The love of Krishna and Arjuna
“My wives, my kinsmen, my relatives, none amongst these is dearer to me than Arjuna. O Daruka, I shall not be able to cast my eyes, even for a single moment, on the earth bereft of Arjuna” said Krishna to his charioteer Daruka, as he was preparing for the upcoming battle of the 14th day of Kurukshetra war. This was the day when Arjuna had vowed the superhuman task of slaying Jayadratha,the brother-in-law of Kauravas, before sunset,in order to avenge the death of his son Abhimanyu,since Jayadratha had effectively stopped any help from reaching him in Chakravyuha, where he was brutally murdered by the son of Dusshasana, after being brutally wounded by simultaneous attack by multiple warriors.
Coming back to Krishna’s words to Daruka on Arjuna, we can see through his love for the third Pandava. Their duo is an epitome of friendship and love. But Mahabharata has no mention to the genesis of this camaraderie, which gave us the celestial Bhagavad Gita, which is regarded as the ultimate philosophical text of the Vedic civilization; inappropriately called as Hindu religion. Some people believe that it was Draupadi Swayamwara. However, reading through the text gives us an intuition that they knew each other much before than that.
However, a story from KM Munshi’s Krishnavatara-which is inspired from Harivamsha–an appendix to Mahabharata– gives us some insight and it goes as follows:
Krishna had dispatched Kamsa to the land of manes. The Yadavas had breathed a sigh of relief and wanted Krishna to be crowned as King of Mathura. But Krishna declined the throne gracefully. The reason being that although Krishna was wonderful, he lacked formal education and he realized that. Hence, the elders along with Gargacharya and Guru Sandipani decided to hold upanayana ceremony to get Krishna and Balarama initiated into Brahmacharya.
Many royal families all over Aryavarta(India in those times) were invited including Hastinapura. Kunti, who was a maternal aunt to Krishna, along with the Five Brothers, the Pandavas, arrived. They were accompanied by Vidura, the Prime Minister of Hastinapura; also the half brother to Dhritarashtra, the blind king of Hastinapura. The five brothers were very attractive, well built and faultless in behaviour.
Yudhishthira, who was 20-25 years old, bore a serene dignity at that young age too. Bhima, a couple of years younger than Yudhishthira, was like Balarama-all muscles and had jovial eyes which twinkled with fun. When Krishna fell at his feet he responded unusually with a smack showing his open-heartedness.
Then the Nara-Narayana met. Since Arjuna, about 12-14 years of age, was younger, he fell at Krishna’s feet, who was about 16 years of age, with perfect grace. Krishna was immediately attracted to him and embraced him with warmth. Thus started the journey of friendship which became eternal.
Thereafter all the five brothers surrounded Krishna and Balarama for a light talk in which they shared their joys, sorrows, their exploits, their woes etc. with great enthusiasm and pride. Krishna and Balarama were struck with awe, since their cousins had excelled in school and they themselves were practically illiterate, whilst the five brothers were beaming with pride that their cousins had achieved so much.
Thereafter, Balarama and Bhima left for wrestling practice and Yudhishthira along with the twins left for an audience with Akrura. Hence the Nara-Narayana were left alone.
Krishna and Arjuna first conversation
Krishna said, “Let’s go swimming, but tell me the latest you learned in archery for, I am informed that you are a master of the art.”
Arjuna described all about his efforts to master the art of shooting in the dark which annoyed Drona for, he would be rebuked for not teaching the Kauravas well. Then they swam together followed by a nap.
“Arjuna are you son of Indra?” asked Krishna opening his eyes.
“Yes, the venerable Vyasa says so” replied Arjuna.
“That explains Indra’s request.”
“What request?” asked Arjuna
“After the Govardhan Incident, Indra asked me for a favour in a daydream.” said Krishna.
It so happened that, Krishna, in his childhood, had opposed the worship of Indra, the king of Gods (similar to Zeus in Greek mythology), who controlled the rains. Instead, he had proposed that they worship Govardhana, the mountain that served as a grazing ground for the cows of Vrindavana, the place where Krishna was brought up.
However, this did not go well with Indra. He decided to drown Vrindavana with his wrath. However, according to popular belief, Krishna defeated Indra by lifting the Govardhana mountain.
” Will you do me a favour? ” requested Indra after being vanquished by Krishna.
“Certainly!” said Krishna.
“I have a son, stand by him. Promise me” said Indra.
“I promise,” affirmed Krishna.
Arjuna, who was overwhelmed by this narrative said “I wish we could live together forever”
“We shall,” said Krishna. Now he felt he had 6 brothers. The Vista rose before Krishna of all 7 of them working miracles to establish Dharma and reform the sordid world which surrounded them.