Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 2, Slokas 33 – 34

Newsletter on Bhagavadgita by Dr. P.V. Nath

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Sloka 33

Atha chet tvam imam dharmyam sangramam na karishyasi
tatah svadharmam keertim cha hitva papam avapsyasi

But, if you will not fight this righteous war, then, having abandoned your own duty and fame, you would incur sin.

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The gist of this sloka for each of us is:

If we do not discharge our righteous duties, we would have wasted this precious birth as a human and will be born into lower planes of existence in our future births. Having attained a position in the society, we must discharge the righteous duties pertaining to that position we hold.

Arjuna, in this instance, by abandoning the duty of a kshatriya, running away from the rigtheous war, would be subject to ridicule from the seniors, fellow warriors and the subjects of their kingdom. He would have lost his fame as a great and just warrior.

Papa:
The word means “Sin”. Sin is considered to be an act against the injunction of the sastras. Our sastras do not condemn the sinner but condemn the sinful act.

Let us remember the quote:
Every sinner has a future.
Every saint had a past.

We climb up the ladder or fall down the ladder as a result of our own acts or omission of acts.

Sloka 47 in this chapter will give us more insight into the meaning of this sloka.

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Sloka 34

Akeerim capi bhootani kathayishyanti te’vyayam
sambhavitasya cakirtir maranad atiricyate.

People too, will speak of your everlasting dishonour and to one who is honoured by his country, dishonour is worse than death.

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An act of dishonour taints the family’s name for generations. It just does not stop at the death of the concerned individual. It is more so for those who achieve great fame and honour from the public in their life

Disgrace for having committed dishonourable act, especially for he, who was honoured for bravery / social service / contribution to the welfare of the society is like living death. Death is only of the physical body, as we have understood so far. But results of acts that bring dishonour could be called as “immortal”. They will remain for centuries in books of history for he who was honoured for his services to the society.

History is full of examples of acts by respected elders of the society who brought disgrace for themselves and their country. Those individuals and their acts will remain in the history books for ever.

If Arjuna had decided not to fight, his decision would have tainted the good name of the great Pandu family. It would have been worse than if he had died fighting the righteous war.

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

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