dharma of war an enquiry into the true nature and purpose of armed conflict
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PHILOSOPHY FOUNDATION. Dharma of War: An enquiry into the true nature and purpose of armed conflict. Dennis Blejer. Dharma of War. “The first rule of unrestricted warfare is that there are no rules, with nothing forbidden.” (Unrestricted Warfare, Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui, February 1999).

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dharma of war
Dharma of War

“The first rule of unrestricted warfare is that there are no rules, with nothing forbidden.”

(Unrestricted Warfare, Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui, February 1999)

the ten points of dharma laws of manu 6 92
The Ten Points of Dharma Laws of Manu (6.92)
  • Patience
  • Forgiveness
  • Self control
  • Not stealing
  • Purification
  • Mastery over sensory organs
  • Spiritual intellect
  • Spiritual knowledge
  • Truth
  • Lack of anger
  • In the Krita Age (Golden Age) Dharma is four-footed and entire, and so is Truth; nor does any gain accrue to men by unrighteousness.

In the other three ages, by reason of unjust gains, Dharma is deprived successively of one foot, and through the prevalence of theft, falsehood, and fraud, the merit gained by men is diminished by one fourth in each.

(Manu, I.81-82).

united nations charter preamble
United Nations Charter (Preamble)

to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, AND FOR THESE ENDS

to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in thecommon interest, and to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples, HAVE RESOLVED TO COMBINE OUR EFFORTS TO ACCOMPLISH THESE AIMS accordingly, our respective Governments, through representatives assembled in the city of San Francisco, who have exhibited their full powers found to be in good and due form, have agreed to the present Charter of the United Nations and do hereby establish an international organization to be known as the United Nations.

united nations charter
United Nations Charter



Article 1

  • The Purposes of the United Nations are:

1. To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace;

united nations charter1
United Nations Charter

Article 2

  • The Organization and its Members, in pursuit of the Purposes stated in Article 1, shall act in accordance with the following Principles..

3. All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.4. All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

united nations charter2
United Nations Charter



Article 41

The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.

united nations charter3
United Nations Charter

Article 42

  • Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations. Article 43
  • 1. All Members of the United Nations, in order to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security, undertake to make available to the Security Council, on its call and in accordance with a special agreement or agreements, armed forces, assistance, and facilities, including rights of passage, necessary for the purpose of maintaining international peace and security.
united nations charter4
United Nations Charter

Article 45

  • In order to enable the United Nations to take urgent military measures,Members shall hold immediately available national air-force contingents for combined international enforcement action. The strength and degree of readiness of these contingents and plans for their combined action shall be determined within the limits laid down in the special agreement or agreements referred to in Article 43, by the Security Council with the assistance of the Military Staff Committee.
united nations charter5
United Nations Charter

