Bhagavad Gita 2.4 Explained – Arjuna’s Dilemma: Fighting against Revered Elders

अर्जुन उवाच
कथं भीष्ममहं संख्ये द्रोणं च मधुसूदन।
इषुभिः प्रतियोत्स्यामि पूजार्हावरिसूदन।।

श्रीमद्भगवद्गीता 2.4

arjuna uvāca
kathaṁ bhīṣhmam ahaṁ saṅkhye droṇaṁ ca madhusūdana |
iṣubhiḥ pratiyotsyāmi pūjārhāv arisūdana ||

Shrimad Bhagavad Gita 2.4

Arjuna argued: My Lord! How can I, when the battle rages, send an arrow through Bheeshma and Drona, who should receive my reverence?

Simplified English Translation of BG 2.4

In this verse, Arjuna expresses his dilemma and reluctance to fight against his revered elders, Bhishma and Drona, in the battle of Kurukshetra. Swami Ramsukhdas Ji’s commentary sheds light on the deeper aspects of Arjuna’s predicament, highlighting the moral and emotional conflict he faces.

Key Insights from Swami Ramsukhdas Ji’s Commentary

1. Addressing Krishna as “Madhusudana” and “Arisudana”

Arjuna addresses Krishna as “Madhusudana” (slayer of the demon Madhu) and “Arisudana” (destroyer of enemies), acknowledging Krishna’s power to eliminate evil and adversaries. However, Arjuna emphasizes that Bhishma and Drona are not evil or enemies, but rather respected elders and teachers who have always shown him love and affection.

2. The Unthinkable Act of Fighting against Elders

Arjuna questions how he can engage in battle against Bhishma and Drona, who are worthy of worship and reverence. He expresses that it would be a grave sin to even speak harshly to them, let alone fight against them with the intention of killing them.

3. The Two Primary Relationships: Birth and Knowledge

Arjuna highlights the two primary relationships in life: the relationship by birth (with Bhishma, his grandfather) and the relationship through knowledge (with Drona, his teacher). He reminisces about the love and affection Bhishma has showered upon him since childhood and the special treatment and blessings he received from Drona during his education.

4. The Dilemma: Dharma vs. Adharma

Arjuna clarifies that his reluctance to fight is not due to cowardice but rather due to his understanding of dharma (righteousness). He believes that fighting against his elders is adharma (unrighteous) and questions how he can engage in such an act, even if it means fulfilling his duty as a warrior.

5. The Gravity of the Situation

Arjuna emphasizes the gravity of the situation by stating that Bhishma and Drona have the right to attack him, but he cannot even fathom the idea of retaliating against them. He considers it a grave sin to fight against those who are worthy of worship and service.


Arjuna’s dilemma in this verse highlights the complex nature of dharma and the challenges one faces when duty and personal relationships conflict. Swami Ramsukhdas Ji’s commentary explores the depth of Arjuna’s emotional turmoil and the moral quandary he finds himself in. This verse teaches us that even in the face of duty, one must carefully consider the consequences of one’s actions and the impact they may have on others, especially those we hold dear. It also emphasizes the importance of seeking guidance from wise mentors when faced with such difficult decisions.