By Jayaram V
Arjuna was one of the five Pandava brothers of the Mahabharata epic.
He was born
to Kunti and and king Pandu with the energy of Indra, the
leader of the gods. At a very young age he got acclaim for his sincerity
and skill in archery. He was known for his steadfastness and single mindedness
in pursuing his goals. He was instrumental in winning Draupadi in a
contest for himself and his brothers as their joint wife. He also
married Subhadra the sister of Krishna and Balarama and kept his
friendship with them for ever. Lord Krishna became his mentor and guide
for the rest of his life.
He was known by different namesm or rather titles, such as Phaalgun,
Keerti, Paartha, Savyashachee, Dhanajaya and so on. During his sojourns
to far away places in the subcontinent, he married Chitrangada, daughter
of the king of Manipur and Ulupi, a naga princess. Two brave warrior
sons were born to him. They were Abhimnyu through Subhadra and
Bhabhruvahana through Chitrangada. Both his sons played an important
role during the Mahabharata war.
He had a powerful bow by the name Gandiva, which helped him enormously
in slaying his enemies. He got it from Varuna, the Vedic god of rain
through Agni the god of fire. He also received a divine golden chariot
from the latter as a gift which helped him to fight battles with Indra, his
godfather and later with the Kauravas his cousins.
During the exile, when all the Pandava brothers had to leave behind
their kingdom and wander in the forests for twelve years as a part of
their agreement with the Kauravas, Arjuna had a strange encounter with
Lord Siva from whom he got Pasupatha. During the same period he met with
Indra and other gods in the heavens from whom he received training and
also helped them in return by slaying some asuras. While he was in the
heavens he displeased Urvashi, the heavenly nymph, by turning away her
advances. She cursed him out of anger to turn into a eunuch for a year
in his life as chosen by him.
Apart from archery, he also excelled in the arts of dancing, singing
and acting which enormously helped the Pandavas when they had to stay in
the court of Virat in total disguise as a part of their agreement with
the Kauravas in the thirteenth year of their exile. Arjuna took
advantage of the curse he got from Urvashi and turned himself into
Brihannala, a eunuch and acted as dance master for the royal
household, especially Uttara, the daughter of Virat. At the end of the
one year stay, he helped king Virat by fighting a battle with Kauravas
who invaded his kingdom. After realizing that the five people who
working in his court were indeed Pandavas in disguise, king Virat
offered to marry his daughter to Abhimanyu the son of Arjuna in return
for the services rendered by the brothers, a marriage that proved crucial in the post
mahabharata period as the son borne out of the wedlock was the only
surviving member of the Pandava clan.
By virtue of his inner purity and his loyalty to Lord Krishna, Arjuna
had the fortune of receiving the divine knowledge of the Bhagavad-Gita.
In the Mahabharata war he played a very crucial role by slaying such
warriors as Bhishma, Karna, Dronacharya and Jayadhrata. The character of
Arjuna symbolizes purity, integrity, loyalty and valor. He had many
temptations and dilemmas in his life but always chose to remain on the
side of God and with his brothers in their trials and
He could have been a great king in his own right, but he remained
loyal to his elder brother Dharmaraj who ascended the throne of
Hastinapur by virtue of being the eldest in the family. After the battle
of Mahabharata, he assisted his brother greatly in expanding their
empire by annexing several outlying kingdoms and defeating warring
tribes. Strangely after the passing away of Lord Krishna, he forgot most
of his skills as an archer and spent the rest of his life in humility
and devotion. Arjuna serves as an example of a great human being, a dutiful
householder, a loyal brother, a great warrior, a devout husband and a
sincere devotee of God.
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