Article 51

  • Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.
on the laws of war and peace grotius chapter 2
On the Laws of War and Peace(Grotius, Chapter 2)
  • For as the same Cicero observes somewhere in his Epistles, that as there are two modes of contending, the one by argument, and the other by force, and as the former is peculiar to man, and the latter common to him with the brute creation, we must have recourse to the latter, when it is impossible to use the former. And again, what can be opposed to force, but force? Ulpian observes that Cassius says, it is lawful to repel force by force,and it is a rightapparently provided by nature to repel arms with arms, with whom Ovid agrees, observing that the laws permit us to take up arms against those that bear them.
the laws of war on land 1880
The Laws of War on Land, 1880
  • War holds a great place in history, and it is not to be supposed that men will soon give it up – in spite of the protests which it arouses and the horror which it inspires – because it appears to be the only possible issue of disputes which threaten the existence of States, their liberty, their vital interests. But the gradual improvement in customs should be reflected in the method of conducting war. It is worthy of civilized nations to seek, as has been well said (Baron Jomini), “to restrain the destructive force of war, while recognizing its inexorable necessities”.
war as a natural condition
War as a Natural Condition
  • To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time of war, and a time of peace (Ecclesiastes, 3:8).
  • Weapons are instruments of fear: they are not a wise man’s tools. He uses them only when he has no choice. Peace and quiet are dear to his heart, and victory no cause for rejoicing (Tao Te Ching).
  • Military action is important to the nation – it is the ground of death and life, the path of survival and destruction, so it is imperative to examine it (The Art of War, Sun Tzu).
  • Two motives lead men to war: instinctive hostility and hostile intention (On War, Clausewitz).
natural forces
Natural Forces
  • Absolute has created this universe for his sport, not for any achievement, but simply because it is his nature, daivisampati. The same is seen in a child, for he lives like the Absolute. In this sport, there is no winner or loser, nor merit or demerit, no gain and no loss. Sport is for sport only.The sport is sustained by daivi and asuri vritti. Thus these opposing forces always keep on interacting for amusement. Since there are conscious creatures like human beings, they tend to manipulate one or other of these forces to secure sport for life or even for their progenies. This must be done by acquisition of more forces than one needs. Here appears ahankara. When the divine forces develop ahankara, the demonic forces overpower them; … (HH, 1991?)
  • I am the Lord and there is none else, I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create evil.I, the Lord do all these things. (Isaiah)
  • He the embodied Self in every one’s body can never be killed, O descendent of Bharata. Wherefore thou oughtst not to grieve about any creature (Bhagavad Gita, II, 30).
  • Having regard to thine own duty (svadharma) also, thou oughtst not to waver. For, to a Kshatriya, there is nothing more wholesomethan a lawful (dharma) battle. (BG, II, 31).
  • Happy Kshatriyas, O son of Pritha, find such a battle as this, come of itself, an open door to heaven (svarga) (II, 32).
  • Now if thou wouldst not fight this lawful battle, then, having abandoned thine own duty and fame, thou shalt incur sin (papam) (BG, II, 33).
  • Killed, thou wilt reach heaven; victorious, thou wilt enjoy the earth. Wherefore, O son of Kunti, arise, resolved to fight (BG, II, 37).
  • At first the Kshatriya and other castes were verily Brahman, who was just alone. Being alone, he did not prosper. He created a noble form, the Kshatriya – consisting of those who are Kshatriyas among the gods… Therefore there is none superior to the Kshatriyas. Hence, in the Rajasuya sacrifice, the Brahmana adores the Kshatriya from a lower seat. He bestows that prestige on the Kshatriya alone. It is the Brahmana who is the source of the Kshatriya. Therefore, although the king attains pre-eminence (in that sacrifice), at the end he places himself under the Brahmana alone, who is his source. He did not prosper still. He created the Vaisya… He did not prosper still. He created the Shudra caste, the Pushan, (the nourishers). This earth indeed is Pushan: for it nourishes all this that exists. (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, I.4.11-13).
  • Thus this fourfold caste was created: the Brahmana, the Kshatriya, the Vaisya, and the Shudra. (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, I.4.15).
  • But in order to protect this universe He, the most resplendent one, assigned separate duties and occupations to those who sprang from his mouth, arms, thighs, and feet. To the Brahmanas he assigned teaching and studying the Vedas, sacrificing for their own benefit and for others, giving and accepting of alms. The Kshatriyas he commanded to protect the people, to bestow gifts, to offer sacrifices, to study the Vedas, and to abstain from attaching himself to sensual pleasures. The Vaisya to tend cattle, to bestow gifts, to offer sacrifices, to study the Veda, to trade, to lend money, and to cultivate land. One occupation only the Lord prescribed to the Shudra, to serve meekly even these other three castes. (Manu, I.87-91).When the Kshatriyas become in any way overbearing towards the Brahmanas, the Brahmanas themselves shall duly restrain them; for the Kshartiyas sprang from the Brahmanas. Kshatriyas prosper notwithout Brahmanas,Brahmanas prosper not without Kshatriyas; Brahmanas and Kshatriyas, being closely united, prosper in this world and in the next. (Manu, IX.320 & 321).
