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Generally killing is not good at all, but when there is an enemy, an aggressor, then to kill the aggressor is not sinful

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Bhagavad-gita As It Is

BG Chapters 1 - 6

Aggressors are at once to be killed, and no sin is incurred by killing such aggressors.
BG 1.36, Purport:

According to Vedic injunctions there are six kinds of aggressors: (1) a poison giver, (2) one who sets fire to the house, (3) one who attacks with deadly weapons, (4) one who plunders riches, (5) one who occupies another's land, and (6) one who kidnaps a wife. Such aggressors are at once to be killed, and no sin is incurred by killing such aggressors. Such killing of aggressors is quite befitting any ordinary man, but Arjuna was not an ordinary person. He was saintly by character, and therefore he wanted to deal with them in saintliness. This kind of saintliness, however, is not for a kṣatriya. Although a responsible man in the administration of a state is required to be saintly, he should not be cowardly.

Srimad-Bhagavatam

SB Canto 1

As a brahma-bandhu, or a worthless son of a brāhmaṇa, Aśvatthāmā was not to be killed, but he was at the same time an aggressor also. And according to the rulings of Manu, an aggressor, even though he be a brāhmaṇa (and what to speak of an unworthy son of a brāhmaṇa), is to be killed.
SB 1.7.53-54, Translation and Purport:

The Personality of Godhead Sri Kṛṣṇa said: A friend of a brāhmaṇa is not to be killed, but if he is an aggressor he must be killed. All these rulings are in the scriptures, and you should act accordingly. You have to fulfill your promise to your wife, and you must also act to the satisfaction of Bhīmasena and Me.

Arjuna was perplexed because Aśvatthāmā was to be killed as well as spared according to different scriptures cited by different persons. As a brahma-bandhu, or a worthless son of a brāhmaṇa, Aśvatthāmā was not to be killed, but he was at the same time an aggressor also. And according to the rulings of Manu, an aggressor, even though he be a brāhmaṇa (and what to speak of an unworthy son of a brāhmaṇa), is to be killed. Droṇācārya was certainly a brāhmaṇa in the true sense of the term, but because he stood in the battlefield he was killed. But although Aśvatthāmā was an aggressor, he stood without any fighting weapons. The ruling is that an aggressor, when he is without weapon or chariot, cannot be killed. All these were certainly perplexities. Besides that, Arjuna had to keep the promise he had made before Draupadī just to pacify her. And he also had to satisfy both Bhīma and Kṛṣṇa, who advised killing him. This dilemma was present before Arjuna, and the solution was awarded by Kṛṣṇa.

SB Canto 5

According to the Vedic injunctions, only an aggressor can be killed. If a person comes with an intent to kill, one can immediately take action and kill in self-defense.
SB 5.9.17, Purport:

According to the Vedic injunctions, only an aggressor can be killed. If a person comes with an intent to kill, one can immediately take action and kill in self-defense. It is also stated that one can be killed if he comes to set fire to the home or to pollute or kidnap one's wife. Lord Rāmacandra killed the entire family of Rāvaṇa because Rāvaṇa kidnapped His wife, Sītādevī. However, killing is not sanctioned in the śāstras for other purposes. The killing of animals in sacrifice to the demigods, who are expansions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is sanctioned for those who eat meat. This is a kind of restriction for meat-eating. In other words, the slaughter of animals is also restricted by certain rules and regulations in the Vedas. Considering these points, there was no reason to kill Jaḍa Bharata, who was born in a respectable, highly exalted brāhmaṇa family. He was a God-realized soul and a well-wisher to all living entities. The Vedas did not at all sanction the killing of Jaḍa Bharata by rogues and thieves. Consequently the goddess Bhadra Kālī emerged from the deity to give protection to the Lord's devotee.

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta

CC Madhya-lila

"The Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa said, 'A brahma-bandhu is not to be killed, but if he is an aggressor, he must be killed.'"
CC Madhya 15.264, Purport:

As far as killing the body of a brāhmaṇa is concerned, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.7.53) gives the following injunction concerning a brahma-bandhu, a person born of a brāhmaṇa father but devoid of brahminical qualities:

śrī-bhagavān uvāca
brahma-bandhur na hantavya
ātatāyī vadhār-haṇaḥ

"The Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa said, 'A brahma-bandhu is not to be killed, but if he is an aggressor, he must be killed.'"

