Among the five pandavas, why was Arjuna chosen to receive this divine knowledge.
According to Sri Srinidhi Parthasarathy, a renowned scholar here are some reasons for Lord’s chosing of Arjuna as his favorite disciple:
1. Acharya Bhakti
Arjuna had an unparallelled Guru bhakti. This was revealed to Dronacharya even as a young boy. Dronacharya, on being insulted by Drupada who did not keep up his words of giving half the kingdom moved to Hastinapura to teach the young Kauravas and Pandavas.
Even before he started to teach, he put forth his intention of undertaking a political mission (revenge on Drupada to get half kingdom) and sought support of his would be students. All stood mum but for Arjuna who immediately accepted to help him. This brought great joy to Dronacharya.
Not stopping only with words, he excelled in all the lessons taught to him and also would stretch to the maximum while learning. He would go out of the way during his rigorous practice sessions working night and day thus mastering the art of archery. He could shoot arrows with both hands and also could aim in darkness which was unprecedented.
Dronacharya, impressed by the dedication on Arjuna’s part, promised to make him the most celebrated archer. He stood by it as seen in him not teaching some of the tricks his own son Ashwatthaama.
When for the first time Arjuna and Drona met in battle during Pandavas’ ajnaatavaasa (exile in hiding), Arjuna had donned BruhannaLa’s (eunuch’s) guise. Seeing the skill in archery, Dronacharya recognized him.(Before starting to fight he(arjuna) shot 2 arrows at the feet of Drona to salute him and 1 arrow each past his ears to bow in the form of abhivaadaye). Even in the Mahabharata war his sorrow was with respect to killing the teacher he respected the most.
2. Indriya Nigraha (Control of his Senses).
The one example which stands out to show his control of the senses is the episode when Urvashi curses Arjuna in heaven. After discussion with his brothers, Arjuna set out to earn weapons which would help them during war.
To start with, Arjuna performed severe penance and won the grace of Lord Shiva whom he faced in a battle and as a result of his exemplary valour was blessed with Pashupatastra a celestial arrow which had the power graced by shiva. This episode speaks volumes of Arjuna’s concentration, devotion and valour.
When Shiva acted thus, other gods too followed suit and blessed Arjuna with many divine weapons to aid him during the war with the Kauravas. Indra took Arjuna to his abode and blessed him with many weapons. There Arjuna won over the hearts of all the celestials during his stay of 5 years.
Not stopping with earning weapons for his armory, he befriends a gandharva called Chitrasena and masters dance, music and other instruments. Arjuna learns all the 64 art forms (kalas), required for becoming an emperor. Thus he becomes the foremost among the Pandavas. Only might and valour are not sufficient for an emperor. He needs to be a connoisseur, artist, sage, always filled with sattva guna which Arjuna possessed in abundance. Only because of these his kingdom prospered. His respect to Yudhishthira never made him yearn for the crown. All these won the maximum affection from Krishna. Yudhishthira was only complete along with Arjuna. This love between brothers was seen even in heaven, where Arjuna always thought of his brothers and felt incomplete without them.
Once during his 5 year stay in heaven, he caught the sight of Urvashi (named so because she was born out of the thigh of Sriman Narayana when he took the Nar-Narayana avatara. She was the most beautiful among the apsaras in devloka) and stared at her. This was not out of lust but out of respect as she was a motherly figure to their clan being the wife of Pururavas. She was a sooktadrishta of the Vedas and was fit to be respected. He looked upon her with this reverence. This was misread as Lust by Chitrasena, Indra and Urvashi herself. Urvashi offered herself physically to Arjuna who fell at her feet with a motherly reverence at once. He exclaimed that she was on par with Kunti for him. This upset Urvashi who cursed him to be an eunuch. The intervention of Indra reduced the period of the curse to one year which also served as a boon during the ajnaatavaasa of the Pandavas in the court of Virata where he donned the guise of a dancer to teach Uttaraa.
At the end of the exile when there was a proposal by Virata raja to marry Uttara, he declined saying that a Guru occupies a father’s position in a student’s life and made her his Daughter in Law as she married Abhimanyu.
3. Clean Character
After the marriage with Draupadi, Arjuna went for a digvijaya yatra in the name of holy expedition. There Uloopi and Chitrangada came on their own to marry Arjuna. He never lost his character by lust. Such marriages help a kshatriya as they can muster support from these families during war. This was the same during Subadhra’s marriage too.
These qualities viz. a sterling character, control of senses, exempalary valour, humble, Love for his brothers, love for mankind, no desire for throne and riches justified his name Arjuna which would mean White, clear and bright.
These characteristics in him made him dear to the Lord who stated “Ishtosi mae, priyosi mae ech” meaning you are the most dear to me. He showed his Vishwaroopa to Arjuna justifying the Kathopanishad vakya “Tasyaisha aatmaa vivrunute tanoom swam.” Also by this Lord Krishna kept up his word given to Indra during lifting of the Govardhana mountain where he had promised to protect Arjuna throughout.
Sanjaya rightly concludes in the eighteen chapter of Bhagavad Gita:
“Yatra Yogeshvarah Krishno, Yatra Partho Dhanur-dharah | Tatra srir vijayo bhutir, dhruva nitir matir mama |”
“Wherever there is Krishna, the master of all mystics, and wherever there is Arjuna, the supreme archer, there will also certainly be opulence, victory, extraordinary power, and morality.”