Arjuna was feeling numb. This was a joke....a cosmic joke, somebody had played on him. He looked at Gayan, hoping that he had heard wrong, hoping that this was some other Krishna....anything but this....
Arjuna shook himself up. He asked Gayan to sit down. 'Pl...Please...' Arjuna fumbled. He cleared his throat,'...tell me the whole story'.
So Gayan told him and the other Pandavas all that happened in the morning.
By the time Arjuna had heard the story, he was looking incredulously at Gayan. 'You behaved recklessly and carelessly and you expect me to help you....'
Arjuna held his head in his hands and moaned, 'Why did it not occur to you to go to Krishna, himself...Just fall at his feet...'
Arjuna's eyes brightened a little, 'Gayan please listen to me...Krishna will forgive you, I will myself take you to him...Just apologise to him and I promise...' Arjuna looked desperately at Gayan, 'I really promise, he will not do anything to you...'
However Gayan was past hearing all that. He angrily looked at Arjuna, 'Is this how a warrior behaves?' Gayan was fully confident that Arjuna would fight for him, now that he had given his word. It actually made him bold. He looked at Arjuna contemptuously, 'And I thought, for warriors like you, your promise meant more to you than anything else in the world...You agree to protect me and instead of protecting me, you are asking me to risk my life, hoping that Krishna will spare my life...You really are a very brave warrior!' Gayan said looking scornfully at Arjuna.
Bheema, the second Pandava was beside himself in rage. Bheema was extremely strong and powerful. In one hand he pulled Gayan by his neck and almost throttled him. 'You dare call my brother a coward..Do you know...'
All the other Pandavas together had to pull Bheema away from Gayan.
Gayan was still struggling to breathe as Bheema ranted. 'Arjuna! Listen to me...Such a man is not worth protecting...Tie him up and personally hand him over to Krishna...'
Arjuna was actually in half a mind to follow Bheema's advice. This Gandharva was rude...He was not someone for whom Arjuna would fight against anybody...let alone against Krishna. He was looking angrily at Gayan, when he heard a noise behind him.
'Narayana! Narayana!' Arjuna and his brothers bowed to Sage Narada who had appeared there. 'What seems to be the problem here?' Sage Narada asked innocently.
Unaware that all his problems were caused by the mischievous sage, Arjuna told the sage everything. Sage Narada pretended to listen sympathetically. Arjuna asked the sage, 'What do I do sir? I...I just don't know what to do....'
Sage Narada nodded his head looking at Gayan and then looked at Arjuna, 'Arjuna, in this matter, I am afraid you really do not have a choice. You made a promise, you are bound by it...Protecting Gayan in your duty...You have to do your duty...'
Arjuna bowed his head. He knew that the sage was right...He had to fight Krishna...He had to fight his beloved Krishna...
Sage Narada's mischief however did not end there. His next stop was Dwaraka. As Narada entered Dwaraka's palace, he did not get the usual welcome. People were actually looking scared and terrified as they kept glancing at a furious Krishna.
Sage Narada innocently asked Lord Krishna, 'My Lord! I am sorry but there is some change here...You look different...Is something wrong?'
Lord Krishna took a deep breath and told him everything. '...And now I cannot find that Gayan anywhere...No matter where he is, I will hunt him down...'
Sage Narada pretended to look surprised, 'Do you mean Gayan? Gayan the Gandharva?'
Lord Krishna furiously nodded his head. He narrowed his eyes and looked at Narada, 'Sir! From your expression, I take it, you know where Gayan is...'
Sage Narada nodded his head, 'Not only do I know where he is, I also know who is giving him protection.'
Krishna was shocked. 'Somebody offered to protect that gandharva from me...' He then said angrily, 'Who is it? Who is it, who dares to so openly insult me?
Sage Narada smiled, 'Why...It is Arjuna, Arjuna the Pandava...He had offered Gayan protection...I am just coming from the house of the Pandavas, so yes, I am very sure of it...'
Lord Krishna blinked flabbergasted. Arjuna...his Arjuna...was protecting a gandharva and was ready to fight against him....What could have prompted Arjuna from doing something like this....Krishna shook his head. Sage Narada had to be wrong...But then till date Sage Narada had never lied...Mischievous – yes...Liar – No...
Krishna closed his eyes wearily. He could not fight Arjuna, no matter what. Arjuna was a part of him. How could he fight someone like that...Krishna shook his head...Arjuna...my Arjuna...How can I ever go against you...No...I cannot fight against you...Krishna resolutely looked up making his decision.
He went to his sister – Subhadra. Subhadra welcomed Krishna. 'What brings you here, Krishna?' She asked him. Then suddenly looking at the serious faced Krishna, Subhadra knew something was wrong, 'Krishna, is something wrong? I have never seen you like this...Please tell me...I need to know...' Subhadra said as she felt her heart thump painfully.
Krishna looked at Subhadra, 'Gayan a gandharva has offended me....And I....I decided that he cannot be forgiven for being so ill mannered and rude....' Subhadra listened wondering what this had to do with her. Krishna continued. 'A prince has offered him protection from me...'
Subhadra looked astonished. Krishna was one of the most strongest persons she knew. And he was extraordinarily intelligent. There were already stories of his legends...And somebody was protecting a gandharva from him...Who could do such a thing....
