Why did Duryodhana receive Krishna’s Army ?

The situation around the Kurukshetra war was such that no one could remain neutral. You had to choose one side. Being the chief of the Yadavas, Krishna also had to put his lot either with the Pandavas or the Kauravas. Personally, he did not want this war and would have preferred to remain neutral, but that was not possible. He had no hatred against Hastinapur. He did not just choose Duryodhana; Bhisma, Dronacharya, Kripacharya – many venerable leaders were on the other side. He was not against them, and they had huge respect for him too. Both with Duryodhana and with the Pandavas, there was a distant blood relationship.

When a relative comes and asks your help, a “no” would be difficult according to the Kshatriya dharma.

There was Kshatra Tej, the dharma for the warrior class, and Brahma Tej for the spiritual class. Krishna tried to bring about some kind of alliance between the Kshatriyas and the Brahmins. These guidelines and rules were created for the society to function smoothly. They said, a Brahmin must sit and study the Vedas for a certain number of hours a day. If the same dharma was enforced on a Kshatriya, he may not be competent to do it, and if he did this, he would not be a good administrator and definitely not a good warrior. The same goes for all the other classes.  That is why they established different types of dharmas for different categories of people who had different duties to perform in the society.

But at some point, the Kshatriyas started thinking only in terms of what is good for them and their dharma without considering all the others and their dharmas, which disturbed the harmony in the society. Krishna and Vyasamuni strived to bring Kshatra Tej and Brahma Tej closer together so they could function as a cohesive force for the benefit of all. Since according to the Kshatra Tej, when a relative comes and asks for something, you cannot say “no,” Krishna gave them the choice between himself and his army. From a military standpoint, an army is definitely the better choice. Duryodhana believed that taking the army was sensible, though he did not get the first choice and was perturbed about that. When given the choice, the Pandavas had said to Krishna, “Whether we live or die – if we live, we want to live with you. If we die, we want to die with you. Without you, what will we do?” And that is what made the difference for them.

Now, your question is, “If Krishna is standing for dharma, how can he put his armed might on the side of adharma?” He was not a moralistic person who made black-and-white judgments about anyone. He neither believed the Pandavas were absolutely pure beings, nor that the Kauravas were absolute evil. This was not the way he looked at life. He constantly maintained a good relationship with the Kauravas. Duryodhana’s wife Banumathi was a devotee of his. He did not see the Kauravas as out and out evil – he just saw that they were causing much evil at that time and he would have liked to put an end to that. This does not mean he held any kind of hatred or anger against them, nor did he judge them as evil. He saw that human beings are always a combination of everything. That is why you have to strive to establish dharma within yourself; otherwise, you will become adharma.

Any human being is capable of becoming adharma any moment of his life. There is no insurance that you will never fall into adharma. You have to strive to be aware; you have to strive to be on the righteous path, or else you will easily slip off. This goes for every human being, until you attain to such a level of consciousness where you cannot fall anymore.

In many ways, Krishna tried to encourage Duryodhana to strive for dharma. Even at that point when he gave this choice between him and his army, he still tried to avoid the war. In a way, it was a very intelligent move to give the army to Duryodhana. That way, Duryodhana felt that “Krishna is on my side,” thinking the Pandavas were fools to take one person instead of a 100,000-man-strong army. This could have been something for Duryodhana to latch on to and bring peace, but it failed.

~ Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev



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  • I believe that while discussing the subject, one should be aware that the sole purpose of Lord Vishnu’s taking the incarnation of Shri Krishna was elimination of Karna. For a brief background, Karna was the 1000th birth of Sahasrakavachaasura, who had performed severe penance of Lord Brahma and once Lord Brahma appeared in front of him and asked what the intention of his penance was, he responded that he never wanted to die. When Lord Brahma informed him that death is inevitable for him since he has already taken birth, he kept certain conditions for his death. The tactic adopted by him was demanding 1000 armours from Lord Brahma with the condition that his one life ends only one armour is broken. Then he gets another birth with the next armour, and he lives till the armour is not broken. And he demanded that the 1000th armour should be unbreakable. Lord Brahma granted the wish and disappeared. He straightaway proceeded to conquer all the worlds and started his demonic atrocities everywhere. Gods sough the help of Lord Vishnu, who held the portfolio of protection of the universe, and Lord Vishnu took birth as twin brothers out of the right breast of Dharma Prajapati, a Manasaputra of Lord Brahma, who were named Nara and Narayana. They attained youth instantaneously and wielding their arms, they went and challenged Sahasrakavachaasura for battle. The Asura came up with the rules of battle and told them that two people fighting one opponent is against the rules of battle and unjust. The brothers promised that during his one life, only one brother will fight and the other will remain in Yoga. In the next life, the brother who was fighting in the previous life will not take arms and will remain in Yoga and the brother who was practicing Yoga in the previous life will fight with him. In short, he will have to fight only with one brother in one life. He agreed to it and the battle began. The brothers Nara and Narayana had broken 999 armours of the Asura and he took his 1000th life as Karna, who was born with the 1000th unbreakable armour given by Lord Brahma. That is the reason why Lord Indra had to separate the armour from Karna taking it as an alm coming in the form of a poor brahmin, since so long as Karna wields this armour, his elimination was impossible. The brothers Nara and Narayana took birth as Arjuna and Krishna respectively. This was the reason why Arjuna and Krishna were in the same chariot in the Mahabharata war and the reason behind the pledge of Lord Krishna not to take arms in the battle and remain in Yoga throughout the war. If one takes a closer look, it will become pretty clear that all incidents that had happened in the life of Lord Krishna during the pre-Mahabharata war took place as small paragraphs of the prelude of his journey towards this prime objective of his incarnation!

    • Dear Shri Nairji,
      Destruction of Karna was one of the many reasons Krishna descended onto earth for. FOr teh others: The story is there in the Narayaneeyam and a few other sources.
      I think Shri Nair did not tell the story properly.
      Brahma gave 1000 Kavachas to Sahasrakavacha (one with 1000 armors) with the proviso that a man would have to do penance for 1000 years to break one kavacha. And also that anyone who broke a kavacha should immediately die.
      Nara and Narayana were 2 sons of Dharma and Murti. Narayana first fought Sahasrakavacha while Nara performed penance for a 1000 years. When one kavacha was broken, the one doing tapasya used his power to bring the other back to life and continue the fight, while the one who was revived did tapasya.
      Taking turns thus they destroyed 999 kavachas. When the unthinkable happened, Sahasrakavacha who was left with his last kavacha became afraid and hid behind the Sun.
      The 2 brothers demanded that Surya hand over the asura to them, but the Sun refused saying that one who asks for shelter may never be given up even at the cost of one’s life. At the onset of Dwapara yuga, this asura was born of Kunti with an Amsha of Surya which made him the greatest of Daanvirs (gift-givers). Narayana was born as Krishna and Nara as Arjuna.
      The rest of the story you all know.

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  • If previous 999 armours were unbreakable……………how come nar and narayan broke those armours…………..and if they broke it before why not they broke one more………….

  • Karna was evil and egoistic all his life he was not faithful to any body including Duryodhana he wanted to kill Arjuna toprove that he was the greatest archer ever born other than that he had no interestin the war it was karna who asked dussosana to disrobe Draupadi and so that was the cause of the war he had to be killed so Krishna did all fair and unfair methods to get rid of this evil man

  • All that this does is contradict itself, as so much stuff in hinduism does.
    If Krishna was only in the war to defeat Karna then why didnt his participation end after Karna’s death. And if everyone “had” to participate in the war how come Baliram (Krishna’s brother) stayed out. Krishna gave his army to Duryodana because that was what he asked for. If Arjuna had asked for it first he most likely would have gotten it. lets not complicate this anymore than it has already been