Lord Krishna and Arjuna shared a complex relationship. From being related by marriage of Shri Krishna’s sister to Arjuna, to the time when they were at war, to Lord Krishna being a guide, friend, & mentor to Arjuna in Mahabharat, Read on to find out more.
Konddiah Raja, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
The relation between Lord Krishna and Arjuna can only be called Devine. Arjuna and Lord Krishna have a perfect warrior-friend relationship. There are also many indications of a relationship that represents a great friendship between a man and a god. Lord Krishna is Lord Vishnu, a god incarnation, and Arjuna is a man.
It is represented in many different stories in the Mahabharata. The relationship begins with one of the family members (cousin). Lord Krishna’s father, Vasudeva, is Kunti’s brother. Arjuna was born to Kunti after propitiating Indra. That establishes their relationship in the worldly sense. The relationship of friendship between Lord Krishna and Arjuna is also given the name of Guru-disciple (teacher-student). The bond between them becomes even stronger when Arjuna marries Lord Krishna’s sister Subhadra. Lord Krishna was not only Arjuna’s friend, but he had guided Arjuna all the time.
But Arjuna and Lord Krishna were Nara and Narayana in one of their previous births. Lord Krishna conveys this to Arjuna in the Mahabharata. Nara and Narayana are said to be manifestations of the human soul and the supreme spirit in a philosophical sense. It is not Arjuna who only loved Lord Krishna. Many devotees love Lord Krishna. But Lord Krishna loves only a few, and Arjuna was foremost of all. Their relation was never practical. They never loved each other because they were in debt of gratitude to each other. They were the best examples of soul mates. Both loved each other boundlessly.
“Soul mates,” the word suits them both. Lord Krishna and Arjuna exhibited how to maintain close friendship throughout a lifetime. No other friendship is as celebrated as the friendship between Lord Krishna and Arjuna. The portrait of them in a single chariot got firmly implanted in people’s memory for generations. They are winners in any situation. They exhibited how to live life with happiness, not brooding over the difficulties. They challenged the challenges thrown at them by destiny and triumphed most of the time.
Sage Vedavyasa offered many instances that depict the unparalleled bonding between Lord Krishna and Arjuna. Both are princes of the neighbouring country. It continues to grow and change into a massive epic as the two men grew and learned how to deal with life and be religious in every scenario, learning from each other. This is particularly shown in the stories of the burning of the Khandava forest and the great war of Kurukshetra.
It is also well depicted in the lives of Pandavas and Arjuna throughout the Mahabharata in smaller forms. The relationship of the two men grows with the devotion and loyalty shown by Arjuna, and it is ultimately the savior of the Pandavas in the Kurukshetra war.
In the Mahabharata, the relationship of friendship between Lord Krishna and Arjuna is also given the name of Guru-disciple (teacher-student). In Mahabharata, many incidents of the friendship of both are recorded. Both Arjuna and Shri Krishna had genuine feelings for each other. The relationship begins with the birth of Lord Indra’s son Arjuna at the beginning of the Mahabharata. During Govardhan Leela, Lord Krishna accepts Indra’s prayer and promises that he will always help Arjuna by becoming a friend. Shri Krishna always kept this promise.
After losing everything in gambling, the Pandavas were living in poor conditions. Lord Shri Krishna, who himself governs the world, became Arjuna’s charioteer in the Mahabharata war and made the Pandavas the emperor of united India by giving victory to the Pandavas in the war.
Mahabharata is a story that depicts the friendship between the two. One who represents the great warrior who is an ideal student and is in search of truth. The second one portrays a mentor, seen as a god or a more conscious/enlightened version of the first person. When these two people are together, a great team is formed, representing God and man working together. They are both invincible together and working in equal measure, which is helpful and respectful to each other; it is the right relation between two people, that is, God and Man.
Sometimes the promises made without thinking make them fight with their loved ones. A similar war took place between Lord Krishna and his supreme disciple and friend Arjuna. The situation had become very serious.
