Couldn’t Someone Get The Wrong Idea About Violence From The Bhagavad-Gita

[Krishna and Arjuna]“According to Vedic injunctions there are six kinds of aggressors: 1) a poison giver, 2) one who sets fire to the house, 3) one who attacks with deadly weapons, 4) one who plunders riches, 5) one who occupies another’s land, and 6) one who kidnaps a wife. Such aggressors are at once to be killed, and no sin is incurred by killing such aggressors.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 1.36 Purport)

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Friend1: I understand that sometimes violence is necessary.

Friend2: Sure. It’s common sense. Otherwise rogues and thieves would have a field day. They could take whatever they wanted from others without facing repercussions. Armies and police forces wouldn’t exist. There would be no meaning to the word “law.” You can write as much legislation as you want, but unless there is enforcement they are just words. And enforcement means the use of violence when necessary.

Friend1: At the same time, you don’t want to be violent without cause.

Friend2: Sure. Then you are an aggressor. You become one of the people that needs to be defended against with violence on the other side.

Friend1: You hear this argument a lot from people who don’t know the Bhagavad-gita very well. They complain that Shri Krishna, the teacher on the chariot with Arjuna, encourages violence. They extend the argument by saying that if Krishna were really God, He wouldn’t behave in that way.

[Krishna and Arjuna]Friend2: How would He behave? He would allow aggressors to take land and property without issue? He would let people violate the sanctity of life without consequence? It’s like complaining that there is darkness. Why is it cold? Why is it raining outside? For peace to exist, there must be violence. This is just common sense.

Friend1: I know. I get it. That’s why I said these people don’t know the Bhagavad-gita very well. They simply speculate.

Friend2: There are lots of speculations, for sure.

Friend1: Here is another issue to consider. Take someone who is following the Bhagavad-gita, the final message of surrender to the Supreme Lord.

“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.66)

Friend2: Okay.

Friend1: At the same time, they are having a disagreement with someone. The other person has threatened violence, but has yet to carry it out. The devotee in this scenario uses the Bhagavad-gita as justification for taking preemptive action.

Friend2: You mean like doing a “hit”? Like taking the guy out, illegally?

Friend1: Right. Exactly. The justification is that the “illegal” act is really “legal” because it is being done to protect devotion. It will make Krishna happy.

Friend2: I see. Yeah, that is speculation again. How do they know what makes Krishna happy? This is why you need the bona fide spiritual master to guide you, someone who really understands the principles of Vedic teachings and how to apply them to the time and circumstance.

Friend1: Alright, but what if a person gets these orders from their spiritual master?

Friend2: You mean the guru is the one planning the illegal violence?

Friend1: Yes. The guru won’t carry out the deed, but they are letting others do it for them.

Friend2: Nice. Real brave on their part.

Friend1: Listen, I’m in agreement with you. I know that it is wrong. How does a person protect themselves from this, though?

Friend2: From a bogus guru? It happens. There is the story in the Ramacharitamanasa. In Ravana’s previous life he was a pious king. He one time ran into someone who looked like a sadhu. This was in the forest. The king couldn’t recognize that this guy was one of his former rivals. The fake-sadhu took advantage and advised the king in such a way as to incur the wrath of brahmanas.

Friend1: Pratapabhanu. Yeah, that is the perfect example. He surrendered to the wrong guy. He got the complete wrong advice.

[Ramacharitamanasa]Friend2: Yeah, so that’s why you have to apply some discrimination. Study the spiritual master. See if they are truly in control of their senses. And if you are really in doubt, there are Krishna’s incarnations who appeared on earth to learn from. Shri Ramachandra had every right to carry out a preemptive hit on Ravana, who had stolen Rama’s wife Sita. Yet the Lord did not do this. He won in a battle fair and square, though He doesn’t have to follow any laws, as He is God.

In Closing:

By words on battlefield zone,

Krishna not violence to condone?

Others not wrong idea to get,

Like into preemptive violence set?

Discrimination of authority the key,

From sobriety right and wrong to see.

Even Shri Rama not that path taking,

Victory through fair fight making.

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