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Kshatriya

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Painting of Krishna, Arjuna. (Bhagavad Gita)

Painting of Krishna, Arjuna. (Bhagavad Gita) via Wikipedia

A Kshatriya is a hereditary member of the warrior caste, as outlined in the Hindu Veda.

Arjuna, the hero of the Bhagavad Gita, is of the Kshatriya caste.

The whole concept of the Kshatriya raises concerns among some thinking people because in the Bhagavad Gita it justifies killing on the basis of this being some kind of sacred duty (dharma).

This idea is comparable to the Catholic notion of the “Just War,” but not equivalent because Catholicism, and Christian scripture in general, clearly advocates “turning the other cheek” and “loving one’s enemies” as the ultimate ideal–an ideal not found in the Bhagavad Gita.

Some Hindus maintain that Krishna only advocates war after all attempts at obtaining a peaceful solution to a family conflict have failed (not unlike the Just War concept). But these peacemaking attempts certainly are not emphasized in the Bhagavad Gita, itself, as they are in the New Testament. While the New Testament predicts that wars will occur in the future, at no place does it advocate them nor claim that a war can have a holy status, as we find in the Bhagavad Gita.

Related Posts » Caste, Dharma , Mahavira

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2 thoughts on “Kshatriya

  1. These are interesting points you’ve raised but, before I comment on the concept of a Just War and The Gita, I’d like to first make mention of Jesus’ statement ” I come not to bring peace but, a sword” and to remind you of his rampage thru the temple grounds. These things do not necessarily mean that Jesus was a violent person. But, they do stand to portray him as a balanced person….imo, a balanced person is one who is capable of dealing with any and all situations according to the needs of the situation. I believe that were Jesus to come upon an individual physically abusing an innocent, he would not hesitate to step up in defense of said innocent even if that required him to use force of fists. And, I can say that because of what he did in the Temple.
    Oh, and The Book of Revelations does seem to advocate for a holy war to be waged on the Plain of Meggido against the forces of Satan, and that certainly is in the NT.

    With that said, I’d like to point out that Prince Arjuna was faced with an army led by some of his relatives, who had been trying to kill him and his brothers for a long time, and if he did not stand up to them, ( this is The Just War scenario) that army would simply decimate Arjuna’s people. A Good Prince’s first duty is to his people’s welfare. Arjuna argued that he couldn’t possibly fight his own family members, even tho they had begun the battles against him and his brothers in the first place. Krishna explained to him that he could not let his misplaced familial loyalities get in the way of his first duty. If this is not clear to you from The Gita, alone, I suggest you read the Mahabharata, of which The Gita is only a small part.

    One, last point. You mentioned the Catholic position on a Just War as being inconsistent with its professed ideal of “turning the other cheek”, and you are absolutely correct. To the Catholic Church hierarchy, the little people were required to turn the other cheek when slapped by The Church or anyone the Church had appointed as an authority over them, i.e. Kings. But, The Church had placed no such requirement upon Itself. The Catholic Church throughout history has been opportunistically self-contradicting, hypocritical, and war-mongering; playing one side against the other for Its own aggrandizement. And it took upon itself the outright murdering of anyone who disagreed with Its actions or beliefs or moral standing. The only position it took was one of self-righteous self preservation. And, because of this, it should never be held up as an example of anything even remotely approaching a moral body.

    I am not a Christian or a Hindu. As a matter of fact, I do not hold any religious beliefs whatsoever. I merely consider myself an observer of the overall human condition. ; )

    • Thanks for your thought-provoking comments.

      “I’d like to first make mention of Jesus’ statement ” I come not to bring peace but, a sword” and to remind you of his rampage thru the temple grounds. ”

      Re your first quote, I’ve always seen Jesus as simply saying what’s going to happen, not advocating it. And his turning the tables wasn’t physically harming anyone. Tables are not flesh and blood!

      “Oh, and The Book of Revelations does seem to advocate for a holy war to be waged on the Plain of Meggido against the forces of Satan, and that certainly is in the NT.”

      Well, I had to look this one up because I’ve never really liked this book too much, and admittedly am least familiar with it. But virtually all of my Bible dictionaries say that this is about spiritual evil getting into worldly rulers, culminating in a massive war. God then intervenes to conquer Sin. But I didn’t see anything about God urging a man to pick up and fight, as we have in the Gita. In Rev. it’s demons that get the rulers to fight in the first place, not God.

      The site of that final battle, my dictionaries tell me, is the general area for several Old Testament wars. Thus most scholars see it in Rev. as a (fittingly) symbolic future location, not an actual one.

      I have two abridged (translated) versions of the Mahabharata and several translations of the Gita. Most scholars say the Gita was added to the Mahabharata much later on. The Gita is regarded as a subsequent insert, if you will, into the Mahabharata.

      The New Testament was written later than the Old Testament. And that time difference shows how this tradition’s teachings about violence have historically progressed for the better. Do we really see that kind of change over time with when looking at the Mahabharata and the Gita? After all, the Gita still instructs a human being to kill other human beings, apparently for God.

      To me, the two traditions seem quite different. But I also know that when it comes to scripture and religious teachings, there’s always much room for spirited debate!

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