asks [Krsna] whether it is not a sin to wage war and slay friends
and relatives in battle. It seems to us a natural and reasonable
question. Sri Krsna Paramatman gives an answer in the
Bhagvadgita. An action that outwardly seems to be bad and cruel
need not necessarily be sinful. Acts that apparently cause pain
to others may have to be committed for the good of the world and
there is no sin in them. Then what action is sinful and what is
meritorious? The Lord answers this question also. Only such deeds
as are motivated by desire and hatred can be sin. Those performed
for the well being of the world without being impelled by desire
and hatred are meritorious even though they may seen to be cruel.
question arises: Is there any action that does not spring from
desire or hatred? I will give an example. When a judge awards
punishment to a man found guilty of crime is he driven by desire
or hatred? His sentence may seem cruel but it is indeed for the
Atmic well-being of the accused himself. If one's son is
suffering from advanced insanity does one not keep him in chains?
Is that sinful? It is for the son's good as well for the good of
others who might come to harm by him.
is this manner that the sastras have kept us bound, ordering us
to do this and that. It is for our benefit as well as the
world's, says Sri Krsna, that we must live according to the
tenets of the sastras: "Tasmatcchastram prmanam te
karyakarya-vyvasthitau" (the sastras are the authority as to what
you must do and must not). The Gita today enjoys wide esteem.
Even people who have no respect for our religious customs and
traditions - researchers, Western scholars, etc - speak in praise
of it. They interpret variously the Gita's teaching on the
svadharma. There is no room for doubt about what the Gita says
about svadharma: It is the karma allotted to a man by the
there is neither selfish desire nor hatred, there will be nothing
unpleasant about any kind of work. One can then be always happy
doing one's allotted work.
reason for desire and hatred is ego-feeling, ahamkara. When there
is no ego-sense, considerations of high and low, or inferior or
superior, will be found meaningless. We will kept doing our
work happily as a matter of duty and thus also contribute to the
world's happiness. The Karmayoga taught by the Gita is doing
one's work without ahamkara, in a spirit of dedications to the
Lord. This tradition of desireless action that purifies our inner
being has existed in this land from the Vedic period. Sri Krsna
Paramatman presents it to us as a boon encased in a handy casket.
must keep applying this teaching with ardour in every work and
action of our life. Every time we do a work we must ask
ourselves: "How do we benefit from this work? Will it bring
us fame? Are we moved by desire or hatred? Are we being partial
to somebody in carrying it out?" If there is any of these
elements associated with our action it must be considered sinful
even if it seems exalted to the outside world. If we do something
on our own, dictated by our own desire, there will be much
wrong-doing in accomplishing it. So, as Sri Krsna says, all our
actions must be founded on the sastras. If everybody acts with
equal love for all and with a pure heart there will be neither
any rivalry nor any quarrel in society. The world then will be
filled with joy.
"Hindu Dharma" is a book
which contains English translation of certain invaluable and
engrossing speeches of Sri Sri Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi MahaSwamiji (at
various times during the years 1907 to 1994).
For a general background, please see here