svadharmam api cāvekṣya na vikampitum arhasi |
dharmyād dhi yuddhāc chreyo ’nyat kṣatriyasya na vidyate ||31||
Arjuna is a man in the battlefield. Arjuna belongs to the clan of Kshatriya, and Kshatriyas are ruled by certain Dharma. Therefore, Sri Krishna brings him to a statement, which is known to Arjuna. But while he has been lifted up, and since Arjuna is not able to lift up himself to that perception, and still he is on the earth here, He reminds him that ‘You are Kshatriya, for a Kshatriya to get this kind of war is regarded as a boon, and therefore, in the Kshatriya you have to see what is your Dharma, and having seen your Dharma, even by seeing your Dharma, I have shown you what is indestructible and seeing the indestructible, you should not grieve about destruction. But even from the point of view of your Dharma this kind of war, which has come to you is a war which comes to Kshatriyas as a boon, and in that war you must fight and do your Dharma.’
“O Son of Pritha! Fortunate are the Kshatriyas, who come upon such opportunity as this great battle which has come to you of its own accord as an open gate to heaven.” (II, 32)
This is also a kind of an answer to Arjuna. Arjuna was saying that, ‘If I kill, I will be destroying the Dharma, and one who goes to destroy the Dharma’, he says, ‘It is śuśruma; we have heard they only go to hell.’ (I, 44) And against that Sri Krishna says that, ‘Such a war comes to you, to Kshatriyas only rarely, and if you fight we assure, you might have heard you go to hell, but you know that very well that the real truth is that when you fight according to your Dharma, there is only one consequence of it, namely heaven.’
This is contrasting what he has heard and what Sri Krishna has heard; because he says, ‘We have heard that if you create an Adharma then you will go to hell.’ Sri Krishna says that, ‘You are only going to fight according to your Swadharma, and if you do so you will only go to heaven.’
“If, however, you do not fight this righteous battle…” (II, 33), now he says the consequence, ‘Supposing you withdraw from your fight, what will happen? Because you have been seeing the consequences all the time: results of my action; whether my result will be right or wrong, it will produce Dharma or Adharma, it will produce hell or heaven, this is what you are considering isn’t it? Alright, consider, if you fight you will go to heaven but suppose if you don’t fight what will happen to you?”
“If, however, you do not fight this righteous battle, you will be deprived of both your own duties, (Swadharma), and your fame and then you will certainly incur sin.”
atha cet tvam imaṁ dharmyaṁ saṁgrāmaṁ na kariṣyasi |
tataḥ svadharmaṁ kīrtiṁ ca hitvā pāpam avāpsyasi ||33|| (II)
‘The sin will come then, if you do not fight.’
Remember, these arguments are on the plane on which Arjuna is arguing. This is not Sri Krishna final arguments; but He equates those arguments with His arguments that, ‘if you believe in doing the right action for gaining the right fruits of action, then this is what you will get; your consequences are not implied; the consequences I speak of, are the real consequences that will happen.’
“People will speak of your infamy, down to the ages. For a respectable person, evil fame is worse than the death.” (II, 34)
“The great chariot warriors will think that you have turned away from this battle out of fear. Those who highly esteem you will thus look down upon you.” (II, 35)
“Your enemies will speak unkind words against you. They will doubt your heroism. What will be more painful than this?” (II, 36)
You can see that this interlude of the argument is quite different from the earlier argument where Sri Krishna was speaking of the indestructible Reality. He introduces the new premise but like a good teacher who looms between different planes seeing the mood of his student, of the pupil, He lifted Arjuna on a higher plane but find that he is still here, he is still worrying about his argument, about actions and the consequences. He argues on that plane, this is the interlude in the argument.
In the Bhagavad Gita, what is very important is to see the thread of the argument, and this thread is not a straight thread. It is very important that the Gita’s teaching is in a winding manner. That is because it is a living experience, in which the mind of the pupil runs on different planes, and you have to lift up ultimately the individual from lifting from one plane to the other, sometimes going up and sometimes going down. The teacher also undulates with the pupil’s consciousness, and then ultimately fixes him up.
In the first six chapters we will find this great winding movement. Afterwards you will find straightforward arguments, and this is a very important point to be noted with regard to the composition of the Gita’s argument. You will suddenly find shifts in the argument because Arjuna is not yet fixed, he is overwhelmed, he is in a state of dejection, he has put forward some arguments, which he has heard about which himself he is not sure, he is in a state of confusion, he is moving from one plane to the other. And even when Sri Krishna lifts him up on the basic argument of Reality, once again seeing that Arjuna is still here, He comes down and argues on the plane on which his argument is based.