2.31 sva-dharmam api cāvekṣya (Original)

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Chapter 2

<< Chapter 2 verse 30

Simple

sva-dharmam api cāvekṣya
na vikampitum arhasi
dharmyād dhi yuddhāc chreyo ’nyat
kṣatriyasya na vidyate

‘Also, the considerations of what is one’s own duty do not warrant thy grief, for nothing is more meritorious for a Kshatriya than a virtuous war.’

This impending war, moreover, involving as it does much sacrifice of life, falls, like the Agnishomiyam, within the sphere of one’s own legitimate duties. On merely such considerations even, thou canst have no cause for regret. Quite lawfully and righteously, has the war ensued, than which therefore no work more meritorious for a Kshatriya exists. This is what will be found stated further on viz:-

‘The Kshatriya’s duty consists in intrepidity, invincibility, perseverance, capability, non-retreat in contest, liberality and lordliness.’ (Bh: Gi: XVIII-43)

In the Vedic sacrifices such as Agnishomiyam1, really no cruelty is inflicted on the animal that is enjoined to be sacrificed therein. For the immolation of the goat is, on the one hand, attended by the loss of its present inferior body, and on the other, the gain of an excellent body with Svargā in addition. So says the Śruti:-

‘Therefore dost thou (addressing the goat) never die, nor art thou destroyed. By an excellent road shalt thou reach the Devas. Let the shining (or vivifying) Deva grant thee That, where neither the virtuous nor the wicked go.’2

That the killed in war obtain illustrious bodies and win other rewards, has in this work itself been declared:-

‘As casting off worn out garments, man puts on other new ones’ etc. (Bh: Gi: II-22)

The animal sacrifice is thus a beneficent measure, similar to that of a physician applying his healing art to his patient.

>> Chapter 2 verse 32

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  1. A Vedic Sacrifice performed in the name of Agni and Soma. The fruit to accrue to the performer is Svarga. Agnishomiyam is the same as Jyotishtoma, and is described in the 4th to 8th Adhyāyās, Śukla Yajurveda and the seventh Ashtaka of Krishṇa Yajurveda, and the Tāndya-brāhmaṇa of the Sāma-veda.
  2. The mantra runs thus; – … The sacrifice is a religious Sacrament, not a cruel act of killing an animal for the sake of eating its flesh. Vide Bhāgavata, XI-5: ‘Tathā paśor-ālabhanam na himsā.’ (13); ‘paśūn druhyanti visrabdhāḥ’ (14). Śrīdhara quotes in his commentary:- ‘Yā veda-vihitā himsā na sā himseti kīrtyate.’

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