Were they free to choose which side they fought on?

Kritavarma obeyed Krishna's promise, but Satyaki directly disobeyed it.

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Shri Krishna’s Narayani Sena was formed from his “18000 brothers and cousins”. There were at least one million warriors in this army. The commander of this army was made Satya Ki and the chief general was Balram ji. Apart from this, there were “7 Adhirathas” and “7 Maharathis” in the army. According to Mahabharata, there were “21870 yards”, “21970 rathas”, “65610 horses’ and “109350 padaatis” i.e. “foot soldiers” in an Akshauhini army.

Role of Kritvermain War : You will be surprised to know that under Kritavarma only one Akshouhini army of the Narayani army participated in the war in Kurukshetra. Kritavarma was one of the army heroes along with the Yaduvansh Vrishani dynasty. Kritvermain helped Duryodhana a lot in the war of Mahabharata. He was a hero of the Kaurava side. He demonstrated his might in battle many times. Narayan’s Akshauhini army was under him in the war. Narayan’s Akshauhini army was under him in the war. The rest of Narayan’s army came under Balaram Ji.

  • but if you factor in the enormous damage Satyaki inflicted on the Kauravas, including the cruel, adharmic killing of Bhurishravas - it is not clear if Duryodhana got a net benefit out of the Narayani Sena.
    – S K
    Jun 6 at 11:37

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