dharma of war1
Dharma of War
  • A king who, while he protects his people, is defied by foes, be they equal in strength, or stronger or weaker, must not shrink from battle, remembering the duty of Kshatriyas. Not to turn back in battle, to protect the people, to honour the Brahmanas, is the best means for a king to secure happiness. Those kings who, seeking to slay each other in battle, fight with the utmost exertion and do not turn back, go to heaven. When he fights with his foes in battle, let him not strike with weapons concealed, nor barbed, poisoned, or the points of which are blazing with fire. Let him not strke one who … surrenders, nor one who flees with flying hair, nor one who sits down, nor one who sleeps, … nor one who is disarmed, nor one who is fighting with another, nor one who is grievously wounded; but in all cases let him remember the duty of the honorable warriors. (Manu, VII.87-93).
dharma of war2
Dharma of War
  • Then the Kurus, the Pandavas, and the Somakas made certain covenants, and settled the rules, O bull of Bharata’s race, regarding the different kinds of combat. Persons equally circumstanced must encounter each other, fighting fairly. And if having fought fairly the combatants withdraw (without fear of molestation) even that would be gratifying to us. Those who engaged in contests of words should be fought against with words. Those that left the ranks should never be slain. A car-warrior should have a car-warrior for his antagonist; he on the neck of an elephant should have a similar combatant for his foe; a horse should be met by a horse, and a foot-soldier, O Bharata, should be met by a foot-soldier. Guided by considerations of fitness, willingness, daring and might, one should strike another, giving notice. No one should strike another that is unprepared or panic-struck. One engaged with another, one seeking quarter, one retreating, one whose weapon is rendered unfit, uncased in mail, should never be struck. Car-drivers, animals (yoked to cars or carrying weapons) men engaged in the transport of weapons, players on drums and blowers of conches should never be struck. (Mahabharata, Bhishma Parva, Section I).
hague convention 1907
Hague Convention, 1907
  • The Contracting Powers recognize that hostilities between them ought not to commence without a warning, previously given and unequivocal, which shall take the form either of a declaration of war, accompanied by reasons, or of an ultimatum, with a conditional declaration of war. (Hague. iii.1).
  • The Contracting Powers will issue instructions to their armed land forces, which shall be in conformity with the Regulations respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land annexed to the present Convention. (Hague. iv.1).
  • A belligerent Party which violates the provisions of the said Regulations shall, in proper cases, be bound to make compensations. It shall be responsible for all acts committed by persons forming part of its armed forces. (Hague. Iv.3).
the laws of war on land 18801
The Laws of War on Land, 1880
  • Article 1: The state of war does not admit of acts of violence, save between the armed forces of belligerent States. Persons not forming part of a belligerent armed force should abstain from such acts.
  • Article2: The armed forces of a state…(a) That they are under the direction of a responsible chief;(b) That they must have a uniform, or a fixed distinctive emblem recognizable at a distance, and worn by individuals composing such a corps;(c) That they carry arms openly;
  • Article 4. The laws of war do not recognize in belligerents an unlimited liberty as to the means of injuring the enemy. They are to abstain especially from all needless severity, as well as from all perfidious (treacherous), unjust, or tyrannical acts.
  • Article 7. It is forbidden to maltreat inoffensive populations.
the laws of war on land 18802
The Laws of War on Land, 1880
  • Article 8. It is forbidden:(a) To make use of poison, in any form whatever;(b) To make treacherous attempts upon the life of an enemy; as, for example, by keeping assassins in pay or by feigning to surrender;(c) To attack an enemy while concealing the distinctive signs of an armed force;(d) To make improper use of the national flag, military insignia or uniform of the enemy, of the flag of truce and of the protective signs prescribed by the ‘Geneva Convention’ (Articles 17 and 40).
  • Article 9. It is forbidden:(a) To employ arms, projectiles, or materials of any kind calculated to cause superfluous suffering, or to aggravate wounds – notably projectiles of less weight than 400 grams which are explosive or are charged with fulminating or inflammable substances.(b) To injure or kill an enemy who has surrendered at discretion or is disabled, and to declare in advance that quarter will not be given, even by those who do not ask it for themselves.
dharma of war3
Dharma of War
  • Thus has been declared the blameless, primeval law for warriors; from this law a Kshatriya must not depart, when he strikes his foe in battle. Let him strive to gain what he has not yet gained; what he has gained let him carefully preserve; let him augment what he preserves, and what he has augmented let him bestow on worthy men. Let him know that these are the four means for securing the aims of human existence; let him, without tiring, properly employ them. What he has not yet gained, let him seek to gain by his army; what he has gained, let him protect by careful attention; what he has protected, let him augment by various modes of increasing it; and what he has augmented, let him liberally bestow on worthy men.(Manu, VII.98-101).
