Thursday, 29 May 2014

Which Character in the Mahabharata was the Most Chivalrous?

Which Character in the Mahabharata was the Most Chivalrous?

Written by Dr. Seshadri Kumar, 29 May, 2014

Copyright © Dr. Seshadri Kumar.  All Rights Reserved.

For other articles by Dr. Seshadri Kumar, please visit

Disclaimer: All the opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of Dr. Seshadri Kumar alone and should not be construed to mean the opinions of any other person or organization, unless explicitly stated otherwise in the article.


This question was asked on quora about a year ago, and I am reproducing here the answer I gave there for the benefit of my readers who do not have access to quora. Here is the answer in its context in quora.

My answer follows.


If by chivalry we mean nobility of character, the ability to keep your word under all circumstances, devotion to duty, and fairness in war, Bhishma towers above anyone else in this regard.

Before I talk about Bhishma, I'd like to dispose of other contenders that may be spoken about, so that my reasons for picking Bhishma will be clear.


Arjuna is often spoken about as a very chivalrous warrior.  His speech to Uttara before they meet the army of the Kauravas and defeat them bespeaks his nature as one who despises none, for which he has earned the name Bibhatsu.  (Bibhatsa is the term in Sanskrit for the emotion of disgust, and the Bibhatsu means one who shows disgust towards no one.)  Arjuna, instead of despising Uttara for his cowardice, seeks to embolden him to raise himself and show the courage that is expected of him.  There are many other incidents in his life which show his chivalrous nature.  Yet there are three incidents in the war which show him to be less than chivalrous.  Although he does these unchivalrous acts at the bidding of Krishna, that doesn't excuse the fact that they are unchivalrous.

The first is the killing of Bhishma.  Knowing fully well that Bhishma would not fight a woman, Arjuna fights behind Shikhandi and kills Bhishma.  The second is the slaying of Bhurishravas, who was fighting Satyaki.  Satyaki was prostate and defeated, and Bhurishravas was about to kill him.  Arjuna shot an arrow that cut off the hand of Bhurishravas who was about to kill Satyaki.  By attacking an opponent who wasn't even facing him, Arjuna committed an unchivalrous act.  The third, of course, is the killing of Karna.  By killing Karna, who was not fighting him, who had laid down his bow and arrows and was trying to extricate the wheel of his chariot from the ground, Arjuna again was unchivalrous.  In my mind, these three acts make Arjuna ineligible.

Karna and Drona:

To try to burn your enemies in a lac palace or cheat them at a game of dice would automatically disqualify someone who hopes to be labeled chivalrous, but in addition, Karna also has behaved unchivalrously on the battlefield.  He helped kill Abhimanyu, along with 5 other great warriors of the Kauravas, when Abhimanyu was fighting them singlehanded after being trapped in the Chakravyuha.  On Drona's advice, Karna shoots arrows to cut off the reins of the horses using which Abhimanyu was steering his chariot - and that too from behind.  This act disqualifies both Karna and Drona.

Karna is a mixed bag, however, since he did give up his greatest protection, his armour, in order to adhere to his vow that he would refuse no gift to anyone after his prayers.  He also spared the life of his brothers Yudhisthira, Bhima, and Nakula on the battlefield in order to keep his promise to his mother Kunti that he would only kill Arjuna or die by Arjuna's hand.

Drona has one more strike against him - the treatment of Ekalavya, the Nishada prince who learned archery on his own, using only a clay image of Drona as an inspiration, and became a better archer than even Arjuna.  Because of caste bias and because of his favoritism towards Arjuna, Drona commits the very ignoble act of asking Ekalavya for his thumb as guru dakshina, knowing fully well that having given that, Ekalavya could never again hope to be as good an archer.


Although Duryodhana behaved egregiously almost his whole life, scheming against the Pandavas - incidents like the palace of lac, trying to poison Bhima, cheating at the game of dice, etc. - for the entire duration of the war he behaved chivalrously - with the exception of the death of Abhimanyu.  He died a warrior's death, and his death was achieved unchivalrously by Bhima striking him below the navel, which was a violation of the rules of war.


I don't think I need to say much about why Krishna doesn't deserve this title - most everything he achieved in the Mahabharata war was done by behaving without chivalry - these include the deaths of Bhishma, Drona (killed because of a lie about the death of his son), Karna, Duryodhana, and Jayadratha (darkening the sky and making people believe the sun had set when it really hadn't).  Krishna, of course, justifies everything by saying that the ends (the defeat of the Kauravas) justify the means (trickery).  Be that as it may, what he did certainly wasn't chivalrous.


