with the other members of his family, the Kauravas, will be uprooted from this land of religion.

Commentary: Sārārtha-Varṣiṇī Prakāśikā-vṛtti

(By Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja; the explanation that illuminates the commentary named Sārārtha-varṣiṇī)

oṃ ajñāna-timirāndhasya jñānāñjana-śalākayā
cakṣur unmīlitaṃ yena tasmai śrī-gurave namaḥ

I offer my most humble obeisances unto Śrī Gurudeva, who with the torchlight of transcendental knowledge has opened my eyes, which were blinded by the darkness of ignorance.

nama oṃ viṣṇu-pādāya kṛṣṇa-preṣṭhāya bhū-tale śrī-śrīmad-bhakti-prajñāna-keśava iti nāmine
ati-martya-caritrāya svāśritānāṃ ca pāline jīva-duḥkhe sadārttāya śrī-nāma-prema-dāyine

I offer my obeisances unto the lotus feet of my spiritual master, oṃ viṣṇupāda aṣṭottara-śata Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja, who is so dear to Śrī Kṛṣṇa in this world. He is a completely divine personality who nurtures with great affection those who have taken shelter of him. Aggrieved upon seeing the suffering of those souls who are averse to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, he bestows upon them the holy name, along with pure love of Godhead.

nama oṃ viṣṇu-pādāya kṛṣṇa-preṣṭhāya bhū-tale
śrīmate bhaktisiddhānta sarasvatīti nāmine

I offer my obeisances unto oṃ viṣṇupāda Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Prabhupāda, who is so dear to Śrī Kṛṣṇa having taken shelter at His lotus feet.

namo bhaktivinodāya sac-cid-ānanda nāmine
gaura-śakti-sva-rūpāya rūpānuga-varāya te

I offer my obeisances unto Saccidānanda Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, who is the foremost of the followers of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī (the rūpānuga devotees) and the embodiment of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s own internal potency.

viśvasya nātha-rūpo’sau bhakti-vartma-pradarśanāt
bhakta-cakre varttitvāt cakravarty-ākhyayābhavat

Because he illuminates the path of devotion for the whole world (viśva), he is known as Viśvanātha. And because he has attained the foremost position among the community of devotees, he is known as Cakravartī. Hence his name as Viśvanātha Cakravartī has become significant.

The greatly learned Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura is an eminent spiritual master in the preceptoral line descending from Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. As a great scholar of the Vedānta and the crest jewel of devotees who relish the bliss of devotional sentiments, Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura has compiled an invaluable commentary on Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā named Sārārtha-varṣiṇī, which is pregnant with essential meanings. This commentary was written in Sanskrit and previously, it was only translated into Bengali. Conse-quently, the Hindi speaking audience has been completely deprived of reading this invaluable treasure. Thus, for the comprehensive welfare of faithful persons, I am translating this commentary into Hindi.

The style and sentiment of the commentary are extremely deep and enriched with established philosophical conclusions (siddhānta). To make the translation simple and comprehensible, I thought it necessary to write a further explanation to illuminate the Sārārtha-varṣiṇī com-mentary and have called it the Prakāśikā-vṛtti. This arduous task is not possible without the mercy of śrī guru, the Vaiṣṇavas and Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura himself. Therefore, first of all, in a mood of great desperation, I pray at their lotus feet for their mercy and blessings.

Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā is the essence of all Śrutis, Upaniṣads and Purāṇas. On the basis of authoritative evidence of the Vedic literature received through the disciplic succession, it is concluded that Vrajendra-nandana Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself, the son of the King of Vraja, is the Supreme Personality of Godhead who has no source other than Himself. He is the embodiment of all spiritual nectarean mellows (akhila-rasāmṛta-mūrti), He is complete with all potencies (sarva-śaktimān) and He is the non-dual Absolute Truth (advaya-jñāna-para-tattva). Among His unlimited potencies, three are prominent: the internal potency (cit-śakti), the marginal potency (jīva-śakti) and the external potency (māyā-śakti). By the will of Svayam Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the entire spiritual realm–Vaikuṇṭha, Goloka and Vṛndāvana–are transformations of His internal potency. All spirit souls (jīvas) are a transformation of His marginal potency, and the material creation is a transformation of His external potency.