Quoting from the smṛti, Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī comments on this quotation from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam:

ātatāyinam āyāntam api vedānta-pāragam
jighāṁ santaṁ jighāṁsīyān na tena brahma-hā bhavet

""An aggressor intent on killing may be a very learned scholar of Vedānta, yet he should be killed because of his envy in killing others. In such a case, it is not sinful to kill a brāhmaṇa.""

Lectures

Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures

These aggressors are to be immediately killed. There is no question of nonviolence. You must kill immediately. There is no sin.
Lecture on BG 1.36 -- London, July 26, 1973:

Pāpam eva āśrayed asmān hatvā etān ātatāyinaḥ. Ātatāyinaḥ means aggressor. According to law, if somebody comes to attack you, or if somebody comes to kidnap your wife, these are ātatāyinaḥ. Or somebody comes to set fire in your house, especially they are called aggressors. So these aggressors are to be immediately killed. There is no question of nonviolence. You must kill immediately. There is no sin. Ātatāyinaḥ. But here, although the other party is ātatāyinaḥ, aggressor, still, Arjuna is considering whether they should be killed or not. That is the difference between devatā. In every action, they are calculating. But he is considering that "This kind of aggressor, because they are my kinsmen, they are my family men, whether this kind of aggressor should be killed or not?" It is common sense. Suppose your son has done something mischievous. The same thing. Same thing means to attack the father. Still, the father will consider, "Whether I shall kill my son or not?" That is natural. "If my son sets fire in the house, whether I shall kill him or not?" So Arjuna's position is like that.

Because Sītā was kidnapped, Sītā was insulted, or Rāmacandra was insulted, the retaliation was Lord Rāmacandra killed not only Rāvaṇa, but the whole dynasty, finished. Only for one woman. He could create so many. No. Because ātatāyinaḥ, aggressed over. Just to teach people that anyone, if he is aggressor, he must be killed.
Lecture on BG 1.36 -- London, July 26, 1973:

Just like Lord Rāmacandra. He was so pious king, but when it so happened that his wife, Sītā, was insulted... Sītā was taken away by Rāvaṇa. Lord Rāmacandra could marry hundreds and thousands of Sītās. He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He could create Sītā, Rādhārāṇī, Lakṣmī. They are the pleasure potency of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Supreme Personality of Godhead cannot have a material wife or material companion. Kṛṣṇa's Rādhārāṇī or Lord Rāmacandra's Sītādevī, Nārāyaṇa's Lakṣmīdevī, they are pleasure potency of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Rādhā-kṛṣṇa-praṇaya-vṛkitir āhlādinī-śaktir asmāt. Āhlādinī-śakti. Kṛṣṇa, God, has got many potencies. One of the potencies is called āhlādinī-śakti, pleasure potency. So Kṛṣṇa's consort, Lord Rāmacandra's consort, they are pleasure potency, exhibited. So to show the example, Lord Rāmacandra, because Sītā was kidnapped, Sītā was insulted, or Rāmacandra was insulted, the retaliation was Lord Rāmacandra killed not only Rāvaṇa, but the whole dynasty, finished. Only for one woman. He could create so many. No. Because ātatāyinaḥ, aggressed over. Just to teach people that anyone, if he is aggressor, he must be killed. This is the position.

Generally killing is not good at all, but when there is enemy, aggressor, then to kill the aggressor is not sin.
Lecture on BG 2.1-5 -- Germany, June 16, 1974:

So Arjuna belonged to the group of men who was meant for giving protection to the society. So when he was declining to fight, Arjuna, when he was declining to fight, at that time Kṛṣṇa gave him advice that "It is your duty to fight." So generally killing is not good at all, but when there is enemy, aggressor, then to kill the aggressor is not sin. So the other party in the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra, they became aggressor to the Arjuna's party. Now, this is the set up of the Bhagavad-gītā. The real purpose is to instruct Arjuna about spiritual understanding.

One who kidnaps one's wife, one who take away by force one's wealth, one who sets fire in one's house, these are called aggressor. So aggressor should be killed. Aggressor should be given trouble.
Lecture on BG 2.2-6 -- Ahmedabad, December 11, 1972:

It is said that a kṣatriya who dies in the fight is immediately promoted to the heavenly planet. But because he is dying for the good cause, therefore he is promoted. Asvargyam akīrti-karam. "It is defamation on your part." So

klaibyaṁ mā sma gamaḥ pārtha
naitat tvayy upapadyate
kṣudraṁ hṛdaya-daurbalyaṁ
tyaktvottiṣṭha parantapa
(BG 2.3)

Parantapa means one who can give trouble to the enemies. It is the duty of the kṣatriya. Enemies, aggressor, they should be killed. There is no ātatāyī. Ātatāyī means one who is aggressor. One who kidnaps one's wife, one who take away by force one's wealth, one who sets fire in one's house, these are called aggressor. So aggressor should be killed. Aggressor should be given trouble. So Kṛṣṇa does not teach unnecessarily nonviolence. If kṣatriya becomes nonviolent, then the whole state will be in chaos. They must learn how to kill any criminal. He should be immediately killed.

