Appendix—The Gita teaches the remarkable art of spiritual upliftment through one's own dealings so that a person, under all circumstances, having all kinds of dealings sanctioned by the scriptures, may attain salvation. Generally other scriptures mention that if you want to attain salvation, become a recluse by renouncing mundane materials and live in solitude because the mundane affairs and spiritual upliftment can't go together. But the Gita declares that at whatever place you are, whatever sect you follow, whatever principle you live up to, whatever religion, school of thought, `Varna' (caste), 'Asrama' (stage of life) you follow, by following them if you act according to the gospel of the Gita, it will lead you to salvation. The Supreme Truth, which recluses and saints attained in solitude by practising spiritual discipline for years together, will be attained in practical worldly life by following the teachings of the Gita. By becoming even-minded in success and failure, performance of one's duty without the desire for fruit, is to act according to the gospel of the Gita.
What can be more terrible circumstance and activity (action) than a war? When a man can attain salvation under such a terrible circumstance and activity as a war, then what other more terribe circumstance and activity will be there in which he may not attain salvation? According to the Gita sitting on a seat in loneliness and meditating on God can lead to salvation (Gita 6/10—13) and waging a war can also lead to salvation.
Arjuna wanted neither heaven nor kingdom (Gita 1/32, 35, 2/8). He wanted to turn away from the sin which would accrue by killing his kith and kin (Gita 1/36, 39, 45). Therefore the Lord appears to say, "If you don't covet heaven and kingdom and want to tum away from the sin, discharge your duty of fighting in the war treating the agreeable and the disagreeable alike, thus you will incur no sin—`naivam papamavapsyasi'. The reason is that sin is not incurred by waging war; but uneven-mindedness (partiality), desire, selfishness and ego are the causes of sin. It is your duty (dharma) to wage war. Sin is incurred by not performing one's duty and by doing which should not be done."
In the preceding verse the Lord seemed to say to Arjuna, "If you want to gain kingdom and heaven, it is proper for you to perform your duty," while in this verse He seems to say, "If you don't want to gain kingdom and heaven, it is proper for you to discharge your duty by being even-minded" It means that it is improper not to discharge one's duty under any circumstances.