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Ranchod’s “Ranneeti”: Strategy in times of Covid-19

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Virtually eight weeks after India’s administration enforced an all-embracing coronavirus lockdown on the nation more than 1.3 billion residents, the jury is still out on whether the restraints had the desired outcome. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has highlighted the positive outcomes, other spectators have their assorted sentiments of one of the world’s strictest lockdowns. This article takes an eagle-eye view of the lockdown’s strategy from the “Leela’s” of Lord Krishna.

Lord Krishna is counted as one of the 12 incarnations of Lord Vishnu and is famous for his energetic conduct, shenanigans, philosophy, justice, graceful dance, love, and foremost his warrior skills. He is also known for his “Leelas”, which are mostly with the milkmaids of Braj (Mathura). Lord Krishna is said to have several names each gained from his different “Leelas”.

“Ranchod” is also one of the 108 names given to Krishna due to a very distinct and peculiar “Leela” that he played and which is derived from two different words namely ‘Ran’ which means war and ‘chodd’ which means to leave. Hence the meaning of Ranchod is the one who ran away from the battlefield.

Now the question arises, can a god who is so valiant and powerful like Lord Krishna be known as Ranchodd?

This mighty myth is associated with Jarasandh, the mighty King of Magadh, a potent king who defeated many other emperors.

He married both his daughters to Kansa, the maternal uncle of Lord Krishna. But due to his injustice and evil acts, Lord Krishna killed Kansa. As soon as Jarasandh came to know about this, he became furious and decided to behead Lord Krishna, and forged a friendship with Kalyavan, who was the son of Sage Sheshirayan and the “Apsara” Rambha. Sage Sheshirayan performed severe penance to propitiate Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva then eventually blessed him with a boon of a son who could not be defeated by anyone including God himself.

Upon comprehending that King Kalyavan could not be vanquished, Lord Krishna pondered a strategy saving the city of Mathura from another war. He fled the battleground and moved towards mountains away from the populace and the army so that the city’s already depleting wealth along with the citizens’ draining health due to previous wars is now spared, also giving him the epithet of “Ranchodd”

Not acceding the enemy to escape from his lattice, Kalyavan followed Lord Krishna to those mountains and caves and left a unique mark on Lord Krishna’s distinct yellow cloth as the spotting point.

In one of the caves in those mountains, there slept a Sage Mukuchand of ancient times who had not woken up for centuries. The story says that he had helped gods in the war against demons, and in the boon he had asked for sleep, to overcome the tiredness and tardiness from the war. He also asked that if somebody happened to wake him up, he would get burnt to ashes from the light that would emerge from his eyes.

Krishna knew both the boons given to Kalyavan and Mukuchand.

He put the yellow cloth that bore the spotting mark on the sleeping sage and hid behind a boulder.

On reaching the hills Kalyavan mistakenly assumed that Krishna is lying there because the sage had the spotting cloth on and tried to wake him up. When the sage woke up, he burned Kalyavan down to ashes because of his boon.

Lord Krishna suddenly appeared before the sage and blessed him for helping him kill a demon and helping him win the un-triumphal and unconquerable battle.

Ranchod that seemed to be a negative name, but very strategically, Lord Krishna used this name to execute a plan where no armies collided but the enemy was killed. Similarly, our administration has drawn the paradigm with Lord Krishna, in this never-ending, only un-triumphal and unconquerable battle against Covid19. The administration realized that by imposing a lockdown and hiding in our homes, maintaining social distancing is not a sign of cowardice or chickening out of the fight but a time to mitigate the loss of life and lean back, withdraw our troops and ourselves while we strategize and maneuver the path to come back sturdier, stronger and sharper.

The Lockdown 1.0 was rightly not opened in haste by the administration with the thought of indulging in war only on the behest of “opposition economists” who gave more importance to loss of monetary numbers than actual death numbers in this pandemic as it is said “Discretion is a better part of valor”, and saw us lead from Lockdown 1 to Lockdown 4.0.

Also to further fight the battle and achieve triumph, the administration drew inspiration from the analogy that Lord Krishna peculiarly chose his weapon as the Sage Mukuchand who had years of “Dhyaan”, penance and inner focus rather than Kshatriyas – the muscle men who fight with might but not with far- a sight to gain victory over demonic Kalyavan.

Similarly, this administration also revamped the medical infrastructure, which previously could have been overburdened on the drop of a pin by increasing the numbers of ICU beds, railway road hospitals, increased testing and also bringing into play doctors and paramedics who have given eons of their lives to medicine and increased their presence in wit and numbers such white frontline warriors were incentivized with “Dhan man or Tan (Money, Peace of Mind or Soul) rather than militarizing the entire country by use of force and police, as this battle was not one which required “Bul”(Muscle Strength), but “Dhyaan”(Knowledge and Medical Alertness) to fight this demonic disease.

For the administration, these are not easy times. Anxieties abound for all sorts of good reasons. But, we don’t need to add to these anxieties. A carefully constructed approach by the administration to the lockdown has helped us strike the right balance between preparation, strategy, and trauma and helped us fair this battle and beat the coronavirus to square better than most developed countries.

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