Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Mystery Of 10th Verse

अपर्याप्तं तदस्माकं बलं भीष्माभिरक्षितम्।
पर्याप्तं त्विदमेतेषां बलं भीमाभिरक्षितम्।।
श्रीमद्भगवद्गीता, अध्याय: 1, श्लोक: 10  ~

Aparyaptam Tadasmakam Balam Bhishmabhirakshitam
Paryaptam Twidametesham Balam Bhimabhirakshitam
Shrimadbhagawadgita, Chapter: 1, Verse: 10  ~


The 10th verse of the first chapter of Shrimadbhagawadgita is last verse which Duryodhana speaks to his guru Dronacharya. Well known bhakti-margi scholar Swami Prabhupad ji of ISCON translates it in his famous book 'Bhagawadgita As It Is' as

            "Our strength is immeasurable, and we are perfectly protected by Grandfather Bhishma, whereas the strength of Pandavas, carefully protected by Bhima, is limited."

The gyan-margi scholar Swami Argadanand ji also translates it in similar manner in 'Yatharth Gita'.

             “Our army defended by Bheeshm is unconquerable, while their army defended by Bheem is easy to vanquish.’’

But there is another well known personality Swami Ramsukhdas ji of Gitapress who in 'Gita Sadhak Sanjivani' translates it in entirely different manner.

           "Our strength is not sufficient (inadequate) as it is protected by the Bhishma, whereas the strength of these Pandava is sufficient (adequate) as it is protected by Bhima."

I had read few less known works too in which they interpret even 'Abhirakshitam' in just opposite manner. And consequently make it more complicated to get an conclusive result. In case we don't consider the other interpretations of the word composition 'Abhi Rrakshitam', there remains one difference among these scholars and that is on the word 'Aparyaptam'. They give two meanings to this word.

  1. Immeasurable/ Unlimited : Giving sense of having larger strength then required.
  2. Insufficient : Giving sense of having lesser strength then required.

Logic and context for both cases:

For first case Bhishma was very experienced warrior in comparison to Bhima. Bhishma used to fight with bow and arrows hence his striking range was also longer while Bhima fights with club which had a limited approach. The context may also be given here that Kauravas had 11 akshauhini army while Pandava had 7 akshauhini army. That is why Duryodhana thinks that his strength is much more mightier then that of Pandava... Here previous two reasons may be valid but I have doubt on the context of measurement of armies because Shrimadbhagawadgita is complete in itself while this fact is from Mahabharat. Though Shrimadbhagawadgita is part of Mahabharat but it does not need to import context from other parts of Mahabharat. This measurement is not mentioned anywhere in Shrimadbhagawadgita nor it is part of current conversation between Duryodhana and Dronacharya.

In support of the second case Bhishma had more affection towards Pandava and was not in favor of war  hence his dedication in war was doubtful. Whereas Bhima always wanted this war and had taken a vow to kill Duryodhana and his brothers. Hence Kaurava's strength was not up to the mark under protection of Bhishma. Context which may be relevant here also supports this case as in just previous verses Duryodhana counts 11 maharathis including the strategic organiser of army, son of Drupada plus sons of Subhadra and Draupadi. Whereas he counts only 7 maharathis on his own side out of which Karna was not allowed to participate in war till Bhishma was their commander-in-chief. So Pandava were fighting with more then 11 maharathis while Kaurava were fighting with less then 7 maharathis.

Why this confusion:

This confusion arises due to two meanings of word 'Aparyapta' (अपर्याप्त ). The word 'Aparyapta' is the combination of 'A' and 'Paryapta'. 'A' stands for negation. The thing which is not 'Paryapta' is 'Aparyapta'. So what does the 'Paryapta' mean?

'Paryapta' is combination of 'Par' or 'Parya' (पर या पर्य ) and 'Apta' (आप्त ). 'Parya' means edge, limit, border, end or circumference. The place from where 'other' (पर ) starts. It gives sense of the mark of fulfillment. 'Apta' means to cover, to overlap. When some thing is required for another thing and first thing is of such measurement that it exactly covers or fulfills the requirement of the later it is called paryapta for that. So any of the words Sufficient, Adequate, Enough or Measurable can be used for 'Paryapta'. But it's true meaning is Measured. We actually measure things by overlapping them with things of standard measurement. We use another word in Hindi equivalent to it 'Parimit' (परिमित ). 'Parimit' is that whose pariman or measurement has been taken. So 'Paryapta' is that which has a definite measurement. Now let us come on the word 'Aparyapta'.

The law of excluded middle in logic says that something must be either 'A' or 'Not A'. Whatever is not 'Paryapta' is 'Aparyapta'. Or the thing whose measurement we don't know is 'Aparyapta'. It may be more then 'Paryapta' or may be less then 'Paryapta'. It gives room for both conditions.

Hence it will not be justifiable to depend on any one meaning of this word. So why did Maharshi used this indefinite word? Perhaps because Duryodhana is not definite about his own strength. Why..? Because he too was considering both the cases we have mentioned earlier. Or...

