In the Mahabharata war, the loyalty (or lack thereof) of the Kauravas’ generals played a significant role in shaping the outcome of the conflict. While some generals remained loyal to Duryodhana and the Kauravas until the end, others wavered in their allegiance due to various factors such as personal grievances, or moral dilemmas. Here’s an elaboration on the loyalty (or lack of it) of some key Kaurava generals:


Bhishma’s internal conflict, stemming from his unwavering loyalty to the throne of Hastinapur and his deep love for the Pandavas, has a profound impact on the narrative and outcome of the Mahabharata War. While he fought valiantly for the Kauravas, his internal conflict was evident in his reluctance kill any one of the Pandavas and to use full force against them. This internal conflict impacts the effectiveness of the Kaurava campaign and demonstrates the profound emotional and ethical turmoil experienced by warriors bound by loyalty and duty. The Pandavas, aware of Bhishma’s invincibility and his reluctance to kill them, are forced to adopt strategies that avoid direct confrontations with him.

Bhishma’s presence on the battlefield is a psychological and moral blow to the Pandavas, who are torn between their respect for him and the necessity to fight against him. His eventual fall becomes a pivotal moment in the war, as it is only after Krishna suggests putting Bhishma in a position where he would choose not to fight back, that the Pandavas find a way to neutralize him without disrespecting him. The use of Shikhandi, whom Bhishma refuses to fight due to Shikhandi’s past life as a woman, demonstrates the complexities of honour and duty.

Bhishma’s internal conflict and his role in the war symbolize the broader themes of the Mahabharata: the clash between duty and morality, the sacrifices demanded by loyalty, and the tragic consequences of inflexible vows. In summary, Bhishma’s conflict due to his loyalty to the throne and his love for the Pandavas significantly shapes the course and outcome of the Mahabharata War.


Dronacharya, the revered royal preceptor of both the Pandavas and the Kauravas, is a central figure in the Mahabharata, whose internal conflicts and loyalties significantly influence the narrative and outcome of the Kurukshetra War. His deep bond with his students, especially Arjuna, whom he considered his favourite, contrasts sharply with his duty and loyalty to the throne of Hastinapur, which he serves as a commander in the Kaurava army. This dichotomy in Drona’s loyalties and affections plays out in several key ways throughout the war.

Dronacharya’s unmatched expertise in military tactics and warfare benefits the Kaurava side, making him a formidable force on the battlefield. However, his affection for the Pandavas, particularly Arjuna, influences his approach to the war. He often holds back from unleashing his full might against them, subtly affecting the Kauravas’ chances of victory.

Drona faces moral dilemmas, particularly when asked to capture Yudhishthira alive, a task aimed more at humiliating the Pandavas than achieving a strategic victory. His participation in the plot to kill Abhimanyu, Arjuna’s son, through collective attack by multiple warriors, is a moment of ethical compromise, driven by loyalty to the Kaurava cause but against the principles of fair combat he taught his students.

Dronacharya’s story is a poignant narrative on the cost of loyalty and duty when they are in conflict with personal morals and affections. His unwavering commitment to the throne, despite its wrong direction under Duryodhana’s rule, and his inability to fully align with the Pandavas, whom he loves, highlights the tragic consequences of such conflicts.


Karna faces a profound moral dilemma, caught between his loyalty to Duryodhana and his rightful place among the Pandavas. This dilemma is epitomized in his meeting with Kunti before the war, where he refuses her request to join the Pandavas, pledging instead that he would not kill any of them except Arjuna. This promise stems from his desire to repay Duryodhana’s kindness without completely betraying his newfound kinship with the Pandavas.


Shakuni, a key antagonist in the Mahabharata, is often seen through the prism of his actions that directly lead to the Kurukshetra War. He is the prince of Gandhara, brother to Gandhari, who is married to Dhritarashtra, the blind king of Hastinapur. Shakuni is portrayed as a mastermind of deception and manipulation, whose actions and schemes play a crucial role in deepening the animosity between the Kauravas and the Pandavas. Understanding Shakuni’s motivations and loyalties requires a look into his background and the context within which he operates in the epic.

Loyalty to His Family: astrologers predicted a short lifespan of Gandhari’s husband at her birth. To avert this fate, Subala and his sons ceremoniously married Gandhari to a goat before her marriage with Dhritarashtra, subsequently sacrificing the goat to nullify the foreseen misfortune. Bhishma, upon discovering this ritual, condemns Subala for allowing a supposed “widow” to enter his family and decides to punish Subala and his kin, leading to their imprisonment and severe rationing. The captives, recognizing Shakuni’s intellect and vengeful potential, allocate their meagre sustenance to him. Ultimately, Subala and his other sons succumb, while Shakuni survives and attains release. Being the King of Gandhara, Shakuni spends most of his time in Hastinapura with a primary purpose of avenging the death of his family by eliminating Bhishma and Kuru dynasty.

Manipulation and the Dice Game: Shakuni’s most infamous act is his manipulation of the dice game, leading to the Pandavas’ exile and the humiliation of Draupadi. This act, while seemingly in support of the Kauravas’ interests, can also be seen as a calculated move to create irreparable rifts within the Kuru dynasty, fulfilling his desire for revenge.