dharma of war4
Dharma of War
  • Let him be ever ready to strike, his prowess constantly displayed, and his secrets constantly concealed, and let him constantly explore the weaknesses of his foe. Of him who is always ready to strike, the whole world stands in awe; let him therefore make all creatures subject to himself even by the employment of force.Let him ever act without guile, and on no account treacherously; carefully guarding himself, let him always fathom the treachery which his foes employ. His enemy must not know his weaknesses, but he must know the weaknesses of his enemy; as the tortoise hides its limbs, even so let him secure the members of his kingdom against treachery, let him protect his own weak points. Let him plan his undertakings like a heron; like a lion, let him put forth his strength; like a wolf, let him snatch his prey; like a hare, let him double-back in retreat. (Manu, VII.102-106).
dharma of war5
Dharma of War
  • When he is thus engaged in conquest, let him subdue all the opponents whom he may find, by the four expedients, conciliation, bribery, dissension, and force. If they cannot be stopped by the first three expedients, then let him, overcoming them by force alone, gradually bring them to subjection. Among the four expedients, conciliation and the rest, the learned always recommend conciliation and the employment of force for the prosperity of kingdoms. As the weeder plucks up the weeds and preserves the corn, even so let the king, protect his kingdom and destroy his opponents.(Manu, VII.107-110).
  • A king who thus duly fulfills his duties in accordance with justice, may seek to gain countries which he has not yet gained, and shall duly protect them when he has gained them. (Manu, IX.251).
dharma of war6
Dharma of War
  • Yudhishthira said, “If a Kshatriya desires to subjugate another Kshatriya in battle, how should the former act in the matter of that victory? Questioned by me do thou answer it.”“Bhishma said, “The king, with or without an army at his back, entering the dominions of the king he would subjugate, should say unto all the people, “I am your king. I shall always protect you. Give me the just tribute or encounter me in battle.”If the people accept him for their king, there need not be any fighting. If, without being Kshatriyas by birth, they show signs of hostility, they should then, observant as they are of practices not laid down for them, be sought to be restrained by every means. People of the other orders do take up arms (for resisting the invader) if they behold the Kshatriyas unarmed for fight, incapable of protecting himself, and making too much of the enemy.” (Mahabharata, Shanti Parva, Section XCV).
Instructions for the Government of Armies of the United States in the Field General Orders No. 100, President Abraham Lincoln, 1863
  • Article 67.The law of nations allows every sovereign government to make war upon another sovereign state, and, therefore,admits of no rules or laws different from those of regular warfare, regarding the treatment of prisoners of war, although they may belong to the army of a government which the captor my consider as a wanton and unjust assailant.
  • Article 68.Modern wars are not internecine (marked by slaughter) wars, in which the killing of the enemy is the object. The destruction of the enemy in modern war, and indeed, modern war itself, are means to obtain that object of the belligerent which lies beyond the war.Unnecessary or revengeful destruction of life is not lawful.
Instructions for the Government of Armies of the United States in the Field General Orders No. 100, President Abraham Lincoln, 1863
  • Article 82.Men, or squads of men, who commit hostilities, whether by fighting, or inroads for destruction or plunder, or by raids of any kind, without commission, without being part and portion of the organized hostile army, and without sharing continuously in the war, but who do so with intermitting returns to their homes and avocations, or with the occasional assumption of the semblance of peaceful pursuits, divesting themselves of the character or appearance of soldiers – such men, or squads of men, are not public enemies, and, therefore, if captured, are not entitled to the privileges of prisoners of war, but shall be treated summarily as highway robbers or pirates.
Instructions for the Government of Armies of the United States in the Field General Orders No. 100, President Abraham Lincoln, 1863
  • Article 84.Armed prowlers, by whatever names they may be called, or persons of the enemy’s territory, who steal within the lines of the hostile army for the purpose of robbing, killing, or of destroying bridges, roads or canals, or of robbing or destroying the mail, or of cutting the telegraph wires, are not entitled to the privileges of the prisoner of war.
  • Article 85.War-rebels are persons within an occupied territory who rise in arms against the occupying or conquering army, or against the authorities established by the same. If captured, they may suffer death, whether they rise singly, in small or large bands, and whether called upon to do so by their own, but expelled, government or not. They are not prisoners of war; nor are they if discovered and secured before their conspiracy has matured to an actual rising or armed violence.
dharma of war7
Dharma of War
  • “Even after enlisting a large army consisting of the four kinds of forces, thou shouldst, O Yudhishthira, first behave peacefully. If thy eneavours after peace fail, then mayest thou engage in battle.

