Chapter 1: Observing the Armies on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra
paundram dadhmau maha-sankham
pancajanyam—the conchshell named Pancajanya; hrsikesah—Hrsikesa (Krsna, the Lord who directs the senses of the devotees); devadattam—the conchshell named Devadatta; dhananjayah—Dhananjaya (Arjuna, the winner of wealth); paundram—the conch named Paundram; dadhmau—blew; maha-sankham—the terrific conchshell; bhima-karma—one who performs Herculean tasks; vrkodarah—the voracious eater (Bhima).
Then, Lord Krsna blew His conchshell, called Pancajanya; Arjuna blew his, the Devadatta; and Bhima, the voracious eater and performer of Herculean tasks, blew his terrific conchshell called Paundram.
Lord Krsna is referred to as Hrsikesa in this verse because He is the owner of all senses. The living entities are part and parcel of Him, and, therefore, the senses of the living entities are also part and parcel of His senses. The impersonalists cannot account for the senses of the living entities, and therefore they are always anxious to describe all living entities as sense-less, or impersonal. The Lord, situated in the hearts of all living entities, directs their senses. But, He directs in terms of the surrender of the living entity, and in the case of a pure devotee He directly controls the senses. Here on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra the Lord directly controls the transcendental senses of Arjuna, and thus His particular name of Hrsikesa. The Lord has different names according to His different activities. For example, His name is Madhusudana because He killed the demon of the name Madhu; His name is Govinda because He gives pleasure to the cows and to the senses; His name is Vasudeva because He appeared as the son of Vasudeva; His name is Devaki-nandana because He accepted Devaki as His mother; His name is Yasoda-nandana because He awarded His childhood pastimes to Yasoda at Vrndavana; His name is Partha-sarathi because He worked as charioteer of His friend Arjuna. Similarly, His name is Hrsikesa because He gave direction to Arjuna on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra.
Arjuna is referred to as Dhananjaya in this verse because he helped his elder brother in fetching wealth when it was required by the King to make expenditures for different sacrifices. Similarly, Bhima is known as Vrkodara because he could eat as voraciously as he could perform Herculean tasks, such as killing the demon Hidimba. So, the particular types of conchshell blown by the different personalities on the side of the Pandavas, beginning with the Lord's, were all very encouraging to the fighting soldiers. On the other side there were no such credits, nor the presence of Lord Krsna, the supreme director, nor that of the goddess of fortune. So, they were predestined to lose the battle—and that was the message announced by the sounds of the conchshells.