Yudhishthira is often regarded as a noble person.  Indeed, often in the epic he is considered to be the epitome of dharma.  Even people like Bhishma defer to his understanding of Dharma.  But Yudhishthira has three fatal strikes against him.  The first one, which is the only one Vyasa seems to consider, is the fact that he lied on the battlefield about Ashwatthama.  The Pandavas, on Krishna's urging, decide that they will tell Drona the lie that his son Ashwatthama is dead.  Drona does not believe it and, to verify it, comes to Yudhishthira to ask if the news is true - for he is very sure that Yudhishthira would never tell a lie, not for the kingship of the three worlds. 

Yudhishthira proves him wrong - and goes along with the lie, with the consequence that Drona lays down his weapons and goes into yoga, upon which Dhrishtadyumna cuts his head off.  It is for this sin that Yudhishthira spends a sixteenth day of his life in hell.

But in my opinion, Yudhishthira had two other strikes against him.  One was his excessive fondness for dice.  In the final ascent to heaven that the five brothers and Draupadi attempt, Bhima asks Yudhishthira what his crime was that he was falling down from the mountain.  Yudhishthira replies that he was overly attached to food and was a glutton. If this is the standard, surely addiction to gambling should be a higher crime?  In addition, Yudhishthira abandoned his wife, enough in my mind and for my understanding of chivalry to be considered ineligible.  For more on this, see Can you Compare Today’s Rape Victims to Draupadi?

So now, having disposed of his rivals, I come to Bhishma.

A man who would keep his word at any cost; a prince who gave up kingship for the sake of his father's happiness; a young man who gave up married life simply so his father could marry the girl he had set his heart on; who served his king and kingdom like a loyal and faithful knight until his death; and who, even when his life depended on it, refused to break his oath never to fight a woman and hence ultimately gave up his life in the cause of dharma - Bhishma is my vote for the most chivalrous person in the Mahabharata.

How Possible is the Scale of the Final Battle in the Mahabharata?

How Possible is the Scale of the Final Battle in the Mahabharata?

Written by Dr. Seshadri Kumar, 29 May, 2014

Copyright © Dr. Seshadri Kumar.  All Rights Reserved.

For other articles by Dr. Seshadri Kumar, please visit

Disclaimer: All the opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of Dr. Seshadri Kumar alone and should not be construed to mean the opinions of any other person or organization, unless explicitly stated otherwise in the article.


This was a question that was asked in quora, and I am reproducing my answer here (with some formatting) for the benefit of readers who may not be using quora.


I think it is possible. 

Let us see why.

Scale of the Armies in the Mahabharata

The Mahabharata consisted of two army fronts, one with 7 Akshauhinis facing another of 11 Akshauhinis.  The term Akshauhini would correspond to the modern concept of an "Army."  One Akshauhini is supposed to consist of

21,870   chariots
21,870   elephants
65,610   cavalry
109,350 infantry

So, 7 armies =

153,090   chariots
153,090   elephants
459,270   cavalry
765,450   infantry

and 11 armies =

240,570    chariots
240,570    elephants
721,710      cavalry
1,202,850 infantry

for a total of

393,660     chariots
393,660     elephants
1,180,980  cavalry
1,968,300  infantry

Scale of Modern Battles: World War II, Stalingrad and Kursk

Sounds like a lot?  Actually, it isn't too much.  It clearly is a large-scale war, but is by no means impossible.  Let's get some comparative figures.  The largest land war in terms of size of forces in recorded history has to be the Eastern front in the second world war.  If you look at the initial attacking force of the Germans itself, we are talking about a force of 3.2 million soldiers - and that is just the German side, and that too only the initial force.  In the initial 3 months of the war against the Russians, the Germans captured close to 2 million Soviet soldiers.  So such large formations are not unheard of.  

Let's look further and look at just one of the Germans' major armies (they had about a dozen such armies), the ill-fated Sixth Army that surrendered at Stalingrad in 1943.  The German Sixth Army was the core of the German force that attacked Southern Russia in the summer of 1942.  Along with the Fourth Panzer (Mechanized) Army, the Romanian, Hungarian, and Italian armies, it had a strength of (at the time of the Soviet Counteroffensive):

1.04 million infantry
10,250 artillery pieces (guns, mortars, etc.)
500 tanks
732 aircraft

These were opposed by a Soviet force comprising of

2.5 million infantry
13,451 artillery pieces
894 - 4000 tanks
1,115 aircraft

Similarly, the Battle of Kursk fielded a German force of:

0.9 million men v/s 1.9 million Soviets
2928 German tanks v/s 5128 Soviet tanks
9966 German guns and mortars v/s 25013 Soviet guns and mortars
2110 German aircraft v/s 2792 Soviet aircraft

Clearly, fielding millions of men in battle in a small geographical domain is not unheard of.  Stalingrad eventually reduced to a very small region of fighting, probably comparable to Kurukshetra.  Kurukshetra, with less than 2 million infantry, is clearly smaller (in scale of battle) than Stalingrad, with over 3.5 million.