Subhadra looked at Krishna uncertainly, 'Who is doing this, Krishna?'
Krishna looked at Subhadra in the eye, 'Your husband....your husband Arjuna is protecting Gayan...' Subhadra gasped, her head reeling. Arjuna going against Krishna – this was impossible....It did not make sense...Arjuna fought for Krishna, he did not fight against Krishna.
She looked pleadingly at Krishna, 'Krishna, there must be some mistake...please let me set this right...I will talk to him...Please...' She said begging him, 'I will convince him...I have to convince him...' She said fervently to herself.
Krishna looked at her softly, 'I do not want to fight Arjuna, any more that you do....Please Subhadra...Go to Arjuna and please talk to him...'
Subhadra did not waste any time. She set off to see the Pandavas immediately. When she reached the Pandavas, she did not bother with any of the formalities. She ran straight to Arjuna. 'Arjuna! What is this that Krishna is telling me? Why are you doing this? Why are you protecting a man that has insulted Krishna? Don't you realize that this is Krishna...your friend Krishna...You always tell me that the bond between the two of you go much deeper than friendship...Then why...why would you do such a thing?' Subhadra said looking at her husband with plain disbelief.
Arjuna sighed, 'Do you think I would like to fight Krishna....' He told her everything.
Subhadra realized that her husband had been tricked into protecting Gayan. 'Please Arjuna! When you offered protection to Gayan, you did not know that it was against Krishna....I am sure, such a promise would not bind you...' Subhadra was close to tears.
Arjuna then told her about Sage Narada's words, who had told him that it was his duty to protect Gayan.
Subhadra tried pleading with her husband...but her husband sadly refused saying he was bound by his duty.
Dejected she went back to Dwaraka and told Lord Krishna everything that had happened and how it was that Arjuna ended up protecting Gayan. 'I have failed Krishna...My husband is bound by his duty....For that he is willing to fight even you...' She said with tears in her eyes.
Krishna shook his head. Knowing why Arjuna had done what he had done did not make the task any easier....
He looked at his sister, 'Tomorrow...I go to war against Arjuna...'
Subhadra looked too stricken for words as the two men she loved were getting ready to fight with each other.
Krishna gathered his huge army and went to face Arjuna. Arjuna himself was ready for battle. He knew Lord Krishna would not budge from his position. Lord Krishna was standing with his huge army and looked at Arjuna, who stood against him.
'Arjuna....think about it...' Lord Krishna tried once more, 'Do you think all this is necessary...'
Arjuna gave Krishna a dry mirthless laugh, 'My Lord! Please do not make fun of me...I am not here because I want to fight you...I am here because I have to fight you...'
Looking at the sad face of Arjuna, Krishna did not waste any more time. He gave the orders to begin the battle...
Lord Krishna fired the arrows, which Arjuna cut down before it could reach him...Lord Krishna continued to fight him, but none of the arrows were affecting Arjuna. Arjuna was too good a warrior to be affected by that...
Lord Krishna, having no choice fired powerful weapons. But Arjuna was also a warrior and a very good one at that...He was ready with more powerful weapons of his own. No matter what Lord Krishna tried, Arjuna had an answer for him. The battle was evenly poised went on for a long time...
Lord Krishna was however very angry now. In the heat of the battle, he pulled out his 'Sudarshana Chakra'. However unperturbed Arjuna pulled out his 'Pashupatastra' – the weapon which was handed over to him by Lord Shiva himself.
Both the weapons had the capacity to destroy the world...Krishna and Arjuna pulled back the weapons and were about to let it go...when time stopped....
Lord Brahma the Lord Creation appeared before them, 'Krishna! Arjuna! Put your weapons back....These weapons will destroy the world...You cannot do that....stop this battle NOW!' Brahma shouted at the two of them.
Both Arjuna and Krishna bowed to Brahma and immediately put back their weapons. Lord Brahma came forward. 'I can solve your problem...' Lord Brahma turned to Arjuna, 'Arjuna hand over Gayan to Lord Krishna now!' Arjuna looked at Brahma suspiciously as Lord Brahma said angrily, 'I will make sure, both of your promises are kept...Now just hand over Gayan to Krishna...'
When Gayan went near Lord Krishna, Lord Krishna killed Gayan. Arjuna looked with disbelief as Lord Brahma brought out the water from his Kamandalam and sprinkled it on Gayan....Gayan got up as if nothing had happened looking at the healed wound and at Arjuna.
Gayan thanked Lord Brahma and Arjuna and looked at Lord Krishna and hastily left the place.
Lord Krishna smiled as he embraced a relieved Arjuna. He looked at the sad eyes of Arjuna and spoke softly, 'Arjuna! I fought this war against you to make you understand something...' Arjuna looked at Krishna wondering what Krishna would say. Krishna continued, 'You have to understand my friend that sometimes you have to fight against even your loved ones for what is right...' Lord Krishna looked at Arjuna with a sad smile on his face, 'A war is coming my friend...A great war...the outcome of the war depends on you....It depends on whether you have the ability to stand up against any one, to do the right thing....'
It is said that Lord Krishna fought this war to mentally prepare Arjuna for the Mahabharatha war.