Man has invoked God during war with unerring frequency. Roman and Byzantine warriors shouted “Nubescum Deus” as did Medieval Crusaders who charged shouting “Deus vult” (“God wills it”). Civil war soldiers in America (on both sides, ironically) sang about God’s “terrible swift sword.” In the Second World War Nazi Germany’s Wehrmacht soldiers had Gott mit uns (“God is on our side”) emblazoned on their belt buckles while Allied soldiers were urged to “praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.” The Arab Israeli conflict saw Egyptian soldiers carrying metal jacketed Korans while Israeli soldiers offered prayers before the Wailing Wall with their automatics behind their backs. In the Iran Iraq war both sides would shout “God is Great” and lunge into battle. Does God really take sides? Or more importantly, can God take sides?

In the Bhagavad gita Lord Krishna says, “The whole cosmic order is under Me. Under My will it is automatically manifested again and again, and under My will it is annihilated at the end. O Dhananjaya (Arjuna), all this work cannot bind Me. I am ever detached from all these material activities, seated as though neutral.” Since this material world is created at a certain point it begins with its impregnation with all kinds of living entities. All these living entities take different positions as a result of their past desires and resultant actions. Thus this world is kick started into action. All those who find themselves with a material body should understand that with a new created world they are simply given another chance to fulfill their aspirations. However all living entities are dependent on the Supreme Lord for his guidance, thus after creating different species of life Lord Krishna  does not maintain any connection with their desires. The creation takes place to accommodate the inclinations of the various living entities, and so the Lord does not become involved with it. Why does the Supreme Lord not crave any active involvement? It’s because He is always involved in His eternal, blissful, spiritual activities, and He has nothing to do with these material activities. In the material world the Supreme Lord’s activities can be compared to the activities of a high court judge. In a day’s work, he may send someone to jail for twenty years or release someone from prison or award someone a huge compensation. In all cases He is neutral. This is the most important point: although He is involved in every sphere of life Lord Krishna is always neutral. The Vedanta sütra (2.1.34) describes His situation: “He is not situated in the dualities of this material world. He is transcendental to these dualities. Nor is He attached to the creation and annihilation of this material world.”

In the Srimad Bhagavatam (7.1.1), King Parikshit asks his spiritual master, Srila Sukadeva Goswami: My dear brahmana, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vishnu, being everyone’s well wisher, is equal and extremely dear to everyone. How, then, did He become partial like a common man for the sake of Indra and thus kill Indra’s enemies? How can a person equal to everyone be partial to some and inimical toward others? Lord Vishnu Himself, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the reservoir of all pleasure. Therefore, what benefit would He derive from siding with the demigods? What interest would He fulfill in this way? Since the Lord is transcendental, why should He fear the asuras, and how could He be envious of them?

We should begin by understanding that Lord Krishna or Vishnu being transcendental has no material defects. Krishna always remains in His absolute position whether in the material world or in His own abode. But we see Krishna from our own vantage point in this material world with our material vision due to the influence of maya or the illusory potency. If one is advancing in spiritual consciousness then he experiences relief from the dualities of material nature. But the Vedas have recorded that even if one is so called killed at the hands of Krishna he attains salvation. That means Krishna’s killing is not an ordinary killing act.

Still this question may remain in someone’s mind, “On whose side is God?” Srila Prabhupada gave this example, “In my young days we had one teacher. Whenever there was any misbehavior between the boys, the teacher would stop them and bring them out to the front of the class. He would make them stand face to face and make them hold each other’s ears and on his order make them pull. So the one, he is pulling, and the other is hurt. So he pulls back even harder, and each one is pulling and crying. But they cannot let go because the teacher is ordering, ‘No, you cannot stop. You must go on pulling!’ Similarly, maya brings together one Churchill and one Hitler ‘Now, rascal, pull!’ And neither can stop. And the foolish people glorify them.”