People often wonder why Krishna chose Arjuna to depict the Gita. It is not because he was meant to be the central figure or a hero of Mahabharata. It was because Arjun was more like you and me. Arjun, like a common man, was confused and unclear about his doings. Everyone else on that battlefield of Kurukshetra was crystal clear on their intention, except Arjun. Hence Krishna’s message to Arjun is a message to humanity.
Arjun was the Godchild of Indra, born as the third child of Pandu and Kunti. Indra is the God of rain, thunder, and war. Hence Arjun too was destined to become a great warrior of his time. His two elder brothers, Yudhisthira and Bhima also played a major role in making Arjun the greatest warrior. Yudhisthira was the pillar of righteousness while Bhima was the epitome of strength. Arjun, a devoted younger brother learned from both of them, making him both a good man and a strong warrior.
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It was also his devotion to Guru Drona that led him to become the greatest archer of all time. Drona, impressed by his devotion, had promised Arjun to make him the greatest archer. To keep his promise Drona had given only half-knowledge to Karna and had made Eklavya cut his thumb. These were the only two who were better at archery than Arjun.
On the order of Drona, the young Pandavas captured the province of Panchala. The King of Panchala was impressed by their valour and invited them to the swayamvar of his daughter Draupadi. The swayamvar had a test, which the young princes were asked to pass in order to win Draupadi’s hand in marriage. The test required them to shoot the eye of a rotating wooden fish only by looking at its reflection in the water.
It was a task that required the highest level of focus and skills. A great many warriors from both Kauravas and Pandavas tried and failed. Then it was Arjuna’s turn. He went on to the stage and drew an arrow onto his bowstring. He stilled his body and watched the fish’s reflection in the water. Then with a thunderous roar, his arrow left the bow and pierced the eye of the fish. Draupadi was his wife now.
Draupadi later asks him about the test. Arjun replies that he never saw the fish, he could only see the eye of the fish. This story also serves as a life lesson to avoid distractions and focus only on your priorities.
A few years later the Pandavas were sent into a 13-year exile. During this period Arjun did a lot of training to gain celestial weapons. His Godfather, Indra, known for his pranks sent his most beautiful angel to distract Arjun. When Urvashi tried wooing Arjun, Arjun compared her to his mother. Urvashi, who was boastful of her beauty was furious over this comment. She cursed Arjun to spend a year as a transgender who would be loved by none. Hence Arjun spent the last year of his exile as a dancer named Arjuni.
In the war of Mahabharata Arjun was most instrumental in Pandava’s win. He killed Karna, the best warrior from Kauravas, and disabled Bhisma, the mighty general of Kauravas. But before the war had started Arjun couldn’t grasp the idea of killing his own kin in order to win a piece of land. Krishna, who was his charioteer, gave him the knowledge of the Gita. He explained to Arjun the importance of Dharma and Karma. He also informed him that this was not a fight between brothers but a fight between right and wrong.
Later in life, Arjun too failed to climb the Kailasha mountain to reach heaven. Yudhisthira explains to Bhima that Arjun’s arrogant pride over his archery skills kept him from being a humble human. Hence he could not make it to heaven.
Arjun’s character is the representation of the importance of learning. As a child he learned from his brothers, taking their best qualities. Under Drona, he became his best student and learned more than others. Then on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, he learned from Vishnu himself. He got the opportunity to learn the working of the universe from its maker. And finally, his death comes as the last lesson for students, not to be arrogant about their knowledge.