Vol 3 Issue 10
Why Does the Gita Encourage Violence?
Sometimes people ask, "The Gita tells Arjuna to not hesitate in killing his relatives because for the soul there is no death. Will this logic not become a license for all murderers to justify their crimes?"
In the Gita, Lord Krishna gives the knowledge of the soul, not to encourage unnecessary violence, but to guide all aspects of human behavior, including the enlightened application of violence. Violence in itself is not bad; it depends on who is involved and for what purpose. If in a patient?s body, the hand is incurably infected with a contagious disease, the doctor will often amputate that limb, which causes great pain to the patient, but actually saves him from the greater pain of having the disease spread all over the body. Similarly, Krishna explains to Arjuna, the whole society is also like a body and the Kauravas are a diseased limb in that body, infected by the germs of lust and greed. If the king is so lusty as to try to gang-rape his own sister-in-law in a public assembly (The Kauravas tried to disrobe Draupadi in the open court in the presence of his elders) and is ready to poison and burn his own cousins just to get the kingdom (The Kauravas repeatedly tried to kill the Pandavas by wicked, devious means), we can hardly imagine what such a king will do to the innocent, helpless citizens to satisfy his lust and greed. And worse still yatha raja tatha praja. what criminal activities will the citizens not do on seeing the example of such a king? Therefore Lord Krishna instructed Arjuna to perform a surgical operation on the battlefield of Kurukshetra by cutting off the diseased Kaurava limb of society. This would not only protect society from the anti-social elements - the Kauravas, but also protect the Kauravas themselves! How? The Kauravas are all souls, who had become diseased with lust and greed and were doing sinful activities, for which they would have to suffer in the future according to the law of karma. And the more powerful and influential a position the Kauravas would have, the more they would misuse it to sin and bring future suffering upon themselves. Therefore when Arjuna would kill the Kauravas, he would not be killing their souls, but would be depriving them of their bodies and the positions associated with their bodies so that they would be saved from future sin and its resultant suffering. By dying they would also suffer the karmic reactions for the sins they had committed till then and thus be free to start fresh in their next life, uncontaminated by their past sinful mentality and its reaction.
Even the venerable grandsire Bhishma and the martial teacher Dronacharya had been guilty of serious sin by staying silent during the disrobing of Draupadi maunam sammati lakshanam. By being killed on the Kurukshetra battlefield they too would be freed from the taint of that sin and rise to a higher destination in their next lives. And Arjuna by performing his duty of fighting with knowledge of the soul would be glorified and elevated, just like a surgeon who does a difficult surgery on a critically sick patient is glorified. Thus the violence recommended in the Gita was to benefit everyone ? the society, Arjuna and even the Kauravas. Can it be compared with an ordinary murderer?s violence?
BEWARE OF THE HALF-HEN LOGIC
Little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Before commenting on Krishna? activities and words, we need to carefully understand Krishna?s position. Krishna displayed the awesome Vishva-rupa (Universal Form), which contained the entire universe and its inhabitants. He covered the sun along with its effulgence with His Sudarshan Chakra. He lifted the huge Govardhan hill on the little finger of His left hand for seven days and nights continuously. Can any ordinary or even extraordinary person do any of these activities? If some so-called scholars think that such activities are impossible and are therefore imaginary, then why do they take Krishna?s supposedly imaginary activities so seriously as to write articles criticizing them? The Vedic scriptures warn against ardha-kukuta-nyaya half-hen logic. If a person likes the back of a hen because it gives golden eggs, but does not like its front because he has to feed it and so cuts off the head, he loses both the hen and the golden eggs - and deprives the whole society of the wealth and the source of the wealth. Similarly pseudo-scholars like to talk and write about Krishna because it assures them of a large readership among India?s religious masses ? that is their golden egg. But if they neglect to understand or explain Krishna?s supreme position, is that not like cutting off the head of the hen? By such half-hen logic of so-called scholars with half-baked knowledge, not only do they not benefit from the wisdom of the Gita, but they also deprive the common people of its great wisdom by propagating vicious misconceptions.
The truth is that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Supreme Father-Mother of all living beings. Just as a mother rewards an obedient child and punishes a disobedient child, the Supreme Lord rewarded the righteous Pandavas and punished the unrighteous Kauravas. But both His reward and punishment are meant for the ultimate good of all living beings. The Lord did not need to resort to unrighteous means to defeat the Kauravas. In the battle of Virata, Arjuna had single-handedly defeated all the Kaurava generals, including Bhishma and Duryodhana. When Duryodhana had been defeated and imprisoned by the Gandharvas, Bhima and Arjuna defeated the Gandharvas and released their evil cousin. Thus the Pandavas had proved their superiority to the Kauravas on many occasions. By resorting to seemingly unfair means on the battle of Kurukshetra, Krishna wanted to teach that, as God, He is the best in everything ? including cheating, as confirmed in the Gita dyutam chalayatam asmi (10. 36) and that He could totally out cheat those who tried to cheat Him. But the difference was that the Kauravas cheating was meant to harm the Pandavas, whereas Krishna?s so-called cheating was meant for the ultimate benefit of the Kauravas.
The knowledge of the Gita is like a spiritual medicine meant to free people from all material suffering. Countless billions of people throughout history have benefited from it and millions all over the world are benefiting even today. Unfortunately due to misconceptions propagated by pseudo-scholars, many modern Indians are being deprived of its great wisdom. Writing on Krishna by people without proper knowledge is like a person without any medical knowledge doing a surgery. It?s a serious offense and can have disastrous results. We request intelligent people to not be misled by such misinterpretations about the Gita and Krishna and lose their great wealth of devotion. Knowledge about Krishna and the Gita, when properly understood, can make not only all Indians, but all people all over the world peaceful and happy.
Investigating Reality from the Higher Dimensional
Perspective of Vedic Wisdom