By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda
Somebody was criticizing me that “Swamiji, you are introducing this Hare Krishna movement. People are becoming coward. They simply chant Hare Krishna.” So I replied that “You will see the power of Hare Krishna movement in due course of time.”
There were two battles in India: the battle between Ravana and Rama, the battle of Ramayana; and another battle was that of Kuruksetra. And in these two battles the hero was Vaishnava and Vishnu. In the Rama- Ravana battle Lord Ramacandra was there and His devotee Hanuman, Bajrāngaji. Similarly, in the Battlefield of Kuruksetra, Krishna was there and His devotee Arjuna was there. So Vaishnavas, they do not simply chant Hare Krishna. If there is need, they can fight under the guidance of Vishnu and become victorious.
A Vaishnava has twenty-six qualifications and one of those qualifications is daksa, expert. If there is need of fighting, they can fight very expertly. Krishna consciousness does not mean one-sided. Krishna is all-pervading, and therefore the Krishna consciousness movement should also be all-pervading. It should touch everything, even politics, sociology, everything, if required. That is the aim.
Because Krishna’s mission is: yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bharata [Bg. 4.7], paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya ca duskrtam [Bg. 4.8]. He has two missions: not only to give protection to the devotees, but also to kill the demons. So the devotees of Krishna should be trained up both ways: not only to give protection to the devotees, to give them encouragement, but if need be, they should be prepared to kill the demons. That is Vaishnavism. It is not cowardism.
Generally, a Vaishnava is non-violent. Just like Arjuna. In the beginning he was non-violent. He said, “Krishna, what is the use of this fighting? Let them enjoy.” So by nature he was non-violent, but he was induced by Krishna to become violent, “Your non-violence will not help. You become violent. You kill them. I want them killed.” So if Krishna wants we shall be prepared to become violent also.
And Krishna has two businesses – that is an open secret – that paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya ca duskrtam [Bg. 4.8]. So those who are devotees of Krishna, they should be trained up both ways, they should be prepared. But generally, there is no question of becoming violent, unnecessarily. As the modern politicians, unnecessarily they declare war, a Vaishnava does not do so. No, unnecessarily, there is no need of war.
When it was completely impossible to settle up the things between the Pandavas and the Kauravas, then Krishna said, “All right, then there must be fight.” When Duryodhana declined to spare even a portion of land holding the point of a needle (sūcyagra), then the war was declared. Duryodhana refused saying, “I cannot spare even so much land which can hold the point of a needle. There is no question of settlement.”
Otherwise, Krishna requested that “These five Pandavas, they are ksatriyas. They cannot become merchant or brahmana. Brahmana’s profession is pathana pāthana yajana yājana dāna pratigrahah. Brahmana can take charity from others. A sannyasi can take charity from others but not a ksatriya or a grhastha. No. That is not allowed. “So they are ksatriyas; they cannot take the profession of a brahmana, neither can they take the profession of a mercantile man, business man. They must have some land to rule over and take taxation. That is their living means. So spare only five villages to these five brothers and settle up.” But Duryodhana replied, “No, Sir. What to speak of five villages, we cannot spare even so much land which can hold the point of needle.” Only then was the war declared.
So Vaishnavas are non-violent. But if need be, they can become violent for Krishna’s sake. This is the Battle of Kuruksetra.
[An excerpt from a lecture on the Bhagavad Gita 1.6-7 delivered in London on July 11, 1973]