Update: Do check Hari’s comments to this post. They correct the misinterpretations of quite a few things mentioned in this post.
Having finished reading Sri Shankaracharya’s Bhagavad Gita Bhasya, I am motivated to learn the Bhagavad Gita by heart. I intend to read the other commentaries, especially by Sri Madhvacharya, and also intend to learn the Sanskrit language in the coming months. I have been practicing reciting the first chapter of the Bhagavad Gita for the past couple of weeks now. As of today, I am able to recite the first 35 verses. I am following the South Indian style of Sanskrit recitation, which is available here.
Anyway, Hari has this very interesting post on the humongous number of resources in each Akshouni, and the significance of the number 18 in the Bhagavad Gita and the Mahabharata. In the first chapter of Bhagavad Gita starting from verse 3 to verse 10, Duryodhana discusses the relative strenghts of the two armies with Guru Dronacharya. He mentions the names of specific warriors in the two camps (other than Bhima and Arjuna). This morning, it struck me, does the number of warriors that Duryodhana mentions happens to be 18 as well ?!
So, let us start counting:
The Pandava Warriors
Verse 3: Drupadaputra (Drushtadhyumna) (1)
Verse 4: Yuyudhana (Satyaki), Virata, Drupadha (3)
Verse 5: Dhrushtaketu, Chekitana, Kashiraja, Purujit, Kuntibhoja, Shaibhya ( 6)
Verse 6: Yudhamanyu, Uttamauja, Saubhadra (Abhimanyu), Draupadeyascha (5 Sons of Draupadi) (3 + 5 =8)
Number of warriors mentioned from the Pandava camp, other than the Pandavas themselves = 18. As Hari mentions, this is an auspicious number in the Mahabharata!
The Kaurava Warriors:
Verse 8: Drona, Bhishma, Karna, Kripacharya (4)
Verse 9: Ashwatthama, Vikarna, Bhurishrava (3)
Number of warriors from the Kaurava camp mentioned = 7. Does anyone know the significance of the number 7 in this context? The only thing I know is that it is considered to be a lucky number by most people 🙂
As you can see from Hari’s post, the strength of the Kaurava camp in terms of numbers, was far greater than that of the Pandava camp. And probably based on this fact, Duryodhana, in verse 10 says that the Kaurava army protected by Bhisma is unconquerable, while the Pandava army protected by Bhima is easy to conquer.
However, the number of Pandava Maharathis mentioned by Duryodhana to his Acharya, is more than twice the number of Maharathis he mentions from his own camp. By doing so, does he betray his true fears ? Was he expecting Dronacharya to allay his fears by reinforcing that despite the Pandava army having larger number of Maharathis, the Kauravas are going to win the battle ? It’ll be an interesting exercize to mull over the psychological conditions of the characters at beginning of the the battle.