Usually a devotee is non-violent, but in exceptional cases he may become violent for a higher cause

Bhagavad-gita 1.6-7, London, July
11, 1973

asmakam tu visista ye
tan nibodha dvijottama
nayaka mama sainyasya
samjnartham tan bravimi te
“There are the mighty Yudhamanyu, the very powerful Uttamauja, the son of Subhadra and the sons of Draupadi. All these warriors are great chariot fighters.”
“O best of the brahmanas, for your information, let me tell you about the captains who are especially qualified to lead my military force.”

Prabhupada: So formerly, five thousand years ago, the same system, military – ordinary soldiers, then the captain, then the commander, the commander-in-chief – as there are gradations in the modern age, the same thing was there. But maha-ratha, they had good qualification. Maha-ratha means alone he could fight with many other charioteers. They are called ati-ratha, maha-ratha. There are different grades of fighters.

Saubhadra means Abhimanyu, Subhadra’s son. Draupadi’s sons were called Draupadeya. In Sanskrit, the son of bhagini, or sister, is called bhagineya, nephews.

Subhadra’s son was only sixteen years old at that time. He was married with Uttara, the daughter of Maharaja Virata. They were all maha-rathas, not ordinary fighters. Abhimanyu was killed by conspiracy by seven commander-in-chiefs: Bhisma, Karna, Dronacarya, Asvatthama – they all surrounded him and did not allow him to come out. They were very experienced commanders.

Krishna and Arjuna

This is the ksatriya spirit. A simple boy of sixteen years was killed by the combined efforts of very, very, big commander-in-chiefs. He was such a great fighter. Similarly, Draupadi’s sons were also maharathai [Gita 1.6]. Maha-ratha means one who could fight with one thousand chariots on the other side.


Duryodhana pointed out the military strength of the opposite side. One should take calculation of the opposing elements or the enemy’s side. In fighting the first thing is to take estimation of the enemy’s side, how strong they are, how they have arranged. Then one should calculate how to counteract, how to fight with them – this is intelligence. Without taking any calculation of the other side, if you are not prepared, then how you can become victorious? This is sane proposal, that is, upayan cintayet prajio apayan ca cintayet. A prajia, an intelligent man, not only thinks of both sides of this business. We should not calculate the brighter side alone. There is the darker side also. We should always think, “If there is some thief, if there is some rogue, they cheat us, then what precaution am I going to take?” This is intelligence. If I simply calculate, “In this business I will make so much profit,” somebody will come and cheat me and go away. Therefore: upayan cintayet prajia apayan ca cintayet. Darker side also should be thought of.

After calculating the strength of the Pandavas, Duryodhana speaks about his own strength. Asmakam tu visista ye. Visista – not to speak of the ordinary soldiers. Visista means who are specifically to be mentioned, the high officers. Asmakam tu visista ye tan nibodha dvijottama (Gita 1.7). For eighteen days there was fight, and one after another, a commanderin- chief was killed. And sixty-four crores of men were killed in the Battlefield of Kuruksetra. And the battle was finished within eighteen days, not lingering for some years. No. Fight to the best capacity and finish the business.

So both sides, Pandava’s side and Kaurava’s side, suffered losses; many men were killed. Saubhadra, Draupadeya – everyone was killed. Only the five brothers remained, and also the one grandchild who was in the womb of the mother. Otherwise everyone was finished within eighteen days. Such a great fight it was. And people from all parts of the world joined the Battle of Kuruksetra.

Somebody was criticizing me: “Swamiji, you are introducing this Hare Krishna movement. People are becoming cowards. They simply chant Hare Krishna .” So I replied, “You will see the power of Hare Krishna movement in due course of time.” There were two battles in India – the Battle of Ramayana between Ravana and Rama, and the Battle of Kuruksetra. In both the battles the hero was Vaisnava and Visnu. In the Ramayana battle, Lord Rama and His devotee Hanuman, Vajrangaji, were the heroes. Similarly, in the Battle of Kuruksetra, Krishna and His devotee Arjuna were the heroes.

So Vaisnavas do not simply chant Hare Krishna . If there is need, they can fight under the guidance of Visnu and become victorious. Out of the twenty-six qualities of a Vaisnava, one is daksa, expert. If there is need of fighting, he can fight like an expert. That is also needed. Krishna consciousness does not mean one-sided. Krishna as all-pervading, and so the Krishna consciousness movement also should be all-pervading. It should touch everything, even politics, sociology – everything – if required. That is the aim. Because Krishna ’s mission is: yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bharata, paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya ca duskatam (Gita 4.7-8). There are two parts of the mission: not only to give protection to the devotees, but also to kill the demons. To kill the demons is one side. So the devotees of Krishna should be trained up both ways: not only to give protection to the devotees, to give them encouragement, but if need be, they should be prepared to kill the demons. That is Vaisnavism. It is not cowardice.

Generally, a Vaisnava is nonviolent, like Arjuna. Before the battle began, he was non-violent, a Vaisnava. He said, “Krishna , what is the use of this war? Let them enjoy.” So by nature he was non-violent, but Krishna induced him to become violent. He said, “Your non-violence will not help. You become violent. You kill them. I want this war to happen.” So if Krishna wants we should be prepared to become violent also.

Devotees of Krishna , therefore, should be trained up both ways. But generally, there is no question of becoming violent, unnecessarily. The modern politicians unnecessarily declare war against others; a Vaisnava does not do so. No, there is no need of war. But when it was completely impossible to settle up the things between the Pandavas and the Kauravas, then Krishna said, “All right, then there must be fight.” When Duryodhana declined to spare even a portion of land holding the sücyagra, the point of a needle, then war became certain. There was no question of settlement. Otherwise, Krishna had requested, “These five Pandavas are ksatriyas. They cannot become merchants or brahmana. Brahmana’s profession is pathana pathana yajana yajana dana pratigrahau. Brahmana can take charity from others. A sannyasi can take charity from others. Not a ksatriya or a gåhastha. No. That is not allowed. “They must have some land to rule over, take taxation. And that is their living means. So Krishna requested Duryodhana to spare only five villages and settle the matter. But Duryodhana refused.

So Vaisnavas are usually nonviolent. But if need be, they can become violent for Krishna ’s sake. This is the Battle of Kuruksetra.

Thank you very much