Ranchod – In Gita Verse 3.23 For if I ever failed to engage in carefully performing prescribed duties, O Pārtha, certainly all men would follow My path.
Krishna tell Arjuna that our real actions are only those when we live for others.
To understand how to live for others, let’s take incidence from Krishna’s life only:
How Krishna was named Ranchod:
Jarasandha, the King of Magadha, was furious with Krishna for having killed Kamsa, his son-in-law. He had come to know about Kamsa’s death when his daughters-Asti and Prapti- sent a message to him that they had now become widows, thanks to Krishna.
Jarasandha decided to teach Krishna and the Yadavas a lesson. Since the Yadavas were concentrated in and around Mathura, he decided to battle them and destroy the race forever.
Jarasandha then repeatedly attacked Mathura and each time, he caused massive death and destruction. The seventeen attacks that he led on Mathura had sapped the energy of the Yadavas and stunted the growth of the city.
The economy of the Yadavas was in shambles and the wars had emptied the treasury. Jarasandha was a powerful enemy with a huge army and the Yadavas barely managed to withstand his attacks with even the likes of Krishna and Balarama on their side.
One day, Krishna received disturbing news that Jarasandha had forged an alliance with several other kings to forever destroy the Yadava clan.
Jarasandha had entered into an armed alliance with Emperor Damghosha of Chedi, Dantavakra of Karusa, Rukmi of Vidarbha and the brothers Vind and Anuvinda of Avanti. The alliance had only one aim-destroy Mathura and the Yadava clan.
There was more disturbing news for the Yadavas. The Kingdom of Hastinapur expressed helplessness in coming to the aid of the Yadavas. Meanwhile, the alliance began its march towards Mathura. Thus the Yadavas were left forlorn and at the mercy of a huge force.
The alliance decided to simultaneously attack Mathura from several fronts. Jarasandha then sent a message to the Yadavas stating that they would be spared if they handed the heads of Krishna and Balarama to him.
The Yadavas refused and readied themselves for war. Krishna was the only person who repeatedly cautioned his clansmen against the war. He then hit upon the idea of shifting the capital from Mathura to Dwaraka.
Krishna placed the suggestion before King Ugrasena his grandfather.
Ugrasena and all other courtiers and even the commanders of the Yadava army were against move. Balarama too was against the move. He wanted to fight against Jarasandha.
Ugrasena then pointed out to Krishna that if he ran away from battle field, he would forever be known as a Ranchod or one who has run away from a battlefield.
Krishna retorted that he had no worry about any new name being given to him. “I already have many names and one more does not make any difference,” he said. “Moreover, I am willing to sacrifice my reputation for saving my people and their lives,” he said.
When Balarama again raised the war cry, Krishna gently reminded him that war is not the solution for solving all the problems. He said the confederacy of kings against Mathura is so great that it would lead to the death of countless people.
“Why should people suffer because of me and Balarama,” he asked the gathering. He then suggested that the best solution would be to leave the city and go to a new place where it would be difficult for Jarasandha to attack them.
He reminded the gathering that Jarasandha had already attacked Mathura seventeen times and he would not rest till he succeeded in his mission of exterminating the Yadava clan.
It was then that Ugrasena pointed out that if krishna’s suggestion to flee Mathura was accepted, Krishna would forever be labeled a Ranchod-a man who had run away from the battlefield.
Krishna did not flinch and answered that he is known by several names. He again renewed his suggestion to leave Mathura.
The gathering reluctantly accepted the suggestion but Ugrasena wanted to know how a new city could be built in such a short span of time. The Magadha Army was already near Mathura and it would reach the city in a matter of days. “Then, how can a new city be built in days,” he asked.
Krishna then replied that he had already requested Vishwakarma, the architect of Gods, for help. He then prayed for Vishwakarma to appear before the Mathura court. When the architect came, Krishna asked him to show Ugrasena the plan of the new city.
Vishwakarma showed the court the plan of Dwarka. The entire gathering was stunned at the beauty of the city.
“How much time do you need to construct it,” asked Ugrasena of Vishwakarma.
The architect replied that the city had already been built but that it was under water. Please give me your permission and I will raise Dwarka from the ocean and place it on land. It will be ready for immediate occupation.
When all the Yadavas unanimously give their consent, the capital was shifted to Dwarka. When Jarasandha and his army reached Mathura, they were met with an empty city. An enraged Jarasandha put the city to destruction and called Krishna a coward-Ranchod-a man who had run away for battle.
Krishna, though appeared unfazed by the new name. He knew that it would be better of one sacrificed his name and fame for the good of people.
Moreover, he knew that the time had not yet come for Jarasandha to be killed. He also knew that Jarasandha could only be slain in a wrestling match and that he would meet his death at the hands of Bheema.
Krishna bided his time and several years later, led Bheema and Arjuna to Magadha where Jarasandha wrestled with Bheema for 27 days before being killed.
However, even today, Krishna is also known as Ranchod in Gujarat, Ran meaning war and Chod meaning run away. Having run away from the battlefield, he was given the name Ranchod.
This is how we can live for others. Krishna spoke in Bhagavad Gita, only those words which he himself has lived.