Arjuna sighed as he saw the dark Pandava camp again. He looked at the Dark Lord once more. ‘I cannot….’ Arjuna said his words cut off by a sob. He took a deep breath and continued. ‘I cannot meet Bhadra or Uttara today! I am very sure Draupadi would be there too!’ Arjuna shook his head as he felt an invisible hand clutch his chest twisting it. ‘I will meet them tomorrow, after I have kept my vow! But today…please go to them!’ Arjuna looked at Krishna with almost desperately sad eyes. ‘Talk to them and…..’ Arjuna fumbled unable to go on.
Krishna nodded saying nothing else. Subhadra was his sister and as long as he had known she had loved Arjuna. She eloped with him and Krishna thought that after Abhimanyu…Krishna sighed as painful thoughts threatened to surface and he slowly made the way to Arjuna’s home.
Krishna thought that he had seen enough people break down in one day….But that was before he went to Arjuna’s house.
As he saw the disheveled place of death, Krishna was seriously at a loss about who needed him more….his sister or Uttara. The two were inconsolable. Draupadi was there too. Being the eldest of them, she was atleast strong enough for the two of them…But Krishna knew…He knew that she was very close to the edge.
‘You are princesses and queens!’ Krishna told them. ‘Wives or mothers or sisters of warriors! Please… do not grieve for one who died doing their duty! Know that they have reached the highest levels of heavens, doing what they were meant to do!’
If anything Subhadra began to wail louder as she heard the Dark Lord’s words. ‘HE WAS A BOY!’ She shouted. ‘His father was the greatest archer ever and he had you! And with all that, he is gone! Why…’
Krishna did his best.
He let Subhadra yell, shout and scream some more. Finally, exhausted Subhadra swooned as she fell in the Dark Lord’s arms.
Leaving Uttara and Subhadra in the hands of Draupadi, Krishna made his way back to the battlefield.
Krishna walked into Arjuna’s tent as he watched his warrior in a fitful sleep. Krishna turned as he rapidly walked out of the tent. His charioteer Daruka, almost seemed to sense the Dark Lord needing him as he came to Krishna.
‘Prepare my chariot!’ Krishna said in a steely voice.
‘My Lord!’ Daruka was properly and completely stunned. ‘Are you going to battle?’
Krishna said nothing as he watched Daruka. Daruka was in shock as he shook his head. ‘My Lord! You cannot! You promised you would not wield any weapons! You cannot break your own promise! You will be…’
‘Arjuna has promised to forfeit his life if he does not kill Jayadratha!’ Krishna said as Daruka seemed completely incapable of talking. ‘Drona knows of Arjuna’s vow! And he is an incredibly good strategist! He knows that Partha has placed his life in the hands of the Kauravas! All Drona has to do is to make sure that Arjuna does not keep his vow! And if that happens….’ Krishna asked looking at Daruka. ‘Arjuna will kill himself! Without Arjuna, I…..’ Krishna closed his eyes. ‘Arjuna is dearer to me than my life! If anything should happen to him I will not be able to live!’ Daruka was appalled as he watched Krishna’s dark eyes filled with a strange emotion as he continued. ‘Without Arjuna, this…entire…’ Krishna looked at the battlefield. ‘The Kaurava would win, my friend!’ Krishna said placing his hands on Daruka’s shoulder, clutching it tightly. ‘That I cannot allow!’
‘If Arjuna is not able to keep his vow, I will break mine!’ Krishna said so simply that Daruka was stunned.
‘Keep my weapons ready!’ Krishna said as Daruka nodded his head slowly. ‘Keep my four favourite horses – Meghapushpa, Valahaka, Saivya and Sugriva ready! If you hear me sound the shrill Rishaba note on the Panchajanya (Krishna’s conch), you will bring my chariot to me immediately!’ Krishna looked at Daruka. ‘Do you understand?’
Daruka nodded looking almost scared at the ferocity in Krishna’s eyes. He had heard that Krishna and Arjuna were Nara and Narayana, two halves of a whole, but watching it now, was almost terrifying for the charioteer.
‘He will keep his vow, my Lord!’ Daruka fumbled trying his best to convince Krishna. Krishna said nothing as Daruka continued. ‘Please go to sleep my Lord! You have a lot to do tomorrow! Just as your warrior sleeps, you need to be rested and fit!’