Battle Elephants and Cavalry: The Armoured Vehicles of Antiquity

Secondly, people get intimidated by the large numbers of horses, chariots, and elephants mentioned.  Remember, the Pandavas and Kauravas did not have B2 bombers, F16 aircraft, or M1A1 Abrams tanks.  The elephants and horses and chariots WERE their military-industrial complex.  Consequently, they must have bred them in the tens of thousands to act as war animals.  One cannot go by how many elephants existed in the wild in 1800 in India and so on.  These were war elephants, specially bred and trained for that purpose.  Imagine hundreds of acres of land devoted to raising war elephants and horses. 

Usage of Battle Elephants in the Recorded History of India

Furthermore, Indian kingdoms were known even in later times to breed elephants by the thousands for war.  Porus (or Puru) is said to have used 700 elephants in the battle of the Hydaspes against Alexander in 326 BC. (see Battle of the Hydaspes).  If a single king could put forth that many elephants, surely hundreds of kingdoms banding together to fight could put together 393,000 elephants? 

There is further historical evidence that elephants and horses were used in large numbers by Indian kings in battle.  One of the reasons Alexander did not go further into India after his conquests in (modern-day) Afghanistan and Pakistan was the prospect of facing the Nanda empire in battle, who had in their army at least 3000 war elephants (see Nanda Empire).  Historians also record that when Malik Kafur defeated Prataparudra, the Kakatiya ruler of Warangal, he went back to Delhi with vast treasure loaded on about 700 elephants.  When Nader Shah of Iran invaded the Mughal empire in 1739, he took home untold treasure on the backs of thousands of elephants (see Nadir Shah's invasion of India) - enough, apparently, for Shah to declare a tax amnesty for three years in Persia.

So, in conclusion, 394,000 elephants sounds like a lot, but for a society that viewed these animals as one of the key components of mobile warfare (similar to tanks), this isn't unreasonable.  Keep in mind that by the end of the war in 1945, the Soviets were producing close to 5000 tanks per month, or 60,000 tanks in a year. If, with the right will, you can produce that many units of an engineered machine, surely it is possible to breed horses and elephants in large numbers - especially at a time when the population density was not that high in India.

Vast armies like this require huge amounts of space to camp.  Vyasa makes mention of this during the episode in which Salya, wanting to join the Pandavas, is tricked by Duryodhana into joining him instead.  The story makes reference to how Salya brought his army of 1 Akshauhini to join the Pandavas. On the way he set up camp, and the size of the entire camp was 1 and a half yojanas in length (1 yojana = about 8 miles, see Yojana) (see also the fulltranslation of the Mahabharata by Kisari Mohan Ganguly, Udyoga Parva, for details on Salya's force.)

I think we can conclude that while the actual battles in the war were fought at the battlefield of Kurukshetra, the armies must have been camped over several miles in each direction.


The final battle at Kurukshetra is possible in the scale mentioned, given that troop formations of this size have been seen to operate even at the time of the Second World War. While the large numbers of elephants and horses used boggles the imagination, it should be remembered that until modern days, elephants and horses were the bulwark of armoured warfare in India, dating even to the days of the early Islamic invaders. The description given in the Mahabharata therefore seems plausible.

Why Krishna Sided With The Pandavas - A Practical Answer

Why Krishna Sided With The Pandavas – A Practical Answer

Written by Dr. Seshadri Kumar, 29 May, 2014

Copyright © Dr. Seshadri Kumar.  All Rights Reserved.

For other articles by Dr. Seshadri Kumar, please visit

Disclaimer: All the opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of Dr. Seshadri Kumar alone and should not be construed to mean the opinions of any other person or organization, unless explicitly stated otherwise in the article.


I was asked to answer a question on quora on the Mahabharata, an epic I love for its complexity, for its nuanced expositions of right and wrong, and the way it can make you think about ethics.

One of the most amazing things in the Mahabharata is that nothing is black-and-white – everything has shades of grey, whether that pertains to the character of individual heroes or even the behaviour of Gods.

