Four Names Arjuna Is Addressed By In The Bhagavad-gita

[Arjuna shooting fish eye]“O Dhananjaya, rid yourself of all fruitive activities by devotional service, and surrender fully to that consciousness. Those who want to enjoy the fruits of their work are misers.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.49)

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Coming and going. Here and there. Moving to that place, but staying in the place of residence simultaneously. Travelling to the heavenly region to pick a flower for His beloved. Incarnating in a specific form to do away with a really evil character. Wearing certain things at certain times of the day. Interacting with these people, increasing their pleasure in a certain way.

As God is comprehensive in His actions and visual manifestations, one name doesn’t suffice for Him. Sure, there is the Sanskrit word Bhagavan, which indicates possession of every fortune simultaneously and to the fullest extent. There is Krishna, who is the all-attractive one.

Even that specific manifestation, which is considered the original, has so many other names. Not meant as a way to confuse people, each name has a specific meaning, making God appealing to every kind of person. As Govinda He gives pleasure to the cows. As Gopala He gives protection to the cows. As Yashoda-nandana He gives delight to the loving mother. As Radhanatha He is the reason for living, the everything, for the purely devoted Shrimati Radharani.

As the Almighty is a distinct individual with names, forms and characteristics, so those who are devoted to Him have their own tales related to service to Him. One of the most famous servants is Arjuna, the bow-warrior who heard the Bhagavad-gita from Shri Krishna. In that conversation Arjuna was addressed by several names.

1. Kuru-nandana

Arjuna gave delight to the Kuru dynasty. He made the family proud through his tremendous fighting prowess. Peace doesn’t come through talks or summits. It is not won through hope. There are bad people out there. They have been around since the beginning of time. Bad here means willing to violate property and life that doesn’t belong to them.

[Arjuna shooting fish eye]To stop the rise in power of the bad a strong fighting force is required. The kshatriyas fit the role, as the very word means “one who protects from injury.” Arjuna was the best at offering this protection, and he had proven himself on many occasions. Everyone saw his marksmanship firsthand when he won the contest to determine the husband for the princess Draupadi. The requirement was to pierce the eye of a fish through a hole, without looking at the fish directly. There was a reflection in a water pot. Only Arjuna had the ability to shoot with such precision.

2. Gudakesha

This name means “one who conquers sleep.” Sleep in this sense also refers to ignorance, as excessive sleeping falls in the category of tamo-guna. As far as human life goes, tamo-guna is the worst way to live. It is like going backwards; making your life worse for no reason. Think excessive drug addiction. Think blackout drunk or sleeping for days. The result of maintaining this style of living is birth in an animal species in the next life.

“When one dies in the mode of passion, he takes birth among those engaged in fruitive activities; and when he dies in the mode of ignorance, he takes birth in the animal kingdom.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 14.15)

To conquer over ignorance is quite difficult, as in a material existence a person is always vulnerable. Even if advancing to the modes of passion and ignorance, liberation isn’t guaranteed. Therefore the chance for falling victim to ignorance remains.

Arjuna was Gudakesha because he always thought of Krishna. There was apparent ignorance at the start of the Bhagavad-gita conversation, where Arjuna was hesitant to commence hostilities with the opposing side, which were the aggressors. They had wronged the innocent party that were the Pandavas. Arjuna represented the Pandavas and was set to deliver justice in the proper way.

That ignorance was actually due to the Lord’s personal energy, yogamaya. Without asking questions, how would the amazing wisdom be put forth? Answers are the result of questions, and to ask the right things of Krishna, the adi-guru, Arjuna had to temporarily show doubt and hesitation.

3. Dhananjaya

This name means “conqueror of wealth.” The kshatriya class is the equivalent of the royal family, but with meaning. Arjuna’s elder brother Yudhishthira was the king, and one time he asked Arjuna to bring some wealth for performing a sacrifice. In a yajna various items are sacrificed at the altar. This was an ancient time period when the yajnas were grand in scale.

Arjuna found a huge quantity of gold in a mountain. The gold amassed in that location because of brahmanas, members of the priestly class. They have the spirit of renunciation, as they are focused on spiritual life and helping others to perform their prescribed duties. The brahmanas lived on charity, and one time they received plates made of gold from a king. After using the plates one time, they were discarded. Arjuna collected these golden plates and Yudhishthira was able to convert them into the wealth necessary for conducting the sacrifice.

4. Partha

This is a name for Arjuna, but it can be used for Yudhishthira and Bhima, also. Partha means “the son of Pritha.” Pritha is another name for Kunti Devi, who was the queen to the king Pandu. Pandu also had another wife named Madri, and the five children collectively became known as the Pandavas.

“I wish that all those calamities would happen again and again so that we could see You again and again, for seeing You means that we will no longer see repeated births and deaths.” (Kunti Devi, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.8.25)

Of the many other names for Arjuna, Partha is quite significant and endearing to Shri Krishna. This is because Kunti Devi was a great devotee. She suffered so much as a wife and mother, but never lost hope. She didn’t think that because bad fortune came her way that it was somehow an indication that God didn’t exist. She knew the influence of time and also the dual-purpose to events and the ups and downs in life. Later on she even prayed to have those calamities befall her again, for it allowed her to remember Krishna.

In Closing:

God through many names known,

Same for Arjuna in Gita shown.

To Kuru dynasty giving delight,

Expert shooter not needing direct sight.

Gudakesha since conquering over sleep,

Dhananjaya since finding gold in a heap.

Partha from Kunti’s womb appearing,

Who authoring prayers most endearing.

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