Monday Musings 31 – Five golden arrows

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Duryodhana was always doubtful about the loyalty of the elders Bhishma and Dronacharya.  Whilst they sided with the Kauravas in the kurushshetra war because of their bonding to the kingdon, Duryodhana thought they always remained committed to the cause of the Pandavas. After a few days of the gruelling war, Duryodhana thought that Bhishma was not giving his heart and soul for the sake of the Kauravas in the war.

Duryodhana confronted Bhishma in the night and derided him. An upset Bhishma could not say anything. In a moment of rage, he took five arrows from his quiver, meditated for a while and put his life force in those five arrows. Bhishma then gave them to Duryodhana saying that those arrows are powerful enough to kill all the five Pandavas the next day and promised him that they would not fail because he had put his years of penance and life force in those five arrows.

Bhishma asked Duryodhana to return the arrows to him. Duryodhana instead retained the arrows and promised him that he would hand over the special arrows back to him during the start of the war the next day. He doubted if Bhishma played a trick on him and hence wanted to retain the arrows.

Meanwhile, Lord Krishna received the news of the incident through his spies. He quickly called Arjuna and instructed to seek a boon from Duryodhana which was due. The flashback about this boon goes like this.

Arjuna once rescued Duryodhana from the hands of Gandharva soldiers who had captured Duryodhana. Duryodhana was defeated and captured. Arjuna fought with the Gandharvas and rescued Duryodhana. Duryodhana told Arjuna that Arjuna can ask for anything in return for his help. Arjuna did not ask anything. 

Lord Krishna instructed Arjuna to utilize the opportunity and remind Duryodhana about the boon due to him.  Arjuna met Duryodahna and asked for the five arrows given by Bhishma in return for the boon promised to him earlier. Duryodhana was a true warrior and never broke a promise. He reluctantly gave away the arrows to Arjuna.

As Arjuna left, Duryodhana rushed to Bhishma and requested him to make another set of divine arrows to kill the pandavas. But, Bhishma said that he had put years of penance and his life force in those arrows and it is impossible for him to make it again. Special performance cannot be repeated again and again. However, he promised Duryodhana that he would fight with his full heart and soul.

Bhishma, of course could not produce the magic the next day. How would he when his leader is continuously distrusting his loyalty and performance.

It is criminal to distrust a faithful and that too a high performer. Bhishma was affectionate to the pandavas but everyone including Duryodhana knew that he was committed to the kingdom.  It is improper for a leader to suspect a faithful performer.

It is not that Duryodhana is obsessed with distrusting everyone and all the time. Interesting observation is that the same Duryodhana went to the extreme to trust his friend Karna. If he can trust Karna even when he saw Karna pulling his wife Bhanumati’s hands (innocuously of course), why could he not trust Bhisma, Drona and Vidura? Only because of his ego and bias. Because of the bias that they are sympathetic to pandavas’s cause. Trust should not be based on bias. Trust should be based on Credibility, Consistency and Commitment and not feelings.

Build TRUST at the workplace. It takes time and patience but helps.


Disclaimer: The views/opinions expressed in this article belong to the author. is neither responsible nor liable for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in the article.



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