ಧರ್ಮಕ್ಷೇತ್ರೇ ಕುರುಕ್ಷೇತ್ರೇ ಸಮವೇತಾ ಯುಯುತ್ಸವಃ ।
ಮಾಮಕಾಃ ಪಾಂಡವಾಶ್ಚೈವ ಕಿಮಕುರ್ವತ ಸಂಜಯ ॥೧॥
dhṛtarāṣṭra uvāca |
dharmakṣetre kurukṣetre samavetā yuyutsavaḥ |
māmakāḥ pāṃḍavāścaiva kimakurvata saṃjaya ||1||
Gist of the sloka:
Emperor Dhitrarastra said: Sanjaya, In the place where Dharma resides, also known as Kurukshetra, my people and Pandavas have assembled for the war. Tell me what’s is happening at that place?
It is exceedingly appropriate that the question starts at the very beginning of this epic poem. We are ‘literally’ as blind as the blind Emperor Dhitrarastra. We are not even aware of what we don’t know. In this sense, the question is as relevant to us as much as it is to the Emperor.
Sanjaya was at the palace whereas the war was happening in Kurukshetra. Sanjaya, who through the grace of Lord Veda Vyasa, had obtained a temporary boon [for the duration of war] to be able to view, hear and feel [the inner thoughts of the people] at the distant happenings at the war. He was giving a running commentary of the distant happening to the King.
The place where the war was being fought, was the same place where Lord Parashurama had constructed 5 lakes [sarovaras] during his 22 rounds of eliminating the wicked rulers of the world. The place due His holiness was considered the very place where Dharma [righteousness] existed and entire area was considered holy.
The 5 lakes continue to exists even today while most of the battlefield is now overrun by constructions. Some parts of battlefield still exist and can be visited. Performance of daana [offerings/donation] at this place is considered sacred and pious.
Emperor Kuru the ancestor of Kauravas and Pandavas in turn had performed various sacrifices at the place and in turn was also called as Kuru-shetra. The armies had both agreed to meet for the battle at such a holy place [battle field] to fight the war on the principles of righteousness.
Our mind itself is one such battle field. With the battle going on at all times between our good and evil thoughts. Sometimes it is exceedingly confusing to determine what is right and what is not. In a way Mahabharatha happens in our minds at all times.
We therefore need guidance to make sure we always side with the righteousness and hence the Lord guidance through Gita.
If we analyze the words of the blind Emperor, we realize that even though he was the Emperor for both Pandavas and Kauravas, he shows his inherent weakness for his sons Kauravas when he asks Sanjaya about “my people and Pandavas”. As a ruler of the kingdom, he is expected to treat all his subjects equally.