Chapter XXIII - 83 Home | Index | Previous | Next

"More distressing than all was another painful act that Arjuna had perforce to do, off and on. Whenever he had to do that act, poor Arjuna was overcome with unbearable remorse." Saying this, Vyasa held his head down, as if he wished to desist from mentioning it. This aroused the curiosity of Parikshith even more and he appealed; "Master! What exactly was that inevitable harm he had to do, in spite of its sacrilege?"

At this, he said, "O king, in the thick of battle, when the master has to give an indication to the man who acts as the charioteer which way to turn, he cannot hope to be heard, if he calls out, right or left. The din will be too loud and confusing. So, while totally immersed in the wild excitement of coming to grips with the enemy, he has to prod the charioteer's brows with the right or left toe or his feet; he keeps the toes always in touch with the sides of the brow, for this purpose. His plank is on a deeper level. If the chariot is to be driven straight, both toes have to be pressed with equal force. That was the convention."

"Since such pressure had to be applied with heavily shod feet, both sides of the brow of the Lord daily showed marks of scrape. Arjuna cursed himself for sheer shame; he hated the very idea of war and prayed that the wicked game ceased that very moment. He used to be terribly upset with agony, that he had to touch with his feet the head that sages and saints adored."

"The palms of Krishna, soft and tender like lotus-petals, developed boils all over, since they had to hold the reins tight and since the steeds strained their hardest, when they were restrained or controlled. The Lord forsook food and sleep, performed services both high and low and kept ready both horses and chariot in perfect trim. He also went on various other sundry errands, which were fundamental to victory. He bathed the horses in the river, attended to their wounds and applied balm to cure them (why go on with the entire list?). He acted as a menial in the household of your grandfathers! He never assumed the role of the universal sovereign that is His real nature and status. And didn't Lord Krishna Himself assure your grandfathers:

'Be devoted to Me and receive power from Me. To the extent to which you enthusiastically intensify and quicken up this process of give and take, to that extent you will be successful and happy. Deliver all your anxieties, troubles, travails and desires to Me and in return receive joy, peace and strength of mind from Me. During this advent, only spiritual aspirants and righteous persons are relations, friends and recipients of My grace.'

That was the measure of His affection for those devoted to Him" said Vyasa, the sage to the king.