Why Arjuna? (In the Bhagavad Gita)?
There is a famous verse in
sarvopaniṣado gavo dogdha gopala-nandanahGita Mahatmaya Verse 6
partho vatsah sudhir bhokta dugdham gitamritam mahat
All the Upanisads are like milk cows, the milkman who brings out the milk is the incarnation of the lord of the universe. The calf for whom the milk cow gives milk is Paarth or Arjuna. The spiritual people and the devotees enjoy the milk, which represents the great immortality, giving knowledge of the Bhagavad Gita. The most important eternal cosmic knowledge is stored in the Upanishads, the highest and eternal source. This exalted knowledge was revealed in deep meditation to the ancient saints and sages over many centuries. These Upanishads are the philosophical and spiritual knowledge part of the Vedas. So, these are also known as Vedanta. Vedanta philosophy is one of the six major philosophical systems of India (undivided India is known as Bharat Varsha)
In the introductory verse of the bhagabat geets, arjun’s importance and greatness is described.
ॐ पार्थाय प्रतिबोधितां भगवता नारायणेन स्वयं व्यासेन ग्रथितां पुराणमुनिना मध्ये महाभारतम् ।
अद्वैतामृतवर्षिणीं भगवतीम्- अष्टादशाध्यायिनीम् अम्ब त्वामनुसन्दधामि भगवद्- गीते भवद्वेषिणीम् ॥ १॥
Om pārthāya pratibodhitāḿ bhagavatā nārāyaṇena svayaḿ vyāsena grathitāḿ purāṇa-muninā madhye mahābhārateBhagavad Gita – Introductory Meditation (Gita Dhyanam)
advaitāmṛta-varṣiṇīḿ bhagavatīm aṣṭādaśādhyāyinīḿ amba tvām anusandadhāmi bhagavad-gīte bhava-dveṣiṇīm
Om, for special and personal counseling of Arjuna, god himself taught this Bhagabat Gita to him. The great saint, philosopher and scholar, Vyaasa, included it in his great epic, Mahabharata. This contains the immortality-giving and bliss giving knowledge and experience. This is the power of God in eighteen chapters which has the protection given by the loving mother to her child.
A Short biography of Arjuna, the warrior prince
Arjuna was a strongly-built, of an average height of those days, which should b between 5’10” – 5’11”. His skin color was purplish blue, which he shared with Lord Krishna. He was one of the fittest, toughest and energetic warriors of those days. He excelled in education, culture, dance, and music in addition to his main profession as a Kshatriya, military commander, and king. His specialty was archery, the best of those days, and almost equaled Lord Krishna on that. Also, he was well trained in wrestling, swordsmanship, and other forms of fighting. He was ambidextrous; he could use both his hands with equal efficiency in archery so that no enemy could stand against him.
Arjuna was one of the most brilliant person’s of those days. He had full control over sleep, lethargy and had no procrastination. He was capable in finding his way out of any difficult and life-endangering situations. The great epic Mahabharata contains lots of information about Arjuna and his personality, his qualifications
Arjuna’s adventures with lord shiva
There are 2 main episodes recorded in the Mahabharata.
Episode – 2
Few years after episode 1, again Arjuna was roaming in another section of the dense jungles in the sub-Himalayas. He also had in his sub-conscious to have Darshan of Lord Shiva and to get his blessings. He was again in the guise of a tribal hunter. Suddenly, a wild boar ran across his path. Arjuna chased it and shot an arrow at it fast. At the same moment, another hunter in the tribal guise also shot an arrow at the wild boar.
The boar fell dead with two arrows sticking out of it. Both hunters were immediately standing over it, claiming the trophy. Before Arjuna could realize it, the other hunter snatched the boar onto his shoulder and started walking. Arjun obstructed his path and there was a fight, first with bow and arrows and then with sword and then wrestling. Arjun was overwhelmed in the fight and was rendered helpless. At that moment the other hunter smiled and Arjuna realized that he could be lord shiv himself and started praying. Immediately lord shiv stood there with his full glory and classical form. Arjunbowed low at his feet and apologized. Lord Shiva was pleased with his humbleness, devotion, dutifulness and, heroism. He embraced him and blessed him with invincibility in battle. It is said that Arjuna became much more strong after his adventures with Lord Shiva.
