Be fearless, not tactless

Suppose a soldier feels inspired to fight fearlessly against a tyrannical invading army. But if he just charges single-handedly at that army, he will end up slaughtered; he needs to thoughtfully and tactfully plan the resistance. 

In the Mahabharata war, the Pandavas were fearless in confronting the Kauravas whose army was almost twice their size. Yet they weren’t tactless; they planned their war strategies well. Indeed, their military formation impressed even their chief opponent, Duryodhana (Bhagavad-gita 01.03). 

How can we be fearless-not-tactless in our daily life? Let’s consider two scenarios. 

Suppose we have an exploitative boss. To stand up to them, we need to be fearless. But we can’t tactlessly yell at them for mistreating and overworking us, lest we end up fired. We need to plan thoughtfully: improve our skill-set, apply for another job, get an offer and use that offer as leverage to get better working terms. 

Suppose we aspire to practice spiritual life in today’s materialistic culture. We need courage to choose differently from those around us, and we need tact to explain our choices without unnecessarily antagonizing them. For example, we can refuse to take drinks without taking a holier-than-thou attitude; we can ascribe our refusal to health reasons — drinks are, after all, detrimental to our spiritual health.

​When we work for a worthwhile cause, we need to be ready to sacrifice for it, to even become a martyr for it . Frequently, however, what we need to sacrifice is not our life, but something else: our mind’s urge for a sensational confrontation or our ego’s urge for a newsworthy martyrdom. ​By thoughtfully focusing on our purpose, we can learn to be both fearless and tactful. 

One-sentence summary:

Be fearless to stay undeterred by negative consequences and be tactful to seek the best path to positive results. 

Think it over:

  • How can we be both fearless and tactful? 
  • When working for a noble cause, what do we need to usually sacrifice?
  • In what areas of your life do you need to be fearless and tactful? How can you practically do so?


01.03: Sanjaya said: O King, after looking over the army arranged in military formation by the sons of Pāṇḍu, King Duryodhana went to his teacher and spoke the following words.

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  1. Nice,please keep it up

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  2. always awesome and so enlightening to read Gita daily

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  3. Hare Krishna prabhuji!
    I extend my grateful thanks to you 🙏🏻🙏🏻

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  4. Thanks prabhuji for articulate explanation with eg ranging from mahabharat to office setup,very helpful. Shivaji Maharaj can be the best eg of fearless but tactful, be it afzal khan event or escaping event.
    Hare Krishna

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    • Good example, thanks for your thoughtful comment

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