There are three issues: first is the issue of Dharma, by which he is inspired to come to the battlefield, in which killing is a part of Dharma, because in the time the Mahabharata was being fought, it was the creed of the Aryan fighter, that every Aryan fighter has both a right and a duty to prevent injustice, to establish justice, and for that purpose even if killing is necessary, killing is a part of Dharma.
Secondly, suddenly, Arjuna feels that killing is wrong, and we shall see in the second chapter, where he enunciates further, the same argument. We shall read again the second chapter and the argument of Arjuna: “How can I kill Bhishma, how can I kill Drona, and even if I win, how shall I enjoy the blood splatterd enjoyment? This is the Adharma, how can this Adharma be done.”
And then Arjuna ask that, “Even if, for the sake of justice I have to fight, ultimately the will be vast scale destruction, and there will be a complete destruction of Dharma itself.”
As I said later on, we shall have one full session on the question of killing: the principle of killing and the whole argument about the place of destruction in the world; and unless we discuss this question in depth, we won’t get the true thread of the argument of the Gita.
In the second chapter, we have to see how Sri Krishna deals with the situation. The sovereignty and the mastery of Sri Krishna while dealing this question in which He penetrates into the threads of the argument of Arjuna thoroughly, and masterfully, so let us see how the very first words of Sri Krishna…this is 2nd chapter, 1st & 2nd verses. Even if you don’t have the book, I shall read quite slowly, so that it’s transmitted properly:
“O Arjuna! How did you develop this kind of dejection during the crisis of war?” (II, 2)
We can see the whole summary of whatever Arjuna has said. Sri Krishna does not argue, He simply says, “Why this mood of dejection has overcome you?” He does not discuss Dharma–Adharma, or any kind of deeper questions. The whole point is dejection. He says: “You have been overpowered by this dejection.” So, according to Sri Krishna, all his arguments are fundamentally expressions, not of a philosophical mind, but of a mood of dejection.
Sometimes we argue because our arguments are valid, and intellectually very sound. But sometimes, we know that we are arguing because we are troubled: we have received a blow somewhere, and then we are reacting vitally, emotionally, as a result of emotions. Sri Krishna’s answers…the first reaction of Sri Krishna is: ‘All that you are talking, is nothing but a state of dejection, and how can a warrior, the hero warrior, ‘the hero of the war’, how can he be overpowered by dejection?’
“…It is not followed by great persons, it does not lead to heaven, and it is disgraceful.” (II, 2)
This is the basic answer Sri Krishna gives, in which Sri Krishna actually rebukes; it is a kind of a rebuke: that is called the mastery of the man. Sri Krishna is a sovereign Lord who knows the psychology and the arguments and the Truth so thoroughly, that He sums up in two lines the real answer that has to be given to Arjuna: ‘You are a hero, and therefore, you should not be overpowered by sentiments and emotions.’ That means Sri Krishna does not give value to the arguments that are being made. He knows that these arguments are basically arguments of dejection; and dejection is disgraceful to the hero, to the warrior. So, this is the basic point that Sri Krishna makes in answer to all the arguments that Arjuna has given.
And then He says, “O son of Partha!” in 3rd verse, “…Do not yield to cowardice...”
This is a much worse rebuke than the first, when a hero of heroes is told that he has succumbed to cowardice: klaibyaṁ mā sma gamaḥ. This is “klaibyaṁ”: it is a terrible rebuke that ‘you have succumbed yourself to cowardice’.
“…This does not behove you. O Destroyer of the Enemies! Give up this feebleness of the mind, stand up and fight.” (II, 3) This is the sum and substance of Sri Krishna’s devastating answer: there is no argument at all here, what is Dharma–Adharma, nothing!
In the exposition of the Gita, it is very important to see the action of a teacher, of a master, who uses varieties of means, of filling the student or the pupil with the necessary strength, strength of character, strength of heroism, strength of knowledge, and strength of argumentation when necessary. But the first thing that was necessary was that in sum and substance there is nothing but cowardice in the arguments, they are not arguments, and they are only state of cowardice: ‘I want to run away from here, I cannot bear this.’ And therefore, the only argument that Sri Krishna makes is not an argument, it’s simply exhortation, and the sum and substance is, ‘Fight. Stand up and fight.’ The entire emphasis is upon action: ‘Fight this whole tendency to withdraw and to go away.’ There is only one smashing point: ‘You fight!’
All that is the end of the Bhagavad Gita’s teaching is told in the very first answer, first outburst of Sri Krishna. Afterward the 18 chapters are only arguments and the exposition, but ultimately the message of the Gita is simply this: “Do not become a coward, do not be overpowered by dejection, do not become disgraceful. Stand up and fight!” This is all sum and substance in the very first two sentences. You can see also the mastery of Vyasa, the author of the whole Mahabharata. What a craft of his exposition!