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January - March 2023

Bhagavad Gita Chapter II Sloka 31-32 Swami Omkarananda

Dharma – Adharma viveka:

Arjuna may be convinced by atma- anatma drishti, but wonders why he should be chosen to fight against Sri Bhishma and Sri Drona. Sri Krishna explains how it is his duty and how duty supersedes a relationship.

Sloka 31

धम मिप चावे न िवकि तुमह िस।

ध fि यु ाछ ेयोऽ ि य न िवOते।।2.31।।

Svadharmam api cāvēkṣya – Considering the duties/ occupation assigned to a person at birth by the society na vikampitumarhasi -inappropriate to be afraid of dharmyāddhi yuddhā anyat Shrēya: kṣatriyasya na vidyatē

– Know that there is nothing more beneficial than a battle for a kshatriya in order to uphold dharma


In olden times, the law of the land was conducive to the practice of varnashrama dharma – occupational groups for spiritual practices and teaching, governing the nation, doing business and assisting the above groups. This was meant for ensuring quality and knowledge transfer coming through the generations.

Lifestyle of those days was different. Sastram did not confuse us with a plethora to make a choice from. Accepting this ensures inner leisure and averts conflicts. It frees us from bondage, desires and bestows inner peace. But it takes a considerable amount of maturity to understand dharma sastram and appreciate this.

Today’s situation is quite different and when such a lifestyle is not part of the governance structure, it does not find much relevance or practice. In the present context, let us understand it as doing one’s role play. If we carry on our duties happily, it gives us peace

of mind. But even if we do not do it with happiness, we still ought to do it. Also see:

यतः वृि भू तानṪ येन सव िमदं ततम्।

कम णा तम िसि ं िव5ित मानवः।।18.46।।

Raja dharma:

It is a kshatriya’s duty to battle. It comes naturally to a kshatriya. One needs no fear to do one’s duties. Victory over the land is for the sake of re-establishing dharma and protecting the people. Dharma bestows wealth for a good living, purity and peace of mind, svargam or moksham.

In those days, the kings were afraid of slipping off dharma. They held dharma dandam (sen kol in Tamizh) which was empowered by chanting of mantras and served as a representation of righteousness. A king had to be well educated and capable of upholding dharma, unlike today’s context of having only an age criterion.

A king should sacrifice his family welfare for the sake of the society. He should visit every nook and corner of his kingdom to alleviate the sufferings of the people. History shows that Sri Raja Raja Chola Chakravarti went from village to village seeking the support and prayers of all the citizens towards the construction of the temple we admire today as an architectural wonder.

What came through was that the king respected the citizens and the citizens, the king. It was like a parent-child relationship. A king was approachable and was not harsh generally. When citizens shout in anger, a king would bear with that. It is important for children of the next generation to be taught to be good citizens.

So, Sri Krishna says that it is Arjuna’s duty to put an end to lives in battle and so, he should not fear or worry about it. One should be enthusiastic, forthcoming and firm in the practice of dharma. A king should not turn his back on the battlefield, he should be an expert  in financial management (including need-based application and distribution of wealth), he should have leadership qualities, fearlessness and presence of mind to handle complex situations.

Sloka 32

य या चोपपyं ग ारमपावृतम्।

सुिखनः ि याः पाथ लभUे यु मी शम्।।2.32।।

pārtha – Arjuna

yadṛcchayā ca upapannaṅ – battle unsought

Svarga dvāram apāvṛtam – the doors of svarga (heaven) are open for one who has lost his life in this battle

sukhinaḥ kṣatriyāḥ – Kshatriya (king) with punya ( merits accumulated by good deeds )

labhantē yuddhamīdṛśam – gain the opportunity of this kind of battle.

Arjuna earlier asked (Sloka 1.37) how one can enjoy happiness having killed one’s kith and kin. Sri Krishna gives an appropriate reply to that here in this sloka. Only a kshatriya with punya gets an opportunity to battle. The word ksatriya means one who protects his people from adharma.

The present laws of the land are meant to catch the criminal, not to prevent a crime. The opening of schools should go hand in hand with closure of a few prisons. Government does not focus on ensuring righteous conduct of its citizens. It is the duty of the Government to provide what is necessary to prevent crimes.

Yet there are circumstances that cause a need to battle. If we think of the pre-independence period, there was too much disturbance to our traditions and culture. Anna danam was discouraged. We had to come out of this.

Take our body-mind, there are so many battles inside – both physical and emotional. Our cells war against infections. This same thing extends to the cosmic cycle as well.

When it comes to war, for the military men it is an opportunity to protect the country. We cannot talk ahimsa there. That is Sri Krishna’s teaching here.