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Published by: India Forum on Oct 25, 2008
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Srikrishna: The Strategist
By Nivedita Bhide
India: The Land of Dharma

India is a very ancient nation. As Swami Vivekananda had said that, "Each
nation has a destiny to fulfill, a message to deliver, a mission to accomplish."
The purpose of this land has been to evolve a social order based on the vision of
Oneness manifested as interconnected, interrelated and interdependent way of
life - in short Dharma based society. Whenever there was decline in Dharma
due to the Asuric, and adharmik forces means violent and exclusive forces,
efforts were done to re-establish dharma. One such great effort of re-
establishment of Dharma is seen at the time of Srikrishna.

India had a very great flexibility in the political systems as it has in Upasana systems. The unity of nation was not interpreted as rule of one political power but as practice of Dharma in different political units. Broadly speaking there were Janapadas (Republics) and kingdoms based on hereditary kingship. In Janapadas, the chief of the elders of the clan was either called as king (such king's children were not having hereditary rights to be king) or was called as Ganadhyaksha.

Occasionally, the kings by doing Rajsuya or Ashwamedha yagna also
tried to establish their sovereignty in principle but not in practice
over the land. It was always considered that the rule was of Dharma.

In Mahabharata time the Yadava clans were having republic system of
political governance. In Shantiparva in many places both these words
Sangha or Gana are used for Yadavas. As mentioned in the story of
Yayati, the Yadu was cursed that his progeny would be without king
(means without hereditary king system -without monarchy) (MB Adiparva
chap 84) The political system of Yadavas was republic called as
Sangharajya or Ganarajya. In the republic of Yadavas there was no
tradition of hereditary coronation of the king. The curse of Yayati
was in that sense. In the Adiparva in chapter 220 there is a reference
that how after the kidnapping of Subhadra, all the Vrishni
Ganapramukhs were summoned to the Sudharma Sabha to take the decision.
Clans of Yadavas called variously like the Vrishnis, Andhakas,
Kukuras, Bhoja were having Ganarajyas. In the Kukura or Andhak clan in
the Mathura the one who presided over the Ganas was called Raja. There
was another republic near them of Vrishnis, but there the term of Raja
was not used.

This tradition of republics and their internal strength continued even after Mahabharata for many years. There are consistent references to it. It was known that the republic - Ganarajya or sagharajya can be destroyed only if there are fights among themselves.

Kautilya says that in Arthashstra (11 Adhikaran Chapter 135) that
'instead of getting the support of a king or army it is better to get

the support of republics because these republics are so united that
they are powerful and so do not succumb to enemy easily He says that
'as long as there is no fight among themselves these Sangh (Republics)
are more powerful'. In Buddhist literature also numerable references
are there of functioning Republics. Dighanikaya Buddhasamvad (page 79
to 85) mentions that 'an envoy of Magadha says that there is no need
for Magadha king to attack on Vaji republic. It is enough to sow
dissensions among them.' Kautilya gives ways of how to vanquish the
republics which are otherwise very strong. Many such free, autonomous
and independent republics are mentioned by the Greek historians in
India. Megasthenes says, "They report everything to the King where the
people have a king and to magistrates where the people are self -
governed." This is just to prove that there was all along existence of
republics. But whatever may be the political system, Dharma was
considered as supreme most.

I. Political Scene at the time of birth of Krishna

This flexibility in governing systems was many a times challenged or
misused by Asuric forces either within country or from outside to
further their selfish interests. The Asuric forces would reject the

political freedom to establish their dominion at the cost of practice
of Dharma. Before the birth of Krishna a disaster fell on Yadavas

which brought Andhaka and Vrishni clans together. The disaster was the
imperialism of Jarasandha. He brushed aside the traditions of the
people and started forcibly defeating and even arresting the kings so
as to sacrifice them to establish himself as Emperor. The traditional
method of establishing oneself as emperor without disturbing the
ruling systems of the republics, the ruling race of the monarchies and
the traditions of people was done away with by Jarasandha. His
imperialism was thus to annihilate the ruling clans and destroy the
Dharmik control over political power. Those who had accepted to be his
subordinates, he would release them. Out of the 100 solar and lunar
clans in ruling dynasties of India he had captivated 86 kings. After
getting 14 more kings he wanted to sacrifice them.

To bring the whole country under him, apart defeating the kings,
Jarasandha also had to destroy the republics like that of Yadavas. As
the Republics enjoyed very good freedom they disliked to be under
anyone's rule. The surest way to destroy the republics was to sow
dissension in them or to promote any one person disregarding the
republic traditions. He chose the second way. He married his two
daughters to Kamsa, the son of Ugrasen - the king of Andhakas (the
selected head amongst the Andhaka elders). With this alliance Kamsa
started dominating. To contain him the Andhakas gave Sutanu - the
daughter of Ugrasena to Akrura the Ganapramukh of Vrishnis. (MB
Sabhaparva Chapter 14) But the strength of Jarasandha was such that

the elders of both the clans could not stop Kamsa from becoming an all
powerful autocratic monarch while destroying the republic of Yadavas.

Kamsa put his father in jail, killed some elders, sent out few,
arrested few and became a despotic king. For re-establishing the
republic some elders were trying. One among them was one Vrishni
elder-Vasudeva, the brother - in - law of Kamsa. Some how it was put
in the mind of Kamsa that Vasudeva's son would kill him. So he became
crueler and put his sister Devaki and Vasudeva in prison. Kamsa killed
their six children smashing them on stone immediately after their
birth. Vasudeva managed to protect his seventh child Balarama and
eighth child Krishna by sending them to his friends' house.

II. Srikrishna's work of Establishment of Dharma

The whole life of Krishna born at such dark period and amidst such
agonizing days for his parents was for the establishment of Dharma.
With a long-drawn plan - strategy- he achieved that. This work of his
is seen in two phases. The first phase was to protect his republic and

create a base from where he could operate to establish Dharma in whole
land. The second phase was to identify, support and strengthen a
Dharmik and capable king to take care of Monarchies and also to
notionally unite all political systems under the rule of Dharma. As
the enemy was powerful it was a very patient and strategic planning
and action leading to ultimate victory.

The first phase: The reestablishment of Yadava Republic as the base of
operation for future work.

Both Harivamsha and Bhagavat mention ( Bhagwan Srikrishna - Balshastri
Hardas page no 161) that frequently the important Yadava elders, their
Purohit Garg etc came to meet Krishna. The strength and popularity of
Krishna started spreading. More Kamsa made people feel helpless by his
atrocities, more the stories of Krishna's strength and love for people
increased their hopes. They started seeing a saviour in Krishna. By
the time Kamsa came to know the sure existence of Krishna, Krishna was
already a lad of 16 years. Kamsa could have sought the help of
Jarasandha to tackle Krishna but he thought the young boy could be
tackled with easily.

When Krishna came to Mathura on the invitation of Kamsa it was a
surcharged atmosphere some thing like a revolution in offing. The
crescendo of the atmosphere was such that as Krishna moved, broke the
bow, blessed the hunchbacked, and killed the elephant, Kamsa was
almost dead with fear. The final killing of Kamsa in the full court
without any reaction was really almost a bloodless revolution. Except
his brothers no one moved to avenge his death. People would have
happily accepted Krishna as king but his work was establishment of
Dharma in whole of India. Thus he established the republic of Vrishnis
and Andhakas with Ugrasen again as the king of Andhakas. This selfless
action of Krishna made him a very highly respected Yadava among the
Yadava clans. Only selflessness as the foundation of revolution makes
it sustainable and that is what Krishna did.

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