Spirit souls are of two types: liberated and bound. The liberated souls are eternally engaged in relishing the bliss derived from serving the Lord in Vaikuṇṭha, Goloka and the various other spiritual realms. They never become bound in this material world, the prison house of illusion, and therefore, they are called eternally liberated. Sometimes, by the will of the Lord, they appear in this illusory world as His associates, for the sole purpose of bestowing welfare to the people. The other type of spirit soul is devoured by illusion since time immemorial. As a result, these jīvas are being burned by the three types of miseries while wandering endlessly in the cycle of birth and death.

By the influence of His inconceivable potency, which makes the impossible possible and vice versa, the Supreme Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is an ocean of compassion, created ignorance in the heart of His eternally liberated associate Arjuna. It was on the pretext of dispelling this illusion that He spoke this scripture, Bhagavad-gītā–which establishes knowledge of the self–solely for the deliverance of all jīvas under the grip of illusion, or māyā. The subject ultimately established in Bhagavad-gītā is pure devotional service to the Supreme Lord. By adhering to the pure devotion shown in the Bhagavad-gītā, souls under the influence of illusion can become established in their pure constitutional position and engaged in service to the Lord. Aside from this, there is no other path by which conditioned souls can attain auspiciousness.

On the basis of concrete evidence and invincible arguments from the scriptures, Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura and other prominent preceptors in the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava disciplic succession have clearly established that the speaker of Bhagavad-gītā is not devoid of potency, nor is He devoid of variety, form, or transcendental qualities such as mercy. The individual soul is never the Supreme, and even in the liberated stage, he can never become so. Even after attaining liberation, the soul will remain a pure, minute, spiritually conscious entity. However, at that time he is said to be an eternal associate of Bhagavān.

In the Vedic mantras, it is proven that the Supreme Controller and the individual soul both have knowledge, both are knowers, both are the enjoyers, both are the doers, and both possess a pure spiritual ego. Therefore, there is no difference between them from the perspective of fundamental truth, or tattva. However, because the individual living entity, the jīva, is an atomic conscious spirit, his knowledge is limited and he can be overpowered by the deluding potency (māyā). Parameśvara, the Supreme Controller, is always the master of this potency. Although there is no difference between Him and the jīva on the basis of tattva, the perception of a difference is real. This perception of difference is called vaiśiṣṭya, meaning ‘possessed of a speciality’, or ‘having specific distinguishing characteristics’. Just as the sun and the sun’s rays are simultaneously one with yet different from each other, being the possessor of attributes and the attributes respectively, similarly, the Supreme Lord and the individual soul are also one with and different from each other. This is firmly proven in the Vedas. Since this relationship of simultaneous oneness and difference is beyond the material intellect, it is only intelligible with the help of the scriptures, and therefore it is called acintya, or inconceivable. This inconceivable, simultaneous oneness and difference of the Supreme and the living entity is the subject matter of Bhagavad-gītā.

Although it is accepted that the Absolute Truth Śrī Kṛṣṇa is simultaneously one with and different from the living entity and the material world, which are both transformations of His various potencies, actually it is the perception of the difference between them which is eternal, not the perception of oneness. Knowledge of the individual soul (jīvātmā), the Supreme Soul (Paramātmā), the abode of this Supreme Soul, and the means to attain the Supreme Soul has been delineated in appropriate places in this Bhagavad-gītā.

