Krishna’s Advice to the Hero Arjuna: The Army’s First Hindu Chaplain Explains how the Mahabharata can Comfort Soldiers

April 5, 2008

Author: Carla Powers

Source: The Times

As Hindu chaplain to the British Army since 2005, one of Acharya Krishan Kant Attri’s most crucial tools is the Bhagavad Gita.

“I use it all the time,” says the 45-year-old pandit, or Hindu priest. When Hindu recruits bound for Iraq or Afghanistan come to him, worried about going to a war zone and the risks of not returning home, he turns to the Sanskrit text, the portion of the Mahabharata epic in which the god Krishna counsels the hero Arjuna just before battle. It is the famous second chapter that is most trenchant for young British Hindu soldiers, says Attri: “Arjuna is concerned about going to fight, and Krishna tells him ‘You are not a killing machine. You are just doing your duty, and should leave the rest to almighty God’.”

In whichever of his eight languages Attri uses to counsel the soldier, the message is the same: “I tell them, ‘God has given you an opportunity to protect your country and maintain peace in the world’. They need to know they are not killing anybody but just performing a duty.”