“Savyasachin refers to one who can shoot arrows very expertly in the field; thus Arjuna is addressed as an expert warrior capable of delivering arrows to kill his enemies.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 11.33 Purport)
Friend1: I got a weird one for you today.
Friend2: I’ll be the judge of that.
Friend1: You know how Arjuna failed to protect the queens after Krishna returned to the spiritual world?
Friend2: Right away!
Friend2: You have to focus on the negative. You have to bring up a blemish on Arjuna’s record.
Friend1: No, don’t misunderstand me. I am using that incident to juxtapose with something positive.
Friend2: Alright, proceed.
Friend1: I understand the lesson. Krishna was no longer around, so Arjuna wasn’t as powerful anymore. He previously led his side to victory in the greatest war of all time. Now he couldn’t do something simple like protect against some bandits.
Friend2: Yes. Arjuna was the best bow warrior in the world. Proof is there in Draupadi’s svayamvara. Arjuna was the only one who could win the contest, which involved shooting the eye of a fish without looking at it directly.
Friend1: Right, the only vision was the reflection. There was a wheel involved, too.
Friend1: So we have both conditions. One where Arjuna is proven to be the best. Another where he’s supposedly lost the ability which made him famous.
Friend2: And you want to know if that represents the duality of the material world? The time factor and how it erases everything?
Friend1: Not quite. You may have answered the question already. Let’s focus on the time of the Bharata War, where Krishna is Arjuna’s charioteer.
Friend1: At that time, is Arjuna a better bow warrior than Krishna?
Friend2: What do you mean?
Friend1: Why isn’t Krishna on the chariot shooting arrows? Is Arjuna really the best? How can that be?
Friend2: Umm, you understand that the role of charioteer there is a sign of affection, right? Krishna is the virata-rupa, which is the complete everything. Arjuna saw this vision later on. It was the proof of Krishna being God, especially for the non-devotees.
Friend1: Okay, so if Krishna fought against the Kauravas, He would have won?
Friend2: Yes, of course. That was one of the visions in the universal form. The assembled fighters were rushing into Krishna’s many mouths. That is an indication of victory.
“All the sons of Dhritarashtra along with their allied kings, and Bhishma, Drona and Karna, and all our soldiers are rushing into Your mouths, their heads smashed by Your fearful teeth. I see that some are being crushed between Your teeth as well.” (Arjuna, Bhagavad-gita, 11.26-27)
Friend1: But Krishna was there on earth at the time. Why don’t we say that Arjuna was the best bow warrior in the world, next to Krishna?
Friend2: You could say that, but that fact is rather obvious. You don’t need to focus on that situation, either. Take any person from any time period who exhibits great ability in a particular area. The best tennis player. The person with the greatest memory. The fastest man in the world. The famous scientist. Krishna would excel in any of those fields. Their ability actually comes from Him. There is no question of competition.
“O son of Kunti [Arjuna], I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.8)
Friend1: Something like talent on loan from God.
Friend2: Absolutely. When we praise someone for their ability, we are indirectly praising Shri Krishna. The direct method is better. Look at what happened with Arjuna. When his ability was no longer there, he thought of Krishna. That means that in either case, high or low, he was Krishna conscious. Others aren’t as fortunate, so they are left to look back on the glory days. Their ability is gone forever, and they have no way of getting it back. With bhakti-yoga you are in a secure position whether you win or lose, whether you are young or old, whether you are living or dying.
Whether living or dying,
Successful or trying.
In position always secure,
To receive His grace for sure.
On battlefield Arjuna the best,
But later no better than the rest.
Since ability from benefactor came,
Thinking of Krishna all the same.