How did Krishna as Shanti-duta use sama, dama, bheda and danda?
Duration: 4 minutes
Transcribed by: Suresh Gupta
Question: How did Krishna use sama, dama, bheda and danda in his role as shanti-duta in Mahabharata?
Answer: There are four approaches of diplomacy found in Vedic texts – sama, dama, bheda, and danda. These could be understood as conciliation or alliance (sama), gifts or compensation (dama), usage of logic or trickery or influencing the mind (bheda), and force or armaments (danda). We can see that in Mahabharata war Krishna also used these four approaches when he engaged with Kauravas as a shanti-duta.
Firstly, when Krishna came, He came in a very conciliatory mood. He said that Kauravas and Pandavas are part of same family and family members are meant to live in harmony so there is absolutely no need for the war. The Pandavas have already done their part. As per the terms of gambling match, they were exiled and they have lived in exile. Now whatever has happened let us end it and come back together. Krishna tried to present everything in very agreeable terms. This is sama aspect of Krishna’s role as shanti-duta.
Krishna used dama by suggesting Kauravas that by befriending the Pandavas you cannot have better allies than them. He further extended the dama part when He said that at least give the Pandavas just five villages.
Bheda strategy was used by Krishna when He said that if it is only because of one person’s obstinacy the whole Kuru race will be destroyed then it is much better that that person (Duryodhana) may be rejected.
Danda strategy was used when Krishna said that if the Kauravas decided to go for war than don’t think that Pandavas are afraid of war. They are quite competent to destroy the Kauravas. Arjuna single-handedly can defeat all of you. Arjuna has gone to heaven to get celestial weapons. On top of that Bhima has been stocking the fire of his anger because of dishonour of Draupadi. He has been stocking the fire for thirteen years now and if that fire erupts in the Kurukshetra war all the Kauravas will be destroyed.
In this way Krishna tried everything possible as a shanti-duta to influence Kaurava’s thinking and bring peace.