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Bhagavad-gita & Deontological Ethics


Question

I recently read a book on ethics, justice and economics, which discussed the ethics of the Bhagavad-gita. The author defended the initial points presented by Arjuna and classified Krishna as an advocate of extremist deontological ethics. My understanding is that Krishna often criticizes this type of ethics, so how could He be framed this way?

Answer

H.D. Goswami Profile Picture

The author that classifies Krishna as an advocate of extremist deontological ethics does not understand the Bhagavad-gita nor its historical context, the Mahabharata.

  1. Krishna told Arjuna to fight precisely to avoid the worse consequences: the demons taking power on earth and other worlds.
  2. Despite the suffering caused by the Battle of Kurukshetra, the land recovered by the mercy of Krishna.
  3. Krishna explicitly affirms the importance of consequences both in the Bhagavad-gitaand the Mahabharata.

In Chapter One of the Gita, Arjuna expresses concern about the fate of women. But Arjuna already had bitter experience that the Asuras, like Duryodhana and Jayadratha, would not hesitate to steal and rape women, since both of them tried to steal and enjoy Draupadi, Arjuna’s own wife. Therefore, Arjuna was ignoring the worst consequences, namely the consequences that would arise for the earth and other worlds if he did not fight.