Srimad-Bhagavatam Lectures

If somebody is aggressor, there is no sin in killing aggressor.
Lecture on SB 1.7.16 -- Vrndavana, September 14, 1976:

Aśvatthāmā was born of a brāhmaṇa, Droṇācārya. But he killed the five sons of Draupadī most abominably, when they were sleeping. So what to speak of brāhmaṇa, he's less than a kṣatriya even. Because a kṣatriya also do not kill anybody while one is sleeping. A kṣatriya challenges, offers him weapon, fights, and then one of them is killed. That is... So here it is brahma-bandhoḥ ātatāyinaḥ. Ātatāyinaḥ, aggressor. Anyone who kidnaps one's wife is called aggressor. One who sets fire in your house, he's aggressor. One who is coming to kill you with weapon, he's aggressor. In this way there is a list of aggression. So aggressor can be killed immediately. If somebody is aggressor, there is no sin in killing aggressor. Enemy who sets fire to the house, administers poison, attacks all of a sudden with deadly weapon, plunders wealth, or usurps agricultural field, or entices one's wife is called an aggressor. Everything... This is Vedic knowledge. Everything has got definition. So this Aśvatthāmā was an aggressor. Therefore Arjuna decided to kill him.

Because Aśvatthāmā was proved to be brahma-bandhu and ātatāyinaḥ, he deserved to be killed.
Lecture on SB 1.7.16 -- Vrndavana, September 14, 1976:

So considering all these points, Aśvatthāmā is accepted here as brahma-bandhu. And at the same time he's aggressor. Brahma-bandhoḥ ātatāyinaḥ. Therefore Arjuna promised, "I shall kill him." Arjuna did not promise to kill a brāhmaṇa. No. That was not his business. Because he's proved to be brahma-bandhu and ātatāyinaḥ, he deserved to be killed. Therefore it is sanctioned (?).

If somebody takes your property, if somebody sets fire in your house, if somebody kidnaps your wife, or somebody is trying to kill you, they are called aggressor. So aggressor should be killed immediately.
Lecture on SB 1.8.50 -- Los Angeles, May 12, 1973:

Pradyumna: Nama om... (recites praṇāma mantras) The first part of this verse, the first half of this verse, naino rājñaḥ prajā-bhartur dharma-yuddhe vadho dviṣām iti, this is a statement or an injunction of śāstra, that for the killing, or the vadha, dviṣām, of the enemies, dharma-yuddhe, in religious fight, rājñaḥ prajā-bhartur, of a king who is maintaining his citizens He has to maintain his citizens. So if there is some danger, then he has to eliminate the enemy.

Prabhupāda: What is religious fight? Religious fight means you have got right to kill your aggressor. If somebody takes your property, if somebody sets fire in your house, if somebody kidnaps your wife, or somebody is trying to kill you, they are called aggressor. So aggressor should be killed immediately. It is not that somebody has become an aggressor, and if I say, "Now I have become a Vaiṣṇava, I'll not be violent. I shall tolerate. Caitanya Mahāprabhu has taught us to be tolerant like the tree or the grass. So I shall become tolerant. Let him do." Just like Gandhi used to say. Somebody questioned him that "If somebody comes and violates the chastity of your daughter in your presence, what will you do?" He said, "I shall remain nonviolent." But that is not śāstric injunction. This is foolishness.

If somebody is aggressor, he must be killed immediately. Dharma-yuddha.
Lecture on SB 1.8.50 -- Los Angeles, May 12, 1973:

If somebody is aggressor, he must be killed immediately. Dharma-yuddha. Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja is thinking that "Although there was fight, the fight was between our own men, my brother, my nephews, my grandfather. So they are family members. I have killed them for my kingdom." He is thinking in that way. He is a pious man. Violence is required. We don't say nonviolence. Just as Caitanya Mahāprabhu, He gave us the instruction, tṛṇād api sunīcena taror api sahiṣṇunā: "One should be tolerant, forbearing like the tree, like the grass." Amāninā mānadena: "One should give respect to others. In this way one should chant Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra." Because in chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, there will be so many aggressors. The nature is so cruel. Just like Prahlāda Mahārāja, a five-years-old boy. His only fault was that he was chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, and the father was aggressor, giving him trouble so many ways. So we must be prepared.

