2:4, The Responsibilities of a Warrior

Duty is All-Important

Krishna switches gears from the previous metaphysical section about the indestructability of life-force, to a new section about practical moral principles.

“So now think about your personal responsibilities, which one should never hesitate to fulfill. You are a warrior. Is there any greater responsibility for you than to fight for a good cause? [31] Warriors who fight for such causes, without selfish motive, find the gates of paradise open wide to bless them. [32] So if you don’t take up your role in this fight, you will be neglecting your responsibilities and will thus lose your glory and gain the stain of guilt. [33]

Arjuna is about to protest that he doesn’t mind becoming infamous. So Krishna says…

“I know that you are a moral person. For a person like you dishonor is worse than death. People will talk about your dishonor forever! [34]”

Arjuna is about to protest: “Maybe they will think I am a good man who renounced the world for the sake of non-violence.” So Krishna says…

“The great warriors who hold you in the highest esteem will be let down by you, thinking that you fled the battle out of cowardice! [35] Your enemies will condemn you with terrible slanders. What could be more painful than this? [36]”

Arjuna’s reason for not wanting to fight was that it would cause him misery. Krishna already expressed that this is a selfish, and therefore immoral, attitude; but now he will take the conversation down to the level of Arjuna’s argument:

“If you are killed you will enter the gates of paradise. If you are victorious you will enjoy a great kingdom. So stand up, Arjuna! Fight without doubts! [37]”

Having said that, Krishna immediately returns to the higher principle: that we must stick to our responsibilities regardless of whether they bring success or failure, pleasure or displeasure:

“Pleasure & displeasure, loss & gain, victory & defeat… treat them all the same and fight merely because it is your duty to fight. Doing so, you will not incur bad karma. [38]”

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4 thoughts on “2:4, The Responsibilities of a Warrior

  1. If fighting the family war was the “right” thing at hand, why did the Pandava(excluding Bhima) regret it later on towards end of Mahabharata?? Is it due to their personal weakness of associating with their impure adharmic kins fighting on Kaurava side.

  2. Wow!!! This is glorious!!! What an amazing gift to receive a digestible and nourishing explanation of our beloved Gita.

    I have a question which may be as plain as day, I may have missed, or the answer is just about to come.

    WHY is duty the most important responsibility? Is this simply to further our instructions of not being attached to the fruits? Not associating with bodily designation? And secondly, how does our duty become clear to us when our free will created our situations? I hope it isn’t simply “….not a blade of grass moves….” For example; I am a mother and cognitively, I understand this as my duty and I take it seriously. But it was MY actions that rendered me a mother.
    Thank you.

    • Thank you so much Karunamayi devi!

      Duty = selflessness = not putting oneself first = putting others first = love = enlightenment (because the self IS a particle of existence created for the purpose of love).

      Its OK if you play a role in creating your duties. The main thing about duty is to remain committed and responsible.

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