Arjuna and the ascetic

Arjuna happened to be a rajasic warrior. He wished to fight and kill people. In the Mahabharata we saw how he fought against the enemy. Krishna wanted to smash Arjuna’s rajasic pride because Arjuna was very dear among Krishna’s friends and disciples. Once pride entered into Arjuna, and Sri Krishna said, “Let us go for a walk.” Both of them went out for a walk, and on the way they saw an ascetic who was eating a tiny blade of dry grass. Green grass was all around and available to him, but he was picking up dry grass. At the same time, a naked sword was dangling at his side. Arjuna could not comprehend. On the one hand he was not eating even green grass that has life because he would not harm or injure any living thing. Such was his compassion for living things that he was ready to eat dry grass, but not green grass. Yet at the same time, there was his sword at his side. So Arjuna asked Sri Krishna, “Please tell me what is wrong with this fellow. Why is his life a life of contradiction with a blade of grass and at the same time a naked sword?” Sri Krishna said, “You go and ask him.” So he went and asked the ascetic, “Please tell me. I do not understand why you act this way. ” The man answered, “You are right that I want to lead a pious life, I do not want to injure. But at the same time, I want to kill four persons on earth and for that I have kept this sword. Four persons, the moment I see them, I will kill them.” Arjuna said, “Please let me know who they are.”

“The first is Narada.”

“What has Narada done to you?”

“Oh Narada! All the time he sings the glories of my Lord Krishna. There is no time for my Lord to take his rest. All the time he has to sing, and I hear the songs — singing, singing, singing. He always disturbs my Lord’s sleep. I want to kill this wretched Narada if I see him.”

“Then who is the second person?”

“The second is Draupadi, Arjuna’s wife. All of a sudden, she spoke, ‘Lord, save me, save me!’ My Lord had to go and apply his force in order to save her modesty. What kind of audacity she had!”

The story of Draupadi is that when Yudhishthira lost to Duhshasana, Duryodhana’s younger brother, in a dice game, the last promise he gave was that Draupadi would be given to the winner. So, as he lost again, Draupadi, the wife, had to go to the other side and stay with the Kauravas. They wanted to undress Draupadi and do such an unthinkable thing in front of kings and potentates. Draupadi, in the beginning, tried to hold fast to her clothes, but finally she surrendered and said, “Oh Krishna, save me!” Immediately Krishna granted her an endless stretch of garments. They went on pulling her dress off, but it was endless, so it was useless for them to continue.

When the Pandava family was in the forest, it happened that the sage Durvasa came to their place with all of his followers and disciples. The enemies of the Pandavas had sent Durvasa to pronounce a curse on the Pandavas. Durvasa had once gone to the Kauravas and had been very nicely welcomed, given princely honour by the eldest of the Kauravas, Duryodhana. Since he was highly pleased with Duryodhana, Durvasa said, “Now ask me for any boon.” At this time, Duryodhana asked him to go to the forest where the Pandavas were. Sri Krishna had given the Pandavas a pot out of which any number of people might be fed. However, they would be able to do so only before Draupadi had taken her last meal of the day. After Draupadi had eaten, the Pandavas would not be able to feed a single person on earth. Duryodhana asked Durvasa to go there one day after Draupadi had eaten, after she had finished her meal. Durvasa listened to Duryodhana’s prayer. He came after Draupadi had finished her meal only to torture her. In those days, when a spiritual master came, the first thing was to feed him. If you did not feed Durvasa, he would curse you and turn you into ashes. When Durvasa and his followers came in, poor Draupadi had no food left. Durvasa came in and said, “I am very hungry.”

She knew that if she did not feed him, he would curse her and her husband. So she invoked Sri Krishna. Sri Krishna was at that time seated on his throne. He was nowhere near the forest, but he immediately saw with his occult vision, and he came physically to save her. Sri Krishna said, “Please give me something to eat. I am very hungry.” Draupadi answered, “You are so hungry, and here I am, embarrassed. I have invoked you to help me, and you come here to torture me. How am I to give you food?” He said, “No, you have to give me food. Examine your pot.” She replied, “There is nothing left. I am not telling you a lie. I have washed it. I have eaten. We have all eaten. There is nothing left. I can show it to you.” So she brought the pot, and he discovered that there was a grain of rice remaining. He ate it and said, “Now, I am satisfied. Now you ask me anything. I am pleased with you.” She said, “Save me! The sage Durvasa has gone now, with his thousands of disciples, to bathe in the Ganges. When he comes back he will want food.” So Krishna, with his spiritual power, immediately made ready food for thousands of people. Now Durvasa with his Yogic vision came to know that Sri Krishna had already arrived. He said, “It is useless for me to go there, because now they will be able to feed me. I don’t want to go there. I am satisfied.”

To come back to the story of Arjuna and the ascetic, the ascetic said, “I want to kill Draupadi. In season and out of season she asks for my sweet Lord’s help. I will kill her. She should not invoke my Lord at any time.

“The third person is Prahlada. He was one of the greatest disciples of Sri Krishna. But his father used to hate Sri Krishna. The very name of Sri Krishna used to irritate him. His son was just the opposite, constantly following Krishna. So what did his father do? He threw Prahlada into a boiling tub of oil. Then he threw him on the ground and he placed him, his own son, under a mad elephant. He let the elephant crush the son because the son was not listening to his father. But the son was not crushed and the burning oil did not kill the boy. Sri Krishna was there. So, while the father wanted to kill the boy, Sri Krishna’s presence saved him.”

That is why the ascetic said, “Whenever there is any danger, immediately Prahlada speaks the name of my Lord Krishna, who goes to save him. Prahlada has no right to invoke my Lord. He has to be punished.

“The fourth one is the wretched Arjuna,” the ascetic went on. “I want to kill him here and now.”

Arjuna said, “Arjuna! What has he done?”

The ascetic replied, “Look at his audacity. He asked my Lord Krishna to be his charioteer on the battlefield. Sri Krishna is the Lord of the Universe, and Arjuna asked him to be his charioteer. Look at his audacity! I want to kill him.”

Arjuna came to realise that the ascetic was really devoted to Sri Krishna, and that he was all love and concern for Him.