Arjuna – Hindu Warriors


Arjuna was the 3rd of the Pandava brothers. He is considered the protagonist of the Mahabharata with Krishna and plays a key role in the Bhagavad Gita. He was married to Draupadi, Subhadra (Krishna’s sister), Ulupi, and Chitrangada at different occasions. His children included Srutakarma, Iravan, Babruvahana, and Abhimanyu.

1.Birth and youth
Arjuna was born into the royal family of Hastinapura. He was acknowledged as a son of Pandu by his first wife Kunti,
though he was fathered by the grace of the god Indra, rather than by Pandu who was cursed that he would die if he tried to father children. Arjuna was the third son, after Yudhishthira and Bhima. Younger to him were the twin sons born of Pandu’s second wife Madri, Nakula and Sahadeva.

After the death of Pandu (and Madri’s subsequent sati), the Pandavas and their mother lived in Hastinapura, where they were brought up together with their cousins, the Kaurava brothers. Along with his brothers, Arjuna was trained in religion, science, administration and military arts by Bhishma.

One day, when the princes were playing a game, they lost their ball in a well. When the rest of the children gave up the ball as being lost, Arjuna stayed behind trying to get it. A stranger came by and extracted the ball for him by making a chain of “sarkanda” (a wild grass). When an astonished Arjuna related the story to Bhishma, Bhishma realised that the stranger was none other than Drona. Bhishma asked Drona to become the Kuru princes’ teacher. Seeking refuge from Panchala, Drona agreed.

2.Marriage to Draupadi
Still in hiding, the Pandavas disguise themselves as brahmins and attend the Swayamvara of Panchala princess Draupadi. Out of all of the great kings and other Kaurava princes, only Karna and Arjuna are able to do the established challenge. The test is to lift, string, and fire Pinakin to pierce the eye of a golden fish whilst only looking at its reflection; Drupada had designed this test with Arjuna in mind. At first Karna is able to lift and string the bow, but when he is aiming to fire the shot, Draupadi rejects Karna for his low-birth. Afterwards, the disguised Arjuna accomplished the stringing and shooting of the bow.

In some versions of the story, Arjuna is the only prince to have interacted with Draupadi before. When
attacking/kidnapping Drupada, Draupadi, trained in martial arts due to Panchal’s attitudes towards gender neutrality, fights with Arjuna, but Arjuna after some while stops and evades Draupadi, saying that he cannot fight a woman.

In some versions of the Swayamvara, Arjuna is forbidden by Kunti to attend the Swayamvara. Kunti’s reasoning is that only Yudhishthira and Duryodhana would be acceptable candidates for Draupadi’s hand; anyone else, not set to inherit the throne, would be an insult to Panchal. She allows Bhima to attend because he is Yudhishthira’s heir and could win Draupadi for his brother without controversy. When Arjuna disobeys her anyways, as he is firing the arrow, he swears to God that if wins Draupadi’s hand, he would never disobey his mother’s commands.

When the brothers returned with Draupadi, Arjuna joked to his mother that they had brought alms. Dismissively, and without looking because she was preoccupied, Kunti asks him to share it with his brothers. Holding his mother’s orders as a divine command, he requested his elder brother to accept Draupadi. Draupadi had to marry all five of the Pandavas. Her five sons, one from each of the Pandava brothers, are known as the Upapandavas.Srutakarma is the son of Arjuna.The brothers follow Vyasa’s advice on a sharing arrangement with regard to Draupadi: each brother would have exclusive rights over her for a year, after which the mantle will shift to the next brother. Moreover, any brother intruding on the privacy of the couple would have to go on a twelve-year Tirtha-yatra.

At this point in the Mahabharatha, the Pandavas revealed that they were alive. With both Duryodhana and Yudhishthira being crown princes, tensions are high. Under Bhishma’s advice, the kingdom is split, with the Kauravas getting Hastinapur and the Pandavas getting Khandavaprastha. Khandavaprastha, however, was an extremely underdeveloped land and had infertile soil, requiring extensive tilling, so the Pandavas set to work rebuilding the land. Their cousins Krishna and Balarama gave them aid.

3.Meeting Uloopi
Arjuna started his pilgrimage by visiting the source of the river Ganga. It was here that he met the Naga princess,
Uloopi. She was mesmerised by Arjun and forcefully took him to Naga Lok (the land of the snake-people) and gave him a choice: if he married her, she would let him go; otherwise, she would not. He married her, and they had a son called Iravan.

4.Arjuna and Subhadra
Arjuna moved to other Tirthas, including the southern regions in Kerala. Finally he reached Dwarka, the place where his cousin Krishna resided. Arjuna had, in his childhood, heard about Krishna’s sister, Subhadra. Krishna, wishing to further tie their families, knew of Arjuna’s visit and devised a plan to arrange their meet. Accordingly, Arjuna disguised himself as a “yati” and stayed at Krishna’s palace. Arjuna fell in love with Subhadra and desired to marry her . Because Balarama had already promised Subhadra to his favorite disciple, Duryodhana, Krishna advised Arjuna to kidnap Subhadra. Balarama became furious upon learning of the abduction but is pacified by Krishna, after he showed that the wedding rein was in Sudhadra’s hand, which showed her consent. The couple stayed in Dwaraka for a year, and then another year in Pushkar. However, Draupadi had made it clear that no other Pandava wife would be allowed to stay in her city, so Arjun, as per Krishna’s advice, tricked Draupadi into meeting Subhadra as a milkmaid. Draupadi realised she had been tricked, but she forgave Subhadra and let her stay in Indra-prastha, allowing her to give company to Arjuna in the four years when he was not with Draupadi. In due course,Arjuna and Subhadra gave birth to a son, Abhimanyu

5.Urvashi’s curse
Indra noted the passionate glances exchanged between Arjuna and Urvashi during his stay. However, Arjuna refused her advances, alleging that he had heard of her relationship with his ancestor Pururava, and hence she had the status of a mother, equal in respect to Kunti.[22] Urvashi, annoyed at this, cursed him that he would become a eunuch who would have to live among women, singing and dancing. On Indra’s request, and regretting her anger, Urvashi reduced her curse to a period of one year of Arjuna’s choice. In some versions of the story, Urvashi curses Arjuna with womanhood, but always reduces the curse to a year’s length.

