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Need help with this sentence:

Interestingly, the “dirty hands” argument is repeatedly deployed in the Mahabharata. Lord Krishna guiding Arjuna’s chariot in the battle against Karna, sees Karna set down his weapons as he alights from the chariot to lift the wheel which is stuck in wet clay. Seeing him defenceless, recognising that this is the only moment when Karna could be killed, which, if allowed to pass, would mean that Arjuna would lose the duel, Krishna urges Arjuna to shoot an arrow at Karna.This is in violation of the rules of war.

I don't know why, but the highlighted sentence sounds iffy to me. It is such an unwieldy jungle of words. What exactly is wrong with it and how could the writer have phrased it better?

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    'V1ing O1',' 'V2 ing O2', Krishna urges Arjuna .... There are two semantically connected ing-clauses (the second complicated) stacked before the main clause of the sentence ('Krishna urges Arjuna to shoot an arrow at Karna'). It's not ungrammatical, and acceptable if the stacking is meaningful, but here is unwieldy. More commonly a suitable conjunction (and; but; and therefore; ...) would be inserted between the ing-clauses to make parsing (and construing) easier. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 28 '20 at 14:33
  • Thank you, Edwin Ashworth. Is the repetition of would here grammatical? – user405662 Nov 28 '20 at 15:07
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    'Being caught speeding would mean that I would be fined.' – Edwin Ashworth Nov 28 '20 at 15:08
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There are several combined but logically sequential thoughts in the sentence. I find it clear and unambiguous so suggest it is acceptable.

I add my annotations {so}:

Seeing him defenceless

{Krishna sees that Arjuna is defenceless},

recognising that this is the only moment when Karna could be killed

{Krishna sees that this is the only opportunity for Arjuna to kill Karna},

which {opportunity},

if {it, the opportunity, is not taken } allowed to pass, would mean that Arjuna would lose the duel

{the loss being conditional on missing the only opportunity to win},

{Consequently and finally, in view of all the foregoing points}

Krishna urges Arjuna to shoot an arrow at Karna

{so that Arjuna may win}.

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  • Thank you, Anton. I would however appreciate it better if you could parse the sentence grammatically for me. Seeing him defenceless, recognising that this is the only moment when Karna could be killed is the part that I find troubling. Can you stack together two participle constructions in this manner? Also, the repetition of would towards the end of the sentence sounds a bit iffy to me. – user405662 Nov 28 '20 at 13:24
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    Thanking you for your comment, knowing the difficulties, understanding the complexity of English, and wanting to help, I hesitate to do the formal grammatical analysis because I know there are others in this site who do it much better than I do. And I hope someone will do that for you. I feel more confident when dealing with clarity, logic and lack of ambiguity. I hope the first four phrases of this comment seem relevant and sensible to you and to those who add to my answer! – Anton Nov 28 '20 at 13:34
  • Your answer certainly made the sentence look easy and many thanks for it. I am interested in the grammar of the sentence as well. But thank you very much. :) – user405662 Nov 28 '20 at 13:36
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The analysis is very good. An improved description might be this;

Seeing Karna defenseless, Lord Krishna recognizes that this is the only moment when Karna will be vulnerable. If this moment is allowed to pass it would mean that Arjuna would lose the duel. So Krishna urges Arjuna to shoot an arrow at Karna even though it would be in violation of the rules of war.

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  • Thank you Elliot, but may I know why did you opt for a simple present tense and not for some other tense? As it stands, this incident is abstracted from an epic written hundreds and hundreds of years ago. – user405662 Nov 28 '20 at 16:44

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