You do not kill unnecessarily animal even, not even an ant. You should be nonviolent by your nature. But when there is aggression, there are enemies, the śāstra says, dharma-yuddha.
Lecture on SB 1.8.50 -- Los Angeles, May 12, 1973:

Therefore as there is danger... Suppose Caitanya Mahāprabhu has taught us that "Be tolerant," but not that where violence is required we should be tolerant. No. Just like while Nityānanda Prabhu was injured by Jagāi and Mādhāi, He wanted to immediately kill him. Similarly, nonviolence does not mean that in right causes also you will remain nonviolent. No. You do not attack anybody unnecessarily. You do not kill unnecessarily animal even, not even an ant. You should be nonviolent by your nature. But when there is aggression, there are enemies, the śāstra says, dharma-yuddha. That is dharma-yuddha.

It is not Vaiṣṇavism... "Oh, this man is coming to kill me. Right. All right, let me embrace him." No. That is not the rule. When there is ātatāyī, aggressor, you must fight, you must kill.
Lecture on SB 1.10.1 -- Mayapura, June 16, 1973:

So fighting whimsically by the politicians, that is not sanctioned. There must be dharma-yuddha. Dharma-yuddha means religious fight, fight on religious principles. So what was the religious principle? (aside:) Hm, where is that mat? (Bengali) Saccidānanda. Here it is said, hatvā ātatāyinaḥ. Ātatāyī means aggressor. If somebody comes to your home to kidnap your wife, to take by force your property or to set fire in your house, he is called ātatāyī. He should immediately be killed. It is not that nonviolence nonsense. If somebody is coming to attack you unnecessarily, you must kill him first. It is not Vaiṣṇavism... "Oh, this man is coming to kill me. Right. All right, let me embrace him." No. That is not the rule. When there is ātatāyī, aggressor, you must fight, you must kill. That is religious.

General Lectures

It is said if somebody kidnaps your wife, if somebody sets fire in your house, somebody comes to kill you, then he is understood as aggressor and you can kill him immediately. There is no question of nonviolence.
Lecture to International Student Society -- Boston, December 28, 1969:

Guest: What are the specific principles that you would use in trying to determine whether it is absolutely necessary to fight? That sounds sort of like "Whenever in doubt, do the right thing." That's a very vague directive. You know that perhaps if somebody comes into your house and threatens your family, then you have to repel them with a certain amount of force, but how would you...

Prabhupāda: These instructions, these directions are there in the Vedic literatures. If somebody, it is said if somebody kidnaps your wife, if somebody sets fire in your house, somebody comes to kill you, then he is understood as aggressor and you can kill him immediately. There is no question of nonviolence. These are śāstric instructions.

Philosophy Discussions

If you kill an aggressor then you are right. Suppose somebody is coming to kill you, then you kill first. That is good. But if somebody's not doing anything harm to you, and if you kill, then what is this philosophy? What is this philosophy? Give him some bad name, because I have to kill him. "Oh, he has no soul."
Philosophy Discussion on John Stuart Mill:

Śyāmasundara: He says in this way that society should be organized so that there is freedom of belief, freedom to unite, freedom of taste, freedom of competition. But one individual's freedom should not encroach upon another individual's freedom.

Prabhupāda: Then why they are killing? The freedom of the poor animals, why they encroach on the freedom of others? Īśāvāsyam idaṁ sarvaṁ mā gṛdhaḥ kasya svid dhanam (ISO 1). Do not encroach upon others' freedom. That is Vedic injunction. That is nice. But why these people are encroaching upon the freedom of these animals? The birds, they are flying, freedom, the ducks. Why they kill? Encroaching upon other's freedom. Without any harm, the birds are flying, without... If you kill an aggressor then you are right. Suppose somebody is coming to kill you, then you kill first. That is good. But if somebody's not doing anything harm to you, and if you kill, then what is this philosophy? What is this philosophy? Give him some bad name, because I have to kill him. "Oh, he has no soul." You can attack, he has no consciousness, you have no soul. You can attack him. Why you are killing? Let him kill you. So far this philosophy of religion, he says that God is good, but that he is involved in a world which is not his own making. That God didn't create the world, but that he is involved with it. Then we should be judged by Mill. God is good, but not as good as he thinks he is. That is his opinion about God.

