[Advaita-l] GITA - 2.31

Amuthan aparyap at yahoo.co.in
Thu Mar 2 07:02:27 CST 2006

namo nArAyaNAya!

having taught the inappropriateness of grief from the
point of view of the eternal self as well the
perishable bodies, kRShNa now urges arjuna to fight,

svadharmamapi chAvekShya 
na vikampitumarhasi.
dharmyAddhi yuddhAchChreyo.anyat
kShatriyasya na vidyate.. 2.31

even considering your own duty, you should not get
disturbed since there is nothing more beneficial to a
kShatriya than a righteous battle. 

apart from any consideration of the perishable nature
of the body or the eternal nature of the self, even
from an ethical point of view, not withdrawing from
war is a duty of a kShatriya. arjuna's grief sprung
from a false sense of ahimsA and karuNA. kRShNa
dispels this ignorance by teaching him that fighting
in a battle, though causing himsA, is a duty of a
kShatriya and hence, there should be no second
thoughts regarding that. it is said that both the
brAhmaNa who discards his body by yoga and the
kShatriya who dies a brave death in the battlefield
attain the same destination. for a kShatriya, there is
no other act superior to fighting a righteous battle.
hence, teaching him his natural duty, kRShNa urges
arjuna to shed his false compassion and fight.

sometimes, to establish ahimsA, himsA is necessary.
ahimsA is a dharma only for brAhmaNa-s and sannyAsi-s,
certainly not for kShatriya-s. no sin will be incurred
by a kShatriya if he kills enemies in a righteous war.
in fact, this adds to his merits since by doing so, he
indirectly protects his kingdom and hence all his

it is interesting to compare arjuna's dilemma with two
contrasting historical events. when shrI rAma was
doing vanavAsa in  daNDakAraNya, the RShi-s residing
there took refuge in Him seeking protection from the
rAkShasa-s who were tormenting them. shrI rAma
promised them His protection, but sItA devI, because
of her natural compassion for all creatures, requested
rAma to uphold ahimsA and refrain from killing the
rAkShasa-s. but shrI rAma, as firm as ever, very
clearly told her that the destruction of the
rAkShasa-s, though causing immense himsA, would
protect the RShi-s who led a righteous life. shrI rAma
had no false compassion for anyone and was a living
embodiment of dharma and j~nAna. nothing could make
Him swerve from His dharma.  

on the other hand, when ashoka saw the death of
innumerable soldiers in the battlefield, he was filled
with compassion and took up ahimsA after being
prompted by a buddhist monk. ashoka's grief and it's
causes weren't much different from that of arjuna's.
the only difference is that arjuna had kRShNa beside
him, not someone who would enhance his false
compassion and ultimately make him embrace ahimsA.
ashoka was quite lucky that no one invaded his country
after he took up ahimsA. just imagine what would have
happened if someone had taken advantage of the
situation and plundered his whole country :-)

ahimsA is necessary whenever dharma cannot be
established without taking recourse to it. a kShatriya
should never give room for any false compassion in
this regard. that there is ahimsA in himsA and himsA
in ahimsA will become clear if we reflect upon the
above mentioned incidents. 

more generally, all of us have some sets of prescribed
do-s and don't-s based on the shAstra-s. but quite
often, unrighteous acts garb themselves in the guise
of compassion etc. and make us tread the wrong path.
it is with shAstra dRShTi that we must carefully
choose the right action from the multitude of wrong
alternatives. this is kRShNa's firm siddhAnta - tasmAt
shAstraM pramANaM te kAryAkAryavyavasthitau.   

vAsudevaH sarvaM,

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