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We all know when Arjuna became confused as he faced his relatives on the battlefield, he turned to his friend and chariot-driver for help. Because Arjuna had such a friendly rapport with the Lord, his turning to Krishna for instruction was a shift in the relationship. This was the setting for the Bhagavad-gita, wherein Krishna reveals His magnificent universal form to His friend Arjuna. But was there anything more than just this?

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  • Well Siva also has a universal form.
    – Wikash_
    Jan 10 at 9:42
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Krishna & Arjuna are believed to be the pair of Nara & Narayana. It's briefly discussed in this question. Their friendship stands immovable on the test of time.

Needless to say that Arjuna always regarded Krishna in the highest regards. IMO the reason he got to hear the Gita was, he surrendered himself to Krishna (without knowing his Vishwaroopam yet)

BG 2.7

Now I am confused about my duty and have lost all composure because of miserly weakness. In this condition I am asking You to tell me for certain what is best for me. Now I am Your disciple, and a soul surrendered unto You. Please instruct me.

Not that he never considered Krishna as his friend!
BG 11.41-42

Thinking of You as my friend, I have rashly addressed You “O Kṛṣṇa,” “O Yādava,” “O my friend,” not knowing Your glories. Please forgive whatever I may have done in madness or in love. I have dishonored You many times, jesting as we relaxed, lay on the same bed, or sat or ate together, sometimes alone and sometimes in front of many friends. O infallible one, please excuse me for all those offenses.

During Mahabharata, I would refer below text, showing how Krishna felt about Arjuna:

After Ashwatthama killed all UpPaandavas, Krishna describes an old conversation to Yudhishtira. In which Ashwatthama wanted the Sudarshan Chakra (Discus) from Krishna, but doesn't succeed. Krishna asks Ashwatthama the intention behind it and here how it goes ...

...At this, Drona's son became filled with sorrow. After he was tired with the exertions he made, he ceased, O Bharata!

When he withdrew his heart from that purpose, I addressed the anxious and senseless Ashvatthama and said, "He who is always regarded as the foremost of all human beings, that wielder of gandiva, that warrior having white steeds yoked unto his car, that hero owning the prince of apes for the device on his standard, that hero who, desirous of vanquishing in a wrestling encounter the god of gods, the blue-throated lord of Uma, gratified the great Shankara himself, that Phalguna than whom I have no dearer friend on earth, that friend to whom there is nothing that I cannot give including my very wives and children, that dear friend Partha of unstained acts, never said unto me, O brahmana, such words as these which thou hast uttered...

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    Here's another good quote by Krishna about his relationship with Arjuna: "Thou art mine and I am thine, while all that is mine is thine also! He that hateth thee hateth me as well, and he that followeth thee followeth me! O thou irrepressible one, thou art Nara and I am Narayana or Hari! We are the Rishis Nara and Narayana born in the world of men for a special purpose. O Partha, thou art from me and I am from thee! O bull of the Bharata race, no one can understand the difference that is between us!" Sep 17 '15 at 13:13
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    That's from this chapter of the Vana Parva of the Mahabharata. sacred-texts.com/hin/m03/m03012.htm By the way, that chapter also contains great quotes from Arjuna and Draupadi acknowledging Krishna as an incarnation of Vishnu. That's the beautiful thing about Krishna: unlike other incarnations, he was publicly known as an incarnation of Vishnu, as I discuss here: hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/3427/36 So people had the opportunity to worship him while he was on Earth. Sep 17 '15 at 13:18
  • @KeshavSrinivasan, interestingly Arjun + Draupadi + Vaasudev, all three were having name Krishna. May be we can add Muni Vyaas also into it. All were dark in color (not sure about Arjun). Vaasudev & Vyaas are incarnation of Vishnu, but I believe Arjun (Nara) and Draupadi also might have some relation to Vishnu.
    – iammilind
    Sep 17 '15 at 13:22
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    Actually, it looks like you're right about Arjuna being called Krishna and being dark-skinned; here's what Arjuna says in the Virata Parva of the Mahabharata: "And Krishna, my tenth appellation, was given to me by my father out of affection towards his black-skinned boy of great purity." sacred-texts.com/hin/m04/m04044.htm Sep 18 '15 at 3:22
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    I think that's an addition by the translator, as it's in parentheses. By the way, here's another good quote about Krishna and Arjuna's relationship from the Drona Parva of the Mahabharata: "I do not regard my sire, my mother, yourselves, my brothers, ay, my very life, so worthy of protection as Vibhatsu in battle. If there be anything more precious than the sovereignty of the three worlds, I do not, O Satwata, desire (to enjoy) it without Pritha's son, Dhananjaya (to share it with me)." sacred-texts.com/hin/m07/m07179.htm Sep 18 '15 at 12:17
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Their friendship was so strong that misunderstanding never happened between them.

