Confusion with duty ethics as instructed by Lord Krishna


Sri Krishna says in B.G. 3.35

श्रेयान्स्वधर्मो विगुण: परधर्मात्स्वनुष्ठितात् | स्वधर्मे निधनं श्रेय: परधर्मो भयावह: || 35||

It is far better to perform one’s natural prescribed duty, though tinged with faults, than to perform another’s prescribed duty, though perfectly. In fact, it is preferable to die in the discharge of one’s duty, than to follow the path of another, which is fraught with danger.

The key word is swadharma.

What is a swadharma - स्वधर्म to a soldier, may not be a swadharma to a peasant/teacher/king.

  • A soldier, irrespective of the country, had to defend his country. It is swadharma for him.

  • A king, irrespective of the country, has to give protection to his people and defend his country from aggression. It is swadharma for him.

  • A teacher has to learn and impart knowledge to his disciplies

  • A peasant has to do manual work to sustain himself and his family.

We cannot and should not expect one category of people doing the job of the other, though it can be done easily.

For example: A soldier, who has strong body and mind and inclination to fight, should defend his country, but should not resort to peasant's work.

A good teacher, though well versed in using weapons, should not resort to duties of a soldier. His duty is to teach.

Drona is an example of deviating from swadharma.

However, in respect of a terrorist, It is not swadharma for him to kill people, though he may take pretext of working for the benefit of his ideology or country. Basically, we are humans AND should resort to killing of humans, without justification. Though one may justify one's terrorist activities, it becomes paradharma.

Similar is the case with a person like Hitler.

Following paradharma is a SIN.

Ravana tried to defend his action of abducting Sita, stating that it is swadharma for demons to enjoy women of their choice.

स्वधर्मो रक्षसां भीरु सर्वथैव न संशयः | गमनं वा परस्त्रीणाम् हरणम् सम्प्रमथ्य वा || ५-२०-५

"O one with fear! Obtaining women belonging to others or abducting by force is the righteous deed for ogres by all means. There is no doubt in this."

However, it is a SIN, and thus he paid price for his misdeed.

Note: “The question: Confusion with duty ethics as instructed by Lord Krishna” is licensed by Stack Exchange Inc (; user contributions licensed under CC BY-SA.