Gita Daily Readings

4th February
Chapter II: 34-36
People, too, will recount the everlasting dishonor. And, to one who has been honored, dishonor is worse than death.

The great heroes will think that thou hast withdrawn from the battle through fear. And thou wilt be lightly held by them who have thought much of thee.

Thy enemies also, disputing thy power, will speak many abusive words. What is more painful than this?

Commentary

A wise man does not seek honor, knowing that its loss is worse than death.

When Krishna insists on equanimity in honor and dishonor (Xll.19), why does he say here that dishonor is worse than death to a kshatriya? We should not confuse the two. They belong to two different aspects of our life. Discipline has two aspects - self-discipline and social discipline. A wise man does not sacrifice one for the other. For instance, if a taxi-driver speaks disrespectfully to a judge on the seashore, the latter puts up with this personal effrontery as a matter of self-discipline. But the same judge should charge even a minister with contempt of court if the latter said anything derogatory of the judge in his official capacity.

Social discipline, on the other hand, should not lead you to take upon yourself the burden of reforming society and maintaining what you consider to be law and order in the whole world. Then you might lose sight of self-discipline. An undisciplined man cannot promote social discipline, either.

This is an extremely delicate maneuver, more difficult than tightrope walking!

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