The Gurus of arjuna:
Arjun’s father, Emperor Pandu, the younger brother of the blind King Dhritarashtra, died in the mountains where he was camping with his royal family, consisting of two queens, Kunti and Madri, and five sons. Of these five sons, the elder three sons, Yuyudhisthir, Bheem, and Arjuna, were born from Kunti and the younger two, twins, were born from the junior queen Madri. As per the tradition of that time, queen Maadri burnt herself in the funeral pyre of her husband, emperor Pandu, leaving her twin sons, Nakul and Sahadev, under the mother’s care of elder Queen Kunti.
Their grandfather, the legendary hero and the dynasty eldest, Bhisma, brought them back from the mountain country and brought them up under his own care and guidance. He taught them, basics of weapon training, warfare, politics and all knowledge a Kshatriya prince needs to learn, to be and the ideal king.
Like the princes, sons of emperor Paandu, known as the Pandavas and the one hundred sons of the blind king brought them, known as the weapon training, to learn, the grand father, engaged military guru, Kripacharya as their Kshatriya military and warfare science, and political science. During the course of his training, gurus Kripacharya, brother-in-law guru Dronacharya or guru Drona, paid a visit to his brother-in-law.
Guru Drona, disciple of Lord Parshuram:
Guru Drona, in the company of his brother-in-law, Kripacharya, was observing the military training of the Pandava and Kaurava princes. He was impressed by their talents and potentialities; particularly, the Pandava princes, and more particularly, he was very favorably impressed by the brilliance of Arjuna. Guru Drona had his long, meticulous military training under one of the greatest military masters and conqueror in that era, Parsuram
During the process of the training, Guru Drona demonstrated some archery skills which bordered on a miracle. The princes were highly impressed and reported his presence to grandfather Bhisma. Bhisma had heard his fame and was thinking about meeting him. He immediately invited Guru Drona and received him with honor. He requested the guru to take over the training of the Kaurava and Pandava princes. Guru Drona readily agreed. Some of his students, particularly Arjuna became unrivaled and invincible warriors.
Guru Drona was impressed by the brilliance, sincerity, dedication and ever ready superhuman qualities of Arjuna. He was also the most hardworking and tireless student. He had the ability to overcome sleep and lethargy. Arjuna practiced relentlessly whatever he learned from his guru. He practiced it again and again,
Guru Drona organized many military competitions and exercises. Always, Arjuna was on top. By the tireless and ceaseless practice of his profession, he earned the respect of his peers. His enemies feared him. The following incidence, just before the breakout of war between the Pandavas and Kauravas, shows the highest esteem, even the Guru had for him.
Few days before the war, the rival king Duryodhana met Guru Drona in his war camp and asked him, who is the greatest warriors of both the parties. The guru, unhesitatingly replied that it is Arjuna. If Arjuna fights seriously, he can destroy all the commanders of the enemy side, single-handed. The guru also added that it is not that the guru taught him more, but, the truth is, the knowledge and techniques that he learned from the guru, he practiced them so much that he perfected them and improved upon them.
Never hesitated to meet any challenge:
Arjun never hesitated to meet any challenge. He pushed forward more than halfway to meet any challenge. He was never afraid of any adversary or danger.
Arjuna’s adventure in indra’s heaven:
Indra or Indradev or Lord Indra was the king of God in heaven. He was very powerful and also ruled the elements, like air, fire, water, earth and the climate and weather and whatnot. Once, heaven was attacked by asuras or evil forces. Indra and the heavenly army were defeated in the battle against them. The Aura forces were set to overrun the Heavens (Swargapuri). Indra was the godfather of Arjuna. It is said that Aruna possessed the warlike powers of Indra.
