ya enam ajam avyayam
kathaṁ sa puruṣaḥ pārtha
kaṁ ghātayati hanti kam
“O Pārtha, how can a person who knows the ātmā to be eternally birthless, immutable and indestructible kill anyone or cause anyone to be killed?”
Kṛṣṇa clearly is explaining, “Look, the soul is eternal, it cannot be killed, cannot kill anyone and can never be destroyed. It is beyond birth, cannot be diminished and is eternal. Those who understand this do not become bound in the temporary dharma of the body.”
Kṛṣṇa wants to teach all the living entities through the medium of Arjuna, the dharma of the soul. He wants to show that when the living entities turn away from God, towards māyā and samsara, their intelligence becomes contaminated. At that time, they think that their real dharma is to maintain the body and serve the body, but this is a temporary situation and is not the eternal dharma of the soul. We have forgotten that. Therefore, Kṛṣṇa gave His svarūpa-śakti through singing this gītā, liberating the living entities from false ego and understanding.
By endeavoring to follow this Bhagavad-gītā; the teachings of Kṛṣṇa, one can be liberated from all false attachment and illusion in this world. One will become established in that dharma, form and nature of the soul. Kṛṣṇa instructed Arjuna, “Becoming established in knowledge of the soul, follow your duty and fight. Their bodies will be destroyed, but not their souls. You have no fault. I am instructing you to do this.” When a person who has knowledge of the soul performs his duty, he cannot be affected by sin. On the other hand, if one does not follow his duty, then sin will come to him.
vāsāṁsi jīrṇāni yathā vihāya
navāni gṛhṇāti naro ’parāṇi
tathā śarīrāṇi vihāya jīrṇāny
anyāni saṁyāti navāni dehī
“Just as a person discards his old garments and acquires new ones, the jīvātmā similarly gives up old, useless bodies and accepts new ones.”
Just as a man gives up his old cloth and dons new clothes, the soul gives up old bodies that have become old and tattered by performing karma, and puts on a new body.
Kṛṣṇa instructs Arjuna, “Your old body is like your old conceptions, the qualities you kept as your own and all the different activities you performed.”
Now that Arjuna is hearing so many good instructions about the soul from Kṛṣṇa, he must relinquish his previous conception about the body. This is like changing clothes or conceptions. If he remains fallen in his old conceptions, he will never escape the sway of illusion. One therefore has to give up his old false conceptions and take on good conceptions. If he remains fallen in his wrong understanding, he will suffer. When one understands this as the cause of his distress, he will give up his bad conceptions and take on good conceptions. Giving up this old mentality is not death.
When old cloth is dirty or ripped and tattered, giving that up and donning new cloth is the action of an intelligent man. It is beneficial for people who have made the body completely contaminated through their bad karma to change bodies, or clothes.
The body becomes old, but this does not mean the soul becomes old. Material judgment, understanding and thinking has made one go far away from God. When new instruction, inspiration and advice comes, by this one can understand that what he previously thought of as truth was very bad and thus, giving it up is good. The body is with me according to my karma. When the body is old or contaminated from bad karma, giving up the body and taking a new body or better yet, the eternal body of the soul, the soul will never suffer. The soul will be very happy upon attaining its true state.
Kṛṣṇa thus tells Arjuna, “Arjuna, the Kauravas have become contaminated due to their bad activities and thus they have developed bad behavior, character, etiquette and conceptions. Their bodies are now contaminated by all these things. If they give up their bodies, they will attain new ones. They have now arrived at the place of dharma. The Vrajavāsīs’ and the Vraja-devīs’ foot dust is present here. If you follow the rules of dharma, giving up anarthas then you will be making them happy as well. A washer-man uses soap and hot water, then beats the cloth making it clean. This only results in making everyone happy, not sad. Now it has become necessary to clean the Kauravas by removing them from their present bodies. These bodies are old and contaminated. They should attain the soul body as it is good for them. You would be like a cleaner, like shaving the face and removing all the dead hairs. It is not that you are killing anything or anyone. When the sun rises darkness goes far away, just as when one repents or performs prayascitta, then sins dissipate. In the same way, when people have performed many sinful acts like drinking wine and taking intoxicants, stealing others’ wives, killing brāhmaṇas, and so forth, destroying their bodies is not sinful action.
nainaṁ chindanti śastrāṇi
nainaṁ dahati pāvakaḥ
na cainaṁ kledayanty āpo
na śoṣayati mārutaḥ
“The jīvātmā can never be pierced by any weapon, burned by fire, moistened by water nor dried by the wind.”
The soul cannot be cut by weapons, it cannot be burned by fire and it cannot be moistened by water nor dried by the wind. The soul is beyond all this material cause and effect.
If anyone thinks they can cut the soul into many pieces by harming the body, they are foolish. This is not possible. If they try to burn it, the soul will not be touched by fire. Nothing material can affect the eternal soul. It is Sanātana, eternal truth. When one is present in the nature of the soul, nothing material can affect him.
Just as when someone inquires from a Sage and the Sage says, “Your son will die.” That person becomes very disturbed because he has a relationship with his son. If someone doesn’t have a son, then hearing the words of a Sage saying, “Your son will die,” that person will not be disturbed. Similarly, if one has too much attachment to the body, then he will think that service of the body is his own service. However, Kṛṣṇa is telling Arjuna, “You are not the body, you are the soul, and the soul cannot be cut, burned, washed by the water nor dried by the wind. The soul is beyond all that.”