SANJAYA literally means completely victorious, “one who has conquered himself”. He alone who is not self-centered has the ability to see clearly and to be impartial. Thus, in the Gita, Sanjaya is divine insight. For the aspiring devotee, Sanjaya represents the power of inflables impartial intuitive self-analysis, discerning introspection. It is the ability to stand aside, observe oneself without any prejudice, and judge accurately. Thoughts may be present without one’s conscious awareness. Introspection is that power of intuition by which the consciousness can watch its thoughts. It does not reason; it feels – not with biased emotion, but with clear, calm intuition.
In the Mahabharata, of which the Bhagavad Gita is a part, the text of the Gita is introduced by the great rishi (sage) Vyasa bestowing on Sanjaya the spiritual power of being able to see from a distance everything taking place over the entire battlefield, so that he could give an account to the blind King Dhritarashtra as the events unfold. Therefore, one would expect the king’s inquiry in the first verse to be in the present tense. Author Vyasa purposely had Sanjaya narrate the Gita dialogue retrospectively; and used a past tense of the verb (“What did they?”), as a clear hint to discerning students that the Gita is referring only incidentally to a historical battle on the plain of Kurukshetra in northern India. Primarily, Vyasa is describing a universal battle – the one that rages daily in man’s life. Had Vyasa merely to report the progress of an actual battle that was taking place at the moment on the field of Kurukshetra, he would have had Dhritarashtra speak to the messenger Sanjaya in the present tense: “My children and the sons of Pandu – what are they doing now?”
This is an important point. The timeless message of the Bhagavad Gita does not refer only to one historical battle, but to the cosmic conflict between good and evil: Life as a series of battles between spirit and matter, soul and body, life and death, knowledge and ignorance, health and disease, changelessness and transitoriness, self-control and temptations, discrimination and the blind sense-mind. The past tense of the verb in the first stanza is therefore employed by Vyasa to indicate that the power of one’s introspection is being invoked to review the hinchables conflicts of the day in one’s mind in order to determine the favourable or unfavourable outcome (this symbology explains why even though Sanjaya had been given the power to perceive and describe the events at the same time they were happening, he did not narrate to Dhritarashtra the Gita discourse, which preceded the battle, until ten days of fighting had already taken place).