Lord Krishna and Arjuna were once walking along the banks of the Yamuna. The river awakened in Krishna’s mind the happy memories of his playful childhood. Arjuna, however, was thinking of the battle of Kurukshetra which was to start a few days later. The thought of the Kauravas made him conscious of his own bravery and skill as a bowman on the battlefield. “There is none on this earth who can equal me in bowmanship,” Arjuna was saying to himself. Seeing the Yamuna flowing by, he felt that he could even build a bridge of arrows across the broad river.

Then a strange thought came to his mind. “So, I can do what even Sri Rama could not do while going to Lanka to fight Ravana,” thought Arjuna.

Krishna sensed the rise of pride and ego in Arjuna’s heart. So, he said, “Arjuna, you seem to be laughing within yourself. I hope, you are not thinking of some mistake committed by me?” Arjuna faltered a little and then said, “True, I was laughing to myself. But that was because I remembered Rama on his way to Lanka, engaging monkeys to build a bridge of stones for him. If I were there, I would have raised a bridge of arrows for him in the twinkling of an eye.”

Krishna decided to pull down Arjuna’s ego. So he started explaining to Arjuna that Rama did not raise a bridge of arrows because the weight of the mighty army of monkeys would have crushed the bridge in no time. But Arjuna’s ego did not yield. “It means that Rama could not build a bridge of arrows strong enough to bear the monkeys’ weight,” he said in a serious tone.

Krishna thought for a moment and then said happily, “One of the mighty monkeys of Rama’s army is still alive. You may build a bridge of arrows across the Yamuna. I will call the monkey to test the strength of your arrow-bridge.”

Arjuna proudly accepted Krishna’s challenge. In a short time, Arjuna’s bridge of arrows joined together the two banks of the river.

“Hanuman, come quickly,” Krishna called out. Immediately, a tall monkey appeared before Krishna and bowed low at his feet. Krishna asked the monkey to walk over the bridge. Arjuna laughed as thought to ridicule Krishna for his fear that his bridge may break down under a monkey’s weight.

The monkey, after some hesitation, placed its right foot on the bridge. But before it raised the other foot, the whole bridge came down with a crash. It was now Krishna’s turn to laugh at Arjuna. Arjuna felt so much ashamed that he threw away his bow and arrows and fell at Krishna’s feet.

Krishna consoled Arjuna and gave him sound advice. “Do not be down-hearted Arjuna,” he said, “even Rama could not put up a bridge of arrows strong enough for these monkeys. Why should you, then, feel humiliated if you cannot? But then bear in mind this lesson. Never allow pride and ego to enter your heart. They are the worst enemies of a hero and they are sure to bring about his downfall.”

Arjuna readily accepted Krishna’s advice. That is how Arjuna had the emblem of Hanuman on his flag, called “Kapi-Dhwaja,” flying on his chariot on the battlefield of Kurukshetra.


  1. Why are pride and ego harmful? What harm do they do?
  2. What change did Krishna bring about in Arjuna?
  3. Suppose the student standing first in your class develops pride and ego. What will then happen to him?
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