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The Complex Relationship of Lord Krishna & Arjuna

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.

Lord Krishna and Arjuna

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.

Arnab Dutta, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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.

LORD KRISHNA AND ARJUNA IN THE MAHABHARATA

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.

Arjuna in a warrior Pose

Ilussion, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes, Arjuna is Lord Krishna’s companion, and at others, it is said that Lord Krishna is Arjuna’s companion. This friendship grows out of equality, stability, and emotional support from both sides. Lord Krishna was always there to guide Arjuna throughout his life and to keep him on the path of his religious duties. Sometimes Arjuna needs Lord Krishna to show the path of Dharma, and he does the same through some stories from Mahabharata.
Lord Krishna shows Arjuna the path of such a religious path in the Bhagavad Gita when he tells Arjuna what to do in many different scenarios in battle. Arjuna’s devotion to Lord Krishna makes him the best among all his brothers. This unconditional devotion to Lord Krishna shows him to represent the warrior class and their specific religion. The idea to take from the relationship between Arjuna and Lord Krishna would be that God is the one true companion in whom a perfect relationship resides.

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.

Lord Krishna and Arjuna discussing Bhagwad Geeta

INSTANCES THAT DEPICT THE UNPARALLELED BONDING BETWEEN LORD KRISHNA AND ARJUNA

• Arjuna Marriage With Shri Krishna’s Sister

The bond between the two men becomes even stronger when Arjuna takes Lord Krishna’s sister Subhadra as his wife. He first asks Lord Krishna what his view is on this idea of marrying his sister, and Lord Krishna immediately approves, saying that Arjuna is the perfect pair for his sister. Arjuna enters the kingdom where the princess lives, and he persuades her to fall in love with him. He then kidnaps the princess, which causes anger and commotion in Lord Krishna’s family. Lord Krishna then speaks to his family in favour of the union of Arjuna and Subhadra. He reassures the family that his sister’s marriage to Arjuna is not only a good thing, but Arjuna is the most suitable match for Subhadra. Thus, he gives priority to friendship with Arjuna over the wishes of his family.
This shows a strong commitment to friendship in choosing Arjuna over his family. After this union of families, Lord Krishna and Arjuna become brothers-in-law. This only strengthens their bonds as they are now even closer relatives; it also draws parallels to them being actual brothers and therefore causes them to share an incredibly tight bond. They celebrate their new brotherhood by going out to play in the waters of a river and thus begin the story of the burning of the Khandava forest.
Subhadra and Arjuna run away with Lord Krishna blessings

• The Burning of the Khandava Forest

A long time ago, people believed that they would become strong by doing “yagnas” along with their all wishes being granted. These “yagnas” involved setting up a huge fire and doing long Pujas. During these Pujas, lots of ghee was put into the fire. Agni, the fire god, started feeling very weak and sick. So he approached Lord Brahma and told him, “Oh lord! I’m feeling very well. What is wrong with me?” Lord Brahma replied that you had been fed with a lot of ghee, which is causing this. So go to earth there is a big forest blaze in it. This will restore you to your health”.
Agni Dev was very happy to hear this and went and started burning the forest. All the living creatures in the forest started running for shelter. Devraj Indra, the king of gods, had a friend – the king of snakes -Takshaka living in the forest. So, Devraj Indra released his thunder and brought rain, thus dousing the fire. This happened again and again. Agni finally got very sad. He went to Lord Brahma again, and the Lord told him to approach Arjuna and Lord Krishna. They were camping near the Khandava forest. Lord Krishna had a reason for going there. The forest had become the abode of all kinds of undesirable elements, and it was time to destroy the Khandava forest.
Snake sacrifice ritual
Agni Dev went to Lord Krishna and Arjuna and told them his problem. The great two immediately agreed to help Agni, but Arjuna did not have the necessary weapons. So Agni immediately gave Arjuna a magic quiver (gandiva), from which the arrows would never get exhausted.
Taking this, Arjuna and Lord Krishna went to the forest along with Agni. Agni, once more, started blazing away at the forest. When Devraj Indra saw this, he once again came to the aid of his friend by bringing rainfall. Arjuna immediately shot arrows in the sky and blocked the rain from dousing the fire. Devraj Indra was frustrated and immediately took his large army and went to fight with Arjuna and Lord Krishna. At the same time, the asuras hiding in the forest came out. Lord Krishna fought with the asuras, and Arjuna fought with his Indra’s huge army.
The war was a long and hard one. Finally, Indra’s army was losing when a voice from the sky spoke out to Indra, “Indra, your friend is not in the forest, and The forest was destined to burn down, and you can’t stop it.” Hearing this, Indra conceded defeat.
Lord Krishna orders Mayasura to build a palace for Arjuna
Only six people escaped the great fire – Aswasena ( son of Takshaka), the Asura-Maya, and four Saranga birds. Suddenly, they saw an asura-Maya trying to run away. Lord Krishna raised his Sudarshana Chakra to kill him. The asura pled with Arjuna to save his life. Arjuna then prayed with Lord Krishna not to kill him. This asura- Maya was an architect and in gratitude for sparing his life, built a grand palace for Pandavas in that land that came to be known as Khandavaprastha. The Pandavas went to live there after their exile of 13 years. This wonderful palace was the last nail in the coffin of the enmity between the Pandavas and the Kauravas.
Agni then blazed away peacefully for 15 days, and at the end of it, he regained his lost vigor.

