Respect , discipline and a certain degree of positive approbation even for treatment of the enemy was built into the design of warfare.
Infact, the following 5 fundamental laws of war adopted as contemporary war norms, inherently find their roots in similar norms adopted in Kurukshetra :
- war only if military action critically necessary. Avoid war to be the norm.
- unnecessary suffering to be avoided
- rule to inflict proportionality of damages & injury to be followed
- distinction discrimination necessary at all times
- upholding honour & observing principles of chivalry, critical.
Let us recall some of the norms and battle conventions that were adopted in the Kurukshetra war ...
- the battle to be over at Sun-set every day. Post sun-set the adversaries could mix freely as friends .. even eat food together
- Single battles only was to be fought between equals
- Methods adopted for fighting had to be in line with norms of Dharma
- Those who retired from war-fare would not be attacked
- Horseman would attack only a horseman not anybody on foot.
- Charioteers, elephant troops & infantry men likewise fought only with their equivalents. There cannot be cross fighting between inequals.
- Those who surrendered were safe from slaughter but they could not start fighting again.
- Those disengaged at the moment should not attack another soldier who may be engaged in fighting some other
- A disarmed soldier could not be slayed.
- The non-fighting army (drum beaters and Conch players) should not be attacked by the infantry.
Bhishma and Arjuna briefed the Kauvrava and the Pandava Armies respectively, to reiterate adherance of these norms of War at Kurukshetra. Krishna's rendition of the Bhagvad Gita ji was delivered soon after this briefing.
Need for adherence to principles of fairness, respect and positive approbation not only for friends but also enemies and not only in times of peace but even in times of War is indeed something very admirable....a lesson for all of us to be ever mindful of.
Just thought of sharing the positive rationality behind wars and observing the moral high-grounds of respect for collective good is something that each one of us have deep lessons to learn from for our behaviours.
Sadly, we see these norms grossly violated not only in battle-fields but in friendly co-existence.