Kanha could sense there was something wrong with Arjun from afar. His usual grace and vigor were clearly lost, he seemed unsettled about something and then for him to come to Dwarka unannounced was a little out of the ordinary as well.
Kanha welcomed Arjun with a tight embrace and led him to the satin throws the chambermaid had placed by the window. It was a beautiful night, far away in the harbor the boats could be seen bobbing in their luminescent lanterns making for a magical horizon but Kanha could see that the magic was lost on Arjun.
“You must be tired from the ride, I could have the cooks make a special meal for you my dear brother?” Kanha offered Arjun with a smile.
“I stopped to eat at dusk and then I don’t feel so hungry,” Arjun tried to offer Kanha a smile in return but failed half way.
Kanha let him soak in the sea breeze for a while and then lovingly put a hand on his shoulder, “What steals the hunger of the greatest warrior of Bharata?”
Arjun sighed and Kanha could see the struggle on his face. He could see that Arjun was in a lot of pain.
“I am ashamed. I don’t know how to talk about this Kanha,” Arjun said in a pain filled voice.
“And yet you ride all the way here because you know that I am the only person you can talk to, is that right?”
Kanha’s eyes glowed with the light of scores of oil lamps that lit the hall. Arjun nodded. Kanha allowed him the time he needed to say what he wanted.
“I am jealous, very jealous. I am finding it very hard to share,” Arjun said finally. It was clear that it took all his strength to bring that forth.
Kanha still maintained a soothing silence.
“I won her, she is mine and still I have to share her with my brothers,” the pain was making his voice tremble. “Draupadi is mine, I cannot bear the thought of her being with anyone but me and yet I know it is wrong. Mother has ordained that we are all to be her husbands but I am envious. Save me Kanha, please! Save me from this selfishness. I love my brothers but I love her too. I have no clue what to do!”
Kanha felt Arjun’s pain; love could humble even the greatest of warriors.
“Why is a man selfish Kanha, why can he not think about others before him? Why can I not do what is right?”
Kanha looked at the boats in the distance and sighed, “The problem is man is not selfish enough. Selfishness of the greatest denominator and the smallest denominator is lost to man. If he found that it would take care of all the troubles.”
Arjun looked at Kanha flummoxed, this was not the answer he had expected.
“Humans were made selfish for a reason, if they were not selfish they would not be able to survive and they would not be able to progress in their soul journey. However, humans have failed on both the fronts.”
“I have no idea what you are talking about Kanha,” Arjun knew Kanha well to know that there was a celestial secret that he was going to learn, he also knew that he would have to be patient.
“Explain to me Kanha,” he beseeched.
Kanha nodded and turned around to face Arjun.
“It’s like this, let’s look from the smallest to the greatest denominator. A man is first selfish for himself, is that right?”
“Next he is selfish for his family, then for his tribe, then perhaps for his city, in rare cases for his country but the greatest denominator is lost to him. Do you follow, Arjun?”
“You mean the entire planet?” Arjun’s eyes widened with realization.
Kanha smiled, “Yes, after a point when the numbers start becoming too big Man stops caring. It is too much for him to grasp but he does not understand that in the largest good is his good. If he is not selfish about the planet there is no point in being selfish about the country or the tribe.”
“What is the smallest denominator then,” wondered Arjun.
“The soul Arjun, your soul. You may think that your body is the smallest denominator but there is something even more valuable and smaller, the soul that your body hides. If you are selfish for your soul then you will never think of the body.”
Arjun sat awe-struck looking at Kanha.
“The creator made you selfish for the extreme ends of the spectrum where Man unfortunately never reaches. Arjun, if you are selfish for the entire planet and then selfish for the soul all your decisions will be wise and moral. You shall see yourself. Your feeling selfish about Draupadi is a bodily selfishness. Now think what your soul would want?”
Arjun nodded and whispered, “The soul would never agree to carry the burden of such jealousy…”
Kanha did not respond, he let Arjun live with what he had just learned. He knew that Arjun was reaching out to his soul, it would probably take him all night, but the morning would be well worth it.