Thursday, January 1, 2009

Means to the end versus the end itself

In the context of war, Jawaharlal Nehru once said - "War itself is never an objective; you fight to remove the obstruction between you and your objective. If you let victory become the end in itself then you've gone astray and forgotten what you were originally fighting about." 

I agree with every syllable in that sentence. 

On the other hand, Bhagwadgita says that "one must do karma (action) and not worry about it bearing fruit (consequence). This statement was also made in the context of war. 

The latter being a translation from a Sanskrit text, I could relate far more with Nehru's statement (made in English, a language I can relate with heaps better). Also, at first glance, the two statements seemed to contradict one another. 

My theory is that the latter statement was made in the context of expected, but unintended consequences (in Bhagwadgita this was related with family casualties arising from fighting within the extended family).  So really both those statements are complementary, are they not?

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