This is one of the stories from the epic Mahabharata which showcases Krishna’s intelligence and playful mischievousness. It relates a situation when both Duryodhan and Arjuna approach Krishna to become their ally for the battle of Kurukshetra. Duryodhan’s choice and attitude costs him dearly but he does not realize his folly at that point of time.
It was the situation when the Kurukshetra war was imminent and both the Pandavas and the Kauravas were busy campaigning for their respective selves in an attempt to gather every possible support from all sides. Every single person added to the strength of the army of each of the two parties and hence they wished to accumulate as many number of men as possible, in the form of formidable armies, from every kingdom.
Although Krishna was not a king, he had a well trained army of about 10,000 men who proved to be a great asset in various campaigns. So, one afternoon, when Krishna was pretending to sleep on his bed, Duryodhan, the eldest of the Kaurava brothers, came to his room with an intention to meet him. Finding Krishna asleep, he sat down to wait. Krishna’s feet were pointed towards Duryodhan, which the latter did not appreciate. He thought to himself that Krishna was just a cowherd while he himself was an emperor, so why should he be sitting near his feet? So, he got up slowly and went and sat near Krishna’s head. Just then, Arjuna, one of the Pandava brothers and a deep devotee of Krishna, arrived and sat where Duryodhan was sitting earlier, near Krishna’s feet. He considers it to be a blessing for him. After a while, Krishna gets up from his pretentious sleep and seeing Arjuna, addresses him. Duryodhan interrupts in between and makes his presence felt by clearing his throat. Krishna asks both of then the reason for having come there at the same time. Since both of them demanded the same thing from Krishna to help them in the war, he put two options in front of both of them. He said that one of them could have his army while the other one could have him on his side and since his vision fell on Arjuna first, he would get the first opportunity of choosing from the options available. Krishna even mentioned that he would not fight in the war or pick up any weapon; he would simply come with whosoever chose him to be on his side.
To this Duryodhan protested that he was the one who came there first and hence he should be given the first chance to choose. Krishna contradicted, saying that it was Arjuna whom he had seen first, hence he gets the advantage over Duryodhan. To this Arjuna replied that he wanted the Lord himself and that he did not care about his army one bit. He simply wanted Krishna to come with them and be on their side.
Duryodhan gave out a sigh of relief a she thought it to be stupid on the part of the Pandavas to choose one man against an army of 10,000 soldiers. However, seldom did he know that this choice of Arjuna alone made all the difference for what happened as the result of the war.