The victory, O Bharata, that one acquired by battle is very inferior. Victory in battle, it seems, dependent on caprice or destiny…

The collision of battle is not desirable as long as it can be avoided. The policy of conciliation, or producing disunion, and making gifts should first be tried, the battle it is said should come after these.”

(Mahabharata, Shanti Parva, Section CII).

dharma of war8
Dharma of War
  • Yudhishthira said “Tell me, O grandsire, how that Kshatriya king should conduct himself in fight who advances against another Kshatriya king.”

Bhishma said, “A Kshatriya must not put on armour for fighting a Kshatriya unclad in mail. One should fight one, and abandon the opponent when the latter becomes disabled. If the enemy comes clad in mail, his opponent should put on mail. If the enemy advances backed by an army, on should, backed by an army, challenge him to battle. If the enemy fights aided by deceit, he should be met with the aid of deceit. If, on the other hand, he fights fairly, he should be resisted with fair means. One should not on horseback proceed against a car-warrior. A car-warrior should proceed against a car-warrior. When an antagonist has fallen into distress, he should not be struck; nor should one that has been frightened, nor one that has been vanquished. Neither poisoned nor barbed arrows should be used. These are the weapons of the wicked. One should fight righteously, without yielding to wrath or desiring to slay. A weak or wounded man man should not be slain, or one that is sonless; or one whose weapon has been broken; or one that has fallen into distress; or one whose bow-string has been cut; or one that has lost his vehicle. A wounded opponent should either be sent to his own home, or, if brought to the victor’s quarters, should have his wounds attended to by skillful surgeons… This is the eternal duty. Manu himself has said that battles should be fought fairly. The righteous should always act righteously towards those that are righteous. They should adhere to righteousness without destroying it. If a Kshatriya, whose duty it is to fight righteously, wins a victory by unrighteous means, he becomes sinful. Of deceitful conduct, such a person is said to slay his own self. Such is the practice of those that are wicked. Even he that is wicked should be subdued by fair means. It is better to lay down life itself in the observance of righteousness than to win victory by sinful means… The king should, therefore, seek both victory and the enhancement of his resources, by righteous means.” (Mahabharata, Shanti Parva, Section XCV).

