Honor and Dishonor

Hare Krishna to all.

In a number of verses in the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Sri Krishna declares that one should not be affected by honor and dishonor ... (and should treat friends and foes alike).

In verse 34 of Chapter 2, in urging Arjuna to fight, Krishna tells him that  "people will always speak of your infamy, and for one who has been honored, dishonor is worse than death."

In my less-than-spiritual thinking, there seems to be a contradiction as to how we should handle honor and dishonor. I have filed a suit against another - a foe, I may call - for some defamatory statements he made against my honor. So, I am a little perplexed about how I should proceed based on the Gita.

I do not have the benefit of a spiritual master to seek guidance on how I should handle honor and dishonor. So, Prabhujis and Matajis, please help me with you learned views.

Thank you. Hare Krishna!

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  • Dear Rashmi,

    Hare Krishna,

    Thank you very much for your enlightenment. And, you are right when you say it is difficult to get above bodily consciousness. But, we will have to keep at it.

    Please never feel I will be offended; it will be sinful of me (or anyone) to feel so when you have cleared my doubts with your Gita wisdom. Hare Krishna!

  • E-Counselor

    Hare Krsna Prabhuji,


    You have yourself answered your question - that Krsna Himself mentions that one must be above friend and foe and honour-dishonour.

    Re - the verse of Ch 2 where He states that for an honorable man, dishonor is worse than death is - in Chapter 2, Arjuna first surrenders to Krsna and accepts Him as guru and asks for answers to his bewilderment. Therefore - Krsna is giving him arguments from spiritual as well as material point of view why he should fight. Honor-dishonor is for body and for people who identify themselves with the body. For people who are in the soul consciousness, there is no honor-dishonor, because they know they are not the body and these are temporary designations for the body. Similarly, there is no friend or foe - because that is also identification with the body.

    It is difficult, but one should try to get above the bodily consciousness and try to stop bracketing people into friend or foe or mine or not mine. In Text 2.14 - Krsna tells Arjuna to be tolerant - tam titikshashva bharata.

    matra-sparsas tu kaunteya
    agamapayino 'nityas
    tams titiksasva bharata

    O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.


    we should accept that as long as there is life, something or the other will keep on happening - either we will get happiness or distress. The idea is to not get disturbed by either and to accept that "This too shall pass". Of course, it is easy to sermonise, especially when all the facts are not known, but difficult to follow.


    I hope I have answered your query without hurting or offending you.

    Your servant,



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