Krishna, A War Monger?

Lord Krshna’s preachings to Arjuna to go ahead and fight against his own kith and kin in discharging his duty, has been quoted out of context as being provocative. Many have even called Krishna, “a war monger”.

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Gita Upadesha

The reality is far from this for,

  1. Krishna was the Peace Messenger before the war
  2. Advising someone to do one’s duty after coming to the battlefield cannot be construed by any stretch of imagination as war mongering.

The doubts that Krishna clarifies in the battlefield are similar to the doubts that every human being has in waging their daily battles of life. Krishna uses the occasion to express what one’s duty and purpose of life is for all, through Arjuna.

His message to Arjuna was a call to duty – in thought, word and action, which has stood the test of time for 5100 years both in debate and in action. Which is why, it is revered as Bhagavad Gita, the “Song of God”.

Acts to the Contrary

If Krishna were a war monger, then instead of leaving Mathura and going to Dwaraka, He would have stayed back for a fight to the finish, with Jarasandha and his army.

Probably, even at a young age, Krishna had felt that discretion was sometimes the better part of valour and had moved with His people to Dwaraka, to start a new life.

Strategically moving away, inspite of having defeated Kamsa in an open battle and then installing Kamsa’s father back on the throne of Mathura, speaks of Krishna’s maturity in not coveting what was not rightfully His. At that time, Kamsa’s father Ugrasena, who was old by then, had offered the throne to Krishna.

Krishna however declined to accept the throne of Mathura and moved on to Dwaraka.

Krishna probably felt then, that if He continued to stay on in Mathura, there could be repeated reprisals from Jarasandha’s army and the brunt of these attacks would have to be borne by the army and the people of Mathura. They would have to face the repercussions of these wars.

As Jarasandha’s enmity was with Krishna, He probably felt, that if He moved away, then peace would prevail among the people of the two kingdoms, two big cities of those times.

This was a strategic move by Krishna. His decision, not to stay on in Mathura and fight with Jarasandha, shows his maturity in trying to avoid unnecessary bloodshed.

It also brings to light that Krishna was not a war monger, but a strategist.

Ranchor – Walking Away From Battle

For this selfless, strategic act of leaving Mathura to avoid constant wars with Jarasandha, Krishna has sometimes even been called Ranchor, Ranchod, “one who walked away from battle.”

This name however is not used derisively, which is why, even to this day, many people are called Ranchor or Ranchordas.

Rann is battle, rann bhumi is battlefield in the Samskrt language and many other languages of India and South East Asia.

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Krishna as Ranchodrai in Dakor temple

Peace Ambassador

When it was time to go to the Hastinapura court to demand their rightful share of property, it was Krishna that the Pandava chose to represent them.

It was Krishna whom the Kaurava and the elders in the court of Dhritarashtra were willing to hold negotiations with, as a peace ambassador.

All these incidents prove with certainty that Krishna was not a war monger.

Then why did Krishna counsel Arjuna to fight the battle against his granduncles and cousins?

The answer to these questions lie within Krishna’s Upadesha, counsel to the very same Arjuna, called the “Bhagavad Gita”.

(The above is an extract from our book – “Historical Krishna”.)

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