“Of military generals I am Kartikeya” says Sri Krishna in Bhagavad-gita 10.24. In Sanskrit language: “senaninam aham skandah” That means, whether they like it or not, Kartikeya, the son of Lord Shiva and Parvati–and ultimately Krishna– is the patron-saint-general of all military commanders.

There are 195 countries in the world today. This total comprises 193 countries that are member states of the United Nations and 2 countries that are non-member observer states: the Holy See and the State of Palestine. (Google).

In the Bhagavad-gita As It Is 4.1, purport, Srila Prabhupada writes:

“Herein we find the history of the Bhagavad-gita from a remote time, when it was delivered to the royal order of all planets, beginning from the sun planet. The royal order- or the kings of all planets- are especially meant for the protection of the inhabitants and as such the royal order is also meant for understanding this science of Bhagavad-gita, in order to rule over the citizens, just to protect them from the onslaught of the material bondage of lust. Human life is meant for cultivation of the spiritual knowledge of our eternal relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the executive heads of all states and all planets are obliged to impart this lesson to all citizens by education culture and devotion. In other words, the executive heads of all states are meant for spreading this science of Krishna consciousness so that the people may take advantage of this great science and prosecute a successful path, utilizing this opportunity of the human form of life.”

So there is actually an obligation for the mundane state, which operates always within the jurisdiction of the supreme state of the Lord, as does any other entity, to spread a consciousness of Krishna at large by “education, culture and devotion.”

Field Marshal His Grace and Serene Highness The Duke of Wellington ( 1769-1852). KG GCB GCH PC FRS Portrait by Thomas Laurance c. 1815-16 Painted after the battle of Waterloo. Source: Wikipedia

The Bhagavad-gita was spoken 5000 years ago by the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna Himself just before the carnage of the Battle of Kurukshetra, which was in fact a world war. “The Battle of Kuruksetra was fought between family members” (SB 1.8.3 p.) with their various supporting parties from all over the world. The scene of the Bhagavad-gita is definitely a military one. It is a fascinating book. But let us carefully note that it is not a manual on war-making for military academies. It is an instruction manual on self-realization and yoga, the main businesses of the human form of life. The basic meaning of yoga is to link oneself with the Supreme. In Bhagavad-gita 10.26, God, Krishna says that His representative among generals is Kartikeya. Skanda, or Kartikeya, the son of Parvati and Lord Siva, is the chief of all military commanders. So military commanders are a class of their own. That means also that Kartikeya or Skanda is the patron saint of all military generals, whether they know him or know him not. He is definitely not a mythological figure as some misguided humans are falsely claiming. We remember general Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. (1934–2012), United States Army general, leader of coalition forces in the 1991 Gulf War. There is also Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, as in the picture above, who won some 60 battles and died of natural death in 1852 at age 83. He was born previously in the year 1769. His most famous opponent was Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821), the French Emperor during his very last attempt for political power. Along with his ally, the Prussian Generalfeldmarschall Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, they defeated soundly and finally the ambitious but hopeless Napoleon at the famous Waterloo Battle, Belgium, in 1815. There was a coalition of forces: troops from Prussia, the United Kingdom, the NetherlandsHanoverBrunswick and Nassau. It may be argued that Napoleon was not even a Frenchman but an Italian. He fluently spoke both languages. One may as well pertinently ask why should a nation want to to take credit for a great loser? Of course, these nationality labels are all very superficial designations for those under the influence of the three modes of material nature and the bodily concept of life and don’t even graze our real identity, which is spirit soul part, parcel, and servant of the Supreme Soul, Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is our true, eternal identity, part, parcel, and servant of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna. And as long as we don’t come to this ultimate conclusion our process of self-realization remains incomplete. This particular philosophical conclusion can be compared to Mt Everest, the highest of all mountains on planet earth. The China–Nepal border runs across its summit point.

Waterloo is a funny name in itself really, but google says:Etymology. From Middle Dutch, composed of water (water, watery) + loo (forest, clearing in a forest, marsh, bog). Of course, the word “Waterloo” is associated with defeat. There is also a song called Waterloo by ABBA, a fresh and very successful Swedish quartet. We note the Duke’s address as His Grace and Serene Highness. ISKCON devotees are also addressed as His or Her Grace, but Serene Highness is even more interesting and Bhagavad-gita related. Serenity is a product of advancement in self-realization, the main theme of Bhagavad-gita. I may also surmise that serenity for a military commander is of utmost importance in decision-making in battle. The capital city of New Zealand is named after the 1st Duke of Wellington, as well as many other places on the planet. Of course, the length of one’s hair may not directly affect one’s serenity, but when Srila Prabhupada was more or less challenged by an American female reporter that: “Why do you have a shaven head?”, He retorted within a fraction of a second: ” And why do you have bare legs? Better have a cool brain, than cold legs.” and everyone had a good laugh, including the reporter. There is another famous general that comes to mind and that is “The Desert Fox” Erwin Rommel of second World War fame. He also fought in North Africa against the British Field Marshall Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, KGGCBDSOPCDL 17 November 1887 – 24 March 1976), nicknamed “Monty” and “The Spartan General.”