Although material action performed according to scriptural regulations (karma), knowledge (jñāna) and devotion to the Supreme Lord (bhakti) have been explained as the three means to attain brahma, really bhakti-yoga is the only means to achieve Śrī Bhagavān [that is, to achieve one’s constitutional position as His eternal servant]. The preliminary stage of bhakti-yoga is called karma-yoga. When there is further progress, the intermediate stage is called jñāna-yoga, and in its mature and elevated stage, it is called bhakti-yoga. In itself, material action performed according to scriptural regulations (karma) is not a direct practice to attain Bhagavān; rather it is only a means to be able to practise bhakti. Karma-yoga mixed with bhakti is called bhagavad-arpita-karma (offering the fruits of one’s activities to Bhagavān) and is described in the Vedas. When the heart becomes purified by following the process of offering the fruits of one’s activities to Bhagavān, then true knowledge of spirit and non-spirit appears within the heart. The processes of attaining transcendental knowledge (jñāna) and offering the fruit of one’s pious action to the Lord (karma) are worthless when devoid of devotional sentiments for the Lord.

When knowledge of the Absolute Truth appears, exclusive devotion also manifests within the heart. When this devotion attains maturity, pure love for God, or prema, manifests in the heart of the jīva. Prema is the only means by which one can have direct realization of Bhagavān and attain Him. This is the deep secret of Bhagavad-gītā. One cannot achieve liberation merely by attaining knowledge of Bhagavān’s impersonal feature. Only when the acquirement of knowledge (jñāna) is mixed with the moods of devotion to the Supreme Lord can one obtain, as an extraneous result, liberation in one of its four different forms. The four types of liberation are obtaining the same bodily features as the Lord (sārūpya), living on the same planet as the Lord (sālokya), possessing opulence equal to that of the Lord (sārṣṭi) and associating with the Lord (sāmīpya). One can attain loving service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa in His supreme abode, Goloka Vṛndāvana, by performing exclusive devotion as described in the Bhagavad-gītā. When one attains this abode, there is no possibility of coming back to the material world. For the living entities, the ultimate goal is to achieve this loving service.

Bhakti is of two types: (1) exclusive (kevala) and (2) mixed with another process but remaining prominent (pradhānī-bhūtā). Kevalā-bhakti is also called ananyā (wherein one is devoid of any desire except for Kṛṣṇa’s happiness), akiñcanā (wherein Kṛṣṇa is one’s sole possession), viśuddha (completely pure) and nirguṇa (free from the contamination of the three modes of material nature).

Further commentary:

When the process of devotion is paramount but mixed with another process, it is of two types: karma-pradhānī-bhūtā, in which material action performed according to scriptural regulation is mixed with bhakti, and jñāna-pradhānī-bhūtā, where the acquisition of knowledge is mixed with bhakti. By performing bhakti mixed with karma, one achieves purity of heart and knowledge of fundamental spiritual principles (tattva-jñāna). By performing bhakti mixed with jñāna, one achieves liberation.

Only when bhakti mixed with karma is aimed at attaining knowledge of fundamental spiritual principles is it called karma-yoga. And only when bhakti mixed with jñāna is aimed at attaining exclusive devotion is it known as jñāna-yoga. Both jñāna and karma are merely steps to bhakti. Without bhakti, they are worthless.

Bhagavad-gītā, also called the Gītopaniṣad, is composed of eighteen chapters, which appear as Chapters Twenty-five to Forty-two in the Mahābhārata’s Bhīṣma-parva. It has three divisions, each consisting of six chapters. The first division explains that the individual soul (jīvātmā) is a part (aṃśa) of Īśvara, the Supreme Controller, and by virtue of his constitutional position, he can acquire the eligibility to render service to Bhagavān, who is the aṃśī (whole). The middle six chapters explain the principle of pure devotional service, the topmost means of attaining pure love for Bhagavān. This is the supreme object to be achieved. The third and final part defines conclusive knowledge of the Absolute Truth.

