I am very much confused by the karma rule, it is said that "If you are doing your duty, you won't get any sin", but how can a terrorist, a smuggler, a rapist doing all negative activities, according to his nature does not do any sin?

For example, if a terrorist blast a bomb killing hundreds of people, although he is performing his duty as a best terrorist is not a sin? Hitler Killing Jews thinking his duty is not a sin?

I don't understand what lord Krishna wanted to say by this statement, anyone who understands its true meaning is requested to share his wisdom...


I believe strongly in the down mentioned list and therefore no answer is found convincing:

  1. Whatever lord had said must be beyond time, i.e. should not depend on time for example law of land which depends on time and changes as the power/control changes cannot be the reason, as it varies from one king to another king, therefore this can't be the answer

  2. It must be universal, which means should be applicable to everyone, not a specific person, and exclude specific persons... As in Bhagavad Gita, whenever Lord wanted to be specific he clearly mentioned like kings...brahmans...worriers...etc and other things he had not mentioned should be a universal truth.

  3. I believe Lord had spoken these great words (words of Bhagavad Gita) not only for Arjuna but for all human beings in the universe.

  4. Many scripture text were lost and many scriptures were molded, Since the almighty knows everything and was also beyond the time, he would also not refer to something which is temporary and will be destroyed with time.

Surprisingly No one was able to mold Bhagavad Gita!!!

  • Not just any Duty, but a duty that comes under the jurisdiction of Dharma, i.e. Law as described by Krishna. If one performs his/her duty as per the defined and approved laws, He is free of any sin, Like a butcher, a soldier, or an executioner. But people like terrorists do not come under dharma, they are not free of sin just because they created a duty in there mind.
    – V.Aggarwal
    Aug 26, 2020 at 12:52
  • 1
    Thank you, Mr. V Aggarwal, but still, I am not convinced, as you said the dharma should be justified with the law of land. But the laws only are made by some humans, maybe king, queen, court, the council of ministers. How can we say the things written in the law is in accordance with dharma, For Example, Aurangzeb killed millions of Hindu people just because the law at that time permits also take examples of SATI or British laws for India or sharia law of killing brutally, how can these laws be justified and one performing it is free from any sin. Aug 26, 2020 at 13:30
  • You are absolutely correct, For these kinds of things, you may refer to some scripts. For instance, there are various chapters in Mahabharata and Manu smriti which talk about laws and human morality. Or one may simply refer to his own moral compass to know if something is right or not (extremist groups not allowed here :P ).
    – V.Aggarwal
    Aug 27, 2020 at 5:36

3 Answers 3


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.

  • Sir, You are absolutely correct... I agree with your comment, only the last statement seems little confusing.... You mean even by doing swadharma one can do sin but then it will contradict the fact that "If you are doing your duty, you won't get any sin", If possible clear this last doubt Aug 31, 2020 at 11:44
  • Ravana comes under the category of a terrorist or Hitler type of people, in respect of whom, It is not swadharma to kill people, though he may take pretext of working for the benefit of his ideology or country. Those type of people will try to justify their misdeeds under the guise of swadharma. @SurajKumar Aug 31, 2020 at 11:58

The problem here is that the Bhagavad Gita is being torn out of its context and all kinds of inapplicable thoughts are being imposed on it.

The context of the Gita is the adharma of the Kauravas and the dharma of the Pandavas. The entire purpose of the Gita lecture was to convince Arjuna to take up arms against the corrupt and evil Duryodhana and his cohorts. So, to say that Gita teaches that any person doing their duty is alright, is a twisting of the intention of the Gita.

If Krishna meant to say that evil-doers, criminals, murderers, etc. are all acceptable doing their work because they think that is their "nature", then he would not say:

BG 4.7:

यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत । अभ्युत्थानमधर्मस्य तदात्मानं सृजाम्यहम् ॥

Every time there is a decline of Dharma and a rise in Adharma, I create a form of myself.

BG 4.8:

परित्राणाय साधूनां विनाशाय च दुष्कृताम् । धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय संभवामि युगे युगे ॥

For the protection of the good folk, and for the destruction of the bad folk, for the re-establishment of Dharma, I appear in every era.

Every duty or action is to be looked at from within the framework of Dharma. It's not willy-nilly any duty or action is equivalent to any other action without weighing it in the scale of Dharma-vs-Adharma.

Krishna constantly uses the word 'Dharma' to qualify every action he teaches or recommends. For example:

BG 2.31:

धर्म्याद् हि युद्धात् श्रेयोऽन्यत् क्षत्रियस्य न विद्यते

There is nothing more preferable for a Kshatriya than a Dharmya Yuddha, i.e. a war for the establishment of Dharma.

  • loved your comment, very nicely explained, But still my belief is Shri Krishna must have strong reason to say entire Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna, not just only to raise weapon Aug 31, 2020 at 11:34
  • @SurajKumar If you notice, the entire Gita is in the form of questions by Arjuna and answers by Krishna. So when Krishna mentioned about not getting attached to these people, Arjuna asks more questions, and this leads to other topics. But Krishna starts and ends with saying to Arjuna to fight the war. The philosophy is in support of the Dharma for which the war is being fought. Arjuna gives many excuses in the beginning to not fight. So Krishna says if you understand the deep philosophy correctly, then you will fight. Then the remaining chapters explain this philosophy....
    – RamAbloh
    Sep 1, 2020 at 15:38
  • .... In the end, Arjuna has understood the philosophy and says "naShTo mohah smRtir labdhA tvat prasAdat mayAchyuta. sthito'smi gatasandehah kariShye vacanam tava" -- "My confusion has gone, I have gained understanding by your grace Achyuta. I am standing here free of doubts, I will do as you say." (chapter 18, verse 73).@SurajKumar
    – RamAbloh
    Sep 1, 2020 at 15:42

This is often a common misunderstanding of what Sri Krishna taught. Negative actions as you have listed are not dharma. Krishna says in Uddhava Gita XII.15-21 (swami Madhavananda translator):

The tendencies of the different castes and orders of life aming men were according to the place of the origin (in the body of Virat): Inferior positions produced inferior tendencies and superior positions superior ones.

