Understand the energy of the body to be imperishable
That eternal spirit in the body is indestructible 2.17
Don’t think this body to be the killer or the killed unwisely
The spirit neither kills nor is killed putting it simply 2.19
The spirit is never born or will ever die, has no beginning or end
Uncreated, undying and eternal, it lives on as body comes to end 2.20
Arjuna, once you know the spirit to be unborn, undying
And eternal, what meaning is there to killing 2.21
Just the way you change clothes, the spirit does renew
Discarding old and useless bodies, taking on anew 2.22
No sword can cut, no fire can burn, no water can wet
And no wind can dry the eternal spirit 2.23
Krishna continues the theme.
Earlier he said that he, Arjuna and all the other people on the Kurukshetra battle field have lived before, live now and will continue to live ever after. An inner energy stays within all of us even as we move from age to age, from life to death. The body changes, the spirit remains.
Expanding on that theme, Krishna says that the spirit, the inner energy, is for ever, indestructible. Therefore, no one kills or is killed, since there is something indestructible that lives on. In poetic flamboyance, Krishna says that no weapon can destroy, no fire can burn, no wind can dry and no water can wet the indestructible spirit. The spirit moves from body to body as if it’s changing clothes.
Krishna then says that Arjuna’s fear and guilt about killing his kinsmen is unfounded. What is there to kill, he asks since there is always something that lives on.
These verses and those that follow cause a lot of concern to many people.
All those who believe that God created the Universe and this World in six days, only to rest on the seventh, and that too a mere ten thousand years ago, despite scientific evidence that this world at least is a few billion years old, will certainly be horrified at the thought of an undying spirit. Their notion would be that once we are dead, we are gone for ever. The Holy Spirit has nothing to do with us, they would say.
Those who understand science would give these verses a second and a third thought. At birth, or conception, energy became matter. At death, that matter became energy. All matter is destructible. All energy is indestructible. In science, it is that simple. Krishna is a scientist, not a theologian.
The second issue is a bit tougher. If what Krishna says is true, why condemn murder and killing. Is it a mere carry over from the Ten Commandments?
From a social perspective, any killing and any harming is abhorrent. There is no doubt about this. If we close our eyes to violence and killing, society as we know it will be destroyed. However, society is hypocritical in allowing such violence and killing as justifiable when it’s organized. Whether it’s a nation against a nation or a religion against a religion, we purge millions without a second thought. The victors are heroes and the losers villains, though both kill equal numbers.
What an individual should not do, institutions can and will do. But we never face the truth.
Krishna is not a hypocrite. He faces the truth squarely. He says there is no such thing as killing since there is no such thing as death, because something within us lives on.
Let us see what more he has to say!