1.16 -“King Yudhisthir, the son of Kunti, blew the conch Anantvijay, whereas Nakul and Sahdev blew their conches Sughosh and Manipushpak.”
King Yudhisthir blows the conch Anantvijay (endless conquest). Kunti is the very image of dutifulness; and Yudhisthir, the embodiment of dharm (natural piety). If one’s adherence to dharm is steady, Anantvijay will bring about the absorption of the Self in the boundless God. The one who is firm in battle is Yudhisthir: one who is unshaken by conflicts between Self and the material world-between the body and the transcendental Soul, and to whom the essence of the sphere of action has been revealed. He is enabled eventually, by God who alone is real, ceaseless, and immutable, to overcome all the contradictions.
Nakul, who is a symbol of restraint, blows the conch named Sughosh. As restraint grows firmer, evil is subdued and the dominance of righteousness is proclaimed. Sahdev, the adherer to truth, blows on the conch which bears the name of Manipushpak. Sages have described each breath as a precious ruby. “What a pity that we squander the jewels of our breath on idle gossip!” One kind of satsang is the moral discourse we hear from noble men, but the real spiritual discourse is internal. According to Sri Krishn, Self alone is true and eternal. True satsang comes about when the mind reins itself in from all externals and dwells with the Self. This adherence to truth is cultivated by incessant reflection, meditation, and samadhi.
The more joy one feels in dwelling with the one reality, the more restraint one gains over each breath, the mind, and the instruments by which objects of sense affect the Self. The day they are totally restrained is the day when we are absorbed in the ultimate essence.Providing, like a good instrument, harmonious accompaniment to the song of the Self is true satsang.
The physical ruby is hard, but the jewel of breath is even more tender than a flower. Flowers fall and wither soon after they bloom, and we can never say that we shall live until the next breath. But if there is true adherence to the Self, it leads us to realize the highest goal through providing control over each breath. There is nothing to proclaim beyond this, although each device is helpful in traversing a certain stretch of the path of spiritual perfection.
1.17-1.18-“The King of Kashi, a great bowman, Shikhandi who dwells in the Supreme Spirit, the unvanquished Dhristdyumn, Virat and Satyaki, Drupad and the sons of Draupadi, and Subhadra’s son of powerful arms (Abhimanyu), all blew, O lord of the earth, their own conches.”
The sacred city of Kashi is an emblem of the sacredness that resides in the physical body. When a man withdraws his mind and sense organs from all physical things and concentrates on the Self within his body, he is privileged to merge with and dwell within God. The body which is capable of such a union is Kashi. The Supreme Spirit dwells in and pervades every single body. So “parmeshwasah” here means dwelling in the Supreme Spirit rather than a “mighty warrior”.
Shikhandi represents the rejection of shikha-sutr (sacred signs traditionally worn by Hindus). There are people who believe they have achieved renunciation just because they have got their heads shaved clean, cast away their sacred threads, and stopped lighting fire. But they are mistaken, for, as a matter of fact, shikha symbolizes a goal which has to be attained, and sutr the merits of action in a previous existence (sanskar). The chain of sanskar is intact so long as God has yet to be realized. How can there be true renunciation till the moment of that fulfillment? Till then we are only wayfarers. Delusion subsides only when the desired God is attained and the merits of previous deeds are reduced to nothing.
So it is Shikhandi who proves to be the undoing of Bheeshm, the image of delusion and self-deception. Shikhandi represents the unique quality that is essential for the man who chooses the path of reflection, a truly mighty fighter on his side.
Dhristdyumn, the steadfast mind that treasures faith in the universal, immutable divinity, and Virat, capable of perceiving the omnipresence of the great God, are the main constituents of sacred excellence. Satyaki is truthfulness. There can never be a fall from piety as long as there is truthfulness or the desire to ponder over truth, it always protects us from being routed in the war between spirit and matter.
Drupad, representing the ideal of consistency and steadfastness in the performance of duty, the five sons of meditation-like Draupadi, symbols of compassion, tenderness, beauty, and spiritual repose, who are all great warriors providing assistance to the quest for the desired goal, and the long-armed Abhimanyu, all blow their separate conches. “Arm” is a symbol of the sphere of action. When the mind is freed from fear, its reach is immensely enlarged.
So Sanjay addresses Dhritrashtr and acquaints him with how the chiefs of the Pandav army have made their proclamations with their conches. Each one of them is a prerequisite of the skill of traversing a certain length of the way to spiritual emancipation. Their observance is necessary and that is why they are enumerated in detail. However, there is, after these preliminary stages, that stretch of the path which is beyond the perceiving mind and intellect. This is the length along which one is enabled to travel only by the blessedness of the great awakening within the Self. He stands up from the Self as vision and is self-evident.
1.19-“The loud tumult, reverberating through heaven and earth, pierced the hearts of Dhritrashtr’s sons.”
The great tumult, echoing through heaven and earth, rends the hearts of Dhritrashtr’s sons. There is the Pandav army, too, but the hearts that are rent are only those of Dhritrashtr’s sons. When the manna of Panchjanya, made up of true knowledge, realization of the infinite, destruction of evil, and affirmation of piety, begins to flow, theKaurav hearts with their unrighteous and outward-looking impulses cannot but be rent. Their power wanes by and by. And if the process meets with success, infatuation ceases to exist altogether.