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.
Sings Bhagavad Gita:
tasya samajnayan harṣamkuruvṛddhaḥ pitāmahaḥ,
simhanādam vinadyo’ccaihśankham dadhmau pratāpavān
“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.”
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.
Adds Bhagavad Gita:
tatah śankhāś ca bheryaś ca panāvanakagomukhāh ̣
sahasai’ vā’ bhyahanyanta sa śabdas tumulo’bhavat
“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.
Says Bhagavad Gita:
Krishnetataḥśvetair hayair yuktemahati syandane sthitau
mādhavạḥ pāṇḍavaś cai’vadivyau śankhau pradadhmatuḥ
“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. But how will he effect this state?
Sings Bhagavad Gita:
pāñcajanyam hrṣīkeśodevadattam dhanamjayaḥ
pauṇḍram dadhmau mahāśankhambhīmakarmā-vṛ-a-kodaraḥ
“While Hrishikesh (Sri 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 the abundance of divinity is Arjun) 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.
Adds Bhagavad Gita:
anantavijayam rājākuntīputro yudhisthirah,
nakulah sahadevaś casughosamanipuspakau
“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 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.
Says Bhagavad Gita:
kāśyaś ca paramesvāsahśikhandī ca mahārathah
dhrstadyumno virātaś ca sātyakiś cā’parājitah
drupado draupadeyāś casarvaśah prthivīpate
saubhadraś ca māhābahuhśankhān dadhmuh prthakprthak
“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.
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, spiritual repose, and consistency 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 this is 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.
And then sings Bhagavad Gita:
sa ghoso dhārtarastrānāmhrdayāni vyadārayat
nabhaś ca prithivīm cai’vatumulo vyanunādayan
“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, the Kaurav 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.
~Revered Gurudev Swami Adgadanand Jee Paramhans~
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