Arjuna was a great man. Yet he had weaknesses that were actually absent in Karna, Bhishma and Drona. He was in some ways foolhardy, saying and doing several stupid things that could have landed his brothers and himself in serious trouble.
For example, at one point, Arjuna had made a vow that he would take the life of anybody who insulted his ‘Gandiva bow’, which he was exceedingly proud of. During the Mahabharata war, it happened to be Arjuna’s eldest brother and leader, Yuddhistir, who dealt the fatal insult.
Arjuna drew his sword and was about to kill his own brother, and was restrained only by Krishna’s presence. Instead of killing Yuddhistir, Arjuna instead insulted him in public. But then, Arjuna felt bad for insulting such a virtuous person as Yuddhistir, and said that he would commit suicide as there was no point even being alive after doing something so vile as insulting his own brother in public! Once again, it was only Krishna’s presence which restrained Arjuna. Krishna eventually talked Arjuna out of suicide, but Arjuna was sad that he had not kept his own word,and felt very bad. Krishna gave Arjuna a loophole. According to dharma, praising yourself in public is a sin that is as bad as one’s own death. So Krishna said to Arjuna that just praise yourself in public, and your vow will be fulfilled. And thus were the lives of both Arjuna and Yuddhistir saved.
Yet despite this foolhardy streak in his character, Arjuna is the one who is etched upon the heart of humanity as the ideal to which to aspire.
This story illustrates that while Arjuna was far from perfect, he had one over riding quality which sets him above and apart from the others. To Arjuna, it was Krishna’s words that were absolute.
He would follow Krishna’s words even at the expense of other principles or promises that he held dear. Therefore he had the grace and favour of Krishna’s guidance throughout his life.
Therefore, Arjuna’s fate was to be the hero of the era, and the instrument of God in being the restorer of dharma to society, rather than a tragic figure who ended up wasting their huge life potential in fighting on behalf of a fake cause. Arjuna put Krishna as his highest guide and ideal, and despite his faults, stands out as the most successful and glorious of the four.
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