In this regard, I was recently asked to answer a question on the social media website quora, of which I am an active member, and where I have answered many questions related to the Mahabharata. I posted the link to my answer on facebook, but then realized that there are some who may not wish to join quora but may want to read my post. Since this particular response was quite detailed, I decided to make a blog post of it.

First, you can read the answer in its context in quora here.

Below I reproduce this answer for the benefit of my readers who do not wish to join quora just to read my response.

The Question, asked by Akshaye Badiger (Copied Verbatim)

What was the sole motive of Krishna behind the Kurukshetra war?

Obviously he cannot be a reason of death of lakhs of people just for the sake of the death of 100 kauravas, were they so evil?
I mean to say what were the actual sins of Duryodhan and his 99 brothers?
Lets keeping their sins w.r.t. to the pandavas and Drauapdi aside.
Lord Krishna can never give such horrible deaths to people like Drona, Karna, Abhimanyu, Bheeshma etc just for the sake of these 100 evil souls.
What was the real motive of his plot of Kurukshetra war? Were kauravas so evil?
What exactly did he accomplish from this war that without any worries he left this earth 36 years from then?
What was his real motive?
What happened after the kurukshetra war for which the Lord himself had Incarnated?

My Answer (Again Quoted Verbatim from Quora)

Thanks for asking me to answer this question; however, I am not sure if you will like the answer I am going to give you. 

Unlike the other answers you have received from those whom you have asked to answer, I am giving you a practical answer, based on what is there in the epic, not a religious answer.

If you study the Mahabharata carefully, you will realize that it is not as black and white as it is often represented to us as children.

We are taught that the Pandavas were good and the Kauravas were bad; Krishna was on the side of the good; and so the Kauravas were defeated.

The fact of the matter is that the “evil” of the Kauravas is certainly not a definite conclusion you can come to if you read the epic in detail.

Let me explain.

The “Evil” Duryodhana?

First of all, any “evil” that Duryodhana and his brothers did was only confined to the Pandavas and their common wife Draupadi. For example, when the Pandavas were in exile in the forest, Duryodhana ruled as effective king, even though his father was nominally the king. There is no mention in the Mahabharata that Duryodhana was a bad king – that, as another person suggested, there was a rise in crime, murders and rapes, etc. Duryodhana’s quarrel was not with the people of his land. Duryodhana was apparently a king who cared for his subjects. He was generous, performed sacrifices and gave gifts to his subjects, and so on. His quarrel was only with the Pandavas, and that is because there was a genuine disagreement about who should inherit the kingdom. Yes, Duryodhana did a lot of bad things – TO THE PANDAVAS – but his justification (which he once presents to Dhritarashtra) is that all is fair in war, and that whatever is effective in the destruction of a powerful enemy is acceptable – in the words even of the guru of the Devas, Brihaspati.

The answer to that question – who had the legal right to inherit the kingdom of Hastinapura - is by no means obvious.

Who Should Have Inherited Hastinapura?

First of all, realize that the actual Kuru dynasty ends with Bhishma on blood lines. Vichitravirya and Chitrangada, Santanu’s sons by Satyavati, both die childless, and so Vichitravirya’s widows are impregnated by Vyasa, Satyavati’s son by her premarital sexual union with the sage Parasara. The Mahabharata is therefore essentially the story of Vyasa’s biological children and their offspring. Both Dhritarashtra and Pandu are Vyasa’s sons, speaking biologically; from the prevalent custom, they are legally Vichitravirya’s sons. Next, Pandu, the younger brother, due to a curse, cannot father children; but he begets children from the Devas on his wife because of a boon Kunti had received. Dhritarashtra’s sons, on the other hand, ARE his own biological sons.

Dhritarashtra cannot inherit the kingdom because he is blind; Pandu abdicates because of his curse; and so then, Dhritarashtra DOES become the king, not simply a regent. He is actually the king at this point. 

Pandu’s “legal” son Yudhisthira, the biological offspring of Yama and Kunti, is born before Dhritarashtra’s biological son Duryodhana. Duryodhana is thus the biological son of the actual king at the time. One could make a fair argument (and Duryodhana and his supporters do argue this) that, being the son of the king, Duryodhana should inherit the kingdom. 

Yudhisthira is born earlier than Duryodhana, but he is the son of the younger brother Pandu who, in addition, is no longer king at this time.

So who should be king? Bhishma and Vidura convince Dhritarashtra that it is Yudhisthira who ought to be king, but Duryodhana feels his birthright is being taken away from him. 

