Bhagavad Gita 1.35 Explained: Arjuna’s Refusal to Fight for Fleeting Gains

एतान्न हन्तुमिच्छामि घ्नतोऽपि मधुसूदन।
अपि त्रैलोक्यराज्यस्य हेतोः किं नु महीकृते।।

श्रीमद्भगवद्गीता 1.35

Etann Hantumichchami Ghnato’pi Madhusudana
Api Trailokyarajyasya Hetoh Kim Nu Mahikrite

Shrimad Bhagavad Gita 1.35

I would not kill them, even for three worlds; why then for this poor earth? It matters not if I myself am killed.

English Translation of BG 1.35

In this verse, Arjuna’s heart speaks volumes of his inner turmoil and the ethical quandary that grips him at the brink of the Kurukshetra war. Facing relatives, revered teachers, and cherished connections across the battlefield, he questions the very essence of victory and the price at which it comes.

Insights into BG 1.35: Reflecting on Swami Ramsukhdas Ji’s Divine Commentary

The Dilemma of Duty versus Morality

Arjuna’s statement to Krishna, addressing Him as Madhusudana (the slayer of the demon Madhu), highlights a profound moral conflict. He is torn between his Kshatriya duty to fight for righteousness and his unwillingness to cause harm to his own kin. This inner conflict underscores a universal struggle within the human condition: the clash between the demands of one’s roles in the external world and the innate call towards compassion and non-harm.

The Illusion of Material Gain

Arjuna’s reference to not desiring the kingdom of the three worlds as a reward for his actions illuminates the transient nature of worldly gains and power. It serves as a reminder of the futility of material possessions and the fleeting nature of earthly dominion when weighed against the eternal values of love, kinship, and moral integrity. Through Arjuna’s realization, we are taught that true fulfillment and peace cannot be found in external achievements but in adhering to one’s Dharma with righteousness and compassion.

The Ethical Principle of Ahimsa

Arjuna’s reluctance to engage in battle, even at the cost of his own life, echoes the Vedic principle of Ahimsa, or nonviolence. His statement transcends the physical act of nonviolence and touches upon the deeper spiritual and moral implications of causing harm. It calls into question the morality of achieving victory at the expense of one’s own soul and the harmony of the universe. This verse beckons us to consider the impact of our actions, urging us towards choices that promote peace, harmony, and the welfare of all beings.

The Quest for Higher Wisdom

In expressing his doubts and moral considerations to Krishna, Arjuna opens himself to receiving higher wisdom. His predicament serves as a catalyst for the profound teachings of the Gita that follow. It is through this expression of vulnerability and confusion that Arjuna becomes a vessel for divine wisdom, highlighting the importance of seeking guidance and clarity when faced with moral dilemmas.


Verse 1.35 of the Bhagavad Gita reveals Arjuna’s deep moral introspection and his struggle to reconcile his duty as a warrior with his innate sense of compassion and nonviolence. It challenges us to reflect on our own actions and the motivations behind them, urging us to prioritize ethical integrity and compassion over transient worldly gains. As we navigate the battles of our own lives, this verse serves as a powerful reminder to seek higher wisdom and to make choices that align with the eternal values of Dharma, fostering peace, righteousness, and unity in the world.