Bhagwat Gita : Solving Ethical Dilemmas

In our lives, we come across a number of situations when one can’t make a clear decision about what choice to make and which action to take. The situation of extreme confusion is called a dilemma. A number of times we come across what we call an ethical dilemma. It is a situation when we have to choose between two aspects, both ethically sound, but one of them is the best solution.

Let us take an example of a person who is a prospect groom. In his wedding, his parents try to put pressure on the other side for dowry. The person(prospect groom) is against it. However, he cannot go against his parents as well. So, now, the groom is in an ethical dilemma. The two ethical choices with him are: First, going against his parents by voicing against the acts they are involved in and second, Letting it happen while respecting what his parents are doing.

The question now is: How to solve such and even higher category dilemmas that may often upsurge in one’s life? The answer is well imbibed in the Bhagwad Gita.

The Bhagwad Gita is a conversation between Sri Krsna and Arjuna in the in the mid of battlefield. The situation is that Arjuna is in a dilemma whether to fight against his relatives or back off from the battle. So, here Sri Krsna guides Arjuna with words of wisdom, reviving in him the sense of duty again.

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How did Lord Krsna show the path?

  • Krsna advised Arjuna to perform his “prescribed” duty. As a kshatriya, the prescribed duty of Arjuna was to fight the battle. However, due to attachment, he failed to realize his duty and was up to surrender.
  • So, the root of solving such a dilemma lies in dutifulness. The Kurus were relatives later and enemies first for Arjuna. But, Arjuna failed to understand this and wrongly prioritized his preferences leading to an ethical dilemma.
  • Lord Krsna told Arjuna that his “prescribed” duty was his(Lord’s) injunction and should not be ignored. Even if he refuses to perform his duty the end of Kurus was definite as the Lord himself would kill them. So, he told Arjuna to become a means of Lord’s plan and execute his duty.
  • If he did not do so, he would become a performer of sin. If he did so, then it would serve the larger purpose of destruction of the sinners and restoration of dharma.

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How this instruction could be relevant in our lives?

Apply this principle to the above example:

  • Duty as a citizen: Voice against the wrongs.
  • Dilemma due to – Parental pressure or duty as a son to obey his parents.
  • Which of these would serve the larger purpose?
    • The answer is the first one as if he voices against the wrongs, it would be ethical as well as utilitarian for the society.

Therefore, the solution to the dilemma is to perform the duty that would serve the larger good. This is the path being shown to us by the Bhagwat Gita.