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People often wonder why there is so much bloodshed in the Mahabharata. How can God condone so much death
during his lila ? How can Shri
Krishna preside over so many battles in the Mahabharata ?
We need to understand that universal lila of the divine can be very difficult for us to understand. We need to understand that divine view looks at the good of the universe rather than the needs of the individuals.
Shri Krushna's objective for the war was very clear. He wanted to establish 'Dharma Rajya'. Removal of adharma was key to achieving Dharma Rajya. You can not afford to have a single drop of poison in your food. Liberals may argue that 'it's only a single drop', but a rationalist will warn you that even a single drop of poison will ruin the food and will kill you ! For Dharma to be established, Adharma, in all its guises, had to be removed. Establishing Dharma was the sole purpose of Krushnavatar.
During the era of the Mahabharata, earth was burdened with evil, greedy, unscrupulous rulers. Powerful men and their arrogant armies constantly warred, making the Earth unhappy. Men plundered earth’s resources as if it was their right to exploit it for their benefit. Earth requested Vishnu's help in alleviating her pain.
Being the protector of the universe, Vishnu was able to maneuver karmic bonds and debts around to bring right people in to the picture at the right time to 'make things happen'. Like a catalyst, he can speed up or slow down events sufficiently to achieve the desired results. Karma is not negated, it is simply ‘adjusted’ to speed up delivery of karmic results.
So, at the request of mother Earth, Vishnu made sure the lives of some of the wickedest and most noble souls were brought into synch. Karmic ties of several souls were brought into play and what could have taken many life times for them to solve, was resolved in a single lifetime. So for example, if a person owes dinner treat to a 100 people, he would have to spend 100 evenings, entertaining 100 dinner guests. If the person ‘knows’ he owes 100 dinners he can chose to pay them off one by one, or, invite everyone to a feast and get over his karmic debt in a single night.
To make sure everything went according to divine plan, Shri Vishnu himself came down as Shri Krushna. Shri Krushna's mission was to resolve the karmic bonds of as many souls as he could in a single lifetime and lighten the load on Earth. Even those who fought against him had all their karmic bonds resolved by the virtue of having been in his divine presence. For example, it doesn't matter if you touch fire knowingly or unknowingly, it will reduce you to ashes. Similarly, all karmas are reduced to ashes the moment they come in divine presence. Those who fought on God's side were equally blessed and were freed from their karmic bonds, allowing them to return to nirvana – a pure, blissful state.
God's purpose - at all times - is to make everyone happy. That purpose was achieved by releasing billions of souls in a single life time.
War of Kurushetra was one of many that Shri Krushna took part in during his lifetime. For example, He defeated Jarasandha 17 times, killing over 23 akshonis each times ! In comparison, the final war between Kuru princes in Kurushetra sees a muster of 18 akshoni. All the wars Shri Krushna participated in were fought with the purpose of getting rid of evil men from this world.
However, the purpose of divine lila is not to kill. Purpose of divine lila was to accelerate the liberation of souls trapped in a rut of evil actions. God achieved his purpose in one way or another. Those who worshiped him merged into the divine by virtue of their love for the divine. But even those who fought Shri Krishna got to heaven - because they had the blessed darshan of the divine. By leaving the cycle of birth and death, evil men ceased to afflict the earth by being born again.
By the end of his Krishna lila, Shri Hari had lightened the load of mother Earth by liberating billions of souls. Having used Yadava forces to bring peace to Aryavarta, Shri Krushna engineered karmic debts of Yadavas to come together in a climactic battle to end their military superiority. By having Yadava heroes die in his presence, Shri Krushna guaranteed their nirvana too.
Divine lila may be difficult for us to understand, but we must remember that GOD has a higher purpose in mind for ALL of US.