1.11-“So, while keeping to your respective stations in the several divisions, all of you should doubtlessly protect Bheeshm alone on all sides.”
Duryodhan commands all his chiefs to keep to their posts and yet protect Bheeshm on all sides. The Kaurav cannot be defeated if Bheeshm is safe and alive. So it is obligatory for all the Kaurav chiefs to defend Bheeshm rather than fight with the Pandav. This is intriguing. After all, what kind of “defender” is this Bheeshm who cannot even defend him self? What complicates the matter even more is that the Kaurav are also wholly dependent on him. So they have to devise all possible measures of defence for him. This is certainly no physical warrior. Bheeshm is delusion. So long as delusion is alive, unrighteous impulses cannot be vanquished. “Invincible” here means“difficult to vanquish” rather than “impossible to vanquish.” As Goswami Tulsidas has said, “The most difficult to conquer is the hostile world of matter and the one who subdues it is indeed heroic.”
If delusion ceases, ignorance too ceases to exist and the residues of negative feelings such as excessive attachment hasten to a quick demise. Bheeshm is blessed with death by wish. So the death of desire and death of delusion are one and the same. This idea has been so lucidly expressed by Sant Kabir: “Since desire is the maker of birth and illusion, and it is desire that creates the material world, he who abandons desire is the one who cannot be conquered.”
That which is free from delusion is eternal and unmanifest. Desire is illusion and progenitor of the world. In Kabir’s view, “The Self which achieves freedom from desire is united with the fathomless, eternal,boundless reality. One who is free from desire dwells within the Self and never falls from grace, for he has his being in the Supreme Spirit.” At the beginning there are numerous desires, but eventually there remains only a longing for the realization of God. The fulfillment, too, of this wish also marks the end of desire. Had there been something higher, greater, or more precious than God, one, would surely have craved for it. But when there is nothing beyond or above him, what else can be desired? When all things that can be had are achieved, the very roots of desire are destroyed and delusion perishes utterly. This is Bheeshm’s death by wish. Thus, defended by Bheeshm, Duryodhan’s army is invincible in every respect. Ignorance is present as long as there is delusion. When delusion is dead, ignorance also dies.
The Pandav army, on the contrary, defended as it is by Bheem, is easy to conquer. Bheem is the very image of sentiment. “God dwells in feeling.”Sri Krishn has described it as devotion. It lays hold on even God. The sentiment of devotion is a pious impulse of flawless perfection. It is a protector of righteousness. On the one hand so resourceful that it brings about realization of the Supreme Spirit, on the other hand it is also so delicate and fragile that this day’s fidelity and adherence often turn into nothingness and even outright privation on the next day. Today we admire a sage for his virtue, but the very next day we grumble and cavil because we have seen him relishing delicacies. Devotion is shaken by suspicion of even the slightest flaw in the loved one.
The impulse of righteousness is undermined and the ties with the object of affectionate devotion are broken. So it is that the Pandav army defended by Bheem can be conquered with ease. Maharshi Patanjali has given expression to a similar view. “Only meditation practised for a long time with constant devotion and reverence can be firm.
1.12-“To Duryodhan’s delight then, his mighty grandsire and the eldest of the Kaurav (Bheeshm) blew his conch to blare forth a lion-like roar.”
Conches are blown after the Kaurav have taken stock of their strength. The trumpeting of conches is a declaration of the intention, of each of the chiefs, of what he can offer after conquest. The mighty grandsire Bheeshm, the eldest of the Kaurav, blows his conch to produce a lion-like roar which gladdens Duryodhan’s heart. The lion represents the terrible, tooth-and-claw, aspect of nature. Our hair stands on end and our hearts beat violently when we hear the roar of a lion in a still, solitary forest even though we are miles away from the beast. Fear is a property of nature, not of God. Bheeshm is the very image of delusion. If delusion prevails, it will enwrap the material world’s forest of fear which we inhabit in yet another shroud of fear to make the existing dread even more frightening. Delusion cannot offer anything else except this. So renunciation of the material world is the right step for one who quests for Self-realization. Worldly inclinations are like a mirage-a mere shadow of ignorance, and the Kaurav have nothing to declare against this. Numerous conches from their side are trumpeted simultaneously, but they altogether inspire no other feeling except fear. Fear, although in varying degrees, is born out of each perversion. Similar is also the message of the conches of the other Kaurav chiefs.
