Krishna smiled as he turned his attention to the battlefield driving towards Bhagadatta and his elephant Supratika. There were almost upon the king of Pragjyotishpur when an arrow whizzed passed Arjuna.
Startled Arjuna turned and saw that it was Susarman, the king of the Trigarthas, one of the Samshaptakas.
Arjuna badly wanted to go to Bhagadatta who was killing untold number of Pandava soldiers, but then the Samshaptakas were obviously challenging him again to a fight. Unable to decide, Arjuna turned to Krishna. 'Krishna! I cannot decide! Whom do I attack?'
Krishna saw that his friend was in a dilemma and when any warrior failed to reach a proper decision, it was impossible for him to fight properly. Besides Arjuna trusted him to take the right decision, Krishna whirled the horses and led them right towards the Samshaptakas again.
Arjuna did not question Krishna or ask him the reasons behind his gesture. He just realized that the Dark Lord wanted him to fight these soldiers instead of going to Bhagadatta and just did what he was told. Arjuna fell on the Samshaptakas.....
Arjuna rendered Susarman senseless and killed Susarman's brothers who had attacked him.
The Samshaptaka soldiers were running away from Arjuna when he was finished, Arjuna saw the battlefield without any soldiers.
Standing right in front of him was Bhagadatta....Bhagadatta with his angry elephant – Supratika.
It is said that the fight between Bhagadatta and Arjuna was a sight to watch. The Dark Lord and Arjuna in the swift horses were traveling all around Bhagadatta trying to find a weak spot in his armour and Bhagadatta with his powerful elephant which was trying to get an opportunity to trample on Krishna and Arjuna....It was a battle of brute strength against swiftness.
Bhagadatta pulled out an arrow made of strong iron as he shot it straight at Arjuna. Arjuna cut it down before it reached him. Krishna in the meantime, deciding to give advantage to Arjuna, turned the chariot, bringing it almost right behind Bhagadatta and Supratika.
However Arjuna, knowing the rules of war well, did not hit the elephant from behind, as Krishna urged the horses towards Bhagadatta.
In the time it took for Arjuna to switch sides, Supratika demolished a part of the elephant division of the Pandavas.
Angered by this, Arjuna and Bhagadatta had a fierce fight, where Bhagadatta matched Arjuna, arrow for arrow,lance for lance. Slowly Arjuna was gaining the upper hand, when suddenly Bhagadatta hit an arrow which made off with Arjuna's crown.
Angrily Arjuna pulled out arrow after arrow and shot it rapidly at Bhagadatta. Bhagadatta finally pulled out a fierce weapon, the likes of which Arjuna had heard, but never seen.
Arjuna watched with almost a horrid fascination, as Bhagadatta attached the arrow to the string and pointed the weapon straight at Arjuna. Bhagadatta hesitated for a fraction of a second and with a smile, let the arrow go....
Arjuna thought it was all over. He never thought that he would ever even see the Vaishnava weapon, let alone, be the one who was going to be the victim of the Vaishnava weapon. The weapon had no counter. For what it was worth, Arjuna shot at the weapon, trying to bring it down. But then the weapon just bulldozed the firing arrows as if it was nothing and with unerring aim made straight for the two Krishnas.
Arjuna saw the entire thing happening in slow motion as he realized dully that he had failed his brother – Yudhishtara. If Yudhishtara was to win the war, it would be without him. Arjuna saw the Vaishnava weapon almost upon him, when Arjuna saw Krishna stand up from his seat in the front of the chariot. Arjuna shouted something unintelligible when the weapon passed straight through Krishna. Arjuna was numb and he closed his eyes, as his mind completely abandoned him. Krishna...his Krishna....had taken the Vaishnava weapon for him...
Arjuna realized the futility of the action. If anything happened to Krishna, Arjuna thought numbly, forget fighting, Arjuna was not even willing to live. He would gladly go the same place where Krishna was....
Arjuna was all prepared to hear the sudden hush in the battlefield. He even thought that the world itself would stop without Krishna...But it took a moment's notice for Arjuna to realize that nothing happened. The battle continued exactly as it had before as if nobody noticed anything wrong.
'Partha! What happened? You are not going to fight?' the voice of the Dark Lord came as it always did. Somewhere in Arjuna's mind, it registered that he was still hearing Krishna's voice. He opened his eyes and saw with considerable shock that Krishna was where he always was. The new addition if any, was a garland in his neck, which had not been there a few minutes back.
'Krishna?' Arjuna sure wanted to believe that everything was alright, but then what he saw.....
'Bhagadatta just fired the Vaishnava weapon!' Krishna said taking the chariot slightly away from the battlefield.
Arjuna wanted to say something but then words utterly failed him. He wondered what Krishna was saying or whether he had imagined the whole thing.
'I saw the weapon hit you!' Arjuna said finally as the words formed in his mind.
'It is mine, my friend! The Vaishnava weapon is mine! It will come back to me! It cannot hurt me!' Krishna said almost grinning.
Somewhere, Arjuna realized that Krishna had done what he had always done – save his life....
'You promised!' Arjuna said almost dizzy with relief. 'You promised....' Arjuna hissed angrily wondering exactly how quickly he was going to kill Bhagadatta. 'You promised that you would not fight!'
'I also promised to protect you, my friend!' Krishna said in a reasonable voice. 'That weapon – the Vaishnava, it has no counter! That is the reason I absorbed it...!'
'How on earth, does that monster have that weapon?' Arjuna demanded angrily, still not able to believe what he had seen.
'Bhagadatta's father is Narakasura!' Krishna said by way of explanation. 'There are four forms I have, my friend! Out of my four forms, one is of Narayana, in the form which reclines and is asleep for a thousand years. When I awake in that form, I grant any person any boon that they seek. Bhuma Devi, the Earth Goddess knows that and Narakasura is her son! When I awoke as Narayana, Bhuma Devi asked for the Vaishnava weapon for her son! And I gave it to her!'
'And Narakasura passed on the weapon to his son!' Arjuna said slowly nodding his head.
'And now he does not have it!' Krishna said with a smile.
The two Krishnas turned to face Bhagadatta and Supratika, again....