Bhagavad Gita 1.31 Explained: Arjuna’s Moral Dilemma and Quest for Righteousness

निमित्तानि च पश्यामि विपरीतानि केशव।
न च श्रेयोऽनुपश्यामि हत्वा स्वजनमाहवे।।1.31।।

श्रीमद्भगवद्गीता 1.31

Nimittani Cha Pashyami Viparitani Keshava
Na Cha Shreyo’nupashyami Hatva Svajanam Ahave

Shrimad Bhagavad Gita 1.31

The omens are adverse; what good can come from the slaughter of my people on this battlefield?

English Translation of BG 1.31

In this profound verse, Arjuna, standing on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, expresses his deep inner conflict and foreboding to Lord Krishna. He perceives adverse signs and confesses his inability to see any virtue in slaying his relatives. This moment encapsulates the essence of the human condition, torn between duty and moral values.

Insights into BG 1.31: Reflecting on Swami Ramsukhdas Ji’s Divine Commentary

The Conflict of Dharma

Arjuna’s dilemma is a representation of the eternal struggle between one’s duties (sva-dharma) and the universal principles of righteousness (sanatana-dharma). He finds himself at a crossroads, where his role as a warrior clashes with his values as a family member and a compassionate being. This verse teaches us that life often presents situations where the right choice is not clear-cut, and navigating these moments requires deep introspection and guidance.

The Significance of Omens

Arjuna’s observation of adverse omens is symbolic of his inner turmoil and the cosmic disapproval of fratricidal war. It reflects the Vedic belief in the interconnectedness of the universe, where external signs reflect inner realities and future outcomes. This notion invites us to be mindful of the subtle cues from our environment and our intuition, guiding us towards ethically sound decisions.

The Vision of Loss

Arjuna’s inability to see any good in the slaughter of kin highlights the profound loss that accompanies violence. It underscores the principle that true victory is not gained at the cost of one’s principles and human relationships. This perspective urges us to consider the long-term consequences of our actions, emphasizing that some victories are too costly and that peace and reconciliation are often the higher paths.

The Quest for Higher Guidance

In articulating his doubts and fears to Krishna, Arjuna opens himself to divine wisdom. This act of vulnerability is a crucial step on the path to enlightenment, demonstrating that seeking guidance in moments of confusion is a sign of strength, not weakness. It teaches us the value of surrendering to a higher will and the transformative power of spiritual mentorship.


Verse 1.31 of the Bhagavad Gita speaks to the heart of human anguish in the face of ethical dilemmas. Arjuna’s predicament serves as a mirror for our own lives, where we often find ourselves torn between competing duties and values. His conversation with Krishna, beginning from this point of despair, unfolds as a guide for resolving such conflicts, leading us towards actions aligned with both personal integrity and universal good. As we navigate our battles, may we, like Arjuna, seek wisdom that transcends our limited understanding, guiding us to act with compassion, righteousness, and a deep awareness of the interconnectedness of all life.