1.13 -“Then there abruptly arose a tumult of conches and kettledrums, tabors, drums, and cow-horns.”
After Bheeshm’s blowing of his conch, numerous other conches, drums, and trumpets are sounded together, and they make an awesome noise. The Kaurav have no message other than that of fear. Intoxicated with a sense of false success, the outward-looking impulses that offend and demean the human Soul render the bonds of infatuation yet stronger.
Now the Pandav, representing righteous impulses that are in harmony with the divine character of the Self, respond to the Kaurav challenge with their own declarations, the first of which is made by Yogeshwar Krishn himself.
1.14-“Then, too, Madhav (Krishn) and Pandu’s son (Arjun), seated in the magnificent chariot to which white steeds were yoked, blew their celestial conches.”
After the Kaurav, Sri Krishn and Arjun, riding in their magnificent, sacred chariot drawn by flawlessly white horses (“white” symbolizes purity), also blow their “celestial” conches. “Celestial” means beyond the material world.Yogeshwar Krishn’s transcendental message is a promise to render unto souls the most auspicious, unworldly existence that is beyond the worlds of both mortals and gods, and verily the whole universe (Brahmlok), which are all afflicted with the fear of birth and death. The chariot under his charge is not made of gold and silver and wood; everything about him is celestial, the chariot, the conch and, therefore, also his message. Beyond these worlds there is only the one unique and indescribable God.Sri Krishn’s message is of establishing a direct contact with this Supreme Being.
1.15-“While Hrishikesh (Krishn) blew his conch Panchjanya and Dhananjay (Arjun) the conch named Devdutt, the Vrikodar (Bheem) of awesome deeds blew the great conch Paundr.”
So Hrishikesh (lord of the senses), who knows all the mysteries of the human heart, blows the conch Panchjanya.This is a declaration of his intent to restrain the five organs of perception which correspond to word, touch, form, taste, and smell, and to transmute their inclinations into devotion. Exerting control on the wild senses and disciplining them into faithful servitors is the gift from an accomplished teacher; the gift, indeed, from the admired God.Sri Krishn is a yogi, an ideal teacher. As Arjun says in the Geeta, ” Lord, I am thy disciple.” It is only an accomplished teacher; who make us relinquish all objects of sensual pleasure, and to see and listen to and touch nothing except the coveted God.
Dhananjay (the victor of wealth) is the affectionate devotion that attains to the state of divine exaltation. This devotion is a feeling of tenderness for the desired object, which includes within itself all the experiences of devotees, even pangs of separation and occasional disenchantment and tears.There should be nothing for a devotee except the longed-for God. If the devotion to him is perfect, it embraces the virtues that provide access to the Supreme Spirit. Dhananjay is another name of this faculty. One kind of wealth is the external riches which are needed for physical sustenance,but that has nothing to do with the Self. The really lasting wealth of man, which he can truly call his own, is realization of his Self, the God within.
In the Brihadaranyak Upanishad, Yagnavalkya teaches the same to his wife Maitreyi when she asks him, “My lord, if this whole earth belonged to me with all its riches, should I through its possession attain immortality?” The sage replies, “No, your life would be like that of the wealthy. None can possibly hope to be immortal through wealth.”
Bheem of awesome deeds blows his great conch Paundr, which denotes sentiment. The heart is the spring as well as the habitat of feeling. This is why Bheem is called Vrikodar, the large-hearted. You are attached to a child, but that attachment belongs essentially to your heart. It only manifests itself in the child. Sentiment is fathomless and mighty, and this sentiment is Bheem’s great conch that is now blown. The affection that he represents is embodied in sentiment. That is why Bheem blows the conch named Paundr.
However, although sentiment is mighty, it can be so only through the medium of love. Goswami Tulsidas admits that he has known the omnipresence of God only through its manifestation in love.