Chapter 2, Verse 33

अथ चेत्त्वमिमं धर्म्यं संग्रामं न करिष्यसि । ततः स्वधर्मं कीर्तिं च हित्वा पापमवाप्स्यसि ॥३३॥


atha cet tvam imaḿ dharmyaḿ sańgrāmaḿ na kariṣyasi tataḥ sva-dharmaḿ kīrtiḿ ca hitvā pāpam avāpsyasi

Word Meanings

atha — therefore; cet — if; tvam — you; imam — this; dharmyam — as a religious duty; saṅgrāmam — fighting; na — do not; kariṣyasi — perform; tataḥ — then; sva-dharmam — your religious duty; kīrtim — reputation; ca — also; hitvā — losing; pāpam — sinful reaction; avāpsyasi — will gain.


If, however, you refuse to fight this righteous war, abandoning your social duty and reputation, you will certainly incur sin.


Arjuna was a famous fighter, and he attained fame by fighting many great demigods, including even Lord Śiva. After fighting and defeating Lord Śiva in the dress of a hunter, Arjuna pleased the lord and received as a reward a weapon called pāśupata-astra. Everyone knew that he was a great warrior. Even Droṇācārya gave him benedictions and awarded him the special weapon by which he could kill even his teacher. So he was credited with so many military certificates from many authorities, including his adoptive father Indra, the heavenly king. But if he abandoned the battle, not only would he neglect his specific duty as a kṣatriya, but he would lose all his fame and good name and thus prepare his royal road to hell. In other words, he would go to hell not by fighting but by withdrawing from battle.