Dishonor Is Worse Than Death.

73/09/03 London, Bhagavad-gita 2.33-35.


Pradyumna: (leads chanting, etc.) Translation: "If, however, you do not fight this religious war, then you will certainly incur sins for neglecting your duties and thus lose your reputation as a fighter."


atha cet tvam imam dharmyam
sangramam na karisyasi
tatah sva-dharmam kirtim ca
hitva papam avapsyasi
 [Bg. 2.33]

So imam dharmyam, religious fight. Just like even nowadays also, if the soldier disobeys the order of the commander, that soldier is shot down by martial law. Because to disobey the order of the commander is sinful. So Krsna says, atha cet tvam imam dharmyam sangramam na karisyasi. This fight is not ordinary fight. It is not the politician's fight. "For the sake of religion, you must fight. And if you do not, then sva-dharmam... You are a ksatriya. Not only ksatriya, you are a very well known fighter. You have been recognized by so many demigods." Arjuna got the pasupata-astra. To test Arjuna's fighting capacity, sometimes Lord Siva, when Arjuna was hunting in the forest, so Lord Siva also, as a hunter, he appeared before him, and when a boar was killed by hunting, Lord Siva claimed that "I have done this killing." Arjuna said, "No, I have done this." So there was controversy, who will claim that hunt, I mean to say, killed animal. So Arjuna was claiming, and Lord Siva as a hunter, he was also claiming. Then there was fight between Lord Siva and Arjuna. So Lord Siva was defeated. So he then disclosed his identity that "I am very much pleased that you (are) such a nice fighter." So he presented him one arrow which is called pasupata-astra. Similarly, he sometimes fought with Indra. He gave him some astra, weapon. This was the system, that a ksatriya is presented with a kind of weapon, a brahmana is presented with Vedas, and so far vaisyas and sudras are concerned, they are not very important.

So Arjuna was recognized by Lord Siva, by King Indra, and many others also. So Krsna says that "You have got recognition from big personalities. So if you don't fight, then not only you shall be irreligious but also you'll lose your reputation." Tatah sva-dharmam kirtim ca hitva papam avapsyasi. Papam means sin or sinful reaction. So it has to be judged, when... Sometimes fighting is papam, means sinful activity, and sometimes fighting is punyam, pious activities. It requires the time, circumstances, on what ground the fighting was going on, on whose order the fighting was going on. These are to be studied. So violence and nonviolence. Our great leader, Mahatma Gandhi, he wanted to prove from Bhagavad-gita, nonviolence. He started the nonviolence movement, and he wanted to support... Everyone takes advantage of Bhagavad-gita and tries to support his view on the strength of Bhagavad-gita. Therefore you will find so many interpretations. Everyone wants to utilize. There are more than six hundred publication, commentaries, on Bhagavad-gita. One Dr. Rele in Bombay, he has interpreted Bhagavad-gita as talks between a physician and a patient.

So these things are going on, but that is not Bhagavad-gita. That is namno balad yasya hi papa-buddhih. Nama-aparadha, ten kinds of offenses... This is offense. Just like namno balad yasya hi papa-buddhih. We say, the sastra says, that by chanting Hare Krsna mantra, you become cleansed of your sinful activities. That's a fact. But if somebody thinks that "I shall go on committing sinful activity and chant Hare Krsna mantra so it will be adjusted, neutralized, this is the most sinful activity, namno balat, by the strength of chanting, committing sin. So similarly on the strength of Bhagavad-gita, if one wants to prove his foolish philosophy, that is a great offense. That's a great offense. Therefore Bhagavad-gita cannot be interpreted by foolish commentators. It must be studied through the parampara system, acarya upasanam. One must worship the acarya and learn from him what is Bhagavad-gita. Acaryavan puruso veda. This is the Vedic injunction. Who knows things as they are. Acaryam mam purusa, one who is under the guidance of acarya. So you won't find this foolish nonviolence theory from any acarya. Many acaryas have commented on Bhagavad-gita. There is Ramanujacarya, Madhvacarya, even Sankaracarya. But never said that Bhagavad-gita is proof of nonviolence. Nonviolence is good but when there is dharma-yuddha, righteous fighting, there is no question of nonviolence. Violence is approved.

