Arjun who was one of the greatest warriors of Mahabharata. We often address him as the best archer in the world. He was one of the 5 Pandavas. He was older than Nakula and Sahadeva but younger than Yudhishthira and Bhima. In the war of Mahabharata, he was the biggest warrior from the side of Pandavas and he contributed the most in the victory of Pandavas in Mahabharata war. In this war, he killed great warriors like Bhishma Pitamah and Angraj Karna, who were almost impossible to defeat. Apart from all this, he was also an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna. He has a special role in the Bhagavad Gita which is showing a new path to the people all over the world today. The knowledge that Lord Krishna has given through the Gita was first given to him only.
Arjuna won all the battles he fought during his lifetime. He also won Draupadi by a martial arts performance and then he married her. Apart from this, he also married Subhadra, the sister of Lord Krishna. From him he got a son like Abhimanyu who fought so fiercely with the army of Kauravas in the battlefield of Kurukshetra that the most powerful warriors of Kauravas had to come together to kill him. Arjuna is also called the son of Indra and he was the son of mother Kunti. Apart from this, Arjuna also had many nicknames by which he was known. People used to call him by some special names like Gandivdhari, Dhananjay, Partha, Kaunteya, Mahabahu etc.
Birth and early life of Arjuna
Arjuna was born in the forest of Hastinapur. Presently this area falls in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. His father’s name was Pandu and mother’s name was Kunti. However, an incident related to his birth is heard, which is associated with the birth of his five brothers along with his father Pandu and mother Kunti and Madra.
The events begin when Maharaja Pandu is made the king of Hastinapur. King Pandu had two wives, Kunti and Madra. Pandu often used to go to the forests for hunting. Once when he went to the forest area for hunting, he shot an arrow aiming at an antelope. That arrow hit a sage who was having sex with his wife. When King Pandu went there, he found that he had made a big mistake, and apologized to him for his mistake. The sage was very angry with his behaviour. The sage then cursed King Pandu that he would die whenever he went to cohabit with his queens.
And after that the sage gave up his life along with his wife. After this, Maharaj Pandu returned to the palace with a very sad heart and narrated the incident that had happened to him. After this, he decided that now he will leave the post of king and go to the forest for spiritual progress. He went to the forest with his two wives. Once when he was sitting in solitude with his wives, he remembered that he had promised to make Madri the mother of 5 sons and that it was impossible for them to become fathers after receiving the curse. Meanwhile, Kunti told that once she had served Durvasha Rishi and Durvasha Rishi had given Kunti a special mantra as a blessing. He said that whenever you use these mantras and whatever god you invoke, you will get a son like that god. After hearing this, Pandu told Kunti to use these mantras. In this incident, Pandu asked Kunti to invoke Devraj Indra. The son who was born on the call of Indra was named Arjuna.
When Pandu’s five sons are born, one day he dies during coitus with Madri. After which Kunti returns to Hastinapur Rajmahal with all the sons. Among the five Pandavas, Arjuna is the dearest great-grandson of Bhishma. Arjuna’s respect and loyalty towards elders makes him stand out.
Education of Arjun
When Arjuna grew up, he and all his brothers were sent to Guru Dronacharya’s ashram for education. Guru Dronacharya was one of the greatest gurus in that era. He gave education to everyone according to his interest. Arjuna had a special interest in archery, so he requested Guru Dronacharya to excel in archery. Seeing Arjuna’s special interest, he gave him special lessons in archery. With her dedication and hard work, she gained fame as a great warrior. Apart from this, he learned special martial arts from Guru Dronacharya like the use of divine weapons, penetrating different arrays of war etc.
Frist War of Arjuna against Dhrupad
When Arjuna and all his brothers had completed their education, Guru Dronacharya asked them to bring the king of Panchala, Dhrupad, captive as Gurudakshina. Kauravas first went to capture Dhrupad and were defeated by Dhrupad in battle. After this, Guru Dronacharya asked the Pandavas to bring Dhrupad as a prisoner. Then a fierce battle ensues between the Pandavas and Dhrupad. Arjun, with his fighting skills, makes Dhrupad a prisoner in that war and wins the first war of his life and reaches Guru Dronacharya. Guru Dornacharya gives special praise to Arjuna seeing Dhrupad as a captive.
