Sanjaya was well acquainted with Dhritarashtra’s inner feelings. ‘Mãmakãhã’ were more dear to Dhritarashtra, and even amongst them, Duryodhan was the most. Duryodhan was everything to Dhritarashtra. Therefore Sanjaya wisely commences by speaking about Duryodhan. He says, ‘दृष्ट्वा तु पाण्डवानीकं व्यूढं दुर्योघनस्तदा। आचार्यमुपसंगम्य राजा वचनमब्रवीत्॥’ – ‘Drushtvã tu Pãndavãneekam vyoodham Duryodhanastadã, ãchãryamupasangamya rãjã vachanamabraveet.’ – ‘At that time, seeing the military formation of the Pandava’s army, King Duryodhan went to Acharya Drona and said the following.’
Here, Sanjaya refers to Duryodhan as ‘king’. Dhritarashtra must have loved this. This was Dhritarashtra’s dream.
It is also noteworthy that Duryodhan went to Acharya Drona first and no one else.
Bhishma was the commander-in-chief on the first day of the battle. So why did Duryodhan not go to him, but to Drona instead? Duryodhan firmly believed that both Bhishma and Drona favoured both sides. But, Bhishma had a soft corner for the Pandavas and this constantly agitated Duryodhan. That is why, even during the war, Duryodhan complained time and time again about Bhishma’s behaviour towards the Pandavas.
Duryodhan also knew that the Pandavas were dear to Drona as well. Above all, Arjuna had become his favourite disciple.
Therefore, he did not trust the two major pillars of his army. He repeatedly doubted them and therefore a subtle fear constantly grasped his mind as to what would happen.
Of Bhishma and Drona, Duryodhan was more worried about Drona. He felt that he would have to pay more attention to Drona. His only relationship with Drona was that of a disciple, not as a family member. No matter what, Bhishma was a member of his family, thus he was less of a worry. But this was not the case with Drona. Duryodhan knew well that Arjuna had won Drona’s affection. Therefore he went straight to Drona.
Duryodhan said to Drona. ‘पश्यैतां पाण्डुपुत्राणामाचार्य महती´ चमूम्। व्यूढां द्रुपदपुत्रेण तव शिष्येण घीमता॥’ – ‘Pashyaitãm Pãnduputrãnãmãchãrya mahateem chamoom, vyoodhãm Drupadaputrena tava shishyena dheematã.’ – ‘O teacher, look at the large army of the sons of Pandu, arranged in formation by your intelligent pupil, the son of Drupad (Dhrushtadyumna)’ (Gita 1/3). The words ‘mahateem chamoom’ mean large army. It is astonishing that Duryodhan felt that the Pandavas’ army was large. In reality, it was Duryodhan’s army that was the larger. Duryodhan had eleven divisions in his army whereas the Pandavas only had seven (one division has 21,870 chariots, 21,870 elephants, 65,610 horses and 109,350 foot soldiers – Mahabharat: Adi Parva/2/23-26). So why did the Pandavas’ army seem large? Yet again, the same reason: lack of trust. Duryodhan’s lack of trust was not limited just to Bhishma or Drona. He did not trust almost his whole army. ‘I lack trustworthy men. On the other hand, the Pandavas have plenty of trustworthy people.’ It is with this thought in mind that Duryodhan felt that the smaller Pandava army was indeed large. The untrusting always doubt their own strength as well.
Duryodhan also specially uses the name ‘Drupadaputra’ (son of Drupad) for Dhrushtadyumna. He wants to emphasize to Drona that Dhrushtadyumna is the son of Drupad. He has a certain motivation for doing this. He wants to increase the enmity between Drona and the Pandavas. To do this, he mentions King Drupad, who had previously spited Drona. It is also true that Drupad had employed the two Brahmins Yaj and Upyaj to perform a yagna with the desire for Drupad’s death. Duryodhan had come to know of this too. For this reason, he wants to warn Drona to be careful that his own disciple does not bring about his death.
Thus, the very start of the Bhagavad Gita is thrilling and gets the reader thinking.
Sadhu Bhadreshdas, Ph. D., D.Litt.
Translated by: Sadhu Paramvivekdas