Duryodhana's Big Mistake - Stories From Mahabharat

The Mahabharat program is just around the corner, with only eight days left before Sadhguru unfolds the intricacies of this timeless saga. Mahabharat will be a truly breathtaking explosion of arts, culture, and beauty - a celebration of life’s exuberance and depth. As a prelude to the program, Sadhguru narrates an incident from the epic, which ultimately decided the outcome of the legendary battle.

One of many stories from Mahabharat that showcase Krishna's intelligence and playful mischievousness, this story relates a situation when Krishna was approached to become an ally, by both Duryodhana and Arjuna, as they were building up great armies before the battle at Kurukshetra. Duryodhana's attitude and choice cost him dearly, though he doesn't immediately realize his folly.

Sadhguru: There is a beautiful situation or incident that occurred in the Mahabharat. The Kurukshetra war is imminent and these two parties are going about campaigning. At that time there were only two fronts - the Kauravas and the Pandavas. They are trying to gather all the support they can because they are going to war and every man matters. You would like to have the maximum numbers because it's life and death, it's not an election. They’re going from kingdom to kingdom campaigning and both of them have acquired formidable armies behind them.

Puppets from a Wayang beber play depicting the Mahabharata in Indonesia. From right: Drona, Duryodhana, Karna and Dushasana.

Krishna is not a king, but he has a well trained army with over 10,000 men, who have been in many campaigns - a great asset. So in the afternoon Krishna is pretending to sleep. He is like that - he is pretending to sleep because when you know what is the next step and you still don’t want to disturb the game, a certain amount of pretension is needed. So he is pretending to sleep, stretched out on his bed. Duryodhana, the eldest of the Kauravas came, walked into this room and saw Krishna was sleeping. He sat down, wanting to wait. Krishna was just sleeping with a gentle smile on his face. His feet were pointed towards Duryodhana. Duryodhana looked at it and he didn’t like it. “He is not even a king; he is a cowherd. I am a great emperor. Why am I sitting at his feet?” So slowly he got up and came and sat close to his head. Then Arjuna came, a devotee of Krishna, and sat where Duryodhana had sat earlier. Krishna’s feet were pointing at him, he sees that as a blessing. So he sat there. Krishna opened his eyes after sometime, pretending to wake up. See this is the problem. Once you pretend to sleep you have to pretend to wake up. One act leads to many complex acts.

So he pretended to wake up, opened his eyes, and said, “Oh, Arjuna you have come.” Arjuna said, “Yes Bhagwan, I have come.” Before they could talk further Duryodhana cleared his throat to make his presence felt. Krishna said, ”Oh Duryodhana, even you? Both of you at the same time - what brings both of you here?” He knows the whole act.

Then both of them said that they have come to ask for his help in the war. Krishna said, “Both of you have come and both of you are asking for the same thing, so let me put it this way. One of you can have my army, another can have me. But I won't fight, I’ll just come with you. Because my vision fell upon Arjuna first, he gets the first choice.” Duryodhana protested, “I came here first!” Krishna said, “But what can I do? I saw him first.”

Then Krishna told Arjuna , “You choose what you want.” Arjuna said, “Bhagwan we want you, I don’t care about the army. We just want you with us.” Krishna warned, “I am not going to fight for you. I’ll just come with you.” He said, “You don’t have to do anything, we just want you with us.” Then Duryodhana let out a sigh of relief – he was so happy! He knew the Pandavas were idiots, but he never thought they were such idiots, that they will choose one man against 10,000 trained men. And this one man is not going to fight. Just going to come with you, drive with you. 10,000 trained men against one man who is not going to fight - what a foolish choice. But that choice made all the difference. That choice made all the difference for what happened to the result of the war.

Editor's Note: Watch the Leela series, where Sadhguru explores the life and path of Krishna.

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4 years 10 months ago

I have seen so many persons having doubts in entire Mahabharata but those doubts are due to partial knowledge and understanding of it. our mind is like river water which tries to flow in a direction easier but we wont accept that rivers path is due to the design of natural bodies created by almighty. Krishna is not thinking to stop the bad nor to destroy it, he thought to teach humans a morale which makes them to select what they want. he proved that if u stand up for justice no matter what justice wins.
he also proved success is not on the number of followers or man power but it is the ones determination to stand up against all.

8 years 6 months ago

who wrote this blog???sadhguru???

8 years 6 months ago

Dear Sadhguru,

I have a few doubts.

1) Isn't it Arjuna (and not Yudhistra)  who went to see Krishna?2) I don't see any side getting the victory. The pandavas won, but lost everyone, including all their sons. They went on to rule a land without men and with only vultures, whereas Duryodhana died happily learning that Ashwatama killed all pandavas( though a misinformation).3)Millions died except a handful of people, and Krishna did nothing to prevent the death of the millions. Why was he a silent spectator?

4) Despite being such a great hero and a scholar why did Bheem not get his due as the most important person in the entire scheme of things?

8 years 6 months ago

I have been asking this question to many people  and I would like Sadhguru to answer this. How can Krishna give his army to fight for the wrong side. Also how can Krishna be on the opposite side to his own army. Isn't it his responsibility to protect them. One more thing is even with Krishna's presence in the planet earth there was still lot of suffering, war and problems. Things didn't change because of his presence. Even the yadavas fought within themselves. What did the presence of Rama, Krishna, Buddha and Christ make difference to the planet earth during their life? It was all after their life and that change was by the disciples. So they are more valuable than these right?

8 years 6 months ago

I agree with you. Bheema was the greatest and the only towering personality worthy of respect, adoration and love amongst the entire cast of characters in the Mahabharata. Yet, since this is the Age of Darkness, he has been cast aside, and all types of inferior characters have gained popularity.

But when the Golden Age or the Age of Truth dawns, Bheema will get his due.

6 years ago

Since we are conscious beings, all the Presences have given a way to approach moksha. You need to choose what works for you and mostly it also depends upon your upbringing.

6 years ago

All 5 brothers had such unity which is still unheard of. You have to understand there was no different between the brothers, whether the decision made by Yudhistra or Arjuna or Nakula it did not matter to these 5 brother es.

5 years ago

The story is all about the "act." The act is "creation." Creation is a play of duality so the thought of right and wrong, good and bad etc. describe the suffering that the "dance" of "evolution" is founded upon. We know that physical evolution is a "process" of reunifying that which "appears" to be divided to rise to its peak or potential whether mineral, vegetable, animal, or human kind.

Logic will bring you to te tall lumbering tree but until you climb the tree to acquire a unifying viewing point your vision is obscured by the forest foliage while using logic at the base of the tree.

Climb Kannan...climb high! Climbing will erase such logical obstructions to our perception.......sadhana, devotion, self responsibility are some basic foot-holds needed to climb!

5 years ago

Nothing will get published that does not reflect the truth of creation/life under the flagship of Sadhguru whether by his own hand or not. So in my experience, this blog is 100% Sadhguru's pen!

5 years ago

Awesome, Jim!! Thanks for your succinct but invaluable comments...