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PART IV - THE EAST
CHAPTER XI - HYMN BEFORE ACTION

ARJUNA stayed his chariot between the two armies. He saw in either relatives, benefactors, and friends. He saw kindred civilizations opposed, and destruction certain for one of them, and perhaps for both. His limbs trembled, his purpose weakened, and instead of proclaiming battle, he spoke thus to the god Krishna, who was his charioteer :
` I desire not victory nor kingdom nor pleasures ; what is kingdom to us, 0 Krishna, what is enjoyment, or even life? Those for whose sake we desire such things-they stand opposite to us in the battle now. I desire not to kill them even if the kingship of the three worlds were my reward ; how then for earth ? Slaying these poor sinners, we shall fall ourselves into sin. They, blinded by greed, see no guilt in the destruction of kindred, no crime in hostility to friends, but we, we who have seen, why should we not refrain ? When kindred are destroyed, the immemorial traditions perish ; when traditions perish, anarchy falls on us all. Were it not better for me to go unarmed, unresisting, into the battle and be slain by them instead ? '
Krishna's reply to this question of Arjuna's at the opening of the Bhagavad-Gita-a question that has never been answered decisively by Christianity-is to be found in the subsequent cantos of the poem. Arjuna must fight ; for three reasons.
The first reason can never appeal to the Westerner. It assumes death is negligible-not even a gate leading to a new universe, but merely a passage leading back through birth to this. Why hesitate to traverse such a passage ? Why hesitate to send others down it, since they must soon return ? The body kills or dies ; the ' dweller in the body ' does neither, being immortal, and to regret or to retard its occasional disappearances would be childish. ` The dweller in the body slayeth not, nor is it slain when the body is slaughtered. Weapons cleave it not, nor fire burneth it, nor

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