All posts in Stories of Krishna in Mahabharata

Story of self-taught archer Ekalavya who once defeated Krishna in an archery combat

Ekalavya is a character from the epic The Mahabharata. He was a young prince of the Nishadha, a confederation of jungle tribes (Adivasi) in Ancient India. He was offered as the son to Vyatraj Hiranyadhanus by Narayani Devi and possessed powers given by Bhumi devi. Ekalavya aspired to study archery in the Gurukul of Guru Drona. He is called as one of the foremost of kings in the Starbharata Yajna where he honours Yudhishthira with his shoes. Though he didn’t have his right thumb, he was noted as a very powerful archer and warrior. He is said to be a great friend of Duryodhan. He brought Krishna’s son to the court of Hastinapur when he kidnapped Duryodhan’s daughter. He possessed the mighty bow Pashupath. He is known to have defeated Krishna in an archery combat.

Story when Duryodhana remained jealous of Yudhishthira even after division of kingdom

Duryodhana remains jealous of Yudhishthira, especially after the Pandavas along with Krishna transform Khandavprastha to Indraprastha. Moreover, Yudhishthira performs the Rajasyua Yagna and gains the authority over several other kingdoms; Indraprastha’s prosperity and fame appear to exceed Hastinapura’s. Duryodhana is unable to contain his anger, which is intensified when Draupadi arrogantly taunts him about his father’s blindness when he slips into a pool of water during a visit to Indraprastha. A popular quote, from later versions of the Mahabharatha, is “a blind man’s son is blind”. In early versions of the story, Duryodhana is also motivated by the idea that no matter what, Hastinapur should not remain divided. Yudhishthira shares this belief; both know that eventually, a conflict will arise and the nation will be ultimately reunified.

Story when Duryodhana tries to arrest Krishna and Krishna shows his Vishvarupa

In a final attempt at securing peace, Krishna returns with the Pandavas’ final proposal: the Pandavas would give up all claims to Indraprastha and Hastinapur in exchange for five villages. Scoffing, Duryodhana says he will not even give “five needlepoints of land” to the Pandavas. Egged on by Krishna, Duryodhana attempts to arrest him. Krishna reveals his Vishvarupa form. The entire Kaurava court, save for Bhishma, Drona, Vidura, and Dhritarashtra(who was granted divine vision in order to see that by supporting his son, he was going against God), is temporarily blinded by the form. This confirms to those present that Krishna is indeed an avatar of Vishnu, implying that God and dharma lies with the Pandavas. Duryodhana, in some versions of the story an outright atheist, brushes off the incident, not convinced of Krishna’s divinity, and believing that strength of arms, not philosophy, would win him a war.

Story when Duryodhana & Arjuna goes to Krishna where Arjuna choses Krishna to be on his side & Duryodhana choses Krishna’s Vrishini army for war

Shakuni also advises Duryodhana to seek Krishna’s help. Duryodhana rushes to Dwarka only to find Krishna sleeping; he waits at the head of Krishna’s bed when suddenly, Arjuna arrives with the same goal in mind. Arjuna waits at the foot of Krishna’s bed. When Krishna wakes up, both Duryodhana and Arjuna appeal for his alliance. Krishna offers a choice of himself, completely unarmed, or the entire Vrishini army. Duryodhana proclaims that because he arrived first, he should get first-pick. However, Krishna says that because he saw Arjuna first, and because Arjuna is younger, that Arjuna gets the first choice. Duryodhana becomes worried, but is overjoyed when Arjuna elects to reject Krishna’s army in favor of Krishna alone. Joyously, Duryodhana returns to Hastinapur with the Vrishini army in-hand, only to be rebuked by Shakuni, who comments that Krishna is worth many armies by himself.

Story when Duryodhana by playing trick gets king Shalya’s support for war

Duryodhana manages to win the army of king Shalya, the maternal uncle of the Pandavas. Duryodhana intercepts Shalya’s army as it comes to Kurukshetra and offers hospitality; Shalya accepts thinking Yudhishthira had made the offer. After Shalya has enjoyed Duryodhana’s comforts, Duryodhana reveals the treachery, and indicates that Shalya is now indebted to him. He uses this indebtedness to extract Shalya’s army and support. Duryodhana wanted Shalya mainly so that Karna would have an equivalent charioteer to Arjuna’s Krishna.

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