Conscience, Intuition & Sin

Chapter II, Verse 33

Sri Nerode’s Translation:


If thou fallest back from this righteous warfare, thou forfeitest thy duty and honor and thus will incur sin.

Helpful Translation:

If a member of the Kshatriya caste refuses to “battle” the apparent nature of creation, s/he will also fail to gain the reward of intuitive Wisdom. Without the inevitable victories, the pain and suffering caused by ignorance becomes intolerable and the Kshatriya fails to fulfill her/his purpose in life.


Krishna continues to persuade Arjuna’s ego and blind intellect that he must take action. Krishna admonishes, “Failure to act is evil.” Without embracing and fighting the battles presented by his life, Arjuna is destined to become unhappy.

Too often in our current society people find themselves questioning their own purpose. Animals do not question their purpose because they are governed by instinct. Humans who have been endowed with self-awareness question their reason for existing when they are restless and overly emotional. The restless person is disconnected from and may even deny the existence of intuition.

In its most crude form, intuition is one’s conscience. Conscience is the internal ability to differentiate between right and wrong for personal progress in any particular moment. Conscience is strongest during periods of calm non-attachment.  Conscience disappears behind emotions, including feelings of entitlement and possessiveness.

Intuition and its off-spring conscience present differently in each caste. Briefly, I’ll explain the presentation of intuition by caste.

The Sudra caste experiences intuition as feelings of joy and attraction versus frustration and repulsion. Intuition is hidden in the Sudra. The innocent Sudra, one who has not learned the judgment of his peers, will experience intuitive-conscience as an initial impression of “right” or “wrong”. As the Sudra gains life experiences, conscience is replaced by intellectual judgments. The Sudra is unable to distinguish between conscience and the more subtle intuition. The adult Sudra may cultivate conscience by devotion to ideals.

The Vaisya caste is able to distinguish between conscience and intuition. The Vaisya experiences conscience as an immediate “knee-jerk” reaction. Most often the Vaisya is compelled to say “That’s wrong” or “That’s right” when he is in tune with conscience. The Vaisya experiences intuition most often as a “wave” of feeling, like “My first impression upon meeting him was negative. I don’t trust him.” The feeling of intuition is not an emotion but an internal sense without attachment. Attachment and its twin repulsion come after the intuitive sense. The intuition of a Vaisya may also present as moments of clarity, as in “I know it when I see it” and on a rare occasion as an internal vision or voice. The adult Vaisya best cultivates intuition and conscience with daily techniques of concentration and meditation.

Kshatriya individuals, who are generally meditative and calm, are aware of conscience but since they tend to follow that guidance from moment to moment the Kshatriya becomes forgetful of this awareness. Some Kshatriya who claim to follow their intuition are actually following the immediate feedback of their conscience. Intuition in the Kshatriya is wisdom. The Bhagavad Gita addresses Kshatriya intuitive wisdom and its presentation throughout the entire text. Intuition in the Kshatriya will present in different ways depending upon the requirement of the moment and the current state of consciousness. (See Arjuna’s monikers to gain insight into the many phases of Kshatriya consciousness.) Typically, intuition is a strong “knowing” (as opposed to the “feeling” of the Vaisya).  Often intuition presents in the Kshatriya as clear visions (visual and/or auditory) and the ability to understand multiple outcomes offered by different choices.

Brahmins are still rare in today’s society. Suffice to say that intuition guides a Brahmins actions. Brahmins view the conscience of the Sudra and Vaisya castes as the Vaisya and Kshatriya castes view instinct in non-human animals. Like Sudras, Vaisyas and Kshatriyas, any Brahmin who does not follow their intuition creates the evil of pain and suffering.

However, in this series of verses Krishna is specifically addressing the Kshatriya caste individual who is currently at the naïve state of spiritual growth.

The role of the Kshatriya is a role of leadership. The leadership role of a Kshatriya falls into three categories, that of a noble warrior, of a creative artist, or of an altruistic politician. If Arjuna does not embrace his duty as a noble warrior in this situation, then the sin he incurs will slowly destroy his life.

Easter Eggs:

Easter Eggs (hidden references to deeper meanings) in the original version of this this verse include:


In applying the tool of Sanskrit “sin” represents negative results. Negative results are not always the wrong course of action when applying Sanskrit, but that is a discussion for another time.

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Ancient History

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