atha chetvamimam dharmyam samgraamam na karshyasi |
tataha svadharmam keertim cha hitvaa paapamavaapsyasi || 33 ||

On the other hand, if you do not undertake this righteous war, then by forsaking your duty and valour, you will incur sin.

atha : on the other hand
chet : if
tvam : you
imam : this
dharmyam : righteous
samgraamam : war
na : don’t
karshyasi : undertake
tataha : then
svadharmam : your duty
keertim : valour
cha : and
hitvaa : forsaking
paapam : sin
avaapsyasi : incur

The word “sin” could mean several things to several people. Let us understand the meaning used here. If you live in society anywhere, in a city, town, village etc. you are always bound by certain laws. If you conduct an act that goes against the law, then it is called a crime. Stealing a car, for example, is a crime.

Similarly, if someone does not perform their svadharma or duty, or does something counter to their svadharma, it is equivalent to a crime under a cosmic or universal law. That crime is termed as a sin.

Therefore, Shri Krishna urges Arjuna and us to consider the repercussions of not conducting our svadharma. Like a good teacher, he had explained the benefits of the teaching earlier, and now he elaborates on the downside of not following the teaching in this and the next shloka.

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