jātasya hi dhruvo mṛtyur
dhruvaṁ janma mṛtasya ca
tasmād aparihārye ’rthe
na tvaṁ śocitum arhasi
One who has taken his birth is sure to die, and after death one is sure to take birth again. Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament. – Bhagavad Gita, verse 2.27
One who is born will surely die, says Krishna. And one who dies will be born again. So, Arjuna is not the cause of Kaurava’s destruction. He is a nimitta; an instrument or a medium. Krishna tells Arjuna that he should fight with his cousins, kauravas without uselessly feeling depressed over their imminent death. Krishna asks Arjuna to not worry because of the duty whose onus lies on him. Krishna reminds Arjuna about his warrior duty.
Arjuna lost his fighting spirit as soon as he saw his relatives spread across on the battlefield. Krishna wanted Arjuna to fight for the larger good. By fulfilling his responsibility of a warrior on Krishna’s advice, Arjuna pleases Krishna and achieves all the glories of this world. The war that Arjuna fought as a service to Krishna made Arjuna illustrious for eons to come.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna provides us with a) the roadmap to Absolute Truth and eternal love b) advice on how to follow the roadmap. Krishna brings our focus to the ultimate goal gradually. Step by step, He raises us from the lowest platform to the highest. He’s pretty methodical. He knows that we’re limited by the confines of our logic.
War and peace are byproducts of living in this world, and so are death and rebirth. The inevitability of death and rebirth doesn’t give us a license to kill. Killing someone because of personal motives binds the killer in the ropes of karmas. Contrary to this is punishing someone to death out of duty, without any personal grudges. Even a death punishment given with a prayerful heart can mature a warrior’s karmic understanding and elevate him spiritually.
One has to do their duty according to their nature, skills, and the responsibilities assigned to them. With the mood we perform our duty decides our spiritual maturity. Performing our work for Krishna’s pleasure can award us the highest spiritual maturity ever possible in any universe. Therefore, it’s the intention behind the action that determines whether the action is bad, or it’s good. Whether it’s an action with the expectation of good results or it’s a benevolent action without any expectation. Or it’s an action performed unconditionally as an offering to God.
In this verse, Krishna asks Arjuna to perform his duty with the philosophical understanding that whoever Arjuna is going to kill in fighting, will be reborn. The very act of acceptance of this statement from Krishna makes Arjuna a surrendered soul. Accepting a principle given by Krishna and practicing it to please Him is devotion in its purest form. When Arjuna accepted Krishna as his guru and surrendered his existence to Him, the whole battlefield turned into a field of devotional offering to Krishna. This offering is no different from the offering Krishna discusses in the verses 9.26 and 9.27 “If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a ﬂower, a fruit or water, I will accept it.” “Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer or give away, and whatever austerities you perform – do that, O son of Kuntī, as an offering to Me.” Fighting for Krishna with the feeling of gratitude is a loving offering to Krishna.
We might think, well, if Krishna is God, He can do anything. Why can’t He bring peace to the world without allowing for violence? Srila Prabhupada explains succinctly that Krishna doesn’t interfere with our freewill. Krishna is very liberal and farsighted. He contrives situations that leave us transformed. His sole objective is to bring us back to our original state. In our forgetfulness of Him and that of our original identity, we need to be treated like patients. This may require us to go through temporary sufferings of various types. These sufferings are like medicines that don’t taste good, but they have the potency to cure us of our diseases.
Peace doesn’t come from not fighting, but it’s a result of making Krishna the center of our thoughts and actions. As long as each one of us works toward creating our own individual worlds with selfish motives, peace is only a point of discussion and concern for armchair philosophers, new age workers, and United Nations. Peace doesn’t come from remaining in an inert state either. Without desires and actions only death comes every moment. As souls we are eternally active and eternally desiring. We can’t choose to be dead, but we can make a conscious choice to live for the Supreme. We can form a peaceful society by desiring that which pleases Krishna, and by doing what Krishna likes. If Kauravas had accepted Krishna’s humble offer for peace, the war situation wouldn’t have arisen. By rejecting God’s offer for peace, Kauravas dug their graves. The evil intentions and actions of Kauravas weaved the battle of Kukukshetra. But, Arjuna turned the same battle into a plate of loving offering for Krishna. He fought by making God’s will his own will.