--> Skip to main content

Kuta Yuddha in Hinduism – Treacherous And Unethical Warfare

In ancient times, wars were expected to be waged in accordance with the principles of dharma followed in Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism). When these were violated, wantonly or otherwise, the warfare was termed as Kuta Yudha, i.e treacherous or unfair. The world ‘kuta’ implies fraud, deception, trick, scheme, or untruth. There are number of instances of kutayuddha in the epics.

In the Mahabharata, the treacherous killing of young Abhimanyu, son of Arjuna, by important members of the Kaurava army is a case in point. Abhimanyu daringly broke through the army formation called Chakravyuha, but he lacked the knowledge to get out of the trap. Thus he was encircled by his enemies who slew him, taking advantage of his helplessness.

Dronacharya, the guru of Pandavas and Kauravas, was killed after he was given false information that his son Ashwathama had died. On the advice of Lord Krishna, Yudhisthira said that Ashwathama was killed, though he added in a whisper, the elephant. Drona on hearing his son’s name, stopped fighting and was killed. Soldiers are expected not to harm women in any way. Taking advantage of this rule, Lord Krishna advises Arjuna to aim his arrows at Bhishma while sheltering himself behind Shikhandi, a eunuch. This makes it impossible for Bhishma to fight back, and he is thus killed by Arjuna.

While Duryodhana and Bhima are engaged in a combat with maces, and the former gets the upper hand, Lord Krishna indicates to Bhima by a sly gesture that he should smite his enemy on his thigh, which was his weak spot.

In the Ramayana, there is the episode of Ravana’s son Indrajit making himself invisible through his magic powers, an act forbidden in warfare. He ties up Rama and Lakshmana with nagapasha and they get released from the serpent only when Garuda intervenes.
Later, Indrajit, in order to divert the attention of the monkey troops, beheads a Sita how he conjures up by his magical powers.

Thus Kuta Yuddha is the antithesis of Dharma Yuddha.

Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume VI - page 211 - 212 - IHRF