Control of mind and the senses, contemplation, cleanliness, contentment, forbearance, straight-forwardness, devotion to Me, compassion, and truthfulness--these are the tendencies of the Brahmana.

An indomitable spirit, strength, patience, valour, fortitude, liberality, enterprise, steadiness, devotion to Brahmanas, and lordship--these are the tendencies of a Kshatriya.

Faith in God, charity, humility, service unto the Brahmanas, and an insatiety from the massing of wealth--these are the tendencies of the Vaishya.

Attending to the Brahmanas, the cows, and the gods with sincerity, and being contented with what he gets therefrom--these are the tendencies of the Shudra.

Uncleanliness, falsehood, theft, atheism, barren disputation, lust, anger, greed--these are the tendencies of a fifth class beyond the pale of the other four.

Non-injury, truthfulness, freedom from theft, lust, anger and greed, and an effort to do what is agreeable and beneficial to all creatures--this is the common duty of all castes.

Further, in the Bhagavad Gita 3.35-37, Lord Krishna says (Swami Nikhilananda translator):

Better is one's own dharma, though imperfectly performed, than the dharma of another well performed. Better is death in the doing of one's own dharma; the dharma of another is fraught with peril.

Arjuna said: But under what compulsion does a man commit sin, O Varshneya, in spite of himself and driven, as it were, by force?

The Lord said: It is desire, it is wrath, which springs from rajas. Know that this is our enemy here, all-devouring and the cause of sin.

and further in Chapter 16.4-24, Krishna says (English translation here - https://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/the-bhagavadgita/d/doc81683.html):

Ostentatiousness, pride, vanity[4], anger, and also harshness and ignorance (are) his, O son of Pṛthā! who is born to demoniac[5] endowments.

Godlike endowments are deemed to be (means) for final emancipation, demoniac for bondage[6]. Grieve not, O descendant of Bharata! you are born to godlike endowments.

(There are) two classes of created beings in this world, the godlike and the demoniac; the godlike (class) has been described at length; now hear from me, O son of Pṛthā! about the demoniac.

Demoniac persons know not action or inaction[7], neither purity nor yet (correct) conduct nor veracity are in them.

They say the universe is devoid of truth[8], devoid of fixed principle[9], and devoid of a ruler, produced by union (of male and female) caused by lust[10], and nothing else. > Holding this view, (these) enemies of the world, of ruined[11] selfs, of little knowledge, and of ferocious actions, are born for the destruction (of the world).

Entertaining insatiable desire, full of vanity, ostentatiousness, and frenzy, they adopt false notions[12] through delusion, and engage in unholy observances.

Indulging in boundless thoughts ending with death[13], given up to the enjoyment of objects of desire, being resolved that that is all, bound down by nets of hopes in hundreds, given up to anger and desire, they wish to obtain heaps of wealth unfairly for enjoying objects of desire.

'This have I obtained to-day; this wish I will obtain; this wealth is mine; and this also shall be mine; this foe I have killed; others too I will destroy; I am lord, I am the enjoyer, I am perfect[14], strong, happy; I have wealth; I am of noble birth; who else is like me? I will sacrifice[15]; I will make gifts; I will rejoice.' Thus deluded by ignorance, tossed about by numerous thoughts, surrounded by the net of delusion, and attached to the enjoyment of objects of desire, they fall down into impure hell.

Honoured (only) by themselves, void of humility, and full of the pride and frenzy of wealth, these calumniators (of the virtuous) perform sacrifices, which are sacrifices only in name, with ostentatiousness and against prescribed rules[16];

indulging (their) vanity, brute force, arrogance, lust, and anger; and hating me in their own bodies and in those of others[17].

These enemies[18], ferocious, meanest of men, and unholy, I continually hurl down, to these worlds[19], only into demoniac wombs.

Coming into demoniac wombs, deluded in every birth, they go down to the vilest state, O son of Kuntī! without ever coming to me.

Threefold is this way, to hell,-ruinous to the self[20],--lust, anger, and likewise avarice; therefore one should abandon this triad.

Released from these three ways to darkness, O son of Kuntī! a man works out his own welfare, and then proceeds to the highest goal.

He[21] who abandoning scripture ordinances, acts under the impulse of desire, does not attain perfection[22], nor happiness, nor the highest goal.

Therefore in discriminating between what should be done and what should not be done, your authority (must be) scripture. And knowing what is declared by the ordinances of scripture, you should perform action in this world.

  • Thank you for these wonderful words, I would have never able to know these things if you had not shared, But still, I am not fully convinced. I have mentioned the reason in the above post in EDIT 1, point no. 2 and 4, I believe that almighty is very much intelligent and it is very difficult to decode his words. Aug 27, 2020 at 14:30

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