Draupadi's marriage with Arjuna
When Arjuna returned to Hastinapura after his education with his brothers, the Rajya Sabha of Hastinapura elected Yudhishthira as his successor. Due to which Duryodhana was very angry. His maternal uncle Shakuni hatched a plan to kill the Pandavas. Under this plan, Pandavas were sent to Lakshagriha. This thing was already known to Vidura and so to save the Pandavas, he saved them by building a tunnel inside the Lakshagriha. After this, at the behest of Vidura, the Pandavas started living outside hiding their identity with their mother.
Meanwhile, Panchal King Dhrupad keeps a special condition for his daughter’s marriage. They organized an archery and the participant had to shoot an arrow through the eye of a moving goldfish and aim the arrow at the fish’s reflection in the water. Many kings, Maharajas who wanted to marry Draupadi came to participate in that competition. But none of the participants in that competition could pierce the eye of the fish. Meanwhile, the Pandavas disguised themselves as brahmins and participated in the competition.
When all the participants could not penetrate this target, then Arjuna came forward to penetrate this target. He won the competition by piercing this difficult target with his arrow. After this Arjun is married to Draupadi, the princess of Panchal. However, till then it was not known to anyone that the person Gandivadhari Arjun in the guise of a Brahmin. Even after marrying Draupadi, Arjun wandered in the forests with all his brothers for a long time. Then, after the right time came and at the behest of minister Vidur, he returned to Hastinapur. Meanwhile, when everyone thought that all the Pandavas had died in the fire of that Lakshagriha, then Duryodhana, the eldest son of the King of Hastinapur, was appointed as the new successor of Hastinapur.
Other Marriage of Arjuna
Apart from this, Arjun had 3 more marriages. After marrying Draupadi, he also married Nag Kanya Ulupi. According to one story, when Arjuna violated the rules while living with Yudhishthira and Draupadi, he had to wander in the forests for 12 years. During this, he met the snake girl Ulupi and he was fascinated by her beauty. He then married Ulupi and had a son with her. That son was named Aravan.
Arjuna was also married to Subhadra, the sister of Lord Krishna. Subhadra was the daughter of Rohini, the first wife of Lord Krishna’s father Vasudev. Lord Krishna had a special role in this marriage. When Pandavas and Kauravas started fighting for power, Duryodhana started learning mace fighting from his elder brother Balarama in order to establish a special relationship with Lord Krishna. Balram ji wished that Subhadra should be married to Duryodhana, but Lord Krishna rejected all the proposals in front of Arjuna’s qualities. After marriage to Subhadra, he had a son, who was named Abhimanyu. In the war of Mahabharata, Abhimanyu surprised everyone with his war skills in his young age. However, Abhimanyu dies in this battle when he gets trapped in the Chakravyuh created by Guru Dronacharya.
Arjuna was also married to Princess Chitrangada of Manipur. Chitrangada was the daughter of King Chitravahana of Manipur. When Arjuna fell in love with her, he proposed marriage to Chitrangada’s father. Which Maharaj Chitravahan accepted with a condition that his daughter and her children would remain in Manipur only. Arjun accepts this proposal and marries Chitrangada and has a son named Babruvahana. According to the condition, after marriage, Chitrangada and her son Babruvahan remained in Manipur only.
Destruction of Khandwa Forest
An incident is described in the Mahabharata in which a forest region is destroyed with the help of Arjuna and Lord Krishna. When Hastinapur is divided, then the area of Varnavrat comes in the part of Pandavas. Pandavas build that city with their hard work and make their capital at Indraprastha. Then one day when Lord Krishna and Arjuna were walking on the banks of a river, a sage asked them for a full meal. Then Arjuna and Lord Krishna promise him that they both will help him satisfy his hunger. Then that sage appears in his real form as Agnidev and asks him for Khandavvan as a food.
When Lord Krishna asks why he wants to do this, then Agnidev describes the incident of the past and says, he tried to burn it many times but in this forest region a snake named Takshak resides and Devraj Indra protects him. Let’s do Because of this they get failure in every endeavour. Then Lord Krishna and Arjuna destroy the powers of Devraj Indra with their powers and Agnidev burns Khandavvan. Due to this incident Takshak Namak Nag who resided in that forest region became very angry with Arjuna but it was impossible for him to fight with a strong person like Arjuna. That’s why in the war of Mahabharata, when Karna and Arjuna was fighting, at that time Takshaka thinking it as an opportunity came to bite Arjuna by sitting on one of Karna’s arrows, but Lord Krishna saved Arjuna’s life by his cleverness.