As per Mahabharata: Aswamedha Parva: Anugita Parva: Section LXIX, Krishna said these words to revive the dead child Parikshit:

That foremost of beings, hearing those heart-rending lamentations of hers, touched water and withdrew the (force of the) Brahma-weapon. That hero of unfading glory, belonging to the race of the Dasarhas, promised to give the child his life. Then he of pure soul, said these words in the hearing of the whole universe,--'O Uttara, I never utter an untruth. My words will prove true. I shall revive this child in the presence of all creatures. Never before have I uttered an untruth even in jest. Never have I turned back from battle. (By the merit of those acts) let this child revive! As righteousness is dear to me, as Brahmanas are specially dear to me, (by the merit of that disposition of mine) let Abhimanyu's son, who is born dead, revive! Never hath a misunderstanding arisen between me and my friend Vijaya. Let this dead child revive by that truth! As truth and righteousness are always established in me, let this dead child of Abhimanyu revive (by the merit of these)! As Kansa and Kesi have been righteously slain by me, let this child revive today by that truth!' After these words were uttered by Vasudeva, that child, O foremost one of Bharata's race, became animate and began gradually to move, O monarch.'

Vijaya is one of the names of Arjuna.

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These were the the last words of Sri Krishna to Vasudeva(his father):

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Vibhatsu will come to this city, Dwaravati. Tell him what has occurred, this great carnage of the Vrishnis. I have no doubt that as soon as he will hear of the destruction of the Yadus, that hero of mighty energy will come here without any loss of time. Know, O father, that I am Arjuna and Arjuna is myself. Source : KMG Mahabharata Mausala Parva Section 6

While leaving his body, he thought about no other than his Pritha.enter image description here

Arjuna stepped in pool, looked at the target in the pool, drew the string and shot the arrow offering his mute homage to the great Mahadeva. All extraordinary warriors gasped when the arrow shot the target with great acuracy. Yes, now Yagnaseni is Arjunapatni. Sachi is finally reunited to Indra.

After the Swayamvara, Pandavas entered into the potter's room and they saw a man entering to the room whose eyes were as big as a lotus petal, who had evergreen smile on his face, who wore pitaambar, who was dark in complexion, who was very charming. He came in front of Pandavas and congratulated Arjuna for winning the hand of Draupadi. Then he introduced himself as Krishna, chief of Yadu clan and cousin of Pandavas. Little did Arjuna knew that the man in font of him is Parabrahman, little did Arjuna knew that they had deep past life connection, little did Arjuna knew that the man in front of him would be his constant companion for lifetime, little did Arjuna knew that their friendship would be idolised and celebrated even after thousands of years. This is the first time when Nara and Narayana met each other in Mahabharata!

Their friendship intensified rapid like a fire rapidly runs in petrol. They had similar interest, they both enjoyed to be in lap of mother nature, they both were very popular in their friend circle. This fast their friendship intensified that made Lord Krishna say:


O lord of the earth! For Arjuna’s sake, I can slice off and give my own flesh. This tiger among men will also lay down his life for my sake. O father! This is our understanding, that we will protect each other


So much pure love that made Madhava say in front of whole world that he can slice his own skin when it comes for Arjuna. You can call them soulmates or twin flames or whatsoever, but you cannot deny that this love was most pure in whole Mahabharata. That much Keshava loved Arjuna that his everything became a part of him! Those who hated Arjuna hated Krishna and those who loved Arjuna loved Krishna:

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Janardana saying, 'Thou art mine and I am thine, while all that is mine is thine also! He that hateth thee hateth me as well, and he that followeth thee followeth me! O thou irrepressible one, thou art Nara and I am Narayana or Hari! We are the Rishis Nara and Narayana born in the world of men for a special purpose. O Partha, thou art from me and I am from thee! O bull of the Bharata race, no one can understand the difference that is between us!

**

Sri Krishna never thought that he would enjoy all the kingdoms and pleasure if his Pritha was not with him! Even his wives kinsmen didn't come into the category where Dhananjaya(Arjuna) came in! Soul of Arjuna belonged to Madhava and Soul of Madhava belonged to Arjuna:

My wives, my kinsmen, my relatives, non amongst these is dearer to me than Arjuna. O Daruka, I shall not be able to cast my eyes, even for a single moment, on the earth bereft of Arjuna.

