The destructibility of the body is not a licence for its wanton destruction (Gita Daily)

Published on Feb 14, 2015

Based on Bhagavad Gita Chapter 06, Text 16, By Chaitanya Charan Das (
Article – Some people ask, “The Bhagavad-gita teaches that killing is ok because the body is anyway going to die. Isn’t such a teaching a license for indiscriminate violence?”

No, the Gita’s rationale for a righteous war is not the destructibility of the body or the indestructibility of the soul, but the necessity of violence for protecting dharma, especially when adharmic elements have grabbed power unscrupulously and virtuous people have been exploited and abused, as the vicious Kauravas had done to the Pandavas at that time.

In fact, the same Gita that is charged mistakenly as a violence-instigating book recommends as laudable qualities non-violence and tolerance, which comprise clearly the opposite of a license for the body’s wanton destruction. Further, the Gita (06.16) disapproves extremes in handling the body – eating too much or eating too less or sleeping too much or sleeping too less, for example. And this disapproval applies even for renounced yogis who have dedicated themselves to transcending bodily consciousness, what to speak of engaged householders.

Indeed, the body is seen as a vital and indispensable tool for pursuing dharma, which ultimately aims to raise us from bodily consciousness to spiritual consciousness. Due to this dharmic value of the body and of course the karmic principle of not causing pain to other living beings, protection of the body is mandated.

But again for the of sake protecting dharma, if the destruction of those hostile to dharma is required, then that is sanctioned with the philosophical awareness that the essential person is indestructible beyond the destructible body.

Thus, the Gita provides knowledge of the body’s destructibility and the soul’s indestructibility just so that one can unsentimentally pursue dharma, which in Arjuna’s case required violence and which in most other cases may require tolerance.

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