Therefore Krsna says that tatah sva-dharmam kirtim ca: "You will, by neglecting your sva-dharma, your professional or occupational duty, and minimizing the importance of your recognition, kirti..." Kirtir yasya sa jivati: "Anyone who is reputed for his good activities, he lives forever." Kirtir yasya sa jivati. Bhaja sadhu-samagamam. Tyaja durjana-samsargam bhaja sadhu-samagamam. Canakya Pandita also says kirtih sa... Who lives forever? One who has got reputation for his, one who is famous for his good activities. "So don't try to lose your reputation. You are a great fighter, recognized by so many authorities, and if you don't fight, then people will say, ‘Now Arjuna is finished. He cannot anymore fight.' So don't lose this reputation. Don't be deviated from your occupational duty as a ksatriya. If you do all these things, then papam avapsyasi. You don't think that it will be pious. You will, on the other hand you will become impious." Papam avapsyasi. Next verse.

Pradyumna: (leads chanting, etc.)

Translation: "People will always speak of your infamy, and for one who has been honored, dishonor is worse than death."


akirtim capi bhutani
kathayisyanti te 'vyayam
sambhavitasya cakirtir
maranad atiricyate
 [Bg. 2.34]

Sambhavitasya, one who is very reputed, famous man, if he does something wrong, then it was better to die before such infamy is grown. This is advised. Arjuna is famous as a great fighter. Not only that, he is personal friend of Krsna, so much so that Krsna has agreed to become his chariot driver. Just try to understand what is his position. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, who is worshiped by Lord Brahma, govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami **, He has agreed to drive the chariot of Arjuna on account of friendship. Now, we have to imagine how much famous he is. "Everyone will say, ‘Oh, Krsna is his so intimate friend that He has agreed to drive his chariot!' This is your reputation all over the world." So sambhavitasya cakirtih. "And if you don't fight now, what people will say? Better you die." Krsna is advising that "Instead of becoming a very good man, nonviolent, you lay down your life. That is My advice. You die. I shall see that you have died. I will be very much pleased." This is Krsna's advice. How much He has become, I mean to say, dissatisfied with the decision of Arjuna, "Krsna, I am not going to fight this battle." So Krsna's last advice is that if you don't fight, better you die before him. I shall be very much pleased." Then?

Pradyumna: (leads chanting, etc.)

Translation: "The great generals who have highly esteemed your name and fame will think that you have left the battlefield out of fear only, and thus they will consider you a coward."


bhayad ranad uparatam
mamsyante tvam maha-rathah
yesam ca tvam bahu-mato
bhutva yasyasi laghavam
 [Bg. 2.35]

This spirit of ksatriya was prevalent even, say, three hundred years ago in India. There was a king, Yasomanta Sena. He was the commander-in-chief of Emperor Aurangzeb. So in one fight, he was defeated and came back to his home. So his wife heard that "My husband has been defeated. He's coming back home." So she asked the caretaker to close the door of the palace. So when Yasomanta Sena came there, he saw that his palace door is closed. Then he sent message to the queen that "Why you have closed the door? I have come home." So messenger came and informed that "The king has come. So he is asking to open the door." The queen replied, "Who is king? Yasomanta Sena. No, no. Yasomanta Sena cannot come being defeated. Yasomanta Sena either he conquers the battle or he lays down his body there dead. So the man who has come, he must be somebody pretender. He is not King Yasomanta Sena." So she refused to open the door. This is the spirit of ksatriya spirit.

So here also the same thing, five thousand years also ago, that Krsna says that "You are so reputed a fighter, and if you stop fighting, people will not consider... Especially other commander-in-chiefs like Dronacarya, Bhisma, Karna... They are maha-rathas." Maha-ratha means one fighter who can combat with thousands of men alone. He is called maha-ratha. As nowadays the titles are "captain," "commander," "commander-in-chief," similarly, formerly "maha-ratha," "ati-ratha" were the titles given to the soldiers, fighters. So maha-ratha, the greatest commanders... So Krsna said that "You are recognized, one of the maha-rathas. So what the other maha-rathas will think of you? They will not consider that out of compassion you did not fight. They will think that out of fear you have left the battlefield. They will take the opposite." Bhayad ranad uparatam. "Out of fear you have stopped fighting." Mamsyante tvam maha-rathah. "So now you are recognized as one of the maha-rathah. Yesam ca tvam bahu-matah. "Oh, you are known by various, I mean to say, commander-in-chiefs." Bhutva yasyasi laghavam: "In their eyes you will be considered as degraded." Bhutva yasyasi laghavam. "Why should you accept? Better fight and die." That's all right. Thank you. (end)

Bhagavad-gita 2.33-35 -- London, September 3, 1973