Arjun vows to kill Karna
According to the Mahabharata, Arjuna had taken a vow to kill Karna. The incident is of the time when Emperor Yudhishthira accepted the invitation for a gambling game after being tricked by Shakuni. When he went to Hastinapur to play a game of gambling, he lost everything due to Shakuni’s treachery. In that game, he lost his kingdom, his brothers and even his wife in gambling. When they lost everything in that gambling game, they all became slaves of Duryodhana. Then on the orders of Duryodhana, Dushasan dragged Draupadi by her hair and took her to the Rajya Sabha of Hastinapur. Duryodhana started humiliating Draupadi in the assembly. Angraj Karna was also with him at that time. He called Draupadi a prostitute in that Rajya Sabha. Seeing this kind of insult of Draupadi, Arjuna resolved to give death sentence to Karna for his rudeness in the same royal assembly.
Exile of the Pandavas
When Emperor Yudhishthira lost everything, he had to go to the forest to undergo 12 years of exile and 1 year of secret exile. While he was in exile, Arjuna visited the Himalayas to obtain the Divyastra. During that time he improved his fighting skills even more and he also won the war with the demons there. When Arjuna met his father Indra after the battle at Khandava, he offered him the divine weapon, but for that he would have to please Lord Shiva with his penance.
When the Pandavas were in exile, then one day Lord Krishna came to meet them at his hut. He advises them to go to do penance. Then Arjuna goes to the Indrakiladri mountain with his brothers for penance. One day when Arjuna was in his meditation, a wild boar comes to attack him, then Arjuna shot an arrow from his bow and arrow to kill it. But as soon as the arrow hit that boar, before that an arrow coming from another direction injured that wild boar. When Arjuna went near the boar, he found that a wild hunter was standing there. After that a war broke out between Arjuna and that wild hunter. Arjuna is unable to defeat that hunter even after fighting for a long time. Only then Arjuna realizes that he is Mahadev himself. Then Arjun leaves his weapon and surrenders to him. After this Mahadev appears to Arjuna in his real form and gives him infallible weapons like Pashupat.
When Arjuna received blessings from Mahadev, Devraj Indra took him to heaven to give him divine weapons. After going there, he received the divine weapon. When he was in heaven, an Apsara named Urvarshi was impressed by Arjuna’s talent and expressed her love for him. But Arjuna had the knowledge of his clan and knew that Urvarshi was formerly the wife of King Pururava of the Kuru dynasty. That’s why he called Urvarshi there as mother. Urvarshi started feeling very humiliated by this behavior of Arjun. He cursed Arjuna to be impotent, then later on the request of Devraj Indra, he reduced the duration of this curse to one year.
Secret exile of the Pandavas
When the 12 years of exile of Pandavas was completed, then they started living in disguise at the king of Matsya country to live 1 year of secret exile. Arjun started living in the guise of Brihanlala, the dance teacher of Uttara, the princess of Matsya country. During that time, when Duryodhana’s army reached Matsya country in search of him, he conveyed this message to Duryodhana. After this Duryodhana came with his army to attack Matsya country. Uttara’s brother Uttara went with Brihanlala to fight that war. This war is called Virat war. In that huge war, when Uttar saw the army of Kauravas in front, he started running away from the battle in fear.
Brihanlala then appeared in his true form as Arjuna and inspired Uttara to fight. Then Uttara reached the battlefield as Arjuna’s charioteer to fight that great war. In that great battle, Arjuna single-handedly defeated Duryodhana along with his entire army. He made everyone unconscious including Duryodhana, Dushashan, Dronacharya, Karna, Bhishma Pitamah. When all the Pandavas came to an end exile, they came in their real form and thanked Virat Naresh. Then Arjuna asked for the hand of his disciple Uttara from King Virata for his son Abhimanyu. After that Abhimanyu is married to Uttara. When the war of Mahabharata begins, Uttara is the first warrior to die in that war. Prince Uttara gets death in the battlefield at the hands of Shalya in that war.
