As soon as Lord Krishna concluded his divine play on Earth and left the planet, Arjuna understood that it was not Arjuna’s own power that had won the Mahabharata war but that he was only an instrument that Krishna had nurtured to carry out parts of Krishna’s divine play. It is interesting to note that Arjuna, in spite of his nearness to Krishna, took an entire lifetime to understand this, reflecting the situation of a typical spiritual seeker.
Earlier, Arjuna had seen his own chariot turn into ashes after the Mahabharata war was over and had already heard the Bhagavad Gita directly from Krishna’s mouth. Yet, being a human being, Arjuna could not understand some of the important points. Sometimes, difficult lessons in living may be understood by revising the related theoretical concepts again and again; when this approach does not work, we may have to learn lessons by experiencing difficulties and creating our own possible solutions. Now that Arjuna’s time to leave Earth was nearing, Nature delivered the final lesson: Arjuna lost a battle to ordinary thieves who were fighting with wooden clubs and running away with Dwarka’s wealth. To make it worse, Arjuna even forgot how to discharge his arrows from the bow. For a warrior who possessed most of the divine weapons reachable in the solar system, this defeat was a major blow to the ego — the biggest loss that Arjuna had ever experienced. Possibly, this event was much bigger for Arjuna than the destruction of the major Kaurava warriors in the Mahabharata war.
As the Vishnu Purana tells us, when Arjuna visited Maharishi Ved Vyas after losing this last battle and asked why this had happened, Vyas said, “Everyone that is born must die. Everyone that rises must fall. A union always ends in a separation, and all accumulation ends with a loss.” Vyas further advised the Pandavas to renounce everything, leave the kingdom, and spend their remaining days in the forest.