In conclusion, Shakuni’s loyalty lies primarily with his family—his sister Gandhari and her sons, the Kauravas. However, his actions are also deeply influenced by a desire for revenge against Bhishma and the perceived injustices against his family. This blend of personal loyalty and vendetta drives him to commit acts that have far-reaching consequences for the Kuru dynasty, showcasing the complex interplay of personal motivations and loyalty in the epic narrative of the Mahabharata.


Shalya, the king of Madra, and the maternal uncle of Nakula and Sahadeva (the youngest Pandava brothers), presents a compelling study of conflicting loyalties in the Mahabharata. His story is a remarkable narrative of deception, duty, and divided loyalties, which adds depth to the epic’s exploration of dharma (righteous duty) and personal relationships.

As the Pandavas and the Kauravas prepared for the inevitable war, both sides sought to strengthen their armies by forming alliances with powerful kings. Shalya, renowned for his prowess in warfare and his close familial ties to the Pandavas, was naturally expected to fight alongside his nephews, the Pandavas. However, as Shalya and his army approached Kurukshetra, they were met with grand hospitality by Duryodhana, who cunningly arranged for this without revealing his identity. Believing this generosity was from Yudhishthira, Shalya promised to support the host’s side in the war. When he discovered the deception, he was bound by his word to support Duryodhana, despite his personal inclinations and familial loyalties. Bound by his promise, Shalya fought for the Kauravas, but his heart was with the Pandavas, creating an internal conflict that influenced his actions during the war. His conflicting loyalty is most prominently displayed when he serves as Karna’s charioteer in the latter’s duel with Arjuna. Despite his role in the Kaurava camp, Shalya tries to dissuade Karna from fighting Arjuna, highlighting the inevitable doom awaiting Karna and subtly trying to undermine Karna’s confidence. However, when Karna disregards his advice, Shalya performs his duty as a charioteer to the best of his abilities, albeit reluctantly.

In summary, Shalya’s conflicting loyalties add a layer of complexity to the Mahabharata’s narrative, illustrating how the bonds of family and duty can become entangled with the machinations of war. His character represents the tragic consequences of deception and the heavy burden of promises and honour in the face of deep personal conflicts.


Yuyutsu is one of the sons of Dhritarashtra, making him a half-brother to the Kauravas. Unlike his full siblings, Yuyutsu was not born to Queen Gandhari but to a Vaishya (a woman from the merchant caste) servant of Dhritarashtra. His unique position in the royal family places him in a narrative space where he can observe and critique the actions of his more prominent brothers, particularly Duryodhana.

As the preparations for the war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas reach their culmination, Yuyutsu defects from the Kaurava side to the Pandavas. This defection is driven not by personal ambition but by a moral and ethical stance against the adharma (unrighteousness) he sees in Duryodhana’s actions and decisions, especially the mistreatment of the Pandavas and the dishonouring of Draupadi. Yuyutsu’s shift in allegiance is significant for several reasons:

Yuyutsu’s story, while not as prominent as those of the main characters, provides a poignant commentary on loyalty, ethics, and the choices individuals must make in the face of moral dilemmas. His defection to the Pandavas before the war underscores the epic’s complex examination of dharma and the responsibilities of individuals to uphold justice, even when it requires standing against their own family.

In summary, while some Kaurava generals displayed unquestionable loyalty to Duryodhana and the Kaurava cause, others had moral conflicts, personal dilemmas, or switched allegiances during the Mahabharata war. The varying degrees of loyalty among the Kaurava generals played a crucial role in shaping the course of the epic conflict. the tragedy and complexity of the Kurukshetra War, where familial ties, friendships, and guru-disciple relationships are strained and often broken by the demands of duty and loyalty to one’s faction. The epic portrays these dilemmas not as black-and-white decisions but as deeply personal and painful choices that define the character’s paths and the narrative’s moral landscape.

The conflict between loyalty and duty on one hand, and morality and ethics on the other, is a complex dynamic within organizations. Loyalty and duty often stem from personal or organizational allegiances, while morality and ethics are grounded in principles of right and wrong behaviour. When loyalty and duty clash with morality and ethics, individuals may find themselves torn between their obligations to their organization or superiors and their conscience or ethical standards. For instance, an employee may feel pressured to remain loyal to their employer even when asked to engage in unethical practices such as cutting corners on safety measures or deceiving customers on quality or support or such other corrupt practices.

The impact of these conflicts can be significant. In the short term, they may erode trust within the organization, damage reputation, and lead to legal or financial repercussions if unethical behaviour is exposed. Moreover, a culture that prioritizes loyalty over ethics may stifle innovation and hinder diversity of thought, ultimately impeding organizational growth and adaptability. In the long term, such conflicts can result in employee disengagement, turnover, and a toxic organizational culture where unethical behaviour is tolerated or even encouraged. Moreover, the erosion of personal integrity can have profound effects on individuals’ mental and emotional well-being.

In summary, the conflict between loyalty and duty versus morality and ethics in organizations can create tension at both individual and organizational levels, resulting in adverse consequences for both parties involved. Organizations that fail to address these conflicts risk facing serious consequences. Therefore, it’s essential for companies to foster cultures that prioritize ethical decision-making, encourage open communication about moral concerns, and provide support for employees facing ethical dilemmas. This may involve establishing clear ethical guidelines, offering ethics training and resources, and promoting a culture of transparency and accountability. By doing so, organizations can minimize the likelihood of loyalty and duty conflicting with morality and ethics, thereby creating healthier and more sustainable work environments.