Standing on the precipice of battle, Arjuna stares not at an enemy army, but at his own kin.
Shlokas 36-40 of the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 1 captures the agonizing moral dilemma of Arjuna confronted with a war that pits family against faith, and loyalty against duty.
As Arjuna’s doubt echoes through the ages, these verses explore the profound questions: can righteous victory lie in the blood of loved ones? Where does Dharma draw the line between self-defense and self-destruction?
Dive with us into this crucible of conscience, where the very future of dharma hangs in the balance.
This intro sets the stage for your analysis, highlighting the internal conflict, moral questions, and philosophical depth of these verses.
Bhagavad Gita Chapter 1 – Shloka 36 to 40
Now without further ado, let’s dive into the next shlokas of Bhagawad Gita Chapter 1.
If you haven’t read the previous ones, find them here:
Gita Chapter 1 Shloka 36:
निहत्य धार्तराष्ट्रान्न: का प्रीति: स्याज्जनार्दन |
पापमेवाश्रयेदस्मान्हत्वैतानाततायिन: || 36 ||
nihatiy dhārtarāṣṭrān naḥ kā prītiḥ syājjanardana।
Shloka 36 Translation:
Hey Krishna! What pleasure would there be for us in killing the sons of Dhritarashtra? Even if we kill these oppressors, we will only incur sin.
Shloka 36 Meaning and Context:
This shloka is spoken by Arjuna to Krishna. Arjuna is about to lead the Pandava army into battle against the Kauravas, who are his cousins. However, Arjuna is filled with doubt and despair. He does not want to kill his own kin, even though they are the aggressors.
In this shloka, Arjuna expresses his feelings of doubt and despair. He asks Krishna what pleasure there would be in killing his own kin. He also says that even if he kills them, he will only incur sin.
This shloka sets the stage for the rest of the Bhagavad Gita. Krishna will go on to explain to Arjuna the importance of duty and the need to act even when it is difficult.
Shloka 36 Teachings and Insights:
- The importance of duty: Even when it is difficult, we should always fulfill our duties.
- The consequences of our actions: Our actions have both positive and negative consequences.
- The nature of sin: Sin is not just a religious concept. It is anything that causes harm to others.
This shloka is also a reminder that we should always be compassionate, even to our enemies.
Arjuna is faced with a difficult choice. He must either kill his own kin, or he must abandon his duty to protect his family and kingdom. Krishna helps Arjuna to see that there is no easy answer. He explains that duty is important, but it must be balanced with compassion.
This shloka is a reminder that we all face difficult choices in life. We must always strive to do what is right, but we must also be compassionate to those who have wronged us.
Gita Chapter 1 Shloka 37:
तस्मान्नार्हा वयं हन्तुं धार्तराष्ट्रान्स्वबान्धवान् |
स्वजनं हि कथं हत्वा सुखिन: स्याम माधव || 37||
tasmān nārhā vayaṁ hantuṁ dhārtarāṣhṭrān sa-bāndhavān
sva-janaṁ hi kathaṁ hatvā sukhinaḥ syāma mādhava
Shloka 37 Translation:
Therefore we are not fit to kill the sons of Dhritarashtra, our own kinsmen. O Madhava, how can we be happy by killing our own people?
Shloka 37 Meaning and Context:
This verse comes from the initial exchange between Krishna and Arjuna in the first chapter of the Bhagavad Gita. Arjuna, facing the imminent war against his kinsmen, raises the moral dilemma of violence and family bonds.
He acknowledges the potential sin of killing and questions how victory could bring happiness if achieved through harming loved ones.
Shloka 37 Teachings and Insights:
- Non-violence is paramount: While war might be unavoidable at times, the shloka emphasizes the importance of prioritizing non-violence and considering its repercussions.
- Family comes first: The close relationship between Pandavas and Kauravas underscores the inherent conflict between duty and familial ties.
- Seeking alternative solutions: Arjuna’s hesitation points towards seeking peaceful resolutions and negotiating before resorting to war.
- Internal struggle with morality: The verse highlights the human struggle with conscience and the guilt accompanying violence, even when justified.
- Krishna as a guide: Arjuna’s address to Krishna reflects his search for spiritual guidance and understanding the deeper meaning of dharma (righteousness) in such situations.
This shloka offers valuable insights into the ethics of war, the internal conflict arising from violence, and the importance of seeking peaceful solutions while acknowledging the complexities of family and duty.
