The name ‘Nara’ is applied to Arjuna and ‘Narayana’ to Krishna in the Mahabharata. Arjuna is soul; while Krishna is the Supreme Soul – who is present in all forms. Krishna is in Arjuna but Arjuna is not able to realize it and all human problems are the result of this. This concept is an important symbol in Hinduism and it is pregnant with meaning. Here are few thoughts on the Symbolism.
When we realize that Bhagavan Sri Krishna is present in each individual being there is complete harmony. There is no discrimination, no apartheid, no racism… Negativity is dropped. Desires are dropped. There is complete peace in Nature.
When Nara is under the control of the senses, his mind is filled with ignorance. He does not see the single thread running through all forms.
To attain moksha, or liberation, ‘nara’ has to merge in ‘narayana’ and realize that only Narayana exists. Nara has to merge completely in Narayana, lose his false identity, and accept the only True identity. Accept the truth that there is no second here.
Like a normal human being, Arjuna goes through various emotions. Desires, anger, frustration, ego all tosses him like driftwood in the sea. He is angry at evil but confused when the evil is being defended by his relatives. He knows he is to follow Dharma but thinks of running away when he has to fight his relatives to defend the Dharma. Thus he is nara, the driftwood floating in the ocean of ignorance.
All driftwood has to reach land. Similarly, all Nara has to reach Narayana.