So, under this calamity, Indra sent SOS and invited Arjun to come to heaven and fight on behalf of the gods of heaven and destroy the evil asura forces. Indra sent his heavenly chariot with his heavenly charioteer, Maatali, to bring Arjuna to heaven. Arjuna honored the invitation of Indra, came to heaven, and camped there as the honored guest of Indra. Arjun, with his military skill, courage and, brilliance, defeated the asuras and drove them away from heaven, and made heaven safe for Indra and the gods.
Indra was pleased with him and blessed him with many Divine weapons and magical powers. Arjun spent many months there learning Divine music and dance. Subsequently, Arjuna became an expert exponent of music and dance and was a great music and dance teacher. He trained many princes and princesses in dance and music. Arjun was not only an unrivaled archer, Bowman and military commander but also a famous music and dance master and a cultural patron.
Family life of Arjuna:
Arjuna with his brothers and mother lived in a joint family system. He had two queens named Draupadi and Suvadra. The elder queen Draupadi was the famous princess of Panchala Desha, whose love and hand was won by Arjuna by being the best unbeatable archer in a very severely contested function. The younger queen Suvadra was the younger sister of Lord Krishna and Balaram, of the famous Jadava country of Dwarka. He had two sons who were excellent heroic warriors and died in their teens in the Draupadi war. His grandson Parikhit succeeded the Pandavas as emperor of most of India (Aaryavarta, Bharat Varsha).
Arjuna, in those days, went on frequent military campaigns and annexed many countries. One of them is the famous Manipur in northeast India. It had a matriarchal society and the queen Pramila was the supreme ruler. She was unmarried still. She voluntarily and lovingly offered herself inmarriage to Arjun.
Family guru and guardian:
- The patron and the guardian angel of their struggling younger days was the great patriarch, kingmaker and the eldest family member was Bhisma. He gave them a secure, prosperous, and educative childhood. It seems, due to extreme old age, he made some vital judgmental errors which ultimately led to civil war between the two groups of royal cousins.
- It led to the famous Mahabharata war in which the cream of the Kshatriyas, warriors, kings, military geniuses lost their lives. He taught them political science, royal duties in addition to military sciences.
- The second invisible influence and protector was the great deathless saint, philosophic scholar, and spiritual leader, Mahamuni Vyaas dev. There was no branch of knowledge that Vyaas Dev did not deal with authoritatively.
- The Mahabharata, the most famous Bhagavad Gita, many Veda, and Vedanta scriptures, and countless many other scriptures.
- Vyaasmuni too was their grandfather. From the stage of conception to birth, growth, training and education, yoga and spirituality, and in many other ways, Vyaas Muni provided his invisible but very effective protection and guidance.
These two great Indian masters helped in the very survival of the Pandavas and Kauravas. They shaped their personalities, habits, dutifulness, efficiency, and, human and spiritual values.
How Lord Krishna selected Arjuna:
This is a very interesting story and very educative in many ways.
Lord Krishna was a great friend to his friends and an ideal family person. He was a loving, forgiving, helpful, joyful, and genuinely friendly superperson. He was the cousin brother of both the groups, the Pandavas and the Kauravas. Both sides had claimed on his services as close relatives. The leader of Kauravas was heroic but, arrogant, aggressive, and spiteful. The representative of the Pandavas was Arjuna, polite, loving, humble, sincere yet heroic. His brother-in-law and role model was Lord Krishna, whom he liked very much. He appreciated Arjun’s sterling qualities.
Then came the devastating news. The Pandavs and Kauravs decided to settle their territorial disputes by war. Most of the then kings and famous warriors, took sides, either the Pandava side or the Kauravas side. There were ceaseless busy consultations, word of communication, vigorous lobbying for support, and diplomatic war too. The Yadavas of Dwarka under the leadership of Lord Krishna and
The Pandavas sent Arjuna to get the Jadavas support. The elder brother of Lord Krishna was a famous hero and leader but he was a peaceful man and he did not want any part in this civil war. He left for pilgrimage. Lord Krishna became the deciding factor in granting favors. So, both Arjuna and Duryodhana rushed to meet Lord Krishna and get his favor. As they were cousins, they had access to his bedroom. It was early morning; unusually Lord Krishna was lying on his bed. Arjun reached first, saw Lord Krishna sleeping, and humbly sat on the floor at the foot-end of his bed, waiting for him to wake-up.