There is a story in this context. Once, when Maharishi Galav was offering Arghya (Offering of water) to the Sun in the early morning hours, the spit of Chitrasen Gandharva, who was on his way in the sky, fell in his Anjali (joined Palms) of the sage. The Muni got very angry with this. He wanted to curse him but noticed that he would lose the fruits of his penance, so he stopped. He went and prayed to Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna immediately took a vow after listening to the sage that he would kill Chitrasen within twenty-four hours. In order to fully satisfy the sage about his promise, he took an oath at the feet of Mother Devaki and Maharishi.
Galav ji had just returned when Devarshi Narada reached Lord Krishna, and Lord Krishna told the whole incident of Galav Ji and recited his vow. Hearing the words of God, Narad Ji walked from there and reached Chitrasen. He told that in twenty-four hours, Shri Krishna has vowed to kill him. Frightened by the fear of death, Chitrasen started running here and there. He ran in all the worlds of Brahmadham, Shivpuri, Indra-Yama-Varuna, but no one even allowed him to stay there. Now poor Gandharvaraj, along with his weeping women, came to the shelter of Narad Ji. Narad Ji said, “Well, let’s go on the banks of Yamuna.”
He went there and showed a place and said, “Today, a woman will come here at midnight. At that time, you keep on moaning loudly. That woman will save you, but take care not to tell the reason for your suffering until she promises to remove your troubles. Narada’s Leela continued. On the one hand, he explained this to Chitrasen; on the other hand, he approached Subhadra in Arjuna’s palace. He said to her, “Subhadra! Today’s festival is very important. By bathing in the Yamuna at midnight tonight and protecting any helpless, one will attain inexhaustible virtue.
In the middle of the night, Subhadra, along with one or two friends, reached the Yamuna bath. There they heard the sound of crying. She immediately went there and found Chitrasen crying. She asked lakhs of times, but he did not tell anything without a promise. In the end, on her commitment to help him, he clarified his position.
Now hearing this, Subhadra got into confusion. On the one hand, the promise of Shri Krishna – that too, to the Brahmin, on the other hand, her promise. Finally, deciding to protect the refugee, she took him with her. Reaching home, she put the whole situation in front of Arjuna (Chitrasen was also Arjuna’s friend). Arjuna consoled Subhadra and said that your promise would be fulfilled.
When Narada Ji got all right here, then he reached Dwarka and said to Shri Krishna, “Maharaj! Arjuna has given shelter to Chitrasen, so you should go to war after thinking carefully.” The Lord said, “Naradji! Once you try to convince Arjuna to return. Now Devarshi ran again and reached Indraprastha from Dwarka. Arjuna heard everything and said clearly – “Although I am in every way in the shelter of Shri Krishna and I have only his strength, but now I am firm on the matter of never turning away from the Kshatriya religion given by him. I will protect my promise only on his strength. He is the only one who can of giving up the promise.
At the beginning of the Mahabharata war, Shri Krishna explained to Arjuna that you should do the prescribed actions according to religion because it is better to act than not to act.
In the Mahabharata, Shri Krishna had made many efforts to avoid the war, but Duryodhana did not listen to Shri Krishna, and the time had come when the armies of Kauravas and Pandavas stood face to face. On the Kaurava side, there were great warriors like Bhishma Pitamah, Dronacharya, Kripacharya, Karna on the side of Duryodhana. Lord Krishna was with the Pandavas.
At that time, Shri Krishna had preached the Gita to Arjuna. In Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, Shri Krishna has told Arjuna the importance of Karma. By keeping these things in mind, many of our problems can also end. Lord Shri Krishna explained to him that this war is between Dharma and Adharma and every person who comes in the path of Dharma is like a thorn in this world that does not allow reaching the lotus. Religion is more than relations. Today warriors like your grandfather Bhishma and Guru Dronaharya are blocking the path of Dharma. In such a situation, war is necessary for the establishment of justice and religion.
Arjuna is now convinced that he is not fighting against his loved ones in this war but against unrighteousness by the knowledge acquired from Lord Krishna and seeing his indestructible full form. Lord Krishna told Arjuna that you should leave the attachment in these people and do your Karma (work). Whatever success or failure you get, keep them equal in your mind, Arjuna; this capability is called yoga.