Finally, a compromise solution is arrived at, whereby the Pandavas are given the Khandava forest to rule over after splitting the kingdom. One could ask reasonably why this was unsatisfactory to Duryodhana, but if you see things from his viewpoint, there is no need to be happy about giving up half of what you think was yours. From Duryodhana’s viewpoint, the Pandavas had no business getting ANY share of the kingdom, and that stands as a pretty good argument on its own.

So I will argue that history is written by the victors, and that “evil” lies in the eyes of the beholder. Of course, Duryodhana was guilty of personally hurting the Pandavas on many occasions – poisoning Bhima, trying to burn them alive in the lac palace, and so on. Not to forget insulting their wife in the game of dice. But these he felt justified in doing in keeping with Brihaspati’s principle that all is fair in war.

Keep in mind also that Duryodhana’s cheating with Sakuni’s help in the game of dice is never proved. In fact, the Pandavas never once accuse Sakuni of cheating. When Draupadi is dragged by the hair by Dussasana and asks for justice from the assembly, including Bhishma, it is Bhishma who says that it is hard for him to judge, especially because Yudhisthira has not contended that Sakuni has cheated, and that Draupadi seems to have been fairly won. He even leaves the question of whether Draupadi was fairly won by the Kauravas for Yudhisthira to decide, given that Yudhisthira is Dharmaraja – the Just King – and Yudhisthira is silent, indicating that indeed, Draupadi was won fairly.

Now I will come to Krishna.

Krishna’s Motivations

Why does Krishna take sides with the Pandavas?

Because Krishna had an existential problem with Jarasandha, the powerful king of Magadha, who could be defeated by no one but Bhima. Jarasandha was responsible for Krishna and his people having to flee Mathura (which is why Krishna has the appellation Rann-chhod – one who fled the battlefield) and run away to Dwaraka.

When convincing Yudhishthira to send Bhima to kill Jarasandha, Krishna mentions that this is the only way to kill him, because killing him in battle, with weapons, would be impossible for the Devas and Asuras put together, and the only person in the world who is strong enough to kill him is Bhima.

Krishna is, of course, related to the Pandavas through Kunti, who is his aunt, but in politics relationships are never very important. He recognizes that partnership with the Pandavas would strengthen his position and eventually rid him of his enemy Jarasandha – and in return he supports the Pandavas’ claim to the kingdom of Hastinapura.

His gamble succeeds, of course, when he goads a rather unwilling Yudhisthira, after they have built Khandavaprastha and renamed it Indraprastha, to conduct the Rajasuya Yagna, to perform which Yudhisthira must be acknowledged as supreme emperor by everyone, including Jarasandha – which will necessitate the killing of Jarasandha, for he would not acknowledge anyone as an overlord.

And that is precisely what happens. Bhima kills Jarasandha in an epic wrestling match lasting for weeks. Yudhisthira becomes emperor, and Krishna’s future is secure.

So, was it necessary to kill Duryodhana and his brothers? No. And Krishna certainly did not intend to accomplish that in the beginning. The person who did accomplish that, and on whose shoulders we must place squarely the blame of the entire carnage of the great war, is Yudhisthira.

Who was Responsible for the Great War?

Yudhishthira had everything that one could want – four heroic brothers, a beautiful wife, a kingdom rich beyond imagination and made even wealthier by the tributes that they were able to extract from all the monarchs of the realm, powerful alliances with great kings, and a reputation for wisdom and fairness that was known the whole world.

And he ruined everything because of his addiction to gambling. 

Sakuni invited Yudhisthira to gamble, and the epic makes it clear that kshatriya dharma compelled Yudhisthira to accept the challenge and play. Yudhisthira assumes he will be playing Duryodhana and is surprised when he realizes that the much stronger Sakuni will be playing him. Still, he had the choice of playing 2-3 rounds, losing a lot of money and possessions, and then admitting defeat.

There was absolutely no reason for him to keep playing until he had lost all his possessions, then gamble away all his brothers and then himself and finally Draupadi. This is the behaviour of a gambling addict, which is what Yudhisthira is and for which Draupadi upbraids him repeatedly later.

It is because Yudhisthira makes Draupadi a slave of Duryodhana that he is able to insult her in unspeakable terms and it is this that makes a final confrontation with the Kauravas and the death of Duryodhana, Dussasana, and all their brothers inevitable for the Pandavas to salvage their honor.

So it is not Krishna who plots the destruction of the Kauravas. With his friends the Pandavas the overlords of Bharatavarsha, and his one implacable enemy Jarasandha dead, Krishna probably would not have bothered with the Kauravas had Yudhisthira not blundered so badly and unpredictably.

