Verse 1.37, 1.38
yady apy ete na paśyanti
mitra-drohe ca pātakam
kathaṁ na jñeyam asmābhiḥ
pāpād asmān nivartitum
O Janārdana, although these men, their hearts overtaken by greed, see no
fault in killing one’s family or quarreling with friends, why should we, who can
see the crime in destroying a family, engage in these acts of sin?
RG Purport: Here Arjuna addresses the Lord as Janardana which means the destroyer of the Evil. The address is very significant because the aggressors; the blood relatives of Arjuna were indeed either evil minded or the signatories of the evil minded. Overtaken by intense greed these evil people decided to usurp the basic rights of the Pandavas and were the trespassers of human freedom. Arjuna knew that blinded by such evil designs the transgressors saw no harm in carrying their evil act. However the pious Pandavas were not blind to the fact that they themselves could be blamed by history for having attacked the Kauravas and thus indulged in blood-shed for a piece of land. This was the predicament of Arjuna. He saw that killing of any sort especially of humans whether in war or otherwise was sin. This is what the Shastras said. However he placed his doubt in front of the Supreme Lord with a view to attaining an incisive answer for his assumedly intelligent question.
The predicament of Arjuna is the predicament of all other living entities of the human race. This is where one needs to consider the distinctions of the “higher” and the “lower” Dharma. One should be intelligent enough to understand the higher Dharma and carry out that Dharma even if it violates a lower Dharma at any cost. For example when a person is heading for a discourse to a temple and on the way he witnesses a man dying on the road with profuse bleeding owing to an accident; what should he do? One should carefully consider these options:
- Is there help being rendered to the dying man or is there somebody doing something about it?
- How useful is the discourse to one’s life or consciousness?
- Is one in a dilemma with regards to one’s true duty with respect to the above example?
With regards to the first point; one should consider that if someone is already present rendering help ; the Dharma of one is not to waste time and proceed towards the temple to hear the discourse. If help is not being rendered to the dying man and if one is not in the consciousness of serving the dying man even then one may still proceed to the temple because that which is asleep within oneself and not ready for such service can be awakened by Jnana and Bhakti; one still should consider one’s own awakening more important than anything else. In such a case there is absolutely no violation of Dharma. A simple prayer to the Lord in the heart to render help to the dying man can be considered appropriate. Compassion cannot be artificially articulated by any individual. Artificial rendering of compassion can bruise one’s soul by developing subtle pride of having helped a dying man. One should consider that one is not developed to “feel enough” for the dying man and should trust in the Lord with regards to the man’s chances of dying or surviving. However if the consciousness of the person is already awakened one would feel a deep connection with the dying person and would render immediate help to him without wasting a moment. Considering point 2 a spiritual discourse which can be an important feed to the mind and soul should be always given preference however if one’s internal conscience is towards saving the dying man then that should be adhered to. One should never go against one’s conscience. The voice of the conscience in this case takes precedence. In case 3 where there is a dilemma one should always consider the inner voice and decide. The inner voice is the voice of conscience and that is Dharma.
In the case of the Bhagavad Gita one should always consider that the final say is the Lord’s say alone and whatever the Lord says is the ultimate truth and should be abided by.