The Krishna who found the Pandavas after Draupadi’s svayambhara is the same Krishna who is the object of the Hare Krishnas’ worship. In India, there is a whole canon of myth and legend surrounding Krishna, all of it later in origin than the Mahabharata, that emphasizes his godhead, as an avatar of the great god Vishnu, the Preserver. But in the Mahabharata, Krishna’s humanity is to the fore. His divinity is visible - he receives more honor and deference than his position, as the younger son of a distant king, would seem to warrant. And he performs several quick miracles, of the "Did-I-just-see-what-I-thought-I-just-saw?" sort. And there is a persistent sense of mystery that dwells in Krishna’s presence in the story. And the Pandavas acknowledge his godhood on several occasions, but it’s treated almost casually.

Mostly Krishna is in the Mahabharata as a trusted counselor, an honored friend of the Pandava’s family, and Arjuna’s best friend. Arjuna and Krishna spend long stretches of the story away from the main action, off having adventures somewhere else that sometimes we learn about and sometimes we don’t. It’s easy to believe that they are playing parts in other stories than ours. In our story, however, Krishna is a friend and counselor, and shortly after he enters the story, at the end of the first long book of the Mahabharata, he helps the Pandavas effect a reconciliation with their rivals.

the assembly hall...

King Dhritarashtra, in fact, agreed to split the kingdom in half. He would remain as King in Hastinapura, with Duryodhana as his crown prince. The Pandavas would take over the undeveloped eastern part of the country.

The Pandavas established a capital city, which they called Indraprasta, and their fortunes flourished, while those of the Kurus remained stagnant. After twelve years of growing prosperity and steady expansion of his influence, King Yudhishtira was ready to conduct the most powerful Vedic ritual, the Royal Sacrifice, which would make him lawful king of all the known world.

The sacrifice required thousands of brahmin priests and took years to perform. Yudishtira’s brothers had to secure allegiance to his reign from every king in all four corners of the world. And when it was all over, and Yudhishtira had won the right to be called Great King, maharaja, he invited all of the kings in his dominion to celebrate with him in the magnificent assembly hall that he had built just for this event.

Duryodhana came, and he was green with jealousy. What is more, he made a fool of himself in front of the assembled kings, and the Pandavas laughed at him. He returned to Hastinapura in a black funk; striding into the Kuru’s assembly hall, Duryodhana, with an angry swirl of his cape, sat on the floor.

"I am finished with life. The Pandavas have everything, and I have nothing. I will take no food, no drink. I will stay here until my hatred has become my funeral pyre and consumed me totally."

"Duryodhana," said his brother Duhsasana. "You must not."

Duryodhana said, "Yudishtira has the world, and Arjuna got it for him."

"We can defeat the Pandavas," said Duhsasana.

"All the kings of the world have tried, and all have failed. Yudhishtira does not stir from the Law, and nothing can defeat him."

"I know how to defeat Yudhishtira."

The speaker was Sakuni...