Of course, once war was inevitable, Krishna did everything he could to ensure that the Pandavas (and Krishna himself, by association) were victorious. This included deceit as in the case of Bhishma and Drona, and unfair play as in the case of Jayadratha, Karna, and Duryodhana. Krishna justifies these by saying that the ends justify the means – that Duryodhana had behaved dishonourably with the Pandavas, and was invincible in battle to boot, so cheating is the only way to defeat Duryodhana and, hence, adharma.

The war did not end happily for Krishna. He was cursed for his role in the war by Gandhari to die, and his whole race was cursed to destruction by Gandhari in 36 years time, which came to pass.

So, in practical terms, Krishna's sole motive was security - and he could achieve security with the help of the Pandavas. In return, he helped the Pandavas overcome their enemies the Kauravas.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

No Modi Wave

No Modi Wave

Written by Dr. Seshadri Kumar, 17 May, 2014

Copyright © Dr. Seshadri Kumar.  All Rights Reserved.

For other articles by Dr. Seshadri Kumar, please visit

Disclaimer: All the opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of Dr. Seshadri Kumar alone and should not be construed to mean the opinions of any other person or organization, unless explicitly stated otherwise in the article.


This article belongs to the emerging science of political meteorology – about people-driven waves and tsunamis, winds of change, changing political currents, shifting social tectonics, and other phenomena in the political weather of a nation.

In particular, political meteorologists seem to be deeply divided on a recent phenomenon, the “Modi wave.” Eminent political meteorologists belonging to all Indian political parties other than the BJP and its allies deny the existence of this phenomenon.

This article tries to examine the statements of prominent political meteorologists and definitively establish whether the Modi wave is a fact or an error of terminology.

Examination of The Various Claims

Below I reproduce statements from news reports in the months leading to the election by prominent political meteorologists.  The statements are verbatim quotes from news reports, and the actual articles are provided as embedded links.

Shankarsinh Vaghela, Gujarat Congress leader and candidate from Sabarkantha, April 8, 2014

Result: BJP wins all 26 seats in Gujarat; Vaghela loses by 84,455 votes.

Tarun Gogoi, Congress Chief Minister of Assam, April 7, 2014

Result: BJP wins 7 out of 14 seats in Assam; Congress wins only 3. Gogoi resigns as CM taking moral responsibility, and admits that “Modi factor” did influence results.

V. Balakrishnan, AAP Candidate, Bangalore Central, April 6, 2014

Result: Balakrishnan finished in 3rd place, losing to PC Mohan of the BJP by 517,261 votes. The Aam Aadmi Party won just 4 seats in the country, while the BJP won 282 seats.

Prithviraj Chavan, Congress Chief Minister of Maharashtra, April 8, 2014

Result: BJP/Shivsena combine wins ALL 10 Vidarbha seats by big margins.

a)  Akola: BJP wins by 2,03,116 votes
b)  Amaravati: Shivsena wins by 1,37,932 votes
c)   Bhandara-Gondia: BJP wins by 1,49,254 votes (Praful Patel loses)
d) Buldhana: Shivsena wins by 1,59,579 votes
e)  Chandrapur: BJP wins by 2,36,269 votes
f)    Gadchiroli-Chimur: BJP wins by 2,38,870 votes
g)  Nagpur: BJP wins by 2,84,828 votes (Gadkari wins)
h) Ramtek: Shivsena wins by 1,75,791 votes
i)    Yavatmal-Washik: Shivsena wins by 93,816 votes
j)    Wardha: BJP wins by 2,15,783 votes (Sagar Meghe loses)

Kamal Nath, Union Minister and Candidate from Chhindwara, MP, April 7, 2014

Result: BJP wins 27 out of 29 seats in MP.

SM Krishna, Senior Congress leader and former Karnataka CM, April 2, 2014

Result: BJP wins 17 out of 28 seats in Karnataka


Sanjay Singh, AAP National Spokesman, April 2, 2014

Result: BJP wins 71 out of 80 seats in UP, AAP wins none.

Sitaram Yechury, Rajya Sabha member of the CPI (M), April 3, 2014

Result: Narendra Modi wins both seats: Vadodara by a record 5,70,128 votes and Varanasi by 3,71,784 votes.


Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Senior Congress Leader and Candidate from Lucknow, April 3, 2014

Claiming that Congress would win more seats in UP as compared to 2009 parliamentary polls, Joshi said there was no Modi wave in the country. She also predicted the party's win in both Allahabad city and Phulpur parliamentary constituencies and said the party candidates- Nand Gopal Gupta 'Nandi' and Mohd Kaif are young and popular among masses.