dharma of war9
Dharma of War
  • Yudhishthira said, “Tell me, O grandsire, how kings desirous of victory should, O bull of Bharata’s race, lead their troops to battle even by offending slightly against the rules of righteousness!”Bhishma said,… “Robbers, transgressing all wholesome bounds, very often become destroyers of property and religious merit. For resisting and restraining them, I shall tell thee what the contrivances are, as indicated in the scriptures… Both kinds of wisdom, straight and crooked, should be within the call of the king. Though acquainted with it, he should not however, apply that wisdom which is crooked (for injuring others). He may use it for resisting the dangers that may overtake him… The king, conversant with deceit, may, by the aid of deceit, counteract those enemies” (Mahabharata, Shanti Parva, Section C).
dharma of war10
Dharma of War
  • Yudhishthira said. “There are no practices, O king, more sinful than those of the Kshatriyas. In marching or in battle, the king slays large multitudes. By what acts then does the king win regions of felicity? O bull of Bharata’s race, tell this, O learned one, unto me that desire to know.”Bhishma said, “By chastising the wicked, by attaching and cherishing the good, by sacrifices and gifts, kings become pure and cleansed. It is true, kings desirous of victory afflict many creatures, but after victory they advance and aggrandise all. By the power of gifts, sacrifices, and penances, they destroy their sins, and their merit increases in order that they may be able to do good to all creatures… They that wield weapons, destroy many that deserve destruction. Such extensive destruction, however, causes the growth and advancement of those that remain. He who protects people from plunder, slaughter, and affliction, in consequence of thus protecting their lives from robbers, comes to be regarded as the giver of wealth, of life, and food” (Mahabharat, Shanti Parva, Section XCVIII).
dharma of war11
Dharma of War
  • The truth is that the king makes the age. When the king rules with a complete and strict reliance on the science of chastisement, the foremost of ages called the Krita (Golden) is then said to set in.

Righteousness sets in the Krita age. Nothing of unrighteousness exists then. The hearts of men belonging to all the four orders do not take any pleasure in unrighteousness… All the Vedic rites become productive of merit. All the seasons become delightful and free from evil. The voice, pronunciation, and minds of all men become clear and cheerful. Diseases disappear and all men become long-lived… The earth yields crops without being tilled, and herbs and plants grow in luxuriance. Barks, leaves, fruits, and roots, become vigorous and abundant. No unrighteousness is seen. Nothing but righteousness exists. Know these to be the characteristics, O Yudhishthira, of the Krita age.

(Mahabharata, Shanti Parva, Section LXIX).

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Dharma of War
  • Yudhishthira said, “O thou foremost of all speakers, O Muni of Bhrigu’s race, that which we have heard from thee about the destruction and re-birth of all things at the end of the Yuga, is indeed, full of wonder! I am filled with curiosity, however, in respect of what may happen in the Kali age… What also is the limit, having attained which the Krita (Golden) age will begin anew?”

And Markandeya said,… “And when those terrible times will be over, the creation will begin anew, and men will again be created and distributed into the four orders beginning with Brahmanas… the Krita age will begin again… And all around, there will be prosperity and abundance and health and peace. And commissioned by Time, a Brahmana of the name of Kalki will take birth. And he will glorify Vishnu and possess great energy, great intelligence, and great prowess… And vehicles and weapons, and warriors and arms, and coats of mail will be at his disposal as soon as he will think of them. And he will be the king of kings, and ever victorious with the strength of virtue. And he will restore order and peace in this world crowded with creatures and contradictory in its course. And that blazing Brahmana of mighty intellect, having appeared, will destroy all things. And he will be the Destroyer of all, and will inaugurate a new Yuga. And surrounded by the Brahmanas, that Brahmana will exterminate all the mlecchas (barbarians) wherever those low and despicable persons may take refuge.’” “… and when the Brahmanas will have exterminated the thieves and robbers, there will be prosperity everywhere (on earth).”

