Chapter 2: Contents of the Gétä Summarized
sva-dharmam api caveksya
na vikampitum arhasi
dharmyad dhi yuddhac chreyo 'nyat
ksatriyasya na vidyate
svadharmam—one's own religious principles; api—also; ca—indeed; avekñya—considering; na—never; vikampitum—to hesitate; arhasi—you deserve; dharmyät—from religious principles; hi—indeed; yuddhät—of fighting; çreyaù—better engagements; anyat—anything else; kñatriyasya—of the kñatriya; na—does not; vidyate—exist.
Considering your specific duty as a kñatriya, 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 kñatriya. Kñat means hurt. One who gives protection from harm is called kñatriya (trayate—to give protection). The kñatriyas are trained for killing in the forest. A kñatriya 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 is being followed even up to the present day by the kñatriya kings of Jaipur state. The kñatriyas are specially trained for challenging and killing because religious violence is sometimes a necessary factor. Therefore, kñatriyas are never meant for accepting directly the order of sannyäsa 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:
ähaveñu mitho 'nyonyaà jighäàsanto mahékñitaù
yuddhamänäù paraà çaktyä svargaà yänty aparäìmukhäù
yajïeñu paçavo brahman hanyante satataà dvijaiù
saàskåtäù kila mantraiç ca te 'pi svargam aväpnuvan.
"In the battlefield, a king or kñatriya, while fighting another king envious of him, is eligible for achieving heavenly planets after death, as the brähmaëas also attain the heavenly planets by sacrificing animals in the sacrificial fire." Therefore, killing on the battle on the religious principle and the killing of animals in the sacrificial fire are not at all considered to be acts of violence, because everyone is benefitted 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 kñatriyas killed in the battlefield also attain the heavenly planets as do the brähmaëas who attain them by offering sacrifice.
There are two kinds of svadharmas, specific duties. As long as one is not liberated, one has to perform the duties of that particular body in accordance with religious principles in order to achieve liberation. When one is liberated, one's svadharma—specific duty—becomes spiritual and is not in the material bodily concept. In the bodily conception of life there are specific duties for the brähmaëas and kñatriyas respectively, and such duties are unavoidable. Svadharma is ordained by the Lord, and this will be clarified in the Fourth Chapter. On the bodily plane svadharma is called varëäçrama-dharma, or man's steppingstone for spiritual understanding. Human civilization begins from the stage of varëäçrama-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 varëäçrama-dharma serves to elevate one to a higher status of life.