Result: Congress wins only 2 seats in UP. Nand Gopal Gupta loses Allahabad (places 4th) to BJP’s Shyama Charan Gupta by 2,11,319 votes. Mohammad Kaif loses Phulpur (places 4th) to BJP’s Keshav Prasad Maurya by 4,45,437 votes. And Rita Bahuguna Joshi herself loses Lucknow to Rajnath Singh of the BJP by 2,72,749 votes.


Hemlata Mohan, AJSU Candidate, Dhanbad, April 8, 2014

Result: BJP wins 12 out of 14 LS seats in Jharkhand. Hemlata Mohan of the AJSU finishes 6th in Dhanbad, 522,214 votes behind Pashupati Nath Singh of the BJP.


Omar Abdullah of the National Conference, Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, March 31, 2004

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Monday dismissed as "mere hoax" assertions by BJP that there was a Modi wave in the country.

"There is no Modi wave in the country, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir...," he told a public rally in Kalakote belt of Rajouri district.

Result: BJP wins 3 seats in J&K out of 6, and its ally the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) wins the other 3. The National Conference does not win a single seat.

Mayawati, Chief of the Bahujan Samaj Party, April 30, 2014

Result: BJP wins 71 seats out of 80 in Uttar Pradesh; the BSP wins 0.

Kapil Sibal, Congress Union Minister, March 21, 2014

Speaking to mediapersons after filing his papers, Sibal said, “I can just say that there is no Modi wave in Chandni Chowk. The people of Chandni Chowk believe in the Congress. The Opposition party is out of Chandni Chowk.”

Result: Kapil Sibal finishes 3rd in Chandni Chowk, losing by 2,61,732 votes to Dr. Harshvardhan of the BJP and behind Ashutosh of the AAP (2nd place) by 1,25,412 votes.


Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, RJD MP, April 30, 2014

There is no Modi “wave” in Bihar. The Modi wave is a media creation. Possibly the BJP has spent thousands of crores to generate publicity in popular media, including foreign media... At least in Bihar, I can say, there is no wave.

Result: The BJP and its pre-poll allies Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas Paswan) and Rashtriya Lok Samta Party won 31 out of 40 seats in Bihar. The RJD of Lalu Prasad Yadav could only win 4 seats.  Additionally, Raghuvansh Prasad Singh lost his seat of Vaishali to Rama Kishore Singh of the BJP by a margin of 99,267 votes.

Nitish Kumar, Leader of the Janata Dal (United) and CM of Bihar, January 31, 2014

There is no such wave. What wave? I can't see a wave, but yes, I see Modi's hoardings. But people are not putting up the hoardings, BJP is doing it. You are either paying for the hoardings or they are being put up free of cost. I can see media coverage.

Result: The BJP and its allies won 31 out of 40 seats in Bihar. Nitish’s JD (U) could only manage to win 2 seats.  As a result, Nitish Kumar resigned today as CM of Bihar.

Sushil Kumar Shinde, Congress Party, Union Home Minister, April 15, 2014

Result: The BJP-Shivsena-Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana alliance swept Maharashtra, winning 42 out of 48 seats. The Congress Party won only 2 seats in the state, and its alliance partner, the Nationalist Congress Party, won only 4 seats.  Sushil Shinde himself lost in his bastion of Solapur to Sharad Bansode of the BJP by 1,49,674 votes.

Siddaramaiah, Congress Chief Minister of Karnataka, March 11, 2014

Mr. Siddaramaiah, who spoke at length to The Hindu here on Monday, said, “It is improper to state that there is a Narendra Modi wave across the country, including Karnataka. I would like to say that there is no such wave, and definitely not in Karnataka. The Congress will get 18-20 seats, as people have responded and reciprocated well to the government. We have been successful in winning two Lok Sabha by-elections (Mandya and Bangalore Rural), and this trend will continue in the general elections.” He said that the reference to the Narendra Modi wave was only in the media. “My assessment is that the National Democratic Alliance will not be successful in forming a government at the Centre,” he said and added that the chances of a “fractured mandate” were high.

Result: The BJP, in spite of all the problems that caused the disintegration of their state government after the corruption allegations against BS Yeddyurappa and his subsequent resignation, and their subsequent loss in the state elections, managed to come back in Karnataka, winning 17 of 28 seats.  The Congress only managed to win 9 seats.

