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Why did Krishna not take an active part in Battle of Kurukshetra in Mahabharata?

Krishna was the Saarthi of Arjun & rode his rath around during battle & was a valuable adviser to Pandavas but why didn’t he fight the battle with his weapon?

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It is a nice question which will require a wide analysis of Bhagavat Gheetha and it's messages. IMO, it will be better if you get it from some Acharyas/Gurus. The answers here are the stepping stones anyway... –  A_runningMind Jul 2 at 18:25
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4 Answers 4

When war became imminent between the Pandavas and the Kauravas, they started assembling their forces. They also went and sought the support of their respective friendly kings. Since Krishna had equal ties with both the Pandavas and the Kauravas, Duryodhana and Arjuna went to seek the support of Krishna. They both reached Dwaraka at the same day. But Krishna was fast asleep when they reached his palace. So, they both waited for him to wake up.

When Krishna woke up, his eyes fell upon Arjuna first and then on Duryodhana. He welcomed both and asked the reason for their visit. They both requested Krishna's support for their side in the war. Duryodhana argued that he should get first preference since it was he who came to the palace first. But Krishna defended Arjuna saying even if it was Duryodhana who came first, his eyes fell on Arjuna first. Krishna further argued that while distributing favours, it is a tradition to begin with the junior most recipient. Having said that, Krishna offered Arjuna two choices and asked Arjuna to choose whichever he liked.

As the first option, Krishna offered his entire army, which was gigantic and almost invincible. As the second option, Krishna offered his assistance. But he said that he will not wield any weapon and won't fight the war.

Arjuna chose the second one saying that with Krishna by his side, he will be able to face all the princes of the land and their hordes single handed in the battle. Arjuna also requested Krishna to be his charioteer and Krishna granted his wish.

This is an incident described in the Mahabaratha.

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Your answer doesn't explain why Krishna didn't take part in the battle. The answer as I know is that Krishna was willing to support Arjuna and Balrama was willing to support Duryodhana. but the brothers don't want to fight themselves for others. So, they decided to not to take part in battle. –  Mr_Green Jul 2 at 7:52
    
@Mr_Green That's an interesting proposition.. I'll have to look for sources. –  Vineet Menon Jul 2 at 7:53
    
@VineetMenon did you get any? I think your answer is not explaining about why Shri Krishna didn't participate in battle. I mean why he just want to speculate from the side of Arjuna but not battle? –  Mr_Green Jul 2 at 10:45
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This is an excerpt from my another answer,

Why didn't Krishna helped Abhimanyu out of Chakravyuha

As per the promise given to Pandavas and Kauravas about usage and distribution of his resources, he wasn't supposed to participate in the Mahabharata war, rather he was only supposed to be an adviser. Krsna with his power could have rescued Abhmanyu easily, but his promise prevented him to do so..

Sri Krishna's Kurushetra Lila explains this story beautifully,

Sri Krishna was lying down, resting, when Duryodhana and Arjuna arrived. Duryodhana entered first, and sat near the head of Sri Krishna. He grabbed a chair and reclined. Arjuna did not sit on a chair. He stood with folded hands at the feet of Sri Krishna. After a while, Sri Krishna opened his eyes, and first, naturally, he could see only what was near his feet, not his head.

“Arjuna, how come you are here at this moment?” said Sri Krishna.

“No sir! I have come first,” said Duryodhana from behind.

“Oh! You have also come,” said Krishna.

Sri Krishna said, “You have come first, but I saw Arjuna first. Also, he is younger, you are the elder. Don’t you think it is proper for me to speak to the younger one first, especially as I saw him first?”

Then turning to Arjuna, Sri Krishna asked, “What made you come here?”

Arjuna replied, “Great Master, you know what is going to happen. War has become inevitable. We all want your help.”

Sri Krishna said, “What can I give you? I have two things. I have a large army called Narayani Sena; if you want it, you can take it. Otherwise I am here, but unarmed, doing nothing. I will merely sit and discuss with you. I will not take part in the war. If you want such a man as I am, take me. Or if you think this is not going to be of any utility to you, take the large army which will help you, as it is almost invincible.”

“I want you only, Master,” replied Arjuna.

Immediately Duryodhana retorted, “I want the army.”

“Take it,” said Sri Krishna.

Duryodhana left the place hurriedly, and declared to the Kuru family that he had already won victory in the war, that his victory was certain because of the invincible forces that he had received from Sri Krishna.

When Duryodhana left the place, Sri Krishna accosted Arjuna and said, “What a foolish person you are! Why did you not ask for the army? What good is it if I sit idle without doing anything for you? Why have you made this wrong choice? The other man took the good forces, and you are asking for me, who is as good as nothing.”

Arjuna replied, “Thou art all for me, great Master. I know you very well. Don’t try to deceive me by this query as to why I have chosen you.”

“Oh! You want to vie with me. Okay, all right. Do that,” said Krishna.

Then they both left.

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It is not that Krishna didn't take an active part, He just didn't use weapons as He had promised. The Yadavas (the clan to which Krishna belonged to) had good relations with both Pandavas and Kauravas. So when both Duryodhan and Arjuna approached Krishna for gaining the support of the Yadavas, Krishna had to support both of them in some way. So He diplomatically put the following choice:

te vā yudhi durādharṣā bhavantv ekasya sainikāḥ
ayudhyamānaḥ saṃgrāme nyastaśastro 'ham ekataḥ
[MB - 5.7.17]

Meaning
These invincible soldiers endowed with weapon will become one of yours in the battle and I alone, resolved not to fight will will go on the other side without any weapons.

Arjuna happily choose Krishna and Duryodhana was also happy to get the army. So as Krishna had earlier given His word to not use weapons in the battle, He didn't fight the battle with His weapon.

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The reason behind this is very simple. Whoever has faith in God will pass through panic situations and face a lot more troubles and hurdles. But finally, we will pass through all of those if we allow God to lead our lives.

At the same time, he won’t do things by his own; he make us to do it by ourself with his help. That is the inner meaning why he didn't take part in the battle. Hope you understand.

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