Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 1, Verse 36-37

निहत्य धार्तराष्ट्रान्न: का प्रीति: स्याज्जनार्दन |
पापमेवाश्रयेदस्मान्हत्वैतानाततायिन: || 36 ||
तस्मान्नार्हा वयं हन्तुं धार्तराष्ट्रान्स्वबान्धवान् |
स्वजनं हि कथं हत्वा सुखिन: स्याम माधव || 37||

nihatya dhārtarāṣhṭrān naḥ kā prītiḥ syāj janārdana
pāpam evāśhrayed asmān hatvaitān ātatāyinaḥ
tasmān nārhā vayaṁ hantuṁ dhārtarāṣhṭrān sa-bāndhavān
sva-janaṁ hi kathaṁ hatvā sukhinaḥ syāma mādhava

nihatyaby killing; dhārtarāṣhṭrānthe sons of Dhritarashtra; naḥour; what; prītiḥpleasure; syātwill there be; janārdanahe who looks after the public, Shree Krishna; pāpamvices; evacertainly; āśhrayetmust come upon; asmānus; hatvāby killing; etānall these; ātatāyinaḥaggressors; tasmāthence; nanever; arhāḥbehoove; vayamwe; hantumto kill; dhārtarāṣhṭrānthe sons of Dhritarashtra; sa-bāndhavānalong with friends; sva-janamkinsmen; hicertainly; kathamhow; hatvāby killing; sukhinaḥhappy; syāmawill we become; mādhavaShree Krishna, the husband of Yogmaya


BG 1.36–1.37: O Maintainer of all living entities, what pleasure will we derive from killing the sons of Dhritarasthra? Even though they may be aggressors, sin will certainly come upon us if we slay them. Hence, it does not behoove us to kill our own cousins, the sons of Dhritarashtra, and friends. O Madhav (Krishna), how can we hope to be happy by killing our own kinsmen?


Having said “even though” twice in the last verse to justify his intention not to slay his relatives, Arjun again says, “Even though I were to kill them, what pleasure would I derive from such a victory?”

Fighting and killing is in most situations an ungodly act that brings with it feelings of repentance and guilt. The Vedas state that non-violence is a great virtue, and except in the extreme cases violence is a sin: mā hinsyāt sarvā bhūtāni [v3] “Do not kill any living being.” Here, Arjun does not wish to kill his relatives, for he considers it to be a sin. However, the Vasiṣhṭh Smṛiti (verse 3.19) states that there are six kinds of aggressors against whom we have the right to defend ourselves: those who set fire to one’s property, those who poison one’s food, those who seek to murder, those who wish to loot wealth, those who come to kidnap one’s wife, and those who usurp one’s kingdom. The Manu Smṛiti (8.351) states that if one kills such an aggressor in self-defense, it is not considered a sin.