Ajay Maken, Congress General Secretary, April 10, 2014

Result: All 7 seats in Delhi were won by the BJP.  Ajay Maken himself lost his seat in New Delhi, finishing 3rd, by polling 2,70,457 votes fewer than the winner, Meenakshi Lekhi of the BJP, and 1,07,749 votes fewer than Ashish Khetan of the AAP, who finished 2nd.

Ajit Singh, Rashtriya Lok Dal Chief, February 10, 2014

“There is no wave; it is a euphemism that has caught the media's fascination. The real issue is different: Thanks to telecommunication and free flow of information, the voter today is informed.”

“Aspirations in the UP heartland are rising but the opportunities have dried up. This has led to frustration, and also anger against the incumbent powers. The SP government in Uttar Pradesh and the UPA at the Centre face this sentiment.”

“The hype that Modi has created is merely a manifestation of this antiestablishment frustration. But he must realise that rallies are only a part of electoral fights and do not always reflect the final results. Your grassroots workers, your ideology and coalitions matter.”

Result: The BJP won 71 seats in Uttar Pradesh; along with its ally, the Apna Dal, their alliance won 73 out of 80 seats. Ajit Singh’s RLD did not win ANY seats in the Lok Sabha. Ajit Singh himself lost in Baghpat by placing 3rd, behind Dr. Satyapal Singh of the BJP and Ghulam Mohammed of the Samajwadi Party, by polling 2,23,959 votes fewer than Dr. Satyapal Singh and 14,093 votes fewer than Ghulam Mohammed.

Arvind Kejriwal, Convenor, Aam Aadmi Party, March 13, 2014

"Some people are saying that there is Modi wave in the country. I travelled to many parts of the country and went to many states, but could not see any such wave. If there is any public wave in the country, it's not for Modi. It's the wave of anger against the administration," Kejriwal told media here.

Result: BJP wins 282 seats and an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha, and 336 seats with its allies in the NDA.  AAP wins 4 seats total, all of them in Punjab, and none in Delhi, where they had won 28 seats in the state elections and held the reins of government.

Ghulam Nabi Azad, Former Union Congress Minister, October 31, 2013

"There is no Modi wave -- it is media created wave -- it is no public wave," the Health minister told reporters here during his two day visit to border belts of Jammu.

Result: In Ghulam Nabi Azad’s Jammu and Kashmir, the Congress did not win a single seat.  In addition, he lost his seat in Udhampur to Dr. Jitendra Singh of the BJP by 60,976 votes.

Sriprakash Jaiswal, Union Coal Minister, March 18, 2014

Jaiswal told ET in an interview that the Modi wave is nothing more than "artificially-created hype".  He attributed the phenomenon to advertising campaigns paid for by top industrialists supporting the BJP PM bid.

Result: Jaiswal fell along with most of his colleagues in the great UP massacre, losing to the BJP veteran Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi in Kanpur by 2,22,946 votes.

Sachin Pilot, Congress MP, Union Minister of Corporate Affairs, March 20, 2014

Result: In Karnataka, the BJP won 17 of 28 seats against all expectations; in Himachal Pradesh, the BJP swept all 4 seats; and in Uttarakhand, the BJP again swept, winning all 5 seats.  As for Pilot, he lost in Ajmer to Sanwar Lal Jat by 1,71,983 votes.



Looking at all these claims and results, we come to one conclusion. The eminent political meteorologists were all right.  This was not a Modi wave, but not in the way they meant it. 

A simple wave could not explain what has happened in this election:

1.      The BJP won 282 seats, more than it ever has won before.
2.      It was the first single-party majority election result since 1984.
3.      The BJP completely wiped out other parties in several states – Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Goa, and Delhi; and this is not counting states with single seats like Chandigarh or Diu and Daman.
4.      In many states that the NDA did not totally sweep, it often dominated completely – as in the case of Maharashtra (42/48), Chhatisgarh (10/11), Haryana (7/10), Jharkhand (12/14), and Madhya Pradesh (27/29).
5.      The only major states where the NDA did not have an impact were Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, and Odisha.
6.      Because of the strong performance of the NDA, many important parties were left with no seats in the Lok Sabha.  Prominent among these are the Bahujan Samaj Party, the National Conference, the DMK, the Rashtriya Lok Dal, MNS, and Asom Gana Parishad.
7.      The difference in vote share between the BJP and its closest competitor, the Congress Party, was a whopping 12%.
8.     The Congress party dropped to its lowest-ever total of 44 seats.

Given all this, what happened was not a Modi wave. It was a Modi tsunami, which destroyed all opposing parties in its wake.