Soon, Duryodhan rushed in, saw Arjuna sitting humbly at the foot-end of the bed, and disdainfully marched onto the golden royal chair placed at the head-end of Lord K
Duryodhana, replied first, “O Krishna, it has been finally decided to settle the kingdom issue by war, no war, no settlement. We are your cousins. We have equal rights to demand your help and participation in this war. Please support me.” Lord Krishna replied, “o mighty prince of the Kauravas, both of you do have equal rights on us. My elder brother never agreed to this fratricidal war and left on a long pilgrimage, leaving me to handle the situation. Now I have made my decision, all my armed forces, consisting of infantry, cavalry, chariot warriors, and elephant army, will go to one side.
I will alone remain on the other side but will never carry weapons. Now let me know your choices. But, I saw Arjuna first and he is the younger of you two and, as per rules, he has the right to ask the favor first. Duryodhana was apprehensive that Arjuna will ask for the prize favor, the whole armed forces of Krishna, and he will lose out in the bargain. Krishna smilingly looked at Arjuna and asked his choice first. Unhesitatingly and with folded hands, Arjuna replied, “O Krishna, you please come to my side and remain in my side even if you do not carry weapons. I have no need for your army as a substitute. “
Duryodhana was extremely happy and excitedly left for his kingdom to carry the good news that the famous invincible Yadava armed forces of Dwarka will fight in his side and that the victory is sure. And Lord Krishna is left without an army. He thought that Arjuna has made a fool of himself by letting go of such a golden chance. Later when Duryodhana was gone, Lord Krishna asked Arjuna, why he preferred to have him without arms alone in his side, in preference to his whole vast and powerful army. Arjun smiled and humbly told to Lord Krishna, I lack a good war-chariot driver. You are the best of all. Please agree to be the charioteer of my war-chariot and nothing can stand against me.
Lord Krishna smiled joyfully, for he was pleased with Arjuna’s decision. In a critical and finish to the end war, the chariot driver’s ability, quick thinking, concentration, and knowledge of the field, decide the outcome as effectively as the main warrior there. The course of the eighteen days bloody war showed the wisdom of the
This is how, when Arjuna was sentimentally and emotionally troubled at the beginning of the war, confused about duties and human values and dharma, Lord Krishna gave that wonderful, eternal, divine teaching known as the Bhagavad Gita. Bhagavad Gita, the eternal teachings of cosmic values and yoga, dispels worry, anxiety, tension, fears, stress and ignorance, and makes life worth living and enjoyable by removing sufferings born out of ignorance. The best eye-opener in this regard is the last verse of the last chapter of the Bhagavad Gita:
jatra yogeswar krishna jatra paartha dhanurdhara
tatra shreervijayabhutirdhaaba nitir matir mama
Wherever there is a combination of professional excellence, morality and adventurous spirit with god awareness, there is bound to be good fortune, victory, error-less firm policy and rule of law.
This is my opinion says sanjaya.
Some personality characteristics of Arjuna:
- Arjun could never tolerate negative criticism and ill talks about his guru. He punished it by death if needed.
- Arjun never tolerated negative criticism and ill talk about his best friend Lord Krishna. He punished it by death if needed.
- Arjun never tolerated ill talks and blames about his bow, Gandiv. He punished the blamer by death if needed.
- But he tolerated and forgave all those who spoke ill of himself or blames attributed to himself.
- In any crisis or serious problem, he never lost his cool and better judgment.
- In his profession, he was unrivalled.
May the Almighty, working through Lord Krishna and Arjuna, Bless, Guide, Protect and Inspire you and remove your troubles.
With Love and Blessings to you. Humbly,
Paramahansa Atmananda ji