Mahabharata is a story of ‘vow’ and ‘pledges’. Here, the protagonists could go to any level in order to keep their ‘words’ , ‘oath’, ‘commitment’ and ‘promise’. There is not one but many such examples and instances which proves this. Starting from the great pledges of Bhishma, Gandhari, to the oath of Drona, Karna, Yudhisthira and promises of Eklavya, and so many others. If you remember, It was only because of ‘words’ Draupadi became Panchali and married all five brothers instead of marrying just Arjuna.
And, later one such ‘vow’ became a reason for Arjuna to kill Yudhisthira, his beloved elder brother.
The 17th Day of Kurukshetra War
When Yudhisthira and Karna entered in a duel, Karna defeated Yudhisthira and injured him badly. The only reason he didn’t kill him was because of his promise to his mother Kunti that he won’t kill her sons. Next, an injured Yudhisthira was taken to his tent by the twin brothers Nakul and Sehdev.
The two other brothers Bheem and Arjun were still fighting in the battlefield. After Arjuna was done fighting with Sampastakas, he approached Bheem and inquired about the missing ‘Yudhisthira’.
Bheem mentioned how Karna injured their elder brother badly. Arjuna wanted Bheem to be with Yudhisthira but Bheem denied as it was against his principle to leave the battlefield in between a fight. Bheem then instructed Arjuna to be with Yudhisthira and assured him that he alone would take care of the Sampastakas.
Inside The Camp..
When fully wounded Yudhisthira sees Arjuna besides him, he presumes victory of Arjuna over Karna. He thinks that Arjuna took his revenge by killing Karna. So, he mistakenly assumes that Arjuna is in the camp only to deliver this auspicious news to him. However, contrary to his belief, Arjuna confirms the actual reason of his presence which is only ”out of concern”.
This infuriates Yudhisthira . Dissapointed and frustrated, Yudhisthira vents out all his anger on Arjuna. In the heat of this moment, he even yells at Arjuna telling him to give up his Gandiva.
Arjuna’s Secret Vow
Arjuna remains all quiet but the moment he hears Yudhisthira insulting his priceless weapon “Gandiva” he takes his sword and is ready to slain Yudhisthira, his own brother. At once Krishna comes and ask him the reason of such a strange behavior. Arjuna tells Krishna about his secret vow – The vow to kill anybody who insults his Gandiva. Since, vow should never be broken he insists that he will have to kill his own brother even if he doesn’t wish to.
Krishna tells Arjuna that the only way one can kill an elder is by insulting them. So, instead of killing Yudhisthira by his sword, Arjuna killed him by insulting Yudhisthira in order to keep his vow intact. However after a while, Arjuna felt bad that he insulted his brother.
He then quickly took the sword out once again, this time only to behead his own head. Krishna stopped him from committing suicide and came up with another solution. The master of loopholes, he mentioned a way out of it. As per dharma, self praising and boasting in public is a sin which is also equivalent to one’s own death. So, Lord Krishna instructs Arjuna to boast about himself in public which would not just fulfill his desire to commit suicide, but also keep his vow intact.
This is how Arjuna killed Yudhisthira as mentioned in Karna Parva before slaying Karna on the 17th day of Kurukshetra war!
Related articles across the web