After speaking about the impermanence of physical existence and the immortality of the Self, Sri Krishna now reminds Arjuna about his duty.
Even if you consider your own duty, you should not hesitate because there is nothing better for a Kshatriya than a righteous war. (Bhagavad Gita 2.31)
Happy are the Kshatriyas, O Arjuna, who are called upon to fight in such a battle that comes of itself as an open door to heaven! (2.32)
We have seen in the very beginning that the duty of Arjuna as a skilled warrior is to fight this war, defeat the evil Kauravas and protect the people of the kingdom. Nothing less than that.
But what is your duty and my duty? What are we supposed to be doing in this world?
One way of looking at this: taking into account the circumstances of your life and your skills and abilities, do whatever the work on hand to the best of your abilities without getting distracted and without giving in to infatuations. As Swami Vivekananda says, “By doing well the duty which is nearest to us, the duty which is in our hands now, we make ourselves stronger and improving our strength in this manner step by step, we may even reach a state in which it shall be our privilege to do the most coveted and honoured duties in life and in society.”
Another way I look at it: We see Bhagavad Gita preach the oneness of existence, that you are not the physical body and your true nature is the immortal Self which is also the Self of all beings and entities in existence. Knowing that there is nothing other than yourself in existence, and dropping all ideas of ‘me’ and the ‘other’, dropping all separation and selfishness, do the most appropriate thing you can do that brings good to your world. Whatever work that takes you towards realization of oneness of life is appropriate and whatever work that takes you back towards the idea of separation and selfishness is inappropriate.
Sri Krishna continues his attempts to wake up Arjuna from his slumber…
But if you don’t engage in this righteous war, forfeiting your duty and honour, you shall incur sin. (2.33)
Moreover, the world will speak ill about you forever. For a man of honour, dishonour is worse than death. (2.34)
The great warriors, who hold you in great estimation, will think that you withdraw from the battlefield out of fear. Your value will go down. (2.35)
Your enemies will speak many unkind and fabricated words and insult your ability. What’s more painful than this? (2.36)
Even if we don’t understand all the philosophies, we should shed our lethargies and get on with the work on hand at least for the sake of not losing our honour.
If you are killed on the battlefield you attain heaven, or if you are victorious in the battle you enjoy the earth. Rise therefore, O son of Kunti, and fight with determination. (2.37)
Failure is not an option. If you die in your attempt to do good, you get to heaven. If you succeed in your attempts to do good you enjoy heaven on earth. That is it.