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"Even fighting in self-defense is wrong, though it is higher than fighting in aggression. There is no “righteous” indignation because indignation comes from not recognizing sameness in all things."

  • Retreat given at the Thousand Island Park, USA. July 7, 1895. Complete Works, 7. 49.

Isn't this against what is being taught by Sri Krishna in Bhagavad Gita? Fighting for my defense is a part of my karma so I'll definitely fight.

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What Swami Vivekananda is saying here is from the absolute point of view. From the absolute point of view nonviolence is the only right thing. However, Hindu scripture does accept the right to self defense provided minimum harm is done, i.e. even violence inflicted for self defense is harmful and thus strictly speaking wrong but cannot be avoided in the relative world we live in.

This position is not against the Gita teaching since Lord Krishna tried his best to avoid the war.

Tuladhara said, ‘O Jajali, I know morality, which is eternal, with all its mysteries. It is nothing else than that ancient morality which is known to all, and which consists of universal friendliness, and is fraught with beneficence to all creatures. That mode of living which is founded upon a total harmlessness towards all creatures or (in case of actual necessity) upon a minimum of such harm, is the highest morality.’

Mahabharata Santi Parva Section CCLXII

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Fighting in self defense is not wrong. What Swami Vivekananda said had said in a context. He is talking about the highest ideal in spirituality.

When a saint achieves such a high state of realization that he sees all beings as one with himself he does not see any point in fighting them for any reasons.

Swami Vivekananda is talking on the following lines:


Manu Smriti 12.91. He who sacrifices to the Self (alone), equally recognising the Self in all created beings and all created beings in the Self, becomes (independent like) an autocrat and self-luminous.

12.125. He who thus recognizes the Self through the Self in all created beings, becomes equal (-minded) towards all, and enters the highest state, Brahman.


But fighting when there is a threat on life is also allowed.


8.348. Twice-born men may take up arms when (they are) hindered (in the fulfillment of their duties, when destruction (threatens) the twice-born castes (varna) in (evil) times,


So, Swami Vivekananda's words are to be understood in the correct context. He is talking about the highest ideal of spirituality.

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