Arjuna’s Ignorance


The Mahabharata is the longest epic story in the history of mankind. It is the story based on the conflict between the Kauravas and Pandavas, who were royal princes in the Dvapar Yuga (third of the four ages described in the Vedic scriptures). Part of the Mahabharata, is the Bhagavad Gita, a conversation between Lord Krishna (An incarnation of Lord Vishnu) and the Pandava prince Arjuna, who faces confusion and moral dilemmas about fighting his cousins who are part of a tyrannical empire. Lord Krishna plays the role of Arjuna’s charioteer and masterminds the war.

In the Mahabharata, when the war finally ended, Lord Krishna and Arjuna were still on the chariot. According to the tradition of that time, the charioteer was expected to come down from the chariot and hold the hand of the warrior as he came down. Even though Lord Krishna was the Divine himself, he accepted the role of charioteer and should have been the first one to come down from the chariot, or at least that’s what Arjuna thought. However, Lord Krishna remained, silently waiting for Arjuna to get off first. Arjuna waited for Lord Krishna to step off, but seeing him remain where he was, he finally stepped off. He shot a disappointed look at Krishna for not having accorded the honour to him.

As an answer to Arjuna’s ignorance, Lord Krishna stepped off the chariot and immediately, Lord Hanuman, who was sitting in the flag, flew off and the chariot blew up into flames! Arjuna was shocked at the whole scene. Lord Krishna went on to explain that Lord Hanuman was protecting the chariot during the war from all the powerful weapons thrown at it from the opposition. Lord Hanuman was obliged to stay for only 18 days and was bound to stay longer only because he was serving Lord Krishna. He would not leave until Lord Krishna left. Had Lord Krishna stepped off the chariot before Arjuna left, Hanuman would have flown out and Arjuna would have gone down in flames with the chariot. Lord Krishna’s presence was the reason why the chariot was still being held together.

Arjuna’s arrogance at having won the war and feeling that he must be honoured as a great warrior blinded him to the fact that none of it would have been possible without the divine presence of Lord Krishna.

Sometimes, having made progress and strides on the spiritual path, seekers often forget how they got there. They forget that they had teachers and benefactors who were looking after them, guiding them, steering them in the right direction. They start thinking that they are solely responsible for their growth and advancement. They actually limit the potential of their growth by becoming arrogant, seeking approval and commanding recognition for their accomplishments. They need to be reminded again and again to be humble and unclutch from the sense of achievement. Unclutching clears the path for further growth and true enjoyment of what is. The recognition that it is the divine energy that is guiding seekers along the chariot of life, makes it possible to relax from arrogance and let go of the ego. The right understanding brings the right recognition of this divine force that is guiding everyone, paving the way for enlightenment.