Conversations and Morning Walks

1969 Conversations and Morning Walks

Just like Arjuna was taught, "Kill them. They have insulted your wife, they have encroached upon your property. They must be killed." That is allowed. But you don't be aggressive.
Conversation Including Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.1-34 Recitation & Explanation -- April 1, 1969, San Francisco:

Prabhupāda: Defend yourself. Not to encroach upon other's property. Just like Hitler sending soldiers in others' country. Why? You defend your own country. That's all right. You defend your home. That is not prohibited. The śāstra allows it. If somebody comes to encroach upon your property, you kill him immediately. That is said. But not kill unnecessarily. Just like Arjuna was taught, "Kill them. They have insulted your wife, they have encroached upon your property. They must be killed." That is allowed. But you don't be aggressive.

1972 Conversations and Morning Walks

Aggressor. Just like you are living in this room. If somebody enters your room and attacks your wife, you must fight. You immediately kill him. That is the law.
Room Conversation -- June 29, 1972, San Diego:

Prabhupāda: We are talking of philosophy. That is applicable to the Muslim or to the Hindus or everyone. When there is right cause of fight, one must fight. This is philosophy.

Guest (2): Yes but what is the basis on which you decide whether a cause is right or wrong? There should be a common basis. You see.

Prabhupāda: Just like aggressor. Aggressor. Just like you are living in this room. If somebody enters your room and attacks your wife, you must fight. You immediately kill him. That is the law. This is fight. You cannot see your wife being insulted before you. You must fight. You must kill him. That is the law. Aggressor.

1974 Conversations and Morning Walks

When there is aggression you have the right to kill but not unnecessarily you can kill.
Room Conversation -- June 5, 1974, Geneva:

Young Swiss Man: Isn't it at the beginning Arjuna hesitates to kill his family and doesn't want to go to fight, and what he is taught, through Bhagavad-gītā in some way is that he should not restrain and that...

Prabhupāda: But first of all you take your Bible. You are ordered not to kill. Why you are killing? Then go to Bhagavad-gītā. When there is aggression you have the right to kill but not unnecessarily you can kill. Suppose a tiger attacks you; you can kill. But you cannot go in the forest and kill the tiger. That is sinful.

1975 Conversations and Morning Walks

For the maintenance of equilibrium of the society, sometimes killing is necessary. Just like fight, war. When the enemy has come to your country, you cannot sit idly; you must fight. But that does not mean that you are allowed to kill everyone as you like.
Garden Conversation with Professors -- June 24, 1975, Los Angeles:

Dr. Judah: Would you explain the other side of it, the fact that, of course, the Bhagavad-gītā was, has its setting on a battlefield in which Kṛṣṇa enjoins Arjuna to go out and fight his kinsmen because it is his duty as a kṣatriya.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Because in the material world, for the maintenance of equilibrium of the society, sometimes killing is necessary. Just like fight, war. When the enemy has come to your country, you cannot sit idly; you must fight. But that does not mean that you are allowed to kill everyone as you like. That is a special circumstances when fighting must be there. Therefore the kṣatriyas are required to give protection. Like the government is keeping military, police, soldiers, that does not mean government is after killing only. That department will be utilized when there is necessity, not that government is meant for killing. Government has other departments also. But this is also maintained. If there is necessity, it should be utilized. So Kṛṣṇa, when He is on the battlefield, that was a necessity. He has got two business. Paritrāṇāya sādhūnāṁ vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām (BG 4.8). Those who are demons, those who are disturbing elements, they should be killed. And those who are honest and peaceful, they should be maintained. But because it is material world, the world of duality, there are good and evil, so you have to curb down the evil. Sometimes force is required. So that killing is not bad. When the enemy is aggressive and you are killing, that killing and poor animal who is supplying milk... You are drinking milk, your mother, and you are killing. This killing and that killing is not the same thing.

Correspondence

1973 Correspondence

When New Vrindaban has been attacked twice, thrice, why are you not keeping guns? We are not advocates of non-violence. When there is aggression, we must kill them.
Letter to Kirtanananda -- Mayapur 22 June, 1973:

After the shooting affair what precaution have you taken? Bharadraja is here and he gave report that the devotees were very frightened. I further understand that the attack was for the second time. . Here in Mayapur there are reports of dacoity at least once, twice in a month surrounding our place. So we have now taken two guns under regular license from the government. . So when New Vrindaban has been attacked twice, thrice, why are you not keeping guns? We are not advocates of non-violence when there is aggression we must kill them. So I think you shall immediately arrange for guns and at least 10, 12 men should be trained up so when there is again attack you can properly reply the aggressor.