The subject matter of the Gītā is exclusive devotion, which is like a wish-fulfilling jewel. This jewel has been safely kept inside Bhagavad-gītā, which is likened to a treasure chest. The base of this chest is worship of the Supreme Lord by working without attachment to the fruit of one’s activities (niṣkāma-karma-yoga), the lid is spiritual realization through transcendental knowledge (jñāna-yoga) and the treasure is devotion to the Supreme Lord (bhakti). Only those who have staunch faith, who are fixed in religious principles, who have good character and who are in control of their senses are qualified to study this literature. In order to more completely understand this subject matter, an explanation, or bhāvanuvāda, of the commentary is given.

For the proper flow of the book, Śrī Kṛṣṇa Dvaipāyana Vedavyāsa has included in the first twenty-seven verses phrases such as dhṛtarāṣṭra uvāca or sañjaya uvāca. They should be accepted as the introductory part of the Gītā. Just as a piece of salt when mixed with the salty ocean completely dissolves to become one with the ocean, these introductory words composed by Śrī Vedavyāsa have similarly become one with the great ocean of Bhagavad-gītā spoken by Śrī Kṛṣṇa.


Arjuna is an eternal associate of Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa. It is completely impossible for him to fall into a state of lamentation and delusion. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.7.7) it is said “yasyāṃ vai śrūyamāṇāyām…–devotion unto the lotus feet of the Supreme Person, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who is transcendental to material nature, at once appears in the hearts of those who with great faith hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, which is filled with the topics of His sweet pastimes, and thus destroys lamentation, illusion and fear.”

How, then, is it possible that the greatest devotee Arjuna, an eternal associate of Śrī Kṛṣṇa who serves Him as a dear friend, can be in a state of illusion and lamentation? Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa arranged for His eternally liberated associate Arjuna, who appeared in this world with the Lord, to fall into illusion for the sake of the souls afflicted with grief and delusion. Śrī Kṛṣṇa says “teṣām ahaṃ samuddhartā mṛtyu-saṃsāra-sāgarāt –I deliver them from the ocean of material existence” (Gītā 12.7).

Through the medium of questions and answers with Arjuna, who is apparently bewildered, Śrī Kṛṣṇa has defined the real nature of the fundamental truth of Himself, as well as the fundamental truth of the soul, the abodes of His incarnations, the material energy, devotion to Him, and so forth.

While commenting on the verse, “sarva-dharmān parityajya–abandon all varieties of religion” (Gītā 18.66), Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura quotes Śrī Kṛṣṇa as saying: “tvām avalambyaiva śāstram idaṃ loka-mātram evopadeṣṭāmi –having made you the instrument, I am delivering this message of Bhagavad-gītā for the benefit of every soul.” Apart from this, in his commentary on the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam called Sārārtha-darśinī, Śrīla Cakravartī Ṭhākura explains the verse yogīndrāya namaḥ (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 12.13.21). He says that the description in the Gītā of Arjuna’s bewilder ment, in which he behaves like someone of this world, is for the sake of others. In fact, because Arjuna is an eternal associate of Bhagavān, there is not even a tinge of worldly illusion in him, what to speak of his being overwhelmed by lamentation and delusion. But perfected saints, who are very merciful and highly expert in performing activities for the welfare of all souls, give beneficial instructions by making a particularly famous personality an instrument. This is seen throughout the scriptures. Such is the position of Arjuna.

Eighteen Types of Knowledge:

There are four Vedas: Ṛg, Yajur, Sāma and Atharva–and six limbs of the Vedas (vedāṅgas): śikṣa (phonetics), chandas (metre), vyākāraṇa (grammar), nirukta (etymology), jyotiśa (astronomy) and kalpa (ritual). Then there are other types of knowledge such as mīmāṃsā (which ascertains fundamental philosophical truths through analytical examination), nyāya (techniques of logic), dharma-śāstra (religiosity), Purāṇa (Vedic histories), āyur-veda (the study of medicine), dhanur-veda (the science of weaponry), gāndharva-veda (singing and dancing) and artha-śāstra (the science of gaining wealth).

