One day when it was very hot, Arjuna went to Krishna and proposed that they should go on the riverbank to bathe and to relax and enjoy. Krishna readily agreed and Arjuna and Krishna with their wives, Subhadra, Rukhmini and Satyabhama went to the bank of Yamuna. Krishna was very fond of river Yamuna. All the sweet memories of his childhood were linked with Yamuna. They made a lot of fun and bathed in the river Yamnuna to their hearts content. It was high noon and the sun got very hot. Draupadi, Rukmini, Satyabhama, Subhadra went in to a tent to relax.
Krishna and Arjuna were sitting on the bank of Yamuna. A strange looking person approached them. He was of the color of the molten gold. Face was gaunt and drawn. Looking very ill and wearing sacred threads born by brahmin. Arjuna asked what could they do for him. Brahmin said he was very hungry. Arjuna offered his best available food. But the brahmin said his hunger was not to be satisfied with ordinary food. He was suffering from dreadful disease and only if he could consume certain herbs and grasses of great medicinal properties, only then his hunger could be satisfied. After obtaining promises from Krishna and Arjuna that they would help him get those herbs etc. he disclosed his identity.
He said he was Agni, the lord of fire. Arjuna became very curious, he saluted the lord and asked with folded hands how could the fire lord could not get those herbs and why he had to approach them. Lord of fire, said, ‘I have been suffering from some dreadful diseases. Only if certain herbs and grasses, which grow only in the forest called Khandavana. On the opposite bank of the river Yamuna he could consume, his disease would be cured. Arjuna was still wondering why the lord of fire could not get those herbs from Khadavavana, Agni told that Khandavana was the abode to Yakshak, the king of Snakes.
Yakshak was a friend of Indra. Whenever, Agni tried to consume the herbs by burning them Indra poured torrential rains and the fire would not survive. Only, Arjuna and Krishna were powerful enough to check lord Indra, the king of gods. Arjuna agreed to the Brahmins request though Indra was Arjuna’s father. Agni gave him divine bow called Gandhirva and two quivers full of arrows, and a divine chariot was also given to Arjuna which had the great monkey god “Hanumana” on it's flag. To Krishna he brought a chakra called Sudarshan which had belonged to Krishna in ancient ages. One mace named Kaurnodaki was also given to Krishna.
BURNING OF KHANDAVA FOREST
After obtaining the permission of Krishna and Arjuna, the fire started burning Khandava forest with furious rage. The sound of the burning reached the high heavens. Indra got very angry, He sent his most powerful clouds to go down with very heavy torrential downpour on the forest. However, Arjuna made such a cover of arrows not a drop could reach the forest and the fire burnt with renewed rage. Indra’s friend Yakshak was not there in the forest but his son and wife were caught in the fire.
Yakshak’s wife went in to the sky and a dense cloud blinded Arjuna. Furious he cut down Yakshak’s wife. But taking advantage Yakshak’s son escaped to heaven. All the forces of deluge could not save Khandava forest from burning down to the ashes. All the efforts of Indra failed. He even attacked Arjuna but without avail. Eventually Indra gave up and came before Arjuna and Krishna. Arjuna touched the feet of his father. Indra was very pleased with Arjuna and promised that he would give him all the divine astras(weapons) at opportune time. First he shall have to obtain Pashupat Astra from the Lord of Lords Shiva. Krishna kept smiling.
There was an asura named Maya who was trying to escape from the forest. Krishna saw him. He came to Arjuna and begged for his life. Seeing Arjuna’s wish Krishna spared his life. Maya was the architect of the rakshasas. He was very grateful for his life and wanted to do some service to Arjuna. Arjuna asked him to go to Indraprastha and to make a grand palace for Yudhisthira. Maya agreed to do that. He sought Arjuna’s permission to go to Kailash to bring some stones and gifts for them.