Or because Bhima was of his own age group. He had training with Bhima. He also had many friendly bouts with Bhima and was quite clear about his strength. So Bhima's strength was measured or 'Paryapta'. But he had no such experience about the strength of Bhishma. So he uses 'Aparyapta' for Bhishma. Dronacharya was of same age group as that of Bhishma. He also had few chances where he participated in wars with Bhishma.  Dronacharya was guru of Bhima too. Thus he was familiar with the strength of both Bhishma and Bhima. So Duryodhana shares his doubt with Dronacharya. And that is why perhaps because he dictates all his warriors to protect Bhishma from all sides in next verse. And that is why perhaps because in 12th verse old man roars like a lion so that Duryodhana may get assured about his strength and war dedication.

What is the Solution:

Though he translates 'Aparyapta' as 'Unconquerable' Swami Argadananda ji in 'Yathartha Gita' accepts that this word has both meanings hence may bring some confusion. For this he suggests to skip to next verses and focus on who actually Bhishma and Bhima are within our inner self. So that we can preserve our Bhima and can get rid of Bhishma. Certainly this is the best use of Shrimadbhagawadgita

Here in this, 10th verse of 1st chapter of Shrimadbhagawadgita,  whatever be the confusion one thing is clear that Duryodhana is busy in comparing his strength with that of Pandava. He is one step ahead of what his father Dhritarashtra did in very 1st verse where he asked Sanjay that what 'mine' and 'Pandava' did there in battlefield? He separated things between mine and other's. His son Duryodhana calculates the difference between mine and other's. Soon there will emerge one more person in this scene, Arjuna. And he will not talk about the strengths. What will he say to Krishna is that he sees his own people on both sides. There is no other. All are mine. And that is the difference between Duryodhana and Arjuna.

I personally feel that this is perhaps the best use of this verse if we understand our tendencies which resemble to that of Duryodhana so that we can locate where is he within us. May be once you locate his exact position and you become able to understand that why does he use word tad (तद् ) or 'That' for his own strength and id (इद् ) or 'This' for Pandava's strength?


अयम् निजः परोवेति गणना लघुचेतसाम्।
उदार चरितानां तु वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम्।।

Ayam Nijah Paroveti Gadana Laghuchetasam
Udar Charitanam Tu Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam

This is our, it is their; people of lower character calculate like this. But for those who possess higher consciousness, whole earth is a family.

Labels: Shrimadbhagawadgita, Bhagawadgita, Bhagawad Gita, Duryodhana, Aparyaptam, Bhishma, Bhima, Strength.


  1. First few lines of comment as they came, more may come later:

    Physical or phenomenal or finite or actual world (7 dimensions) is underpinned by noumenal or infinite or virtual world (11 dimensions) and both are underpinned/enveloped by the spiritual world (indescribable, dimensionless- though symbolically shown as Krishna with one or virtual part and with his exact opposite Shakuni with the other actual part - Beyond this both or rather all again is Krishna in his Viraat Swarupa).

    Further actual world may be divided into physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual last two parts of which go latent in overlapping in the virtual world (look at Yin Yang Fig); and similarly, the virtual world may be divided into spiritual, intellectual, emotional and physical the last two of which also overlap and so go latent in the first two of the actual world.

    Now any situation can be seen both from the perspective of the actual world(Physical and emotional where number of bodies mean more, as Duryodhana sees it in first two verses; as well as from the perspective of the virtual world (intellectual and spiritual where bodies/emotions count less and intellect/spirituality count more).

    Now since everybody has a part though latent even while seeing the situation from the perspective of the actual world (body/emotions) he remains in doubt because of something from deep within telling him that it is not really all).

    Hence later the same Duryodhna doubts his strength.

  2. In the above Bhishma and Bhima just represent the actual worlds on both sides - the world of physicality and emotions. Later Arjuna/karuna may come to represent the intellectual world (Karuna not allowed to fight so long Bhishma is alive just means so long as we are governed by physicality and emotional selves we do not give place to reason, thoughts, to intellect, as a youth would not listen to reason till he suffers and evolves more.

    1. "Seven Maharshi and before them four Manu were born from my mind." ~ Ch: 10 Vs: 6.
      It may interest you more that 7+4=11. :-)

    2. Earlier Duryodhana had only 9 akshauhini army which was native army of this kingdom. 1 akshauhini Narayani army he got from Krishna and 1 akshauhini army of King Shalya he got through diplomacy. Thus he had a total 11 akshauhini army while Pandava left with 7 akshauhini army. 4, 7, 11 and 18 are very meaningful numbers here.

  3. Thank you for the great article. I was stuck on the `paryaptam` and `aparyaptam` too, and I think this helps me understand more. I have a correction to make too. In your pronounciation of the sloka, it should be "Ayam Nijah Paroveti Ga[na]ana Laghuchetasam।
    Udar[a] Charitanam Tu Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam।।".


कृपया उत्साहवर्धन भी कर दीजिये।