• When The War Between Shri Krishna And Arjun Happened

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.

Sage Narada

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.

Subhadra and Arjuna

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.

Lord Krishna and Arjuna in Mahabharata on Chariot

Manipuralive, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Running away, Devarshi now came to Dwarka and narrated the statement of Arjuna just as it was, “What are you doing now? War preparations were made. All the Yadavas and Pandavas appeared on the battlefield with the entire army. A fierce battle ensued, but no one could win. Then Arjuna reached Lord Shri Krishna and started saying, “It is your natural nature to forget your promise in front of the words of the devotees. There must have been innumerable occurrences of this. Now end this leela here.”
The arrows ended. The Lord turned away from the war. By embracing Arjuna, he freed him from his vow of war and also forgave Chitrasen. But Galav did not like this. “It was a good joke,” he said. The sage said, ” I manifest my power. I will burn Chitrasen along with Lord Krishna, Arjuna, Subhadra.” But as soon as the sage took the water in his hand, Subhadra said, “If I am a devotee of Shri Krishna and my devotion towards Arjuna is complete, then this water should not fall on the earth from the hands of the sage.” So did happen. Galava was very ashamed. He saluted the Lord, and he returned to his place.

• Lord Krishna Became Arjun's Charioteer

The devotion shown by Arjuna to Lord Krishna is visible in many of Arjuna’s actions and words throughout the Mahabharata. For example, when Arjuna stands at the foot of Lord Krishna’s bed instead of the head where Duryodhana stands, it shows Arjuna as a humble person who reflects Lord Krishna’s idea of a great alliance rather than a strong weapon.
Before the Great Battle of Kurukshetra, Arjuna and his cousin Duryodhana joined the race for the kingdom of Lord Krishna in an effort to recruit him for both sides of the war. Lord Krishna then gives Arjuna the option to either use Lord Krishna’s army for battle or use Lord Krishna himself as an advisor. Arjuna chooses Lord Krishna as his advisor and chariot driver. In choosing Lord Krishna as his advisor, Arjuna showed his loyalty and support in his friendship with Lord Krishna.
Lord Krishna and Arjuna Fight in Mahabharat
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Lord Krishna was not only Arjuna’s friend, but he had guided Arjuna all the time. In the war of Mahabharata, the charioteer of Arjuna’s chariot was also Lord Krishna himself. Lord Krishna had chosen this role himself. Lord Krishna, who can destroy the whole world in a moment with his Sudarshan Chakra, or Lord Krishna, the maintainer of the entire creation, became the charioteer of his beloved archer Arjuna in the Mahabharata. Arjuna felt very uncomfortable because of this that his dear friend Lord Krishna would drive the chariot. Not only the role of the charioteer, but the script of the great war of Mahabharata was also written by him, and he had ensured the end of unrighteousness and victory of religion before the war.