6.Battles fought at Kurukshetra
Arjuna was a key Pandava warrior and played a huge role in the Kurukshetra war. His flag bore the symbol of Hanuman.

Some of the crucial battles fought by Arjuna are as follows:

a)Fall of Bhishma: Throughout the first nine-days of battle, Arjuna was unable to defeat Bhishma.This was partially due to his own reluctance to fight his grandsire, as well as Bhishma’s terrific skill. As Krishna became frustrated with Arjuna, he took up arms against Bhishma himself, at least twice. Not wanting history to blame Arjuna for forcing Krishna to break his vow of non-aggression, Arjuna managed to talk Krishna down and fought with renewed vigor. On the tenth day of the war, after asking Bhishma himself how to best defeat him, Arjuna took Shikhandi in his chariot. As Bhishma would not raise weapons against a woman, Arjuna was able to attack Bhishma unimpeded. Tears flowing from his eyes, Arjuna pierced Bhishma’s entire body with arrows, eventually forcing Bhishma to fall down with Arjuna’s arrows acting as a bed,thus breaking the rule of battle .As per Bhishma’s request, he provided a pillow of arrows for his head, as well as water by piercing the earth and allowing Ganga to nourish her son. Bhishma praises Arjuna for this and asks Duryodhana to make peace with the Pandavas.
b)Death of Bhagadatta: On the Twelfth day Arjuna was busy fighting Bhagadatta the king of Pragjyotisha who came with a thousand elephants and attacked him. During the battle Bhagadatta shot an irresistible arrow Vaishnavastra which could kill Arjun but he was saved by Krishna’s timely intervention Which fell on Krishna and formed a garland. Bhagadatta was later decapitated by Arjuna’s arrow.
c)Killing of the Trigartas: Attempting to distract him so that Dronacharya could capture Yudhishthira, Susharma and the Trigartas challenged Arjuna to a fight to the death. On the twelfth and thirteenth days of battle, Arjuna killed them to a man. And on the eighteenth day, Arjuna killed Susharma with an arrow which ended the Trigarta saga.
d)Death of Jayadratha: Arjuna held Jayadratha responsible for Abhimanyu’s death on the thirteenth day of the war. He vowed to kill him the very next day before sunset, failing which he would kill himself by jumping in a pyre. The Kauravas hid Jayadratha from Arjuna in a formation, knowing that Arjuna’s death would result in a Kaurava victory. However, Krishna created an artificial eclipse by using his Sudarshana Chakra to hide the sun, forcing Kauravas to believe the day was over and Arjuna’s death was imminent. Wishing to mock Arjuna, Jayadratha went to the head of the army in joy, even as the sun emerged from the eclipse. Arjuna makes his arrows to carry away Jayadratha’s head. This was because Jayadratha had a boon from his father that whoever would be responsible for his head falling to the ground would have his own head blown up.

That is why Arjuna carried the severed head of Jayadratha to his father, who was awoken from his meditation by the sudden landing of a severed head on his body and since he ended up dropping it to the ground, he had his head blown up.

7.Death of Karna: Karna and Arjuna were sworn enemies in the epic, each having taken an oath to kill the other in the battle. Anticipating a likely battle to the death between Karna and Arjuna, Krishna warned Arjuna calling Karna to be the foremost of the heroes and in some versions he also referred Karna as greater archer than Arjuna. Lord Krishna reminded Arjuna about the life, prowess, and past heroic actions of Karna.

After Shri Krishna left his mortal body, Arjuna took the citizens of Dwaraka including 16,000 women that had formed Krishna’s harem to Indraprastha. On the way, they were attacked by a group of bandits. Arjuna fought with them but he already lost his divine energy and even lost the power to wield the celestial bow Gandiva. Arjuna forgot all his celestial weapons and soon his inexhaustible quiver become empty due to the disappearance of divine energy owing to the death of Krishna. Arjuna was defeated by mere robbers and in his very sight the ladies of the Vrishnis, Andhakas and the 16000 wives of Krishna were taken away.

Upon the onset of the Kali yuga and as per the advice of Vyasa, Arjuna and other Pandavas retired, leaving the throne to their only descendant to survive the war of Kurukshetra, Arjuna’s grandson Parikshit. Giving up all their belongings and ties, the Pandavas, accompanied by a dog, made their final journey of pilgrimage to the Himalayas. It is also to be noted that the listener of the Mahabharata is Janamejaya, Parkishit’s son.

Except for Yudhishthira, all of the Pandavas grew weak and died before reaching heaven (only Yudhishthira is allowed to keep his mortal body). Arjuna was the fourth one to fall after Draupadi, Sahadeva and Nakula. When Bhima asks Yudhishthira why Arjuna isn’t permitted the same, the reason given is Arjuna’s extreme pride in his skills as an archer. Draupadi also falls because while she claimed to love all the Pandavas equally, she had a soft spot for Arjuna.

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