If Krishna were to say to Arjuna: “These people on the battlefield cannot die, so go ahead and kill them…but please protect yourself, guard yourself lest you die at someone else’s hand,” then that would be dishonest. But Krishna is telling him that neither does anyone kill, nor is anyone killed: “If these people kill you, then nothing will die. If you kill these people, then nothing will die.” We have to remember that what Krishna is saying here is deeply existential.
Violence took place in Hiroshima because those responsible for dropping the bomb did so to kill people. Hitler committed violence because he was driven by the notion of killing people. Whether someone actually dies or not is of course a very different matter – and Hitler has no understanding whatsoever about this.
But as long as someone is keen on saving himself, he cannot be allowed to put forward a doctrine as a rationalization for killing others. As long as a person is saying, “This belongs to me, let no one steal it,” and at the same time is going and stealing from someone else’s house, it will not be the same as Kabir’s stealing from a house. Kabir’s stealing is not stealing at all; Krishna’s violence is not violence at all.
So your question is right. If by listening to Krishna’s Gita, to Krishna’s message, someone reaches the conclusion that killing someone isn’t killing at all – that it is all a fiction – then he can have this understanding, but with this one condition: that as a part of this understanding his own death is also not a death at all. Then there will be no problem. But saving oneself and killing the other…. And the interesting thing is: we kill others precisely to save ourselves. So if this is the case, it is better one forgets all about Krishna.
Harm has been done. This country uncovered some very deep truths of life, but because of their misuse it has also met with its greatest downfalls. Actually, when very profound truths fall into the hands of cunning people, they prove to be more harmful than lies. This country has uncovered such profound truths that they cannot be used unless they are experienced in their entirety; a partial use of them is not possible.
This country knew very well that all behavior is illusory, is maya, is nothing but the stuff of dreams. So it thought if this is the case, then what can be wrong in being dishonest? If, after five thousand years of perpetual search and reflection, this country is the most dishonest on this earth, then there is a reason for it. If, after talking about such great things, we show ourselves to be just the opposite in our everyday lives, there is a reason for it. And the reason is that we don’t rise to the level of our words. On the contrary, we pull those truths down to our level.
If Arjuna rises up to Krishna’s level, then that is fine; but if he pulls Krishna down to his level, then that is going to be harmful. And it often happens that because it feels very difficult to rise to Krishna’s level, we pull Krishna down to our own level. Then we are at ease. Then we can conveniently say, “Everything is just maya, illusion,” and are thus able to be dishonest and cunning around it. And the interesting thing is, how can a person who is able to recognize everything as maya, illusion, still have an interest in self-deceptive behavior?