pāpam evāśrayed asmān
tasmān nārhā vayaḿ hantuḿ
sva-janaḿ hi kathaḿ hatvā
sukhinaḥ syāma mādhava
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 1.36
Sin will overcome us if we slay such aggressors. Therefore it is not proper for us to kill the sons of Dhritarashtra and our friends. What should we gain, O Krishna, husband of the goddess of fortune, and how could we be happy by killing our own kinsmen?
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
According to Vedic injunctions there are six kinds of aggressors: (1) a poison giver, (2) one who sets fire to the house, (3) one who attacks with deadly weapons, (4) one who plunders riches, (5) one who occupies another’s land, and (6) one who kidnaps a wife. Such aggressors are at once to be killed, and no sin is incurred by killing such aggressors. Such killing of aggressors is quite befitting any ordinary man, but Arjuna was not an ordinary person. He was saintly by character, and therefore he wanted to deal with them in saintliness. This kind of saintliness, however, is not for a kshatriya. Although a responsible man in the administration of a state is required to be saintly, he should not be cowardly. For example, Lord Rama was so saintly that people even now are anxious to live in the kingdom of Lord Rama (rama-rajya), but Lord Rama never showed any cowardice. Ravana was an aggressor against Rama because Ravana kidnapped Rama’s wife, Sita, but Lord Rama gave him sufficient lessons, unparalleled in the history of the world. In Arjuna’s case, however, one should consider the special type of aggressors, namely his own grandfather, own teacher, friends, sons, grandsons, etc. Because of them, Arjuna thought that he should not take the severe steps necessary against ordinary aggressors. Besides that, saintly persons are advised to forgive. Such injunctions for saintly persons are more important than any political emergency. Arjuna considered that rather than kill his own kinsmen for political reasons, it would be better to forgive them on grounds of religion and saintly behavior. He did not, therefore, consider such killing profitable simply for the matter of temporary bodily happiness. After all, kingdoms and pleasures derived therefrom are not permanent, so why should he risk his life and eternal salvation by killing his own kinsmen? Arjuna’s addressing of Krishna as “Madhava,” or the husband of the goddess of fortune, is also significant in this connection. He wanted to point out to Krishna that, as husband of the goddess of fortune, He should not induce Arjuna to take up a matter which would ultimately bring about misfortune. Krishna, however, never brings misfortune to anyone, to say nothing of His devotees.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
But it is said:
agnido garadas caiva sastra-panir dhanapahah ksetra-darapahari ca sad ete hy atatayinah
The arsonist, one who poisons, one who attacks with weapons, the thief, the stealer of property and the stealer of ones wife are considered aggressors. Vasistha Smrti 3.19
And also it is said:
atatayinam ayantarh hanyad evavicarayan natatayi-vadhe doso hantur bhavati kascana
Without consideration, one should kill the aggressors, as there is no fault in killing them. Manu Smrti 8.350
Thus the scriptures prescribe killing in the case of aggressors.
Arjuna answers with this verse. Killing them, we will remain, but we will be sinful. The above instructions are from artha sastra, but those instructions are weaker than those from dharma sastra. Yajnavalkya says:
smrtyor virodhe nyayas tu balavan vyavaharatah artha-sastrat tu balavan dharma-sastram iti sthitih
It is established that where there is conflict of rules in two smrti statements, reasoning must prevail of customs to choose the correct rule. However, in reasoning, the rules of dharma sastra are stronger than those of artha sastra. Yajnavalkya Smrti 2.21
Thus though they are aggressors they are also acaryas. In killing acaryas, we will incur sin. We cannot also be happy in this life or the next, since the act is against the rules of dharma and against the conclusion of reasoning. Thus he says “How can we be happy, having killed our own people?”
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
1.26 – 1.47 Arjuna said — Sanjaya said — Sanjaya continued: The high-minded Arjuna, extremely kind, deeply friendly, and supremely righteous, having brothers like himself, though repeatedly deceived by the treacherous attempts of your people like burning in the lac-house etc., and therefore fit to be killed by him with the help of the Supreme Person, nevertheless said, ‘I will not fight.’ He felt weak, overcome as he was by his love and extreme compassion for his relatives. He was also filled with fear, not knowing what was righteous and what unrighteous. His mind was tortured by grief, because of the thought of future separation from his relations. So he threw away his bow and arrow and sat on the chariot as if to fast to death.
The Supreme Lord Krishna, Hrsikesa, the master of the senses. The Supreme Controller, internally and externally of all living entities evolving and evolved. Who although the Supreme Lord of all, yet descended down to Earth out of His causeless mercy for the redemption of the faithful and even more, He condescended to be Arjuna’s chariot driver, carrying out his wish to station their chariot in such a commanding position as to be able to readily view the belligerent Kauravas and put within the range of his vision such heroes as Bhishmadeva, Dronacarya and Kripa and the Kings of royal dynasties. At that time the Supreme Lord Krishna said to Arjuna: see what chances there are for the Kauravas victory over thee.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
Sri Sridhara Swami did not comment on this sloka.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Sri Madhvacharya did not comment on this sloka.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
It could possibly be accepted what Arjuna has stated regarding others on the battlefield; but for the wicked sons of Dhritarastra led by Duryodhana who have tried to harm the Pandavas in various ways should be slain immediately. In Vedic scriptures six aggressors may be rightfully slain at anytime. One who administers poison, one who commits arson, one who attacks with deadly weapons, one who steals wealth, one who usurps property and one who kidnaps a wife. The sons of Dhritarastra have committed these heinous acts of aggression against the Pandavas. The word atatayinah meaning aggressors can also be applied as criminals and such criminals committing any of the six aggressions can be rightfully slain. So the sons of Dhritarastra should be slain without any hesitation or compunction; but in rebuttal Arjuna is saying that sin would be accrued and hell would be the punishment as a result of slaying one’s relatives. Their is no reward in this world or the next for such an action; therefore it would be improper to execute this. The word hi means certainly and this augments this assertion. By addressing Lord Krishna with the vocative Madhava meaning the husband of the goddess of fortune indicates that as the husband He is the progenitor of the family not the destroyer of the family and that Arjuna should also not act contrarily to this.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
1.36 Sri Sankaracharya did not comment on this sloka. The commentary starts from 2.10.
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
1.35 1.44 Nihatya etc. upto anususruma. Sin alone is the agent in the act of slaying these desperadoes. Therefore here the idea is this : These ememies of ours have been slain, i.e., have been take possession of, by sin. Sin would come to us also after slaying them. Sin in this context is the disregard, on account of greed etc., to the injurious consequences like the ruination of the family and the like. That is why Arjuna makes a specific mention of the [ruin of the] family etc., and of its duties in the passage ‘How by slaying my own kinsmen etc’. The act of slaying, undertaken with an individualizing idea about its result, and with a particularizing idea about the person to be slain, is a great sin. To say this very thing precisely and to indicate the intensity of his own agony, Arjuna says only to himself [see next sloka]:
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
papam evasrayed asman
tasman narha vayam hantum
sva-janam hi katham hatva
sukhinah syama madhava
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
pāpam — vices; eva — certainly; āśrayet — must come upon; asmān — us; hatvā — by killing; etān — all these; ātatāyinaḥ — aggressors; tasmāt — therefore; na — never; arhāḥ — deserving; vayam — we; hantum — to kill; dhārtarāṣṭrān — the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra; sa-bāndhavān — along with friends; sva-janam — kinsmen; hi — certainly; katham — how; hatvā — by killing; sukhinaḥ — happy; syāma — will we become; mādhava — O Kṛṣṇa, husband of the goddess of fortune.