(Mahabharata, Sections CLXXXIX – CLXL).

  • The military operations of effective leaders are considered philosophically, planned strategically, and supported justly. They are not intended to destroy what exists but to preserve what is perishing. Therefore, when they hear that a neighboring nation oppresses its people, they raise armies and go to the border, accusing that nation of injustice and excess.

When the armies reach the suburbs, the commanders say to their troops, “Do not cut down trees, do not disturb graveyards, do not burn crops or destroy stores, do not take common people captive, and do not steal domestic animals.”

Then the announcement is made:“The ruler of such-and-such a country shows contempt for heaven and the spirits, imprisoning and executing the innocent. This is a criminal before heaven, and enemy to the people.”

The coming of armies is to oust the unjust and restore the virtuous. Those who lead plunderers of the people, in defiance of nature, die themselves, and their clans are extinguished. Those who get their families to listen to reason are enfranchised with their families; those who get their villages and towns to listen are rewarded with their villages and towns; those who get their countries to listen are ennobled with their countries; and those who get their states to listen are ennobled in their states. The conquering of the nation does not extend to its people; it removes the leadership and changes the government honoring excellent knights, exposing the wise and good, helping the orphaned and widowed, treating the poor and destitute mercifully, freeing prisoners, and rewarding the meritorious.

The peasants await such armies with open doors, preparing food to supply them, only worried that they won’t come.

So when the leadership is unguided, the people wish for military action as they wish for rain during a drought and seek to quench their thirst. Who will cross swords with a righteous army under these conditions? The supreme attainment of a just military action is to finish its mission without fighting.

the need for war
The Need for War
  • The justifying cause of a war, and clear and intelligent war aims, ought to be explained to the people by an experienced leader. Unless there is a quite definite war aim to which the people can consciously pledge themselves, the unity and strength of conviction that lead to victory will not be forthcoming. But the leader must also look to it that the passion of war and the delirium of victory do not give rise to unjust acts that will not meet with general approval. If justice and perseverance are the basis of action, all goes well.

(I Ching, The Army).

the need for war1
The Need for War
  • “We are not entirely guiltless, we the Allies, because it took us twelve years to open the gates of Dachau. We were blind, and unbelieving, and slow and that can never be again. And if ever again we tolerate such cruelty we have no right to peace”. (Martha Gellhorn).
  • “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty”. (JFK).
  • “War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feelings which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has little chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself”. (John Stuart Mill).
dharma of war13
Dharma of War
  • Dharmavijaya – the victory of justice or virtue
bhagavad gita krishna
Bhagavad Gita - Krishna
  • My heart is oppressed with pity; and my mind confused as to what my duty is. Therefore, my Lord, tell me what is best for my spiritual welfare; for I am Thy disciple. Please direct me, I pray….Lord Shri Krishna said, “Why grieve for those for whom no grief is due, and yet profess wisdom? The wise grieve neither for the dead nor for the living. There was never a time when I was not, nor thou, nor these princes were not; there will never be a time when we shall cease to be. As the soul experiences in this body, infancy, youth and old age, so finally it passes into another. The wise have no delusion about this. That which is not, shall never be; that which is, shall never cease to be. To the wise, these truths are self-evident. The Spirit, which pervades all that we see, is imperishable. Nothing can destroy the Spirit. The material bodies which this eternal, indestructible, immeasurable Spirit inhabit, are all finite. Therefore fight, O Valiant Man. He who thinks that the Spirit kills, and he who thinks of it as killed, are both ignorant. The Spirit kills not, nor is it killed. It was not born; it will never die; nor once having been, can it ever cease to be: unborn, eternal, ever enduring, yet most ancient, the Spirit dies not when the body is dead. He who knows the Spirit as indestructible, immortal, unborn, always the same, how should he kill or cause to be killed?” …