Arjuna's role in the Mahabharata war
The war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas was confirmed when Lord Krishna, acting as a peacemaker, failed to bring about a treaty between the two sides. Both sides started mobilizing their own camp warriors. Bhishma Pitamah was appointed as the chief commander of the Kaurava army. From the Kaurava side, there were great warriors like Guru Dronacharya, Kripacharya, Angraj Karna, who were almost impossible to defeat in the war. Arjuna was the only warrior from Pandavas side who could face all this and make them victorious in this war
On Arjuna’s special request, Lord Krishna became Arjuna’s charioteer and took him to the battlefield of Kurukshetra. When Arjuna saw his beloved in that battlefield, he refused to fight. When he came down on stubbornness, then Lord Shri Krishna preached him. He removed the doubt in Arjuna’s mind. He gave Karma based knowledge and said that this war is your Karma Bhoomi and by running away from war you are insulting your Karma. Lord Krishna said that all the people whom you are afraid of killing have died many times. Every time only their body dies, the soul is immortal, no one can kill them. In the same battlefield, Lord Krishna showed his great form to Arjuna. After seeing this and getting knowledge from Lord Krishna, Arjuna’s doubts were dispelled.
Now Arjuna had once again put on his weapon and had no hesitation in fighting as per his duty. The conversation between Arjuna and Lord Krishna in this war of the Mahabharata was collected as the Bhagavad Gita.
Warriors killed by Arjuna
Arjuna was the best warrior from the Pandavas. Among the five Pandavas, Arjuna was the only warrior who could compete with warriors like Bhishma Pitamah and Karna.
- Bhishma Pitamah:- He was the oldest and most powerful warrior of Mahabharata, he had the boon of euthanasia by his father Maharaj Shantanu, so it was impossible to kill him in this war without his wish. Then when Lord Krishna sent Yudhishthira and Arjuna to grandfather Bhishma to return the boon given to them, then grandfather Bhishma revealed to them the secret of killing himself in battle. He told Yudhishthira and Arjuna that if a woman comes in front of me in the battlefield, I will give up my weapon. After this, in the next day’s war, Arjun went to fight with Shikhandini in his chariot. When Grandfather Bhishma saw Shikhandi in Arjuna’s chariot, he gave up his weapon, after which Arjuna made Shikhandi his shield and defeated him in battle and made him lie on the bed of arrows.
- Jayadratha Vadha – Jayadratha was a warrior fighting on behalf of the Kauravas. When Abhimanyu went to break the Chakravyuh made by Guru Dronacharya, many warriors including Bhima, Nakula, Sahdev went with him. But just as Abhimanyu enters the Chakravyuh, Jayadratha stops all the other warriors from entering the Chakravyuh by coming to the gate. Due to which Abhimanyu dies and when Arjuna comes to know about this, then he considers Jayadratha primarily responsible for this incident and takes an oath to kill him before sunset the next day. On this promise of Arjuna, the security of Jayadratha is greatly increased by the Kauravas, so that Arjuna cannot reach him. The next day, Arjuna fought for the whole day so that he could reach near Jayadratha and kill him. But Arjuna could not reach him even till evening, then on the insistence of Lord Krishna, the sun sets in the clouds and it appears to everyone that the sun has set. Only then Jayadratha gets down from his chariot and comes near Arjuna and tells him to take Agni Samadhi. At the same time, the sun emerges from the clouds and becomes fully illuminated, and when Arjun finds that the sun has not set yet, he kills Jayadrath with his arrow at that very moment.
- Karna Vadh – Karna was as strong a warrior as Arjuna and he was fighting on behalf of the Kauravas in this war. When all the main warriors were killed in this great war, then Karna was sent to fight as the commander of the Kauravas. On the 16th day of the Mahabharata, when there was a fierce battle between Karna and Arjuna, Karna was overpowering Arjuna in this battle, but due to the evening, the battle was postponed to the next day. On the 17th day of the Mahabharata war, when Karna and Arjuna were fighting, the wheel of Karna’s chariot sank into the ground. On this occasion, Arjuna cut off Karna’s head with his celestial weapon.
Life After Mahabharat War
Arjun and Babruvahana Fight
When the war of Kurukshetra ended, the Pandavas got their kingdom back. After this war, Yudhishthira was made the emperor and Arjuna was made his chief prime minister. Then one day Maharaja Yudhishthira decides to perform Ashwamedha Yagya and the horse of Ashwamedha Yagya with Arjuna is left for free travel. When that horse enters the border of the Manipur kingdom, then Arjuna has a fight with Babruvahana, the son of Arjuna and Chitrangada. In this war, Arjuna is killed by Babruvahana. However, both Arjuna and Babruvahana do not know that they are father and son in a relationship. When Chitrangada arrives at the battlefield, she tells Babruvahana that Arjuna is his father. However, on hearing the news of this incident, Arjuna’s