While the king inquired fearfully, Arjuna became more and more morose over the loss of Krishna – a friend dearer to him than his very self. Sadness dried his mouth, and the lotus of his heart was robbed of luster. Enrapt in memory of his great friend, he could not answer for a long time. He made great efforts to stop his uncontrollable sobbing, smearing tears around his eyes with his hands. Pain grew deeper and deeper with him, from his powerful affection for one who was now out of sight.
Remembering his friend and companion – the well-wisher who had been his chariot driver and so much else – he turned to his eldest brother, the King, and spoke in stuttering and exploding words:
O Emperor, I am bereft of Hari… who had become our intimate relative. Without him all my astounding strength, which amazed even the gods, is gone.
Without him, even for a moment, the whole world becomes ugly, like our bodies look when bereft of life.
With Krishna I strode into the palace where Draupadī was choosing her husband from all the princes smitten with her, and erased their hopes by shooting an arrow straight into the fish.
With Krishna I defeated all the immortals, and handed the Khāṇḍava forest over to Agni, after arresting Indra who was hiding there. Maya then built our wondrous assembly hall, in which princes from every direction brought taxes and gifts to you.
With Krishna, your great younger brother who is as powerful as an army of elephants freed all the kings from the madman who sacrificed to the Lord of Madness and collected royal skulls at his feet. All of them gave you gifts in thanks.
Remember when your wife, gloriously dressed and bathed with a beautiful hair knot, was caught in a terrible assembly of cheaters who tried to untie that knot while tears fell down her face? With Krishna we turned their wives into widows with unkempt hair.
Remember when our enemy sent dangerous Durvāsa with countless disciples to eat at our modest hut in the forest? Krishna protected us: He ate a morsel of left over spinach and rice, and suddenly no one in the three worlds felt hungry. The sage and his disciples were satisfied before they even finished their baths.
Because of Krishna, I once even fought Śiva, the blessed trident wielder. My skill astonished him and his wife so much that he gave me the secret of his own weapon, and other gods followed suit. As a result, I could enter the house of Indra, king of paradise even with my mortal body, and share his throne!
While I was there, Indra and the gods took refuge of my strong arms, which hold the Gāṇḍiva Bow. I protected them from their enemy, because I was empowered by Krishna. But now I am robbed of him!
With Krishna, I was invincible and single-handedly traversed the unsurpassable ocean of the Kuru’s strength, to retrieve the treasures they stole and claim the dazzling jeweled crowns from their heads.
An enormous phalanx of great warriors and fine chariots encircled Bhīṣma, Karṇa, my Guru, and Śalya. I went straight into it with Krishna at my side – and his glance deflated all their strength, enthusiasm, and longevity.
Because of his protection, their terrible weapons had no effect on me; just like the demons could not even scratch the boy Narasiṁha protected.
In our unusual relationship, he became my chariot driver; although he is the Supreme Master, the soul’s savior, and even his feet are worshipped by the wise who seek liberation. By his blessing, I had no fears when my horses became thirsty and I had to stand on the ground during the war.
We joked and jested so delightfully, beautified by his smile: “Hey Cousin! Hey my friend Arjuna! Hey Kuru’s-son!” …Oh, these conversations touched my very heart …my soul floods with memories of sweet Krishna.
We were always inseparable; sleeping, sitting, walking, eating, and boasting together. When one of us misbehaved, the other would sarcastically say, “Oh my, what an ideal person you are!” Krishna, the greatest of the great, tolerated my awfully familiar attitude; just as a father tolerates his child, or friends tolerate one another.
Oh! Without him… without that supreme person: my friend, my beloved, my well-wisher… my very soul becomes vacant and void.
Recently, I was guarding the bodies of the Krishna’s queens when I was attacked… by farmers …who defeated me as easily as if I was a girl. I have the same bow, the same arrows, the same chariot, and the same horses. I am the same man whom great warriors praised …but without Krishna everything has lost its power. I have become like play money; like a sacrifice offered to ashes; like a seed in the desert.
Arjuna now became very stoic and spoke very plainly:
King, you asked about our well-wishers in their great city. Here is the news: They got so drunk from liquor and wine that they couldn’t even recognize each other. An argument broke out and they wound up killing each other. Only four or five survived.
Perhaps it was a curse? It seems more like the will of the All-Powerful Master, by which living beings sometimes want to kill each other but at other times want to protect each other. The big fish eats the small fish. The strong eat the weak. Such are the ways of providence; and such was the manner in which the stronger Yadus killed the weaker ones; erasing themselves from the face of the earth.
There is nothing left for me but to remember the great wisdom Govinda spoke to me on the verge of battle, for that wisdom always extinguishes the flames of pain.