These are the eighteen types of knowledge, as mentioned in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa:

aṅgāni vedaś catvāro mīmāṃsā nyāya-vistaraḥ dharma-śāstraṃ purāṇaṃ ca vidyā hy etāṃ caturdaśaḥ
āyur-vedo dhanur-vedo gāndharvāś ceti te trayaḥ artha-śāstraṃ caturthaṃ ca vidyā hy aṣṭādaśaiva tāḥ


Śrīla Vyāsadeva has referred to the battlefield of Kurukṣetra as the land of religion (dharma-kṣetra). This has a hidden meaning. According to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (9.22.4), this land is named Kurukṣetra after King Kuru. The section of the Mahābhārata called Śalya-parva relates the following story.

Once, when Kuru Mahārāja was ploughing this land, Indra, the king of the demigods, appeared there and asked him, “For what purpose are you ploughing this land?” Kuru Mahārāja answered, “I am doing this so that those who give up their bodies here may attain the heavenly planets.” Upon hearing this, Indra ridiculed him and returned to the heavenly planets, and the king returned to ploughing with great enthusiasm. Again and again Indra returned to deride and deliberately disturb the king, yet Kuru Mahārāja remained unperturbed and continued his work. Finally, on the insistence of other demigods, Indra became pleased with Kuru Mahārāja and gave him the benediction that whoever gives up his body or is killed in battle on this land will certainly attain the heavenly planets. For this reason, this land, known as dharma-kṣetra, was chosen for the battle.

Also, in the Jāvālopaniṣad (1.2), Kurukṣetra is described as a yajña-sthalī, a place for the demigods and all living entities to perform sacrifice. One attains the heavenly planets and even the topmost planet of Lord Brahmā by performing sacrifice at this place. Also it is written in the Sat-Patha Brāhmaṇa, “kurukṣetraṃ deva-yajanam āsa tasmād āhuḥ kurukṣetraṃ deva-yajanam –the demigods performed worship of the Lord in Kurukṣetra; therefore, sages have named this place deva-yajanam.” The phrase dharma-kṣetra is composed of two words, dharma and kṣetra. The word kṣetra indicates land for cultivation. When a farmer waters the rice field, a type of weed called śyāmā grass also grows along with the rice plants. This grass looks exactly like the rice plant. It grows by taking the water used for the rice field and covers the rice plants. Eventually, the rice plants dry up. Therefore, an expert farmer uproots these weeds because they are harmful to the rice crop. In the same way, in this land of Kurukṣetra, Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa maintained and nourished Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja, the personification of religion, along with his associates, by annihilating those who were anti-religious, pseudo-religious and irreligious, such as Duryodhana and others.

The land between the rivers Sarasvatī and Dṛṣadvatī is known as Kurukṣetra. At this place, both the great sage Mudgala and Pṛthu Mahārāja performed austerities. Śrī Paraśurāma performed sacrifices at five different places in this land, after annihilating the warrior class. Previously this kṣetra was known as Samanta Pañcaka, but later it became famous as Kurukṣetra, named after Mahārāja Kuru.


Sañjaya was the son of a charioteer named Gavalgama. He was completely conversant with the conclusions of all scriptures, and he was generous and dedicated to religious principles. Because of these virtuous qualities, Grandsire Bhīṣma appointed him and Vidura as Dhṛtarāṣṭra’s royal ministers. Sañjaya was considered to be a second Vidura and was also an intimate friend of Arjuna. By the mercy of Śrī Vyāsadeva he had received divine vision and was thus able to narrate all the events of the war to Dhṛtarāṣṭra. This enabled him to view the battle of Kurukṣetra from within the distant royal palace in Hastināpura. Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira also described Sañjaya as a sweet-speaking well-wisher of everyone, who had a peaceful temperament and who was always satisfied and impartial. He was fixed in moral conduct and was never agitated by others’ ill behaviour. Because he always remained unbiased and fearless, his speech was fully consistent with religious principles.

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