The Difference Between Arjuna & Duryodhana

Once when the Kurukshetra war was declared, Duryodhana sent messengers to every part of the globe to seek the assistance of various kings. But Krishna was so powerful that he warranted a personal request. Also Duryodhana knew that Krishna was the main support of the Pandavas, and if Duryodhana could get His assistance, then the Pandavas would stand no chance in winning the war. Arjuna also thought of Krishna, so both of them decided to go to Dwaraka.

When Arjuna arrived in Dwaraka, he saw the palace guards receiving Duryodhana. The two princes, after greeting each other, went together to Krishna’s chamber. They found Him asleep on a large bed. One of his wives was fanning him gently. Duryodhana went straight to the head of the bed and sat down, but Arjuna remained at Krishna’s feet, standing with palms folded and gazing at his face with tears of affection in his eyes.

After a while when Krishna awoke, He saw Arjuna bowing to Him in love. Then Krishna sat up and saw Duryodhana by his head. After honouring them, He enquired why they had come. Duryodhana replied, "It is well known that you are equally disposed toward both myself and Arjuna. I have come here to seek your assistance in the war. Indeed, I arrived before Arjuna and thus it is only right that you assist me rather than him. This is the practice of good men and you, Krishna, are the best of men."

Krishna looked smilingly at Duryodhana. "I accept that you arrived first. But I saw Arjuna first. Therefore, I think I will help both of you. Scripture ordains that one should help the youngest first, so I will first offer my assistance to Arjuna. I have an army of one million soldiers known as the Narayanas, all equal to me in the battle. Let one of you take them and let the another take me alone. But I will not fight. Indeed, I plan to leave my weapons aside during the entire battle. O son of Kunti, which do you choose?"

Without hesitating, Arjuna chose Krishna. Duryodhana could hardly conceal his joy. Arjuna’s sentimentality had overpowered his reasoning, he thought. Smiling slightly, Duryodhana said, "It seems then that I am left with the army. With your permission, O Keshava, I shall now depart." After Duryodhana left, Krishna asked Arjuna, "Why did you choose Me, knowing I will not fight over My army?" "There is no doubt that wherever You are, there will be victory", said Arjuna.

This devotional spirit of Arjuna toward Krishna is an essential ingredient for understanding Bhagavad-gita. Duryodhana was materially calculative, lacking understanding of Krishna’s supremacy. Arjuna chose the Lord owing to his love for Him, whereas Duryodhana chose the Lord’s energies owing to his desire to exploit them to fulfil his own selfish interests.

Ask yourself this question: To whom will you be attracted? To someone who loves you and just wants to exchange love with you or to another person, who comes to you to flatter you and to get some money from you because you are so rich? One is attracted to you, the other to your pocket. Similarly, devotees like Hanuman are attracted to the Supreme Lord Rama and His service; on the other hand, demons like Ravana are attracted to the Lord’s energy, mother Sita. Thus such demons want the kingdom of God without God, and so they invite their own destruction.

The Lord tells us about the position of Arjuna in Bhagavad-gita (4.3)You are My devotee and friend; thus I am teaching you the most confidential wisdom. We have to approach Bhagavad-gita in the mood Arjuna did. Arjuna is the student of Bhagavad-gita. If we hear in the same mood, then we can benefit from the study of Bhagavad-gita; otherwise our study will simply be an outward show with no tangible transformation of heart.

Hare Krishna!
Dhirasanta dasa


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