Among the many names of Lord Krishna, the term Ranchod is perhaps an interesting one since it carries a negative connotation may be lovingly attributed to the Lord. The term Ranchod means one who flees away from the battlefield. The name is indicative of a story centered on a clever plot devised by Lord Krishna to kill the otherwise invincible demon Kaalyavana.
In the age of Dwapara, the Mahabharata war on the soils of Kurukshetra was over and Dharmaja, the eldest of the Pandavas was put on the throne of Hastinapur. Now Krishna moved to Madhura to take care of his Yadhava clan. Yadhavas faced a frequent threat from several enemies. Once, the terrific demon Kaalayavana waged an attack against the Yadhava Kingdom along with Jarasandha of Magadha and other allies. In order to save the Yadhavas, Krishna created a fabulous city in the middle of ocean named Dwaraka. Overnight, the Yadhavas were transported to Dwaraka.
The forces of Kaalayavana advanced pursuing Krishna. In an effort to enter into a duel with Krishna, Kaalayavana chased him. Krishna pretended as if he was running away from the battlefield followed by Kaalayavana. In a witty plot, Krishna allured Kaalayavana inside a cave where Muchukunda was meditating. This was an emperor and the ancestor of Lord Srirama of the Treta Yuga. Earlier, Muchukunda assisted Indra in his battle against the demons. When Indra won the war with his help and asked him what boon he would want in return, the emperor asked for a long undisturbed sleep for ages to rest. He also asked if anyone disturbed him from his sleep, he would be burnt to ashes. Indra acceded to his wish and granted the same.
The sleeping sage
Now in Dwapara Yuga, Muchukunda had been sleeping in the cave for ages only to be disturbed by the entry of Kaalyavana led by Krishna. As per the boon, now Kaalyavana was burnt to ashes and Muchukunda was blessed with the vision of the Lord. Muchukunda realized several ages had passed after he started sleeping and the generations had now turned much smaller in size than his own. He was directed by Krishna to engage in penance, absolve his sins and ascend to the heavens. He then traveled to Gandhamadana Parvat in the North and entered into penance in Badrikashrama.
In this interesting story, we find Krishna feeing away from the battlefield in order to enact an interesting dram and put an end to the demon Kaalayavana. Therefore Krishna came to be fondly called as Ranchod.