Krishna looked at Daruka and smiled sadly. ‘You are a good friend, Daruka! Go to your tent and sleep well too!’ And with that the Dark Lord turned and walked back to his tent.
Arjuna looked around as he knew that he was dreaming. The place he was in was neither the earth nor the heavens. But a place felt familiar…. Some place he had seem somewhere, but could not recognize. But before he could think about it, Arjuna turned, because there was a presence. A presence, which no matter what, he could never ignore. Something which was part of him…
‘Krishna!’ Arjuna said looking around as the Dark Lord came forward. ‘Where….’
‘You were thinking about all the weapons you knew which could defeat Jayadratha in battle!’ Krishna said, 'Which is why I came!' Arjuna frowned. ‘I do not understand, my Lord!’
‘I am here to help you with using your most powerful weapon, Partha! One that would be useful for tomorrow! The one you got from the Three eyed Lord!’ Krishna said.
‘The Pashupatastra!’ Arjuna said, as Krishna nodded.
‘Let us meditate on the Lord! I am sure he would teach us what we want to know!’ Krishna said.
And so Arjuna closed his eyes and meditated. As he meditated, Arjuna found the surroundings change. With Krishna near him, he found himself being dragged to a beautiful place. The raw beauty was the place was unmatched and could not be even compared with the lavish beauty of any palace.
‘Kailash!’ Krishna announced as Arjuna looked at delight that the Dark Lord was with him when he was to meet the Three-eyed Lord.
The sight was beautiful as Arjuna arrived at the abode of Lord Shiva. There Arjuna saw the Goddess and frankly was unable to find words to even describe her. The Ganas and the sages were speaking with the Lord when he saw the two warriors.
‘What do you wish, warriors?’ Lord Shiva spoke in a deep voice as he saw the two men.
Arjuna for once could not speak. The sight of the Lord with the Goddess suddenly robbed his words. As Arjuna studied the Lord, Arjuna was shocked to find that all the offerings that he had made to Krishna were near Lord Shiva. Krishna smiled encouraging his friend as Arjuna fell down on the feet of the Lord.
Lord Shiva smiled as he repeated his question.
‘I wish for the knowledge of the Pashupatastra, my Lord!’ Arjuna said finally.
‘There is a lake of Amrita nearby!’ Lord Shiva said with a slight smile. ‘My bow and arrow are lying there! Please go and get it!’
Krishna and Arjuna both looked at each other as they nodded. The Ganas of Lord Shiva led the two warriors to the lake. But there was no Bow and Arrow there. Instead there were two huge snakes breathing fire.
Neither Krishna and Arjuna were afraid as they fearlessly bowed to the snakes.
In an instant, the two snakes vanished and in their places appeared a bow and arrow.
The two of them took it back to the Lord.
Arjuna watched amazed as a man emerged from Lord Shiva – a man resembling the Three-eyed Lord. The man taught Arjuna how to use the weapon and the mantra to invoke it. Arjuna always a quick learner, learnt the mantra as if it were etched in his mind.
The man smiled as he picked up the bow and shot the arrow. The arrow landed in the same lake as before. The man threw the bow inside the water too.
Arjuna understood. The weapon and its power was waiting for him….He could use it whenever he summoned it in battle.
Both Krishna and Arjuna were jubilant as they looked at each other…
Arjuna woke up with a start as he saw the morning rays shine through his tent.
Arjuna watched his Gandiva as he realized something. Whatever it was that he had seen, it was no dream. It was something which had actually happened.
He walked out his tent.
Yudhishtara walked out of the tent and saw Arjuna. He almost ran to Krishna. ‘He looks like….’ Yudhishtara saw Krishna properly again. ‘The two of you look like you have found some wonderful secret of the world! The light which shines from you is almost dazzling! I already feel like Jayadratha has no chance to make it out of the day’s battle alive!’
Arjuna walked over as he listened to Yudhishtara’s words and smiled as he looked at Krishna. He turned his attention to Yuyudhana. ‘My friend! There is something that we have all forgotten! No matter what I do or where I am, the fact remains that Dronacharya has promised to take Yudhishtara captive! Today you are responsible for Yudhihstara! Protect him well!’
Krishna and Arjuna were both in the chariot. Exactly as Krishna’s spies had informed him, Drona formed a Vyugha with half a Sakata formation and the other has as a circle. It was said that formation of Drona was 48 miles long and 20 miles wide!
Krishna looked at his friend. ‘Shall we begin, Partha?’