sukha-duḥkhe same kṛtvā
tato yuddhāya yujyasva
naivaḿ pāpam avāpsyasi
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 2.38
Do thou fight for the sake of fighting, without considering happiness or distress, loss or gain, victory or defeat—and by so doing you shall never incur sin.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
Lord Krishna now directly says that Arjuna should fight for the sake of fighting because He desires the battle. There is no consideration of happiness or distress, profit or gain, victory or defeat in the activities of Krishna consciousness. That everything should be performed for the sake of Krishna is transcendental consciousness; so there is no reaction to material activities. He who acts for his own sense gratification, either in goodness or in passion, is subject to the reaction, good or bad. But he who has completely surrendered himself in the activities of Krishna consciousness is no longer obliged to anyone, nor is he a debtor to anyone, as one is in the ordinary course of activities. It is said:
na kinkaro nayam rni ca rajan
sarvatmana yah saranam saranyam
gato mukundam parihrtya kartam
“Anyone who has completely surrendered unto Krishna, Mukunda, giving up all other duties, is no longer a debtor, nor is he obliged to anyone—not the demigods, nor the sages, nor the people in general, nor kinsmen, nor humanity, nor forefathers.” (Bhag. 11.5.41) That is the indirect hint given by Krishna to Arjuna in this verse, and the matter will be more clearly explained in the following verses.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
In all ways, your fighting is an act of dharma. If you fear that it will produce sin, I have shown you that it will not be a cause of sin. Therefore fight.
Being equal in happiness and distress, which is caused by gain and loss, such as gain and loss of a kingdom, which is in turn caused by victory or defeat in the war, understanding that both results are equal through a discerning mind, equipped with that knowledge, you will not incur sin at all. It will be stated later:
lipyate na sa papena padma-patram ivambhasa
One is not touched by sin, as a lotus leaf is not touched by water. Gita 5.10
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
2.38 Thus, knowing the self to be eternal, different from the body and untouched by all corporeal qualities, remaining unaffected by pleasure and pain resulting from the weapon-strokes etc., inevitable in a war, as also by gain and loss of wealth, victory and defeat, and keeping yourself free from attachment to heaven and such other frutis, begin the battle considering it merely as your own duty. Thus, you will incur no sin. Here sin means transmigratory existence which is misery. The purport is that you will be liberarted from the bondage of transmigratory existence. Thus, after teaching the knowledge of the real nature of the self, Sri Krsna begins to expound the Yoga of work, which, when preceded by it (i.e., knowledge of the self), constitutes the means for liberation.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
The previous statement given by Arjuna in chapter one, verse 36 concerning his apprehension of sin coming upon him is now being nullifed by the Supreme Lord’s instruction of non-attachment to the fruits of action. Regarding as equal pleasure and pain, loss and gain and also the cause of both these dualities which is victory or defeat. The attribute of equanimity is absolute freedom from elation and despondency. Giving up all notions of what is pleasurable, being equipoised by whatever comes of its own accord and by fighting the battle as a matter of ksatriya duty Arjuna will not incur any sin.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Sri Madhvacharya did not comment on this sloka.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
Now Lord Krishna refutes Arjuna previous worry about accruing sin by killing his heinous enemies with the words sukha and dukha meaning happiness and unhappiness. Although the pleasure of happiness and the pain of unhappiness in fighting this righteous war are inevitable; still this must be considered as pertaining to the body only and not to the soul which is distinctly different from the physical body. Profit and gain, victory and defeat even without considering the goal of heaven Arjuna should prepare to fight for the sole purpose of exclusively fulfilling his duty. Thus fixed in this determination with proper understanding if he slays anyone he will not incur sin. To the contrary Arjuna will be free from the sin incurred by refraining from the battle and not executing his duty.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
2.38 As regards that, listen to this advice for you then you are engaged in battle considering it to be your duty: Krtva, treating; sukha-duhkhe, happiness and sorrow; same, with equanimity, i.e. without having likes and dislikes; so also treating labha-alabhau, gain and loss; jaya-ajayau, conquest and defeat, as the same; tatah, then; yuddhaya yujyasva, engage in battle. Evam, thus by undertaking the fight; na avapsyasi, you will not incur; papam, sin. This advice is incidental. [The context here is that of the philosophy of the supreme Reality. If fighting is enjoined in that context, it will amount to accepting combination of Knowledge and actions. To avoid this contingency the Commentator says, ‘incidental’. That is to say, although the context is of the supreme Reality, the advice to fight is incidental. It is not an injunction to combine Knowledge with actions, since fighting is here the natural duty of Arjuna as a Ksatriya.]. The generally accepted argument for the removal of sorrow and delusion has been stated in the verses beginning with, ‘Even considering your own duty’ (31), etc., but this has not been presented by accepting that as the real intention (of the Lord). The real context here (in 2.12 etc.), however, is of the realization of the supreme Reality. Now, in order to show the distinction between the (two) topics dealt with in this scripture, the Lord concludes that topic which has been presented above (in 2.20 etc.), by saying, ‘This (wisdom) has been imparted,’ etc. For, if the distinction between the topics of the scripute be shown here, then the instruction relating to the two kinds of adherences — as stated later on in, ‘through the Yoga of Knowledge for the men of realization; through the Yoga of Action for the yogis’ (3.3) — will proceed again smoothly, and the hearer also will easily comprehend it by keeping in view the distinction between the topics. Hence the Lord says:
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
2.38 Sukha-duhkhe etc. For you, performing actions as your own duty, never there is any connection with sin.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
sukha-duhkhe same krtva
tato yuddhaya yujyasva
naivam papam avapsyasi
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
sukha — happiness; duḥkhe — and distress; same — in equanimity; kṛtvā — doing so; lābha-alābhau — both profit and loss; jaya-ajayau — both victory and defeat; tataḥ — thereafter; yuddhāya — for the sake of fighting; yujyasva — engage (fight); na — never; evam — in this way; pāpam — sinful reaction; avāpsyasi — you will gain.