Daily Readings from the Works of Swami Venkatesananda

Song of God (Bhagavad Gita) Chapter 1: 38-39

January 11, 2019

™yady apy ete na paśyanti lobhopahatacetasaḥ
kulakṣayakṛtaṁ doṣaṁ mitradrohe ca pᾱtakaṁ (I-38)

™kathaṁ na jñeyam asmᾱbhiḥ pᾱpᾱd asmᾱn nivartituṁ
kulakṣayakṛtaṁ doṣaṁ prapaśyadbhir janᾱrdana (I-39)

™I/38-39. Though they, with intelligence overpowered by
greed, see no evil in the destruction of families and no sin
in hostility to friends, why should not we, who clearly see evil
in the destruction of a family, learn to turn away from this
sin, O Krishna?

Swamiji's Commentary

      It is easier to perceive fault in others than within oneself. The Kauravā were greedy. They would do anything to retain sovereignty of the usurped kingdom. ‘So they do not see the sin in killing kinsmen; we are wiser and so should desist from it’ – is Arjuna’s argument. One man’s vanity shields another’s transgression with a seemingly lofty rationalization.

      No wise man will ever justify war. But wise men have from time immemorial indulged in what they regarded as righteous war. War itself is evil, but when it is the only remedy for a greater evil – to dethrone evil which has usurped the place of dharma – war is a necessity. Then, and only then, to fight is dharma (righteousness or duty). To run away from it is adharma! Just as an unruffled mind and a loving heart guide the surgeon’s skilled hand to remove a malignant growth, the wise and chivalrous ruler must be guided by a clear vision of dharma and by a deep love for all his people in order to deal firmly with wickedness.

      Arjuna was wrong in saying that as they were his kinsmen, he should not kill them, nor is it right to say that since they were his enemies, Krisna asked him to kill them. It was only because they were the perpetrators of adharma that it was Arjuna’s duty (as a prince) to exterminate them. If dharma was on the Kauravā side, even if they were his enemies, Kṛṣṇa would have asked Arjuna to look within himself and destroy his real enemy – adharma, (unrighteousness).

Back to Daily Readings