Lecture on BG 2.36-37 — London, September 4, 1973
So Arjuna’s position is very precarious. There is a Bengali proverb nachte bose guṇṭhana. A girl, he, she is very famous dancing girl. So it is the system… As we have introduced, the girls and ladies, they have their veil, guṇṭhana. It is called guṇṭhana in Indian language. So a dancing girl, when she was on the stage, she saw that so many of her relatives are there as visitors. So she began to draw the veil. So this is not required. You are a dancing girl. Now you have to dance. You cannot be shy. You must freely dance. That is your duty. So Arjuna, some rascal has killed some man giving the reason that killing is not sinful because in the Bhagavad-gītā it is stated there. Yes. Apparently, to the rascals it appears like that, that Kṛṣṇa is encouraging Arjuna to fight. And he says there is no sin. But the rascal does not see under what condition he is advising. Sva-dharmam api cāvekṣya. The sva-dharma, the principle is a kṣatriya’s duty to fight, is to kill in fight. If you are in fight, you become sympathetic, then the same example: the dancing girl, when on the stage, if she is shy, it is like that. Why she should be shy? She must dance freely. That will be credit. So in the warfield, you cannot be compassionate. That is not required. In so many ways. Ahiṁsā ārjava, these are good qualities. In the thirteen chapter, Kṛṣṇa has described ahiṁsā, nonviolence. Nonviolence is generally accepted. And actually Arjuna was nonviolent. He was not a coward, not that because he was coward, therefore he was refusing to fight. No. As a Vaiṣṇava, naturally he is nonviolent. He does not like to kill anyone, and especially his own family men. He was taking a little compassion. Not that he was a coward.
So Kṛṣṇa is encouraging, inducing Arjuna to observe the duty. You cannot deviate from duty. That was the point. When there is fight, you must fight regularly, and kill the enemies. That is your credit. When you are fighting with the enemies, if you become compassionate, “How shall I kill?” that is cowardice. Therefore Kṛṣṇa concludes here: hato vā prāpsyasi svargaṁ jitvā vā bhokṣyase mahīm. There are two alternatives. For a fighter, for a kṣatriya, to fight in the battle, either gain victory or die. No via media. Fight to the last point if you are able, then become victorious. Or die. No stoppage. All this fighting were meant like that. According to the Vedic culture, the kṣatriyas… Not the brāhmaṇas. The brāhmaṇas are not encouraged to fight or kill. No. They should remain always nonviolent. Even there is required violence, a brāhmaṇa will not kill personally. He will bring the matter to the kṣatriya, royal order.
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