Nara and Naaraayana were doing penance. Narayana is God Himself. Nara is a part
of the divine nature. His was the highest stage among men. Hence was lie called Nara.
These two Nara and Naaraayana are spoken of as having incarnated as Arjuna and Krishna.
Nara and Naaraayana were doing penance
Indra is the lord of the world of gods. Being Indra is the most exalted status. The
Puraanas say that whomever do a large number of sacrifices will get that status at the end
and the reigning Indra will lose it. Hence, the reigning Indra used to place obstacles
before all that do such tapas. But if, undaunted by them, one continues one's penance, one
will succeed to that state. That is the Puraanic idea.
The same thing happens even in our modern world. If a man disciplines himself,
lives an austere. life and makes sacrifice for a cause acclaimed to be good, he gains
exaltation above others and is accepted as leader. He holds this position till another
makes a greater sacrifice and attains the leadership. The Puraanic desire for lordship was
of the same kind. But it did not stop with this world. It extended to celestial regions
also, to devaloka.
Author - Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati