Chapter 2 Verse 16 – Samkhya Yoga
Akeertim chaapi bhootaani kathayishyanti te’vyayaam;
Sambhaavitasya chaakeertir maranaad atirichyate.
People, too, will recount thy everlasting dishonour;
and to one who has been honoured, dishonour is worse than death.
After talking about the sin of not fighting the war, Lord Krishna in this shloka turns outside the individual and talks about how the society will view this act. People and society always associates a Kshatriya to bravery. If he refuses to fight in a war it would be viewed as cowardly act by the society. Such an act will be viewed by people as a dishonour. For a kshatriya who is heroic and bold such kind of dishonour is worse than death. So Lord Krishna advises him that it is better to die in the battle field and get honoured than to refuse a war and get dishonoured by his own people.
Extending the interpretation to Mankind’s life!
The key words for this verse are the honour and dishonour! It is a slightly different as well as difficult to comprehend this. As a human being we constantly perform acts. These acts keep giving us results. Then how does this honour and dishonour come into picture?
These are nothing but perceptions. We create perceptions in the minds of people. For example take a cricketer. He scores runs consistently and acquires great reputation as a cricketer. Then suddenly people come to know that he is involved in fixing matches. The same public which heaped praises of him, suddenly turns hostile. Dishonour and disrepute surrounds him and that is equal to a moral death for him.
In short Lord Krishna says that getting honour or dishonour are both in our hands. When we perform an act which is moral, we know about it and knowingly we perform. When we perform an immoral act, then also we perform that act knowingly. There is a difference between a mistake and deliberately performing an immoral act. Like a cricketer can get out for zero, crowd will forgive him.
But if he gets out for zero for a fixed match crowd never forgives him. We are the masters of our acts and we need to choose what kind of acts we need to perform and we get rewarded accordingly. This is a message that everyone needs to keep in mind before performing the act. Because an act if done morally right can get your honour and dishonour when immorality comes in!