In ‘Relgious Forums’ that I joinied very recently and am posting under the name ‘Shantanu’, I was asked the following question:
Shantanu, then shall we conclude Sri Krishna is adharmic because he killed and abetted many killings?
My response was, Firstly, Mahabharatta was a story which may have been based on a real conflict that took place in human history, but it should only be regarded as a story. Bhagavad Gita is believed to be a later insertion into Mahabharrata by Vyasa who realised absolute Reality. He did something very crafty by inserting his realisation into Mahabharatta in an astonishing manner. So your question concerns what we to read into the religious literature.
From other sources we know that Sri Krishna was Vishnu avatar and was applying
Yada Yada hi dharmasya glanirbhavati bharata
Abhyuthanamdharmasya tadatmanam srjamyaham
Parithranaya sadhuna vinashayaya cha dushtkrtam
Dharmasansthapnarthaya sambhawami yuge yuge
Just because Vishnu sanctioned the killings does not mean that we humans are to live by the apparent implications of that story, just like earthquakes killing thousands as the Reality of Earth’s geology does not give us the moral/dharmic justification for violence. If one is an advaitist one’s first morality/dharma is to protect and preserve truth and reality. This is what the natural order requires, natural order being Truth/Vishnu. In other words you need to be at one with reality. Killing destroys reality so you cannot be an advaitist practising non-duality at the same time as destroying Nature. This part of advaitic philosophy can be taken to extremes; even the cultivation of fields that kills microorganisms and plants is wrong in principle when considering advaitic dharma. But of course we humans are not perfect. We do have purely biological urges and reactions. But that does not mean that getting angry and practcising violence is truth-based dharma.
Without truth-based dharma, there is no ideal advaita.
I was further asked:
Tell me, if a real murderer broke into your house, and was going to kill your family, what would you do?
My reply was that I would resist his oppression and try and protect my family restraining him with all my strength. As a last gasp thing if that failed, I would kill him to protect myself and my family as my dharma because self-preservation comes before preserving others. Similarly, If a mosquito is sucking my blood, I would flick it off me but sometimes my natural reaction of squashing it with a slap might come and take over before I took this reasoned/considered option. That is self-defence, my dharma. But killing is adharmic speaking advaitically. I am being adharmic when killing in self-defence too. So what? It shows the reality that I am still attached to my life. I am not liberated enough yet, and have not attained moksha: I have not reached ultimate knowledge. So I cannot yet live as an acharya/swami. Attaining moksha is not the purpose of my life: moksha will come naturally when Brahman is fully realised. To moralise is not the purpose of my life either. Seeking the truth and exposing the truth is still the purpose of my life, and my mission. I am still in satya-advaita mode.