Bhagavad Gita 1.11 Explained: The Protector and the Protected

अयनेषु च सर्वेषु यथाभागमवस्थिताः।
भीष्ममेवाभिरक्षन्तु भवन्तः सर्व एव हि।

श्रीमद्भगवद्गीता 1.11

Ayaneshu Cha Sarveshu Yathabhagamavasthitah
Bheeshmamevaabhirakshantu Bhavantah Sarva Eva Hi

Shrimad Bhagavad Gita 1.11

Therefore in the rank and file, let stand firm in their posts, according to battalions; and all you generals about Bheeshma.

English Translation of BG 1.11

In this verse, Duryodhana orders his warriors to ensure the protection of Bheeshma on the battlefield, emphasizing the strategic importance of safeguarding their key commander. This directive reveals multiple layers of strategy, loyalty, and the dynamics of power within the Kaurava ranks.

Insights into BG 1.11: Reflecting on Swami Ramsukhdas Ji’s Divine Commentary

The Strategic Importance of Bheeshma

Duryodhana’s command underscores Bheeshma’s unparalleled role in the Kaurava army as its chief and most revered warrior. By singling out Bheeshma for protection, Duryodhana acknowledges both the tactical advantage Bheeshma provides and the moral boost his presence gives the Kaurava forces. Bheeshma is not just a warrior; he is a symbol of invincibility and leadership whose well-being is critical to maintaining the army’s morale and confidence.

Loyalty and Power Dynamics

This verse also subtly reflects the complexities of loyalty and power dynamics within the Kaurava camp. Duryodhana, aware of Bheeshma’s personal vow not to harm Shikhandi (who was born as a woman in a previous life and whom Bheeshma considers to be a woman), manipulates the battlefield arrangements to protect Bheeshma from facing Shikhandi directly. This maneuvering illustrates Duryodhana’s keenness to exploit every available strategy to secure victory, even if it means navigating the intricate web of personal oaths and destinies that entangle the warriors.

The Psychological Warfare

Duryodhana’s instruction is not merely a tactical decision; it is also an act of psychological warfare. By commanding his entire army to rally around Bheeshma, he aims to intimidate the Pandavas with a show of unity and strength. However, it also exposes Duryodhana’s insecurities and his reliance on Bheeshma’s leadership to hold his forces together. The emphasis on protecting Bheeshma at all costs reveals a deep-seated fear of losing not just a key commander but the symbolic pillar of the Kaurava might.

The Ethical Dilemma

The scenario presents an ethical dilemma that pervades the Mahabharata: the conflict between duty and righteousness. Bheeshma, bound by his vow of loyalty to the throne of Hastinapur, finds himself fighting for a cause led by ambition and envy. This verse, therefore, not only highlights the strategic maneuvers on the battlefield but also delves into the profound moral conflicts that define the epic’s characters.


This verse from the Bhagavad Gita reveals the strategic depth, the complexities of loyalty, and the psychological nuances of warfare in the Mahabharata. As we reflect on Duryodhana’s command to protect Bheeshma, we are reminded of the enduring themes of duty, righteousness, and the moral dilemmas that confront us in our lives. Just as the warriors on the battlefield are called to navigate these challenges, so too are we, in our daily struggles, called to discern and act upon the path of righteousness, guided by wisdom and integrity.