यस्तं द्वेष्टि स मां द्वेष्टि यस्तमनु स मामनु |
इति सङ्कल्प्यतां बुद्ध्या शरीरार्धं ममार्जुनः ||३०||
He who hates him, hates me too. He who follows him, follows me too. Use your intelligence to comprehend that Arjuna is half of my body.— Krishna in Drona Parva Chapter 56, BORI
An inseparable existence of Krishna! And the only person of the Mahabharata era to have gained the appreciation and the grace of none other Lord Shiva himself! Arjuna, without doubt, the most significant character of the epic. His greatness is not limited to being the greatest warrior of the era or by virtue of being part of that divine dialog which world cherish as Bhagwat Gita, but also by the fact that even his defeats are more inspiring that any victory ever had been.
In Gita, Krishna iterates — Among warriors (the wearer of weapons), I am Rama! Why Rama? Because for Rama, war was a measure of last resort. He, who could have dried entire ocean using his divine weapon, chose the path of prayer. And even after reaching Lanka, he preferred a peaceful resolution rather than a mindless slaughter. No wonder Krishna considered, Arjuna his inseparable existence. He was the only one who questioned the relevance of war, right in the middle of a war.
What is a warrior without a grace or compassion? Arjuna has been graceful in his victories and doesn’t humiliate the vanquished. He lets a scared Karna retreat after his failed coup following Draupadi’s swyamvara. He let’s Bhagdatta surrender with utmost respect during Rajsuy battle and stops the battle after seeing a weakened Chitrasena fighting feebly when he reached out to secure Duryodhana’s release from Gandharva’s.
Are you really a warrior if your strength is based on some divine artifacts alone? Arjuna had the maximum divine weapons at his disposal. But he never used the most potent once like Brahmasira or Pashupata. What he used is his courage and life long learning zeal. Unlike most warriors of the era, whose learning ended with gurukul, Arjuna continued to learn from every possible source. No wonder he got more gurus like Gandharava King Chitrasena and above all Mahadeva himself.
Arjuna’s story can’t be complete in one single post. As such we would keep posting fragments of his life here in the section. Also look out for my Quora answers on Arjuna —