'The Entire Crack Yadav Regiment OR Just Me. Choose!': Krishna
It's a tough choice when it comes to picking Character Skills, Values Vs Material Wealth & Visible Power
'You have my entire well trained, battle hardened, aggressive crack regiments of Yadava army lead by the fierce commander Kritavarma, on one side. And then just me on the other side. Choose!' Krishna said, looking at an anxious Duryodhan and a calm faced Arjun.
Arjun was to choose first as Krishna saw him first as soon as he opened his eyes from his nap. Both the warring cousins had rushed to Dwaraka to seek formal support from Krishna and his army for the impending war. The battle lines were drawn. Duryodhan was not willing to cede even an inch of his kingdom back to his Pandava cousins. It was time to strike the biggest strategic alliance with the powerful Yadava forces lead by Shri Krishna.
This is a moment from the Udyog Parv of the Mahabharatha when the Kauravas and Pandavas, represented by Duryodhan & Arjun respectively, rush to Krishna at Dwaraka for making a formal request for the support of the Yadava forces.
Even as Arjun was about to open his mouth, Duryodhan blurts 'But Krishna, this is not fair. Everyone knows about your superhuman feats. So whichever side that picks you, will win. So you should promise to not take up arms in the battle..'
Krishna smiles at this suggestion. Looks at Arjun and says ‘Choose, O mighty armed warrior. Do you want me - alone & unarmed, or the crack regiment of the powerful Yadava forces under Kritavarma?’.
Arjun doesn't bat an eyelid 'I just want you, Krishna, nothing else’. Duryodhan yelps with joy, sighs with relief and restrains himself to not explode in happiness. He cannot believe his good fortune and he thinks ‘I got what I wanted. This was too easy. These Pandavas are stupid. Of what use is a Krishna who will not do a thing in the battle?’. Duryodhan hastily walks off lest Krishna changes his mind.
I've often reflected on this moment as a metaphor on the choices that we have to make in our lives at crucial times. Between immediate wealth, power, visible material richness on one side like the powerful crack regiment of the Yadava army. And character skills, values on the other side as represented by Shri Krishna - alone and unarmed.
It is very difficult to not think and behave like Duryodhan most of the times. Think of it. He is prepping for the biggest war. He needs the strength of numbers. Feet on Battlefield to outnumber the opposition. It is the here and now challenge. And choosing Krishna for who he is, but will do nothing on the battlefield always seems like what we often hear 'All this character and values is fine - but we need the money - we need comfort now - we need to get this job done!’
Adam Grant addresses similar themes in his latest book Hidden Potentials : The Science of Achieving Greater Things . He writes how much of a challenge it is to practice principles & values.
‘Knowing your principles doesn’t necessarily mean you know how to practice them, particularly under stress or pressure. It’s easy to be proactive and determined when things are going well. The true test of character is whether you manage to stand by those values when the deck is stacked against you…If personality is how you respond on a typical day, character is how you show up on a hard day.’
It is a brilliant book in which Adam Grant substantiates with solid scientific research on how folks with character skills trump everyone else in the long run.
In the epic battle of Kurukshetra, Arjun and the Pandavas stand to gain much from the strategy and direction from the ‘unarmed Krishna’. Duryodhan and his vast swathes of armies also make an impact initially, but eventually fall.
It’s a tough one when we arrive at the decision point comes to us to make a choice. And it will be the moment that defines the journey ahead.
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