Gita Chapter 1 Shloka 38 :
यद्यप्येते न पश्यन्ति लोभोपहतचेतस: |
कुलक्षयकृतं दोषं मित्रद्रोहे च पातकम् || 38||
yady apy ete na paśhyanti lobhopahata-chetasaḥ
kula-kṣhaya-kṛitaṁ doṣhaṁ mitra-drohe cha pātakam
Gita Chapter 1 Shloka 39:
कथं न ज्ञेयमस्माभि: पापादस्मान्निवर्तितुम् |
कुलक्षयकृतं दोषं प्रपश्यद्भिर्जनार्दन || 39||
kathaṁ na jñeyam asmābhiḥ pāpād asmān nivartitum
kula-kṣhaya-kṛitaṁ doṣhaṁ prapaśhyadbhir janārdana
Shloka 38, 39 Translation:
Even if they do not see the sin of destroying their own families or of treachery to their friends, How can we, who clearly see the evil in the destruction of the family units, learn to turn away from this sin, O Janardana?
Shloka 38, 39 Meaning and Context:
These verses are the continuation of Arjuna’s previous question, which expressed his moral dilemma about fighting his own kinsmen.
In this verse, Arjuna acknowledges that the Kauravas may not see the sin in their actions, but he and the Pandavas do. He asks Krishna how they can overcome their own conscience and avoid committing this sin.
Shloka 38, 39 Teachings and Insights:
- The importance of conscience: The verse highlights the importance of having a conscience and listening to it, even when it is difficult.
- The complexity of moral choices: The verse shows that moral choices are often complex and that there is no easy answer.
- The need for guidance: Arjuna’s appeal to Krishna for guidance reflects his search for spiritual guidance and understanding of the deeper meaning of dharma (righteousness) in such situations.
This verse is a reminder that we should always be aware of the moral implications of our actions, even when they are difficult or challenging. We should also be willing to seek guidance from others, such as spiritual teachers or mentors, when we are faced with difficult moral choices.
कुलक्षये प्रणश्यन्ति कुलधर्मा: सनातना: |
धर्मे नष्टे कुलं कृत्स्नमधर्मोऽभिभवत्युत || 40||
kula-kṣhaye praṇaśhyanti kula-dharmāḥ sanātanāḥ
dharme naṣhṭe kulaṁ kṛitsnam adharmo ’bhibhavaty uta
Shloka 40 Translation:
When the family is destroyed, the eternal family traditions are destroyed. When dharma is destroyed, the family is completely destroyed, and adharma prevails.
Shloka 40 Meaning and Context:
This shloka is spoken by Arjuna, who is contemplating the morality of fighting his own kinsmen in the upcoming war.
In this verse, Arjuna is concerned about the consequences of the war. He believes that if the Kauravas win, they will destroy the family traditions that have been passed down for generations.
He also believes that the destruction of family traditions will lead to the destruction of the family itself, and the rise of immorality.
Shloka 40 Teachings and Insights:
- Strong families, strong societies: The destruction of family traditions weakens the social fabric and leads to a loss of identity and belonging.
- Dharma protects, adharma destroys: Morality and righteousness serve as a foundation for stability and order, whereas their absence fosters chaos and instability.
- Consequences matter: Actions have far-reaching impacts, not just on individuals but on entire communities and future generations.
- Individual responsibility: We all have a role in preserving family values and upholding ethical principles.
- Action over apathy: Speaking out against injustice and actively promoting righteous behaviors contribute to a better world.
- Beyond war: The verse’s message extends beyond physical battles, urging us to fight for the preservation of our shared values and moral compass.
From the depths of Arjuna’s despair, Krishna’s promise of karmic liberation and dharma’s eternal embrace offers a ray of hope.
The Shlokas 36-40, of the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 1 leave us not with the bleak certainty of war, but with the profound truth that even in the darkest battles of conscience, there lies a path to righteousness.
Ultimately, these verses are not just Arjuna’s story, but ours – a reminder of the struggle between duty and desire within us all. By echoing Arjuna’s questions, the Gita compels us to examine our own values, confront our inner demons, and choose the path of dharma, however painful it may be.
In this crucible of conflict, not just Arjuna, but each of us, has the potential to emerge victorious, not on the battlefield, but in the battlefields of our hearts.