sva-dharmam api caveksya
na vikampitum arhasi
dharmyad dhi yuddhac chreyo ’nyat
ksatriyasya na vidyate
Considering your speciﬁc duty as a ksatriya, you should know that there is no better engagement for you than ﬁghting on religious principles; and so there is no need for hesitation.
Out of the four orders of social administration, the second order, for the matter of good administration, is called ksatriya. Ksat means hurt. One who gives protection from harm is called ksatriya (trayate – to give protection). The ksatriyas are trained for killing in the forest. A ksatriya would go into the forest and challenge a tiger face to face and ﬁght with the tiger with his sword. When the tiger was killed, it would be offered the royal order of cremation. This system has been followed even up to the present day by the ksatriya kings of Jaipur state. The ksatriyas are specially trained for challenging and killing because religious violence is sometimes a necessary factor. Therefore, ksatriyas are never meant for accepting directly the order of sannyasa, or renunciation. Nonviolence in politics may be a diplomacy, but it is never a factor or principle. In the religious law books it is stated:
ahavesu mitho ’nyonyam
yuddhamanah param saktya
svargam yanty aparan-mukhah
yajñesu pasavo brahman
hanyante satatam dvijaih
samskrtah kila mantrais ca
te ’pi svargam avapnuvan
“In the battleﬁeld, a king or ksatriya, while ﬁghting another king envious of him, is eligible for achieving the heavenly planets after death, as the brahmanas also attain the heavenly planets by sacriﬁcing animals in the sacriﬁcial ﬁre.” Therefore, killing on the battleﬁeld on religious principles and killing animals in the sacriﬁcial ﬁre are not at all considered to be acts of violence, because everyone is beneﬁted by the religious principles involved. The animal sacriﬁced gets a human life immediately without undergoing the gradual evolutionary process from one form to another, and the ksatriyas killed on the battleﬁeld also attain the heavenly planets, as do the brahmanas who attain them by offering sacriﬁce.
There are two kinds of sva-dharmas, speciﬁc duties. As long as one is not liberated, one has to perform the duties of his particular body in accordance with religious principles in order to achieve liberation. When one is liberated, one’s sva-dharma – speciﬁc duty – becomes spiritual and is not in the material bodily concept. In the bodily conception of life there are speciﬁc duties for the brahmanas and ksatriyas respectively, and such duties are unavoidable. Sva-dharma is ordained by the Lord, and this will be clariﬁed in the Fourth Chapter. On the bodily plane sva-dharma is called varnasrama-dharma, or man’s steppingstone for spiritual understanding. Human civilization begins from the stage of varnasrama-dharma, or speciﬁc duties in terms of the speciﬁc modes of nature of the body obtained. Discharging one’s speciﬁc duty in any ﬁeld of action in accordance with the orders of higher authorities serves to elevate one to a higher status of life.
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