Shrimad Bhagavad-gita

by Narayana Gosvami | 2013 | 327,105 words

The Bhagavad-gita Verse 1.36, English translation, including the Vaishnava commentaries Sarartha-varsini-tika, Prakashika-vritti and Rasika-ranjana (excerpts). This is verse 36 from the chapter 1 called “Sainya-Darshana (Observing the Armies)”

Sanskrit text, Unicode transliteration, Word-for-word and English translation of verse 1.36:

पापम् एवाश्रयेद् अस्मान् हत्वैतान् आततायिनः ।
तस्मान् नार्हा वयं हन्तुं धार्तराष्ट्रान् स-बान्धवान् ।
स्वजनं हि कथं हत्वा सुखिनः स्याम माधव ॥ ३६ ॥

pāpam evāśrayed asmān hatvaitān ātatāyinaḥ |
tasmān nārhā vayaṃ hantuṃ dhārtarāṣṭrān sa-bāndhavān |
svajanaṃ hi kathaṃ hatvā sukhinaḥ syāma mādhava || 36 ||

pāpam–sin; eva–certainly; āśrayet–will cling; asmān–to us; hatvā–having killed; etān–these; ātatāyinaḥ–aggressors; tasmāt–therefore; na–not; arhāḥ–befitting; vayam–for us; hantum–to slay; dhārtarāṣṭrān–the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra; sa-bāndhavān–along with their relatives; sva-janam–our kinsmen; hi–indeed; katham–how?; hatvā–having killed; sukhinaḥ–happy; syāma–will we be; mādhava–O Mādhava.

O Mādhava, sin will take shelter of us because of killing all these aggressors. Therefore, it is improper to kill Duryodhana and our other relatives. How can we be happy by slaying our own kinsmen?

Commentary: Sārārtha-Varṣiṇī Ṭīkā

(By Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura; the innermost intention of the commentary named ‘the shower of essential meanings’)

According to the scriptures, there are six types of aggressors: (1) those who set fire to one’s house, (2) those who give poison, (3) those who attack with deadly weapons, (4) those who steal one’s wealth, (5) those who usurp one’s land and (6) those who abduct one’s wife. Arjuna argues, “You may say, ‘O Bhārata, immediately upon seeing these six types of aggressors, one should kill them without consideration, because, according to the injunctions of scripture, such killing is proper and no sin is incurred.’ In reply I would say, ‘By killing those assembled here, we will certainly incur sin.’”

There is a reason behind Arjuna’s logic. According to artha-śāstra, scriptures on the science of political economy, it is proper to kill an aggressor. The injunctions of artha-śāstra, however, are less important than dharma-śāstra, the injunctions of the scriptures on proper codes of conduct. As Yājñavalkya Ṛṣi states, “Know dharma-śāstra to be superior to artha-śāstra.” For this reason Arjuna said, “According to the scriptures on morality, we will certainly incur sin by killing ācāryas and others. Furthermore, we will not even derive any mundane pleasure from it.” For this reason, Arjuna is using phrases such as sva-janam, which means ‘one’s own relatives’.

Commentary: Sārārtha-Varṣiṇī Prakāśikā-vṛtti

(By Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja; the explanation that illuminates the commentary named Sārārtha-varṣiṇī)

According to the Smṛtis, the supplementary Vedic literatures, no sin is incurred by killing six types of aggressors. But by the statement of the Śrutis, which were directly manifest from the Supreme Lord and which have been heard from authorities, the injunction to not kill any living entity is established (mā hiṃsyāt sarva-bhūtāni). Whenever there seems to be a contradiction between Śruti and Smṛti, the statements of Śruti are accepted as superior. This is the instruction of the scripture. Similarly, the path provided by scriptures on proper codes of conduct (dharma-śāstra) should be considered superior to scriptures on the science of political economy (artha-śāstra). By following this logic, Arjuna feels that although the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra are the aggressors, sin will be incurred by killing them.

Here, we also see another speciality in the character of Arjuna. At the end of the battle of Mahābhārata, Arjuna bound Aśvatthāmā as one ties up an animal, and for the offence of killing his son and the sons of his brothers, the other Pāṇḍavas, he cast him at the feet of his wife Draupadī, who was weeping. Being generous and liberal, she said that Aśvatthāmā, the son of their guru, should be forgiven. Bhīma, on the other hand, said that he should be killed immediately. Arjuna, finding himself in a dilemma, looked towards Kṛṣṇa, who said, “A brāhmaṇa is not deserving of the death sentence, even if he has fallen from his status. On the other hand, one who approaches with weapons with the intention of making a lethal attack must certainly be killed.” Understanding Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s inner intention, Arjuna cut the hair of that unqualified brāhmaṇa, Aśvatthāmā, forcibly removed the gem from his forehead and expelled him from the camp.

The internal feeling of Arjuna is that no one can be happy by engaging in sin, whatever the situation may be. Such a person cannot even receive worldly happiness, what to speak of transcendental pleasure. Adherence to the Vedas, the Smṛtis, the injunctions of saintly behaviour and self-satisfaction are the four characteristics of religiosity. Fighting against one’s kinsmen is an activity that is contrary to both the Vedas and saintly behaviour and brings with it feelings of guilt.

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