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The Role of Sri Krishna in The Mahabharata

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Item Code: UAX810
Author: K. S. Narayanacharya
Publisher: Subbu, Karnataka
Language: English
Edition: 2022
Pages: 130
Other Details 8.50 X 5.50 inch
Weight 170 gm
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Book Description
Back of the book

What more can be said about the Mahabharata that has not already been said over the thousands of years? Perhaps, a lot; perhaps, nothing. But when one reads a work like this one, by Prof. K. S. Narayanacharya, more nuggets of wisdom reveal themselves through his pen and percipience. In the five chapters of this book, he walks us through different aspects of Krishna-as a statesman and strategist, a peace-maker, a philosopher and yogi, his role in the Kurukshetra war, and his status as both a man and a God. This delightful and incisive book will have served its purpose if readers take away a greater appreciation of Lord Krishna after reading it, and if they are inspired, after reading it, to dive into the limitless ocean of the complete, unabridged Mahabharata.


I am glad to subscribe this brief preface to the scholarly treatise, "The role of Sri Krishna in the Mahabharata" by Prof. K. S. Narayanacharya This volume contains the text of the five lectures delivered on the subject by the learned Professor at the Academy of Comparative Philosophy and Religion, Gurudev Ranade Mandir, Belgaum. It is very nice of the Academy to publish these lectures in a book form for the benefit of students and scholars interested in the subject and we must be highly grateful to the Academy for this.

Prof. Narayanacharya is one of the most eminent scholars of our country and needs no introduction. He is well known for his vast erudition and spiritual insight. He is a thinker in the real sense and many of his interpretations are most revealing. He is a prolific writer and a very popular exponent of our spiritual texts. It is indeed fortunate that he has chosen to write on our great epics and Vedic literature. Having a deep understanding of our spiritual and cultural traditions, he has set right many misinterpretations of our sacred texts. We can rely on him as an authentic and faithful interpreter of our great works.

The present volume contains five chapters representing five lectures given by the author. The author refers, in the very beginning, to the various viewpoints of different people about Sri Krishna, and points out rightly, that it is the human aspect of this incarnation that is highlighted in the Mahabharata, though He is undoubtedly reverred as God. In the fist lecture the role of Sri Krishna as statesman, diplomat and stragegist is expounded with profuse references to the various situations in the Mahabharata. The second lecture is solely reserved for depicting Sri Krishna as a peace maker. The author traces the very many references in the Mahabharata, analyses them and makes an assessment on their merits, like a true investigator and comes to undeniable conclusions. The questions- "was sri Krishna realy sincere in his peace making efforts?" -is posed and answered. "He wanted peace, but was prepared for war, in case those powers did not listen to his advice." Krishna was a practical minded diplomat and subtleties of his diplomacy are traced accodring to the epic in a factual and interesting way. Sri Krishna's efforts were not to save Duryodhana, but the rest of the innocent world from the clutches of death. It was his duty and great law of life to save all that can be saved. If he did not do it, even though he was capable of doing it, people later on would put the blame on him for not averting the war. The role of Krishna as a diplomat is thus thoroughly expounded.


Where there is dharma, there is Krishna; where there is Krishna, there is victory. This, in a nutshell, encapsulates the life and message of Lord Krishna, as delivered in the greatest dharmashastra that there is, the Mahabharata.

Krishna's understanding of dharma and truth were contextualized in both time and space. As he tells Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita, it is better to follow one's own dharma, even if imperfectly, than to follow someone else's dharma, even if perfectly [6.25.35]. Krishna assured the Pandavas after they had lost everything in the crooked game of dice that justice would be theirs, but the time for that was not now. It was Yudhishthira's swadharma during the twelve and one years of exile to learn, prepare, and acquire the wisdom and weapons that would be needed for the war that was inevitable, unavoidable. It was to avert the same war that Krishna tried, as an emissary of the Pandavas, one last time. However, once war was declared, it was dharma to fight it and fight to win. Krishna ensured that where there was dharma, there would be victory. For wasn't Krishna on the side of dharma?

The subtlety of dharma and the infinite dilemmas that warriors faced when trying to follow dharma at this intersection of the Dwapara and Kali Yugas can only be understood by reading the Mahabharata and Krishna's actions. At the end of the war, when Yudhishthira succumbed once more to the urge to gamble and in a moment of utter foolishness [9.57.11], staked everything on the result of the duel between Bhima and Duryodhana, it fell upon Krishna to tilt the scales in Bhima's favour. For Krishna knew that while Bhima was the stronger of the two, it was Duryodhana who had more practice. Following the rules of dharma, Duryodhana could not be defeated [9.57.4].

When Arjuna, on the seventeenth day of the Kurukshetra war, in a moment of utter rashness, took an oath to kill Yudhishthira [8.49.11], it fell upon Krishna to mediate and find a compromise. If Arjuna wanted to kill Yudhishthira, and if that was what he had sworn to do, then there was a way to accomplish it in more ways than one. For didn't Krishna tell Arjuna that insulting one's elders was as good as killing them [8.49.67]? Similarly, didn't Krishna also say that a person who was always based on truth was a juvenile-immature and intellectually a child [8.49.30]? While there was nothing better than truth, it was equally difficult to know when it was better to not speak the truth. When one's life was in danger, when one's possessions were in danger of being robbed, it was preferrable to lie than to speak the truth. Wasn't this yet another stunning insight into approaching the world from a practical point of view, on how to navigate the unfathomable subtleties of dharma in Kaliyuga?

Bhishma may have had his reasons for not following dharma-for did he not lament that the Kauravas had robbed him through wealth [6.41.36-37]? Didn't Kripa also confess the same to Yudhishthira, that man was a servant of wealth, but wealth never a servant of anyone [6.41.66]? What was their swadharma? Clearly, being on the side of adharma could never be dharma. Letting adharma win could never be dharma. Devising means for the Pandavas to tackle such redoubtable warriors as Bhishma, Drona, Karna, Jayadratha, Duryodhana, and others was left to Krishna, with Arjuna and the other Pandavas acting on his advice. For hadn't Krishna said he would not pick up arms in Kurukshetra war? If he threatened to pick up arms, as he did, twice frustrated by Arjuna's reluctance to wage against Bhishma with his full force, it was only to shame Arjuna into following what was his dharma.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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