Chapter 1. Despondency of Arjuna: Verse 39

Sanskrit Verse

कथं न ज्ञेयमस्माभि: पापादस्मान्निवर्तितुम् |
कुलक्षयकृतं दोषं प्रपश्यद्भिर्जनार्दन ||


Katham na jneyam-asmaabhiḥ paapaad-asmaan-nivartitum
Kula-kshaya-kritam dosham prapashyadbhir-janaardana

English Translation

Yet, O Janardana (Krishna), why should we who see sin in the destruction of our clan not turn away?

Commentary & Explanation

Destruction of clan:

Arjuna is seeing the destruction of his clan in the upcoming war and he is right in saying that the war will destroy large number of his relatives. But how right is he in saying that they must be saved? 

If a leg has caught Gangrene and has gone worse and the only way remaining to save that person is to cut the part of that leg off, a rational person should go for it for the sake of life. However if by emotional attachment to that part of leg if the person is reluctant to cut it, though he is practicing non-violence at the moment he is doing his entire body a disservice.

Similarly having emotional attachment to a diseased part of the clan (Kauravas) is dangerous to the entire body (system). Especially when all other options of treatment (efforts of compromise) went useless.

In the situation Pandavas are put in, it is not at all wrong of Pandavas to fight the Kauravas. 

Is turning away from war good for Arjuna, his clan and to the larger society?

If Pandas turn away from the battle, there won't be any respect for Righteousness, Truthfulness, Morality, Uprightness. It gives wrong message to the society. The larger society starts respecting only the man of might; righteousness, truthfulness will take back seat.

The clan of Kauravas was full of physically powerful but mentally, spiritually deficient warriors; Even if Arjuna left them alone they were dangerous to themselves as well as the larger society.

Analogy of a drunkard

When a relative drinks alcohol and under its influence taunts us with foul words and objectionable actions should we forgive him? According to Arjuna he should be forgiven and no confrontation is desirable.

It does make sense at initially, any man can once or twice lose his balance under the influence of intoxicants (alcohol, drugs, youth, money, victory, power etc.), Most of the times the offender re-corrects himself by the morning, if that is the case confrontation isn't ideal.

If his intoxication is permanent (as was the case with the power drunk Kauravas) or if he habitually offends under the influence of intoxicants then confrontation becomes must and should.

The crimes of Kaurvas was forgiven numerous times before, but they did not change; the elders (Gurus, grandfathers, friends) counselled them personally but there was no use.



JneyamBe known
AsmaabhihBy us
PaapaatFrom sin
NivartitumTo cease, turn away
KshayaDestruction, deterioration
DoshamCrime; sin; wrong
PrapashyadbhihWho can see
JanaardanaProtector of all living beings (Krishna)