Bhagavad Gita 1.37 Explained: The Ethical Crisis of War and Pursuit of Happiness

तस्मान्नार्हा वयं हन्तुं धार्तराष्ट्रान्स्वबान्धवान्।
स्वजनं हि कथं हत्वा सुखिनः स्याम माधव।।

श्रीमद्भगवद्गीता 1.37

Tasmaannarhaa Vayam Hantum Dhaartaraashtraanswabaandhavaan
Swajanam Hi Katham Hatvaa Sukhinah Syaama Maadhava

Shrimad Bhagavad Gita 1.37

We are worthy of a nobler feat than to slaughter our relatives – the sons of Dhritarashtra; for, my Lord, how can we be happy of we kill our kinsmen?

English Translation of BG 1.37

In this verse, Arjuna expresses his deep moral conflict to Lord Krishna, highlighting the inner turmoil he faces at the prospect of fighting against his own kin on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. Arjuna’s words reflect a profound ethical dilemma, questioning the very foundation of duty when it comes into conflict with the bonds of family and love.

Insights into BG 1.37: Reflecting on Swami Ramsukhdas Ji’s Divine Commentary

The Sacredness of Life

Arjuna’s reluctance to engage in battle against his own relatives underscores a fundamental respect for life. His words echo the timeless wisdom that life is sacred and that the destruction of life, especially that of one’s own kin, is a grave act that cannot be taken lightly. This perspective invites us to consider the sanctity of all life and the importance of seeking non-violent resolutions to conflicts whenever possible.

The Dilemma of Dharma

The conflict Arjuna faces is emblematic of the larger struggle between adhering to one’s dharma, or duty, and the natural human inclination towards compassion and non-violence. Arjuna’s duty as a warrior compels him to fight to uphold righteousness, yet his heart recoils at the thought of causing suffering to his loved ones. This paradox serves as a reminder that dharma is multifaceted and often requires us to navigate complex moral landscapes to discern the right course of action.

The Quest for True Happiness

Arjuna questions the very nature of happiness that can be derived from victory in battle, especially when such victory comes at the cost of the lives of those he holds dear. His introspection challenges us to reflect on what true happiness means and to question whether the pursuit of certain goals justifies the means by which they are achieved. It encourages a deeper exploration of the sources of lasting joy and fulfillment beyond transient victories and material gains.

The Role of Divine Guidance

In his address to Krishna as “Madhava,” Arjuna acknowledges the need for divine insight and guidance in resolving his moral quandary. This invocation highlights the role of spiritual wisdom in navigating ethical dilemmas, suggesting that in moments of profound uncertainty, turning towards a higher consciousness can illuminate the path of righteousness and peace.


Verse 1.37 of the Bhagavad Gita serves as a powerful reflection on the complexities of duty, the value of life, and the pursuit of true happiness. Arjuna’s heartfelt plea to Krishna reveals the universal struggle to act ethically in a world where moral choices are often fraught with ambiguity. It calls upon us to seek deeper understanding, compassion, and divine guidance in our actions, reminding us that true victory lies in upholding the principles of dharma, love, and universal brotherhood. As we face our own battles, may we, like Arjuna, have the courage to question, the humility to seek wisdom, and the resolve to choose actions that foster harmony and well-being for all.