• Shri Krishna Had Preached the Bhagwad Geeta To Arjuna

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 the very beginning of the war, Arjun got upset seeing the elders of his family in front of him on the battlefield. Arjun tells Lord Krishna that he will not be able to fight with the people of his own family. He cannot kill his people on the battlefield. Arjuna says that it is better to ask alms from these hands than to attack them. Arjuna gets very upset seeing his family members on the battlefield. Arjun tells Lord Krishna that it is no longer possible for him to fight. Arjuna requests Lord Krishna to show him the way in such a situation.
Lord Krishna and Arjuna Idol

Yugaljoshi, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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.

With the knowledge of Lord Shri Krishna, all the doubts arising in the mind of Arjuna before the war are slowly getting dispelled. God told Arjuna that this war is not a part of anyone’s selfishness, but it is necessary to have this war for the welfare of society. Shri Krishna told Arjuna to be a Karmayogi, Partha (Arjuna) in this is the welfare of all. If you run away from performing your duty, then who will perform your duties. The whole world moves according to my will, but still, I work. Because the day I stop doing Karma, this cycle of Karma will stop, and no one will maintain it.

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.

• Lord Krishna Had Endured 12 Arrows To Save Arjuna

Karna and Arjuna were face to face in the Mahabharata war. The war was becoming very fierce. Both the warriors were exercising powers on each other. Karna decided to shoot a snake arrow to defeat Arjuna. Karna had kept this arrow for years to attack Arjuna. In fact, this arrow was a snake named Aswasena in Patallok, who considered Arjuna as his enemy. The reason for this was that Arjuna had killed his mother in Khandava van (forest). Since then, Aswasena was looking for a chance to kill Arjuna.
Lord Krishna and Arjuna as Krishna protects him from arrows
Ramanarayanadatta astri, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Seeing Karna using a snake arrow, Aswasena got himself seated on the arrow. Karna targeted Arjuna with the arrow. Arjuna could not recognize the serpent taking the form of an arrow, while Lord Krishna, who was driving Arjuna’s chariot, recognized Aswasena immediately. To save the life of Arjuna, Lord Krishna suppressed the chariot with his feet. The wheels of the chariot sank into the ground. The horses sat down, and the arrow hit Arjuna’s head instead of his neck.
Due to this, his crown fell on the earth. In this way, Shri Krishna saved his Partha, Arjuna. Arjuna and Lord Krishna got down to remove the sunken wheels of the chariot. Then seeing the opportunity, Karna started attacking Arjuna and shot 12 arrows. Lord Shri Krishna, the creator of the whole creation, took the wound of those arrows. Lord Shri Krishna told Arjuna about Aswasena. Arjuna cut Aswasena into pieces with six arrows, and thus Lord Krishna himself saved his beloved Arjuna.

• Lord Krishna Saved The Life Of Arjuna

There were many such delicate occasions in the Mahabharata where Lord Krishna saved the life of Arjuna. This is also one of those cases. In the war of Mahabharata, a warrior named Jayadratha was fighting on the side of Kauravas. During the war, one day when Arjuna had gone far away from the battlefield while fighting. Then taking advantage of this, the Kauravas, including Jayadratha, had killed Arjuna’s son Abhimanyu by trapping him in the Chakravyuh.

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.

Death of Jayadratha by Arjuna
Ramanarayanadatta astri, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Arjuna started looking for Jayadratha the next day of the war, but he could not be found because the Kauravas had hidden Jayadratha. Time was running out with this, and Arjuna started getting frustrated. Then Lord Krishna resorted to his Sudarshan Chakra to take out Jayadratha. He hid the Sun for a while with the help of Sudarshan Chakra, and it was evening.

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.

• Lord Krishna Shattered Arjuna's Pride more than once

• 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.”

Lord Krishna and Arjuna relationship is complex

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.

After listening to Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, what could have been better teaching than this that God does everything? We are just an instrument. The Arjuna in us would have understood this. Pride only gives trouble in life, so give up pride.