I do not regard my sire, my mother, yourselves, my brothers, my very life, so worthy of protection as Vibhatsu in battle. If there be anything more precious than the sovereignty of the three worlds, I do not, O Satwata, desire (to enjoy) it without Pritha's son, Dhananjaya (to share it with me).

When Arjuna returned back from heaven, seeing his best friend in front of him, Krishna ran and hugged him again and again. How much of intense their friendship and love was!:

And the descendant of the chief of the Dasaraha tribe, that chastiser of foes, when he saw the beloved Arjuna come near him, having seen him after a length of time, clasped him again and again.

Keshava went to any extent to support Arjuna, from helping to build Indraprastha to helping in world's biggest war i.e. Mahabharata. He even gladfully gave Shubhadra's hands to Arjuna for marriage. Now apart from being best friends they became very close relatives to each other(After Shubhadra's marriage with Arjuna)! Whenever Arjuna needed help, Krishna appeared in no time like a shadow. For instance, he immediately helped Pandavas from wrath of Rishi Durvasa.

They would together do adventures, sometimes walk seeing beauty of nature, sometimes eat together, sometimes joke together, sometimes slept together. So pure the friendship was that Sri Krishna declared that he spent more time with Arjuna than his own relatives and wives.:

jesting as we relaxed, lay on the same bed, or sat or ate together, sometimes alone and sometimes in front of many friends.

In Mahabharata war, After Ashwatthama killed all UpPaandavas, Krishna describes an old conversation to Yudhishtira. In which Ashwatthama wanted the Sudarshan Chakra (Discus) from Krishna, but doesn't succeed. Krishna asks Ashwatthama the intention behind it. He says that no one is more dearer to Krishna than Phalguna(Arjuna) himself:

When he withdrew his heart from that purpose, I addressed the anxious and senseless Ashvatthama and said, "He who is always regarded as the foremost of all human beings, that wielder of gandiva, that warrior having white steeds yoked unto his car, that hero owning the prince of apes for the device on his standard, that hero who, desirous of vanquishing in a wrestling encounter the god of gods, the blue-throated lord of Uma, gratified the great Shankara himself, that Phalguna than whom I have no dearer friend on earth, that friend to whom there is nothing that I cannot give including my very wives and children, that dear friend Partha of unstained acts, never said unto me, O brahmana, such words as these which thou hast uttered...

World's biggest treasure, and deepest knowledge i.e. Bhagvad Gita was imparted first by Gopala to Pritha! The universal form whom yogis do tapa for thousands of years to see was shown to Arjuna firstly.Arjuna not only listened Gita for one time, but when Arjuna forgot Gita afterwards Madhava even imparted Anu Gita to him! Arjuna not only was his friend but a surrendered soul and devotee. See how much Krishna loves his Devotees! During Mahabharata, Madhava went to any extent to make sure Arjuna didn't get hurt! What to talk about love when Sri Krishna broke the vow to not kill anyone when he went to kill Bhishma to protect Arjuna at any cost!

Every relation has a flaw, has disputes! But how to describe this relationship where there is no dispute at all? How to describe the love between two friends who could not live without each other even for a moment!:

let Abhimanyu's son, who is born dead, revive! Never hath a misunderstanding arisen between me and my friend Vijaya. Let this dead child revive by that truth! As truth and righteousness are always established in me,

One of the incident that melts my heart, is when Krishna decides to leave for Dwarka, and Arjuna and Krishna both embrace each other and repeatedly turn their eyes to see each other:

Vaisampayana said, 'As he of Vrishni's race was proceeding to Dwaraka, those foremost princes of Bharata's race, those chastisers of foes embraced him and fell back with their attendants. Phalguna repeatedly embraced the Vrishni hero, and as long as he was within the range of vision, he repeatedly turned his eyes towards him. With great difficulty, the son of Pritha withdrew his gaze that had fallen on Govinda. The unvanquished Krishna also (did the same).

I rest my word, as i am incapable of describing bond of Nara-Narayana!

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It is so strong. Since other answers discuss with it. I am adding here an another aspect of it.

Krishna got a boon from Agni that his friendship towards Arjuna should never decrease.

Then Vasudeva asked that his friendship with Arjuna might be eternal. The chief of the celestials granted unto the intelligent Krishna the boon he desired. And having granted these boons unto Krishna and Arjuna, the lord of the Maruts, accompanied by the celestials, ascended to heaven, having also spoken to Hutasana (one whose food is sacrificial butter).

[Section 236, Khandava-daha Parva, Adi Parva, The Mahabharata]

Thus, it is clear that the friendship of Krishna with Arjuna is a never decreasing one.

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