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  • Writer's pictureVadhan

Krishna V/s Krishna’s army

I was brought up with anecdotal stories from the great epics of India. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata. While one epic dealt with the ideal man, Rama, the other dealt with a worldly man, Krishna. While Rama stood by a strict code of discipline that did not let anything, even the love for his dear ones, interfere with his professed duties, Krishna broke every rule in the book just to ensure the people he loved survived the great war of Kurukshetra.  Both are considered to be avatars of God.

Of course, if you ask me to choose, I will go with Mahabharata. Why? Well, one reason is, it’s far more complex. And riveting.

There is this one story that comes to mind from the Mahabharata. A little tale. Recent events in my life have managed to spring this story into my mind all of a sudden. The story showed me the path I should take. The closed road that diverted me down an un-trodden track offering a bouquet of opportunities. You see, that is the thing with the epics. They are timeless. Their wisdom is limitless. They apply today as much as they did on the day they were written.

The little anecdotal tale is of particular significance to me because it showed me how much or how little I am valued by those I threw my lot with. It so brilliantly aligned my thoughts and showed me the way forward. For that, I am indebted, as always, to the masters of Indian lore.

Well, here’s how the tale unfolds.

The background is important. There’s a great war about to be waged between cousins. On the one side, the hundred Kaurava brothers and their limitless armies. On the other side, the Five Pandava brothers, arguably the finest warriors of their time, and their armies. The fight itself is about who is the rightful heir to the throne of Hastinapura.  While the Kauravas claimed the throne as the heirs of the first born, the Pandavas claimed the throne as sons of the king who renounced the throne. Something like the Game of Thrones, I suppose.

A good lawyer could have argued successfully for both sides, I think.

Anyway,  as the opposing parties are out gathering allies to wage the great war, they land up in Dwaraka, Krishna’s kingdom, seeking his help. There are two versions to the story. I’ve opted for one of them.

Duryodhan, the first born of the Kaurava clan on one hand and Arjuna, the third born of the Pandavas on the other, arrived in Dwaraka. While there was no love lost between Duryodhan and Krishna, Arjuna was Krishna’s most favourite person in the world and vice-versa. Moreover, Arjuna was married to Krishna’s sister.

When Duryodhan and Arjuna came into Krishna’s chamber, he was napping. So, Duryodhan stood by the head of the bed as he thought, the positioning strategically befits a king. Arjuna stood by the leg end of it. Naturally, when Krishna woke, he saw Arjuna first and was delighted to see him. There’s a lesson right there. Krishna did not see Duryodhan who was standing slightly behind him. This angered the fragile ego of Duryodhan.

When the cousins had stated the purpose of their visit, namely, to solicit his support to their cause, Krishna had a proposition for both cousins. It was, since both of them were close to him, he would not deny either of them his support. The question was, what could he offer both of them?

Krishna therefore made an offer. One could opt for his army while he would personally support the other. Also, that he would not raise arms against both of them. Duryodhan being the elder of the two cousins, Krishna asked Duryodhan to choose first, which assuaged Duryodhan’s bruised ego.

Duryodhan thought. Krishna was one man. He would not fight. He was of no use.

Arjuna thought, Krishna was God incarnate. His counsel would be invaluable. More than any army they could raise.

Duryodhan chose Krishna’s army. It was a large army of highly skilled warriors dedicated to their Lord. Arjuna was delighted. He knew then and there that Pandavas could claim victory.

So it was that Krishna directed his army to fight with the Kauravas whereas he went with the Pandavas.There’s another lesson there. Could an army fight against its king, even at his own bidding? Therefore, should we make choices based on ego or common sense?

Moving forward, the great war was waged. It was fought bitterly. There were heavy casualties on both sides but the Kauravas lost the battle. Their larger armies were decimated. The hundred brothers were killed. Entire kingdoms and regal families were wiped out. All in the course of 18 savage days.

Now,  moving forward in time, I found myself at the short end of the stick because someone chose mine instead of me. Krishna’s army instead of Krishna. The real value, Krishna, was ignored. Even sidelined. I did not see a way out. Until the story popped up all of a sudden in my mind’s eye.

And my path became clear to me.

I have to pay kudos to the great Veda Vyas, the author of Mahabharat. He wrote the tale about something that happened 6500 years ago. And its relevance and message is so vivid to me that I am lost for words to praise the master.


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