Chapter 1: Observing the Armies on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra
papam evasrayed asman
tasman narha vayam hantum
sva-janam hi katham hatva
sukhinah syama madhava
papam—vices; eva—certainly; asrayet—must take upon; asman—us; hatva—by killing; etan—all these; atatayinah—aggressors; tasmat—therefore; na—never; arhah—deserving; vayam—us; hantum—to kill; dhartarastran—the sons of Dhrtarastra; svabandhavan—along with friends; svajanam—kinsmen; hi—certainly; katham—how; hatva—by killing; sukhinah—happy; syama—become; madhava—O Krsna, husband of the goddess of fortune.
Sin will overcome us if we slay such aggressors. Therefore it is not proper for us to kill the sons of Dhrtarastra and our friends. What should we gain, O Krsna, husband of the goddess of fortune, and how could we be happy by killing our own kinsmen?
According to Vedic injunctions there are six kinds of aggressors: 1) a poison giver, 2) one who sets fire to the house, 3) one who attacks with deadly weapons, 4) one who plunders riches, 5) one who occupies another's land, and 6) one who kidnaps a wife. Such aggressors are at once to be killed, and no sin is incurred by killing such aggressors. Such killing of aggressors is quite befitting for any ordinary man, but Arjuna was not an ordinary person. He was saintly by character, and therefore he wanted to deal with them in saintliness. This kind of saintliness, however, is not for a ksatriya. Although a responsible man in the administration of a state is required to be saintly, he should not be cowardly. For example, Lord Rama was so saintly that people were anxious to live in His kingdom, (Rama-rajya), but Lord Rama never showed any cowardice. Ravana was an aggressor against Rama because he kidnapped Rama's wife, Sita, but Lord Rama gave him sufficient lessons, unparalleled in the history of the world. In Arjuna's case, however, one should consider the special type of aggressors, namely his own grandfather, own teacher, friends, sons, grandsons, etc. Because of them, Arjuna thought that he should not take the severe steps necessary against ordinary aggressors. Besides that, saintly persons are advised to forgive. Such injunctions for saintly persons are more important than any political emergency. Arjuna considered that rather than kill his own kinsmen for political reasons, it would be better to forgive them on grounds of religion and saintly behavior. He did not, therefore, consider such killing profitable simply for the matter of temporary bodily happiness. After all, kingdoms and pleasures derived therefrom are not permanent, so why should he risk his life and eternal salvation by killing his own kinsmen? Arjuna's addressing of Krsna as "Madhava," or the husband of the goddess of fortune, is also significant in this connection. He wanted to point out to Krsna that, as husband of the goddess of fortune, He should not have to induce Arjuna to take up a matter which would ultimately bring about misfortune. Krsna, however, never brings misfortune to anyone, to say nothing of His devotees.