Shlokas 38-46. Chapter 1

Bhagavad Gita highlights how destroying family values undermines social and moral order.

यद्यप्येते न पश्यन्ति लोभोपहतचेतसः। 

कुलक्षयकृतं दोषं मित्रद्रोहे च पातकम्॥ 38.1 ॥

yadyapyete na paśyanti lobhopahata-cetasah 

kula-kṣaya-kṛtaṁ doṣaṁ mitra-drohe ca pātakam

कथं न ज्ञेयमस्माभिः पापादस्मान्निवर्तितुम्। 

कुलक्षयकृतं दोषं प्रपश्यद्भिर्जनार्दन॥ 39.1 ॥

kathaṁ na jñeyam asmābhiḥ pāpād asmān nivartitum 

kula-kṣaya-kṛtaṁ doṣaṁ prapaśyadbhir janārdana


Meaning: Even if these, whose minds are overpowered by greed, do not see the evil in the destruction of families or the sin in betraying friends, why should we, who can clearly see the wrong in the destruction of a family, not turn away from this sin, O Janardana?


कुलक्षये प्रणश्यन्ति कुलधर्माः सनातनाः। 

धर्मे नष्टे कुलं कृत्स्नमधर्मोऽभिभवत्युत॥ 40.1 ॥

kula-kṣaye praṇaśyanti kula-dharmāḥ sanātanāḥ 

dharme naṣṭe kulaṁ kṛtsnam adharmaḥ abhibhavaty uta

Meaning: With the destruction of a family, the eternal family traditions perish. When these traditions perish, the entire family is overtaken by  adharma.


अधर्माभिभवात्कृष्ण प्रदुष्यन्ति कुलस्त्रियः। 

स्त्रीषु दुष्टासु वार्ष्णेय जायते वर्णसङ्करः॥ 41.1 ॥

dharmābhibhavāt kṛṣṇa praduṣyanti kula-striyaḥ

strīṣu duṣṭāsu vārṣṇeya jāyate varṇa-saṅkaraḥ

Meaning: When adharma prevails, O Krishna, the women of the family become corrupted, and from the corruption of women, O descendant of Vrishni, comes unwanted  mixing of varnas.


सङ्करो नरकायैव कुलघ्नानां कुलस्य च। 

पतन्ति पितरो ह्येषां लुप्तपिण्डोदकक्रियाः॥ 42.1 ॥

saṅkaro narakāyaiva kula-ghnānāṁ kulasya ca 

patanti pitaro hy eṣāṁ lupta-piṇḍodaka-kriyāḥ

Meaning: An increase in mixing of varnas leads the destroyers of the family and the family itself to hell; their ancestors fall because the offerings of rice and water are completely ceased.


दोषैरेतैः कुलघ्नानां वर्णसङ्करकारकैः। 

उत्साद्यन्ते जातिधर्माः कुलधर्माश्च शाश्वताः॥ 43.1 ॥

doṣair etaiḥ kula-ghnānāṁ varṇa-saṅkara-kārakaiḥ 

utsādyante jāti-dharmāḥ kula-dharmāś ca śāśvatāḥ

Meaning: By these sins of the family destroyers, causing the mixing of varnas, the eternal family and social laws and duties are obliterated.


उत्सन्नकुलधर्माणां मनुष्याणां जनार्दन। 

नरकेऽनियतं वासो भवतीत्यनुशुश्रुम॥ 44.1 ॥

utsanna-kula-dharmāṇāṁ manuṣyāṇāṁ janārdana 

narake 'niyataṁ vāso bhavatīty anuśuśruma

Meaning: O Janardana, I have heard from authoritative sources that those who destroy family traditions dwell in hell indefinitely.


अहो बत महत्पापं कर्तुं व्यवसिता वयम्। 

यद्राज्यसुखलोभेन हन्तुं स्वजनमुद्यताः॥ 45.1 ॥

aho bata mahat pāpaṁ kartuṁ vyavasitā vayam 

yad rājyasukha-lobhena hantuṁ sva-janam udyatāḥ

Meaning: Alas, how strange it is that we have resolved to commit such a great sin, driven by the desire for royal pleasures and to kill our own kinsmen!


यदि मामप्रतीकारमशस्त्रं शस्त्रपाणयः। 

धार्तराष्ट्रा रणे हन्युः तन्मे क्षेमतरं भवेत्॥ 46.1 ॥

yadi mām apratīkāram aśastraṁ śastra-pāṇayaḥ 

dhārtarāṣṭrā raṇe hanyuḥ tan me kṣemataraṁ bhavet

Meaning: If the sons of Dhritarashtra, with weapons in hand, were to kill me unarmed and unresisting on the battlefield, that would be better for me.



Verses 38-39: Arjuna expresses his distress over the blindness of those driven by greed (the Kauravas) who do not perceive the wrong in family destruction or betrayal of friends. He questions why he and his family, who clearly understand the sinful nature of destroying family values, should not abstain from this sin. This highlights his moral dilemma and his awareness of the gravity of the situation.

Verses 40-41: Arjuna explains that the destruction of a family leads to the breakdown of its eternal traditions and dharma (duties and ethical practices). With the loss of these traditions, adharma (unrighteousness) prevails. He is concerned that this disruption will corrupt the women in the family, leading to the birth of children outside the traditional varna system, which he believes would cause social chaos and moral decline.

