The following is from the lectures of Shri Bannanje Govindacharya (who is a highly respected scholar belonging to the Madhwacharya lineage).
The first chapter has been wrongly named by modern commentators as Arjuna-vishaada yoga -- there is nothing yogic about "vishaada" and the chapter starts with a brilliant exposition on the fear and despondency of Duryodhana. In fact, Madhwa's Gita-Bhaashya does not refer to this chapter as Arjuna-vishaada yoga or by any other name. This chapter is an exposition on psychology and utterly exposes Duryodhana's mental state before the start of the war.
Duyodhana names these warriors because he is scared and fully upset. He cannot believe his eyes when he sees them in the Pandava army and he believes some of them should have been fighting on his side. Let's see why.
- Bhima, Arjuna, and Krishna were the only warriors capable of lifting the gANDiva bow. By comparing everyone to Bhima and Arjuna (bhimaarjuna samaH yudiH), he shows his fear of the Pandavas, and especially, his fear of Bhima and Arjuna. Ultimately, it was Bhima who killed him.
- He starts off by naming the "son of Drupada" who was Drona's student. Drupada and Drona were once great friends. However, when DroNa went to Drupada (who at the time was a great king)and asked him for a cow so that he could give his son some milk, Drupada made fun of him and said that he could not be friends with Drona (who was a poor brahmaNa at that time). Drona, then with the help of the Pandavas (who were his students) snatched half of Drupada's kingdom. Drupada, then sent his son, Dhrishtadumnya to study under Drona and Drona taught him everything he knew! Also, Drupada had given his daughter Draupadi to the Pandavas, and thus, he was fighting alongside the Pandavas. Duryodhana names Drupada and Dhrishtadumnya to spite Drona and remind him of his past with Drupada and the fact that he taught his enemy's son everything he knew!
- Drishtiketu was the son of Shishupala and we know that Shishupala was killed by Krishna in the rAjasUya yagna. Then why on earth is his son fighting on Krishna;s side? Again, this question is killing Duryodhana internally.
- Shaibya was the king of Shibi. Shaibya's son and Jayadrata tried to kidnap Draupadi, and was subsequently killed by Bhima. Under such circumstances, shouldn't he side with the Kauravas? No -- he fights for the Pandavas and this does not go down well with Duryodhana.
- Yuyudhaana (Saataki) and Chekitana were bound to the words of Balarama who declared that he will not fight in the war and went away on a pilgrimage. However, they were fighting for the Pandavas and this did not seem right to Duryodhana.
- Kashiraja : Kashi at that time had two kings (rulers of the two lands of VaraNa and Asi) -- one who was Bhima's father-in-law and the other was Duryodhana's father-in-law. Duryodhana's father-in-law had been killed by Krishna in an earlier war, and thus, the Kashiraja being mentioned here is Bheema's father-in-law. He feels sad that his father-in-law (and army) is not with him.
- Purujit and Kuntibhoja belonged to the land of Kunti. Kunti's original name was Pratu and she was Vasudeva's sister. She was adopted by the king of Kunti (kunti-desha) and due to this relationship, Purujit and Kuntibhoja were fighting for the Pandavas.
- Virata was ruling under the fear of Keechaka. Bheema killed Keechaka and liberated Virata, else that entire army would have been with Duryodhana.
- Yudhamanyu and Uttamauja were sons of Drupada too. Abhimanyu and the five sons of Draupadi were approximately 13-18 years old at the time of the war. Duryodhana refers to them as maharathas despite their young age and his tremendous experience in battle. This goes to show how mentally disturbed he was at that time.
Coming to the Kauravas, Duryodhana names Dronacharya, Bhisma, Karna, Kripa, Asvatthama, Vikarna.
- Drona, Bheeshma, Kripacharya and Asvatthama are all Brahmanas (despite fighting like kshtriyas). Duryodhana is scared that they will abandon their posts in light of their brahminical duties (after all, timely prayers and yagnas are the duties of of a brahmaNa). The other side is glittering with kshtriyas, whereas I (Duryodhana) am going into battle with four brahmaNas!!
- Karna having been insulted by Bheeshma, had vowed not to fight until Bheeshma died. Now, how does one go into battle with such a friend?
- Vikarna is Duryodhana's brother. So, why does Duryodhana name VikarNa and not his 98 other brothers? It comes in the Mahabharatha, that while Draupadi's vastra-haraNa was taking place, the only Kaurava to object loudly was Vikarna, who was nothing but an attention-seeker. He felt, that if he vocally objects to this act, he will be considered a wise person. Duryodhana remembers that occassion and thinks to himself, "If this Vikarna decides to drop his weapons, and denounces the war just to seek false attention, then what will I do?". That is why Duryodhana names Vikarna. This again establishes the mental state of Duryodhana as that of a completely defeated and heart-broken person.
Subsequent to this, Duryodhana has a complete breakdown in the 10th shloka, where he says that the Kaurava army is inadequate despite having 11 akshohinis and the Pandava army is well-equipped despite having only 7 akshohinis. Very often, this shloka is translated is wrongly (with the word aparyaptam being translated as undefeatable) [please refer to Raghavendra Tirtha's Gita Vivrutti (16th century), where he notes this verse is often wrongly translated].
The first chapter of the Bhagavad Gita goes to show what fear and self-doubt can do to a person. It also shows that Duryodhana was mentally defeated even before the war began.