Gita : Ch-2. Slo-34.
Srimad Bhagavas-Gita :
Chapter-2. ( Samkya-yogam )
Slokam-34. (The consequences of Arjuna acting contrary to his duty as a kshatriyan are given in this slokam : "People will always speak of your infamy, and for one who has been honored, dishonor is worse than death.")
Akeertim capi bhutani kathayishyanti te avyayam,
Sambhavitasya cakeertiah marannadatiricyate.
api ca = not only this, but also ( also over and above );
bhutani te avyayam = forever, people ( about you );
akeertim kathayishyanti = will talk and spread infamy;
sambhavitasya akeertiah = for a respected man ill fame;
marannat atiricyate ca = becomes more than death also.
Both as friend and philosopher to Arjuna, Lord Kṛṣṇa now gives His final judgement regarding Arjuna's refusal to fight. The Lord says, "Arjuna, if you leave the battlefield, people will call you a coward even before your actual flight. And if you think that people may call you bad names but that you will save your life by fleeing the battlefield, then My advice is that you'd do better to die in the battle. For a respectable man like you, ill fame is worse than death. So, you should not flee for fear of your life; better to die in the battle. That will save you from the ill fame of misusing My friendship and from losing your prestige in society."
So, the final judgement of the Lord was for Arjuna to die in the battle and not withdraw.
Not only will happiness and fame elude him if he disregards his duty as a ksatriya but the world opinion of those competent to judge and those incompetent as well will chastise him and speak of his act of disgrace public and privately. They will say Arjuna was a coward for when the battle was about to begin he gave only excuses and retreated hastily from the battlefield. The Supreme Lord Krishna is telling him that forever history will brand him for cowardice. If Arjuna was to reply that what the public think is of no consequence to him, the Supreme Lord neutralises that by stating that for a person of honour possessing the qualities of heroism, determination, puissance, courage etc. which are all contrary to cowardice to have to accept infamy is worse than death. If he was to acquire disgrace of this kind death for him would certainly be much better. If reasoning further one was to present the question of how ignominy could attach itself to one who is already a renowned hero and whose resignation from the battle field is prompted only by motives of respect for elders and compassion to friends and relatives then the next verse 34 neutralises that argument.
By abandoning this war for righteousness not only would Arjuna lose his excellent reputation but great misfortune would arise as well. This is the gist of using the word akirtim meaning infamy. Instead of being the valiant warrior, Arjuna the weilder of the intrepid Gandiva bow has become timid and fled the battlefield. Such undying infamy would spread by word of mouth throughout the world in many countries by those who witnessed it. But not only ksatriya warriors would speak ill of Arjuna but also demi-gods, sages, merchants and even low class sudras. It might be put forth that isn't infamy better than death? And that one should bear it instead of dying. In the Mahabharata it is stated that one should try to defeat the enemy by: negotiation, bribery, open attack, etc. but should not fight if success is not guaranteed. In that case war should be avoided. To this Lord Krishna is responding that this infamy is more painful than death? Arjuna has never been defeated in battle, he is the son of the king of the demi-gods Indra, he is the dear friend of Lord Krishna, he possess unrivaled valor, possessing extremely praiseworthy virtues with this understanding infamy is much more painful than death.
To be continued ....