adharmaabhibhavaatkrishna pradushyanti kulastriyaha |
streeshu dushtaasu vaarshaneya jaayate varnasamkaraha || 41 ||
When lawlessness dominates, it deteriorates the condition of women in society, O Krishna. Deterioration of women, O Vaarshneya, gives rise to contamination of character.
adharma-abhibhavaat : when lawlessness dominates
krishna : O Krishna
pradyushanti : deterioration
kula-striyaha : women in society
streeshu : women
dushtasu : deteriorated
vaarshaneya : O Vaarshaneya
jaayate : arises
varna-samkara : contamination of character
Arjuna’s rambling apocalyptic post-war imagination continues. He echoes a fear that most warriors have in the back of the mind when they go to war. Invading armies seldom show respect and dignity to the women of the defeated kingdom, they are usually treated as the spoils of the war. History has proven this out, and unfortunately it is still the case wherever there is the aftermath of war.
In any society, due to the law of averages, there always will be a part of the population with questionable morals and character. However, in a post-war situation where women are treated without dignity, and have to succumb to their invaders, there is no guarantee that they will be able to raise their children with the right values, education and morals. This results in a breakdown in character in the younger generation across the board. Arjuna downward-spiraling mind feared this scenario.
1. The Sanskrit word “varna” has several meanings. One traditional meaning of the word “varna” is caste, and if this meaning is taken, the second verse means “this gives rise to contamination of castes”. However, since we cannot even begin to imagine what the caste system looked like in the age when the Gita was written, I have used a more abstract meaning of the word “varna”.