Verse 42: Arjuna fears that the increase in mixing of varnas (classes) will bring about the ruin of the family and the entire social structure. He believes that this will result in hell for the family destroyers and their ancestors, as the traditional offerings to the ancestors (like pinda and water) will cease, leading to their suffering.

Verse 43: Arjuna continues to lament that the sins of those who destroy families and cause mixing of varnas will obliterate the eternal duties and social laws. This, according to him, will further degrade the society's moral and ethical foundation.

Verse 44: He recounts that he has heard from authoritative sources that the destruction of family traditions results in eternal damnation for those responsible. This reinforces his belief in the dire consequences of the war.

Verse 45: Arjuna is horrified by the thought that he and his relatives are prepared to commit a grave sin by fighting this war, driven by their greed for royal pleasures. He acknowledges the magnitude of the sin they are about to commit by killing their own kinsmen.

Verse 46: Finally, Arjuna concludes that it would be better for him to be killed unarmed and unresisting by the sons of Dhritarashtra than to engage in this sinful war. He expresses his preference for accepting death over participating in the battle, highlighting his deep moral conflict and despair.

Arjuna is deeply troubled by the impending battle against his own relatives. He fears that the destruction of families will lead to the loss of family traditions, moral decay, and eternal damnation. He is torn between his duty as a warrior and his ethical concerns about the consequences of the war. His reflections reveal his compassionate nature and his understanding of the importance of preserving family values and social order. This inner conflict is central to the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, where Krishna's guidance helps Arjuna resolve his dilemma and understand his duty in a broader spiritual and ethical context.


Today’s Context

1. The Impact of Greed and Short-Sightedness

Arjuna speaks of the blindness caused by greed in recognizing the ethical and social consequences of one's actions.

Modern Relevance: In today’s world, this highlights the dangers of greed and unethical behavior. Businesses and individuals driven solely by profit often ignore long-term consequences, leading to environmental degradation, social inequalities, and loss of trust. Ethical decision-making should consider the broader impact on families, communities, and future generations.

2. Importance of Family and Social Values

Arjuna fears the breakdown of family traditions and social norms leading to adharma.

Modern Relevance: The erosion of family and community values can lead to social instability. In contemporary times, maintaining traditions, cultural heritage, and ethical practices within families and communities fosters social cohesion and moral integrity. It underscores the role of strong family values and cultural continuity in shaping ethical societies.

3. Consequences of Social Disruption

Arjuna is concerned about the mixing of varnas and the resulting social chaos.

Modern Relevance: While the specific concept of varnas may not be applicable today, the broader idea pertains to the consequences of social upheaval and loss of ethical norms. Modern parallels include the breakdown of social structures and ethical standards due to conflicts, migrations, or economic pressures, leading to societal issues like crime, inequality, and loss of identity.

4. Respecting Ancestral Traditions

Arjuna fears that neglecting ancestral traditions would bring suffering to his ancestors.

Modern Relevance: This emphasizes the respect for and continuation of cultural and ancestral traditions. Today, preserving heritage and honoring past generations can provide a sense of identity, continuity, and moral grounding. It encourages the practice of rituals and traditions that promote family unity and cultural education.

5. Awareness of Moral Consequences

Arjuna realizes the sin of engaging in a war driven by personal gain and expresses a preference for passive suffering over committing a grave sin.

Modern Relevance: This teaches the importance of evaluating the moral consequences of one's actions. In contemporary decision-making, especially in positions of power or leadership, considering the ethical implications of actions over personal gain or ambition is crucial. It advocates for non-violence, ethical integrity, and the willingness to bear personal loss rather than engage in unethical actions.


Key Takeaways

  1. Ethical Awareness: Recognize and evaluate the ethical dimensions of decisions, avoiding actions driven by greed or short-term gain.
  2. Family Values: Foster and preserve family traditions and values, which serve as a foundation for ethical behavior and social stability.
  3. Social Responsibility: Consider the broader social impact of personal and collective actions, promoting harmony and reducing disruptions.
  4. Cultural Continuity: Respect and maintain cultural and ancestral traditions, which contribute to personal identity and community cohesion.
  5. Moral Courage: Have the courage to choose ethical paths, even if they involve personal sacrifice or challenges, prioritizing righteousness over convenience or desire.


This a really important message to the society. In the name of free will and individual choice we are destroying the fabric of the society -Yadunath Ys

Arjuna's concerns are real -Ananth Kumar

It is highly relevant in modern times..however due to outside influences Sanatana values are regarded as backward. Those very values that can take you to highest perfection are treated as backward..this is ironical -User_sf169j

Thanksl for Vedadhara's incredible work of reviving ancient wisdom! -Ramanujam

Immense changes and positivity in my life, thanks to Vedadhara. Deeply thankful! -Yogendra Sharma

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Knowledge Bank

What exactly is Brahman?

The universe around us is not permanent. Its life span is 4.32 billion years. Like a wave rising up from the sea and then falling back into it, the universe also comes out of Brahman and dissolves back into Brahman. It is a small part of Brahman that becomes the universe. The beginningless, endless and eternal reality is Brahman.

Where does Ganga river start?

The main river Ganga starts from Devprayag in Uttarakhand. It is a confluence of two rivers, Alakananda and Bhagirathi. Alakananda originates as the snow on the peaks Nandadevi, Trisul, and Kamet melts. Bhagirathi starts from Gomukh at the base of the Gangotri glacier.


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