Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 1, Verse 38-39

यद्यप्येते न पश्यन्ति लोभोपहतचेतस: |
कुलक्षयकृतं दोषं मित्रद्रोहे च पातकम् || 38||
कथं न ज्ञेयमस्माभि: पापादस्मान्निवर्तितुम् |
कुलक्षयकृतं दोषं प्रपश्यद्भिर्जनार्दन || 39||

yady apy ete na paśhyanti lobhopahata-chetasaḥ
kula-kṣhaya-kṛitaṁ doṣhaṁ mitra-drohe cha pātakam
kathaṁ na jñeyam asmābhiḥ pāpād asmān nivartitum
kula-kṣhaya-kṛitaṁ doṣhaṁ prapaśhyadbhir janārdana

yadi apieven though; etethey; nanot; paśhyantisee; lobhagreed; upahataoverpowered; chetasaḥthoughts; kula-kṣhaya-kṛitamin annihilating their relatives; doṣhamfault; mitra-droheto wreak treachery upon friends; chaand; pātakamsin; kathamwhy; nanot; jñeyamshould be known; asmābhiḥwe; pāpātfrom sin; asmātthese; nivartitumto turn away; kula-kṣhayakilling the kindered; kṛitamdone; doṣhamcrime; prapaśhyadbhiḥwho can see; janārdanahe who looks after the public, Shree Krishna


BG 1.38-39: Their thoughts are overpowered by greed and they see no wrong in annihilating their relatives or wreaking treachery upon friends. Yet, O Janardan (Krishna), why should we, who can clearly see the crime in killing our kindred, not turn away from this sin?


Although a warrior by occupation, Arjun abhorred unnecessary violence. An incident at the end of the battle of Mahabharat reveals this side of his character. The hundred Kauravas had been killed, but in revenge, Ashwatthama, son of Dronacharya, crept into the Pandava camp at night and killed the five sons of Draupadi while they were sleeping. Arjun caught Ashwatthama, tied him like an animal, and brought him to the feet of Draupadi, who was crying. However, being soft-hearted and forgiving, she said that because Ashwatthama was the son of their Guru, Dronacharya, he should be forgiven. Bheem, on the other hand, wanted Ashwatthama to be killed immediately. In a dilemma, Arjun looked for a solution toward Shree Krishna, who said, “A respect-worthy Brahmin must be forgiven even if he may have temporarily fallen from virtue. But a person who approaches to kill with a lethal weapon must certainly be punished.” Arjun understood Shree Krishna’s equivocal instructions. He did not kill Ashwatthama; instead he cut the Brahmin tuft behind his head, removed the jewel from his forehead, and expelled him from the camp. So, Arjun’s very nature is to shun violence wherever possible. In this particular situation, he says that he knows it is improper to kill kindred and elders:

ṛitvikpurohitāchāryair mātulātithisanśhritaiḥ
bālavṛiddhāturair vaidyair jñātisaṁbandhibāndhavaiḥ
(Manu Smriti 4.179) [v4]

“One should not quarrel with the Brahmin who performs the fire sacrifice, the family priest, teacher, maternal uncle, guest, those who are dependent upon one, children, elders, doctor and relatives.” Arjun thus concluded that being overpowered by greed, the Kauravas might have deviated from propriety and had lost their discrimination, but why should he, who did not have any sinful motive, engage in such an abominable act?