Five Reasons Krishna Did Not Fight In Arjuna’s Place

[Krishna and Arjuna]“Therefore, Arjuna, you should always think of Me in the form of Krishna and at the same time carry out your prescribed duty of fighting. With your activities dedicated to Me and your mind and intelligence fixed on Me, you will attain Me without doubt.”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.7)

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तस्मात् सर्वेषु कालेषु
माम् अनुस्मर युध्य च
मय्य् अर्पित-मनो-बुद्धिर्
माम् एवैष्यस्य् असंशयः

tasmāt sarveṣu kāleṣu
mām anusmara yudhya ca
mayy arpita-mano-buddhir
mām evaiṣyasy asaṁśayaḥ

“I have to ask this question.  We know Bhagavad-gita translates to ‘Song of God’ when explaining in English.  This sacred text is not merely words from a prophet sent from above. It is not hearsay information or something four or five generations removed from the original.

“It is the actual words from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan.  The original script and language remain to this day: Devanagari and Sanskrit.  The setting is a battlefield, moments prior to a great war. Of all the roles He could possibly play on this earth, Bhagavan is a servant.  A chariot driver to the world’s best bow-warrior, Arjuna.

“The natural question is why Krishna assumed this subordinate role.  Why not be the lead fighter? If Arjuna was so hesitant to proceed, why not take up arms in his place?  Then the conflicts would have ended much sooner, since no one can defeat the Supreme Lord, who is Ajita.”

1. He agreed to be neutral

This could be considered semantics depending on the angle of vision, but there was a prior vow made.  The hostilities were between two families related as cousins. The Kauravas and the Pandavas could have lived together peacefully, both enjoying the kingdom.  But the asura mentality is to hoard, to enjoy at the expense of others.

Duryodhana and his side would not give the Pandavas anything.  War was inevitable, as dharma dictated the Pandavas rule the kingdom.  This is the meaning to words like nara-deva and rajarshi.  Not just ordinary leaders who are strong, courageous and chivalrous.  The gods among men should be saintly in character, as they are one kind of representative of Bhagavan on earth.

Shri Krishna had ties to both families, and so He remained neutral.  In truth, He was always favoring the Pandavas, but that was due to the devotion they showed.  The same assistance was available to the Kauravas, but they held onto a hostile attitude.

2. Arjuna was more than capable

Why would Krishna replace the best fighter in the world?  Sure, Arjuna had some doubts going in. These weren’t related to his fighting ability.  He had proven himself on many occasions, including during the svayamvara for Draupadi.

“Draupadi was the most beautiful daughter of King Drupada, and when she was a young girl almost all the princes desired her hand. But Drupada Maharaja decided to hand over his daughter to Arjuna only and therefore contrived a peculiar way. There was a fish hanging on the inner roof of the house under the protection of a wheel. The condition was that out of the princely order, one must be able to pierce the fish’s eyes through the wheel of protection, and no one would be allowed to look up at the target. On the ground there was a waterpot in which the target and wheel were reflected, and one had to fix his aim towards the target by looking at the trembling water in the pot.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.15.7 Purport)

[Draupadi Svayamvara]In the simplest explanation, Krishna did not need to intervene.  If my child is more than capable of completing their homework assignment, why should I do it for them?  If they can drive the car to the proper destination, I will ride along for encouragement and support, but I trust them.

3. The credit and glory would go to Arjuna

This is another mark of Bhagavan’s infinite mercy and kindness.  If Krishna had taken over and won the battle, Arjuna’s reputation would be diminished.  Even if only to a small extent, the opposite potential was for amazing glory and fame. Why not let the leading Pandava warrior get the credit?  He would be acting as Krishna’s instrument.

तस्मात् त्वम् उत्तिष्ठ यशो लभस्व
जित्वा शत्रून् भुङ्क्ष्व राज्यं समृद्धम्
मयैवैते निहताः पूर्वम् एव
निमित्त-मात्रं भव सव्य-साचिन्

tasmāt tvam uttiṣṭha yaśo labhasva
jitvā śatrūn bhuṅkṣva rājyaṁ samṛddham
mayaivaite nihatāḥ pūrvam eva
nimitta-mātraṁ bhava savya-sācin

“Therefore get up and prepare to fight. After conquering your enemies you will enjoy a flourishing kingdom. They are already put to death by My arrangement, and you, O Savyasachin, can be but an instrument in the fight.”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 11.33)

4. The service mentality would manifest

The living entity is not meant to be stateless.  The spirit soul, the essence of a living being, is vibrant.  The tiny spark of spirit animates the entire body. It allows for intelligence to manifest and be exercised.  The potential for happiness is rooted in the existence itself, which is determined by the soul.

Arjuna would be happiest serving Krishna.  Rather than retreating out of fear, he would boldly move forward, remaining conscious of his dear friend the entire time.  This would keep the service mentality going through the conflict and beyond. Even in later defeat, Arjuna would not forget Krishna.

5. It would make Arjuna happier

The work in yoga would bring more happiness to Arjuna than if he had simply sat on the sidelines and allowed Krishna to take over.  This is a key difference between connecting with Bhagavan and worshiping other divine figures. In the popular form of demigod worship, the exchange is more or less a business transaction.  I give you something and you give something back. No discrimination. No oversight. No long-term assessment.

[Krishna and Arjuna]With Bhagavan, He knows what will bring happiness to the individual.  For this reason He is more than willing to deny requests. He may chastise. He may give encouragement or He may even pretend to be absent from the situation.  In all cases, those who surrender to Him are rewarded in the best possible way.

In Closing:

Arjuna himself could try,
Why on Krishna to rely?

And taking warrior’s place,
And chance at fame to erase?

As but the instrument just acting,
And dharma’s delivery exacting.

In service mentality pleased,
Opportunity by him seized.

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