Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 1, Slokas 35 to 36

Newsletter on Bhagavadgita by Dr. P.V. Nath

Original English version of text follows after German translation.


Sloka 35


O Madhusudhana, I do not wish to kill them, though they may kill me, even for the sake of dominion over all the three worlds, much less for a fragment of this earth.


Madhusudhana: destroyer of the demon Madhu. It is another name referring to Krishna, the incarnation of Vishnu. In puranic mythology, Brahma is represented as Light and Madhu as Darkness. Madhu seeks continually to destroy Brahma, the Light and was finally destroyed by Vishnu.

By using the word “I” and “me” Arjuna is still referring to his physical body. As a kshatriya he had the right to fight for his kingdom. The kshatriya was brought up from childhood to realise that it was the duty of every member of his race to be prepared to fight when needed. Death during the battle was considered an honour equal to winning the battle. At the same time he should be ready to kill the enemy during the battle. Killing the enemy in the battle was not considered to be an act of sin.

In the present situation, his mental disposition makes him say that he is ready to disarm and not bothered if the enemy kills him. He was ready to let Duryodhana take over the kingdom and rule the land.

The philosophy says that our actions are due to our thought imprints of the past. In this instance, Arjuna had a strong bank of thought imprint in his mind to kill the wicked cousin Duryodhana and his brothers. If he decided not to fight, the past thought imprints would not disappear by magic. They would still be stored in his memory bank. They would have to manifest at a later date. In other words, by not fighting Arjuna would only be postponing the inevitable and has to be born again to clear those thought imprints.

Arjuna was ignorant of the “vasanas and the art to extinguish them from the mind.” As we go through the Gita we will find an answer to the question of “how to get rid of the vasanas.” Even a learned gentleman and a great warrior like Arjuna succumbed to the weakness of the mind. Luckily he had Krishna the Lord Himself to guide him in the right path.

We are lucky and blessed to have the philosophy of the Gita in front of us to help us to overcome the ignorance.


Sloka 36


What pleasure can be ours, O Janardana, by killing these sons of Dhritarashtra. Sin alone will be our gain by killing these felons.


Arjuna evidently is aware of “results of actions conducted.” Any action brings in its result that can be either due for a reward or deserves punishment. In the present situation he is faced with the actions that involve killing the soldiers including some members of one’s own family. Analysing from the “mental plane” he is concluding that by killing his own cousins he would have committed an act of sin and so deserves punishment. Punishment does hurt and is not a pleasurable experience. So he puts in a question: “what pleasure can be ours”?

His next statement is “Sin alone will be our gain by killing these felons.”

If we can understand the true meaning of the word “felon” we can see that his statement is wrong. As a member of the ruling caste, he has to know the law of the land. In those days “Manu Dharma Sastra” was the basis for ruling the land. Let us look at who is a “felon” according to Manu.

A felon is he who has committed one of the following five heinous crimes:

1. Sets fire to another person’s house with an intention of killing the inmates.
2. Poisons an individual with an intention to kill.
3. Falls on an individual with a sword to kill.
4. Steals unlawfully the wealth of another person.
5. Steals the wife of another person.
Manu categorically states in his “Dharma Sastra” that the penalty for a felon is “Death.” Irrespective of who the felon is, he should have to be killed.

Arjuna accepts that the Kauravas had committed not one but all the above five crimes. The verdict of the jury should be anonymous: “they are the felons.”

Having said that, he should then pass the verdict of “death.” When one has followed the law of the land in the conduct of an action, then he is said to have not committed a sinful act. The judge would not have committed a sin by passing death sentence to a criminal whose crime was proved beyond reasonable doubt.

Here, Arjuna says that by killing the “felons”, the Kauravas, he would have committed a sin and so would be punished. He is confused and his verdict is wrong.

It would be helpful if we look at the meaning of the word “Janardana”. This is another of the names for Lord Krishna.

The word means “giver of rewards.” He is considered as one of the 24 Avataras of Lord Vishnu. As Janardana, Vishnu takes the form of planets and gives fruits of consequences for actions of men/women on the earth.

From the point of view of mankind, the planets are divinities and spiritual element predominates in them. They bestow benefits to the life on the earth by their configuration. They are considered as “celestial wanderers.” On the contrary, we, part of life on this earth have predominance of “life element” in us. Majority of us by our actions cannot be considered as “divine elements on earth.” The basis of horoscope according to the Hindu tradition is determined by the position of the planets at the time of birth of the individual.

Copyright for the texts on Bhagavad Gita by Dr. P.V. Nath, UK.
Questions concerning the text please direct to Dr. Nath at ““.

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