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Why Did Arjuna Try To Kill His Eldest Brother In Mahabharata?


The stories of Mahabharata are not only fascinating but filled with countless incidents that give us lessons for life. Of these times, one such story is of the Pandava Brothers, Arjuna, and Yudhishthira when Arjuna tried to kill his elder brother during the Kurukshetra war.

Why Did Arjuna Try To Kill Yudhishthira during Kurukshetra War

Mentioned in Karna Parva of Mahabharata Epic, this incident relates to the declaration of Karna as Kaurava’s Senapati soon after the death of Guru Dronacharya. With the valor and skills Karna possessed, he was able to land the Pandavas in trouble.

Source: Alamy

A fierce battle ensued between Karna and Yudhishthira during which Karna managed to injure the latter with arrows. Seeing Yudhishthira weakened, his charioteer (Sarathi) took him away from the battle field. Hence, Yudhishthira had to escape. Yudhishthira was totally embarrassed by this defeat.

When Arjun came to know about this incident, he went to Krishna’s Chavani to meet his injured brother, Yudhishthira who was recovering in a tent there. When Yudhishthira saw Arjun talking to Krishna, he assumed that Arjun killed Karna and taken the revenge. However, that had not happened. The moment Yudhishthira learned that Arjuna has not killed Karna, he was infuriated and in anger, he uttered starting hurtful words to his brother. He asked Arjuna to throw away his weapons or give them to someone else.

Image Credits: PetSutra

Arjuna couldn’t handle it and he picked up his sword to kill Yudhishthira. Krishna tried to intervene and stop Arjuna from attacking his elder brother. But Arjuna informed Lord Krishna that he had taken an oath that if anyone ever asks him to give away his weapons, he would behead him.

Krishna knew there had to be a way out of this dilemma. And he came up with a suggestion. He assured Arjuna that his oath will not go waste and simultaneously he’ll also ensure that Yudhishthira stays alive. Krishna told Arjuna that a wise person cannot handle disrespect and if he ever loses respect, it’s equivalent to him being dead. Therefore, Krishna asked Arjuna to disrepute his elder brother. Arjuna knew that insulting his elder brother is a non-virtuous act and this will devastate Yudhishthira. However, Krishna went ahead and insulted Yudhishthira.

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But soon after the non-virtuous act, Arjuna felt less about himself and feeling ashamed of own self, Arjuna picked up his sword again but this time to kill himself. Now, this lead Krishna to struggle a way out to save Arjuna from killing himself. And as Krishna is known to be a problem-solver, he explained to Arjuna that,

Dharma believes bragging and boastfulness about one’s own abilities in public is a sin which is equivalent to one’s own death. So, Krishna instructs Arjuna to self-praise and Arjuna did as he was told.

Arjuna touched his head to Yudhishthira’s feet seeking forgiveness. However, Yudhishthira was determined to leave the battle field but when Krishna informed him about Arjuna’s secret oath, he agreed to stay together in the war against the Kauravas.

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