When Arjuna got the news of Abhimanyu’s death, he became very angry. Arjuna reached the middle of the battlefield and challenged Jayadratha in front of everyone. Then Arjuna took a vow and said that tomorrow I would avenge my son’s death by killing Jayadratha. If I cannot kill before sunset, I will give up my life. But killing Jayadradha was not easy; in fact, Jayadradha was given a boon by his father. According to the boon, whoever kills Jayadratha and drops his head on the ground, his head will be broken into thousands of pieces. This is one of the reasons why it became very difficult to kill Jayadratha in the Kurukshetra war.
In the evening, Jayadratha came out of the armor of his army, and then Shri Krishna ordered Arjuna that your enemy is now in front of you and told about the boon he got. Then Arjuna’s arrow cut off Jayadratha’s head and flew it into the air, and fell straight into the lap of Jayadratha’s father. Jayadratha’s father, who was absorbed in penance, suddenly stood up, due to which Jayadratha’s head fell on the earth from his lap, and his head broke into thousands of pieces. In this way, Lord Krishna saved the life of Arjuna.
• The war of Mahabharata was going on. Karna and Arjuna were face to face in war. Arjuna’s charioteer was Lord Krishna. As soon as Arjuna’s arrow was released, Karna’s chariot would go far behind. When Karna’s arrow was released, Arjuna’s chariot would go back seven steps. Instead of praising Arjuna, every time Shri Krishna said for Karna, how brave is this Karna! Who pushes his chariot seven steps back.
Arjuna was very upset by this. In a state of confusion, he asked, “O Vasudev Shri Krishna, why this? You do not praise my valor and praise, again and again, Karna, who pushed back the chariot only by seven steps. Shri Krishna said, “Arjuna, you do know that Mahavir Hanuman and me, Vasudev Krishna, are seated in your chariot. If we were not both, your chariot would not even exist. So retreating this chariot even seven steps is a sign of Karna being Mahabali (Supreme fighter). “Arjun felt guilty on hearing this.”
Mahavir Prasad Mishra, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
• Arjuna understood this fact even better when the war ended. Every day, when Arjuna returned from the war, Shri Krishna would first descend, then as a charioteer, he would take down Arjuna. On the last day of the Mahabharata, Lord Krishna said, “Arjuna, you first get off the chariot and go a little farther. The chariot was burnt to ashes as soon as Lord Krishna descended. Arjuna was surprised at this.
Shri Krishna said, “Parth! Your chariot was consumed long before. It was destroyed by the divine weapons of Bhishma, Kripacharya, Dronacharya, and Karna. My resolve kept it alive till the end of the war.” Arjuna’s pride was shattered at the end of the entire Mahabharata. Then Arjuna’s pride because of his superiority was shattered. He bowed down and touched at the feet of the Lord, sacrificing everything. He, after taking off the vain burden of pride, was feeling light.
• Once Arjuna got arrogant that he was the greatest devotee of the Lord. Sri Krishna had realized this. So one day, he took Arjuna for a walk with him. On the way, they met a poor Brahman. Once Arjuna got arrogant that he was the greatest devotee of the Lord. Sri Krishna had realized this. So one day, he took Arjuna for a walk with him. On the way, they met a poor Brahman.
His behaviour was a little strange. He was eating dry grass, and a sword was hanging from his waist. Arjuna asked him; you live by eating dry grass, then how is the sword in your hand? The Brahmin said I want to punish four people. First of all, I am looking for Narada. He does not let my Lord rest. Then I am also angry with Draupadi. She called on my Lord when he was sitting down to eat. Just look at her audacity. She fed leftover food to my God.
Who is your third enemy? Arjuna asked. He is heartless Prahlad. That ruthless put my Lord in a pan of hot oil and forced him to appear from the pillar.
And the fourth enemy is Arjuna. Look at his wickedness. He made my God his charioteer. How much trouble must have happened to my Lord? Tears welled up in the eyes of the Brahmin while saying this. Seeing this, Arjuna’s pride was shattered. Then, asking for forgiveness from Shri Krishna, he said, do not know how many devotees you have in this world. I am nothing.