So it appears that according to the quirks of time and history the same parties become allies in victory and later become bitter enemies.

Let me finish by quoting Srila Prabhupada on Napoleon. In Vedabase there are 179 entries on Napoleon and I promise not to list them all 🙂

“Nobody can violate the order of the Supreme Lord or His authorized agents. Brahma, Siva, Indra, Candra, Maharaja Yudhisthira or, in modern history, Napoleon, Akbar, Alexander, Gandhi, Shubhash and Nehru — all are servants of the Lord, and they are placed in and removed from their respective positions by the supreme will of the Lord. None of them is independent. Even though such men or leaders rebel so as not to recognize the supremacy of the Lord, they are put under still more rigorous laws of the material world by different miseries. Only the foolish man, therefore, says that there is no God.” Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.13.41

“Even big karmis like Subash Bose, Gandhi, they were also not sleeping. I heard that Napoleon Bonaparte, he was not sleeping. He was sleeping… When he was passing from one war field to another, on his horse he slept. That’s all. He never went to the bedroom for sleeping. Gandhi used to do that. He would sleep when he was passing from one station, one… In the motorcar he would sleep. Then again he will begin work.” Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.3.18 – February 11, 1971, Gorakhpur

“Yad yad vibhutimat sattva. Anyone a sense of exceptional qualities, mama tejo’msa-sambhavam [Bg 10.41], Krsna says, “They are born of my tejah, amsa.
But that does not mean he is incarnation. There were many persons, Hitler was also a very big man but that does not mean he becomes an incarnation. Napoleon Bonaparte, he also was a very big man. So in this world you will find big and bigger, bigger, bigger. One is bigger than another then up to go to Brahma. Who can become like Brahma? He has created this whole universe and he lives, you know? He lives: sahasra-yuga-paryantam, ahar yad brahmano viduh [Bg 8.17], you can not calculate even his one day’s life.
But he’s not, he never says that, “I am incarnation and God.” So powerful. In comparison to Brahma what are these insignificant — insignificant creatures?” Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.3.30–31 – February 22, 1971, Gorakhpur

“So we read in the papers that on the very day, morning, when he (Mahatma Gandhiji) was killed, he was speaking to his secretary, “I am very much disgusted. I don’t want to live anymore.” And in the evening he was killed. So this is an example. Who can be better karmi and sincere worker for the country, for the society — but he was frustrated. You can take many examples in your European countries, Hitler, Napoleon. They are all frustrated.” Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.6, Hampstead Hall – August 6, 1971, London

“There were great empires like Roman Empire, Greece Empire, Carthagian Empire and, later on, Moghul empires, British Empire. So many empires there were. There was Hitler. There was Mussolini. There was Napoleon. So these powerful emperors or men came and gone. Their name is only there, and nothing is remaining.” Hare Krishna Festival Address – July 1, 1972, San Diego

“Now thing is, that political consciousness… Just like Hitler planned, Napoleon planned. They also thought that “If I can unite all these European states under my plan, under my ‘ism,’ they will be happy.” That is the plan. He also thinks like that. But whether he is perfect? This Lenin, this Hitler, this Napoleon, whether they are perfect? So unless they are perfect, any such utopian planning will not help.” Room Conversation with Anna Conan Doyle – August 10, 1973, Paris

At last, let me quote the last stanza of the Bhagavad-gita 18.78:

“Wherever there is Krishna, the master of all mystics and Supreme Personality of Godhead, and wherever there is Arjuna, the supreme archer, there will also certainly be opulence, victory, extraordinary power, and morality. That is my opinion.”

Of course, Adolf Hitler and his troops also claimed the association with God or Krishna. On their uniform belts, there was the inscription “God with us” or in the German language “Gott mit uns.” But that seemed to be only a colossal delusion as Herr Hitler’s planned 1000 years “Reich” lasted only some 15 years or so and ended in utter defeat. So Sri Krishna is not to be found in such places or under such circumstances, as stated above.

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