The Mahabharata war is specially characterized as a dharmayudda apparently because it was meant to be fought in accordance with certain rules agreed upon by the Kauravas and the Pandavas. An examination of these rules reveals that although some of the rules were observed, others were violated, and the violations were on both sides. Thus, the Mahabharata has really no claims to be called a dharmayudda.
In the context of Gita 18.78, the word Yogesvara can only mean ' the master of expedient means of war strategems'. An examination of Krsna's role as a Yogesvara in this sense reveals that he did not suggest any yoga for the fall of Bhisma, Jayadratha and Bhurisravas. He had no doubt contributed yogas for the fall of Drona, Karna, Duryodhana, and possibly Salya. Of these, no element of adharma was involved for the fall of Karna (and Salya), but it was certainly present in the yogas calculated for the fall of Drona and Duryodhana.
The Kauravas availed themselves of more than one Yogesvara although none of them was so called. This point is best treated in three contexts: (i) Before the war: In the game of dice-the first means employed by the Kauravas to deprive the Pandavas of their riches-Sakuni acted as the Yogesvara; (ii) In the war proper neither Bhisma, nor Karna, nor Salya acted as the Yogesvara; it was Drona who, during his term of leadership and Salya, when he acted as Karna's charioteer, suggested certain yogas; (iii) the last 'Yogesvara' of the Kauravas was an owl who showed Asvatthaman the way to eliminate his adversaries while they were asleep.
About the Author
M.A. Mehendale (b. 1918) has taught Sanskrit and Linguistics since 1944. he started his career as a lecturer in Ardhamagadhi, in Basaveshvar College Bagalkot, and taught at taught at Deccan College Post-Graduate and Research Institute, Pune. He has been Editor of Epilogue to the Mahabharata, published by Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune since 1983.
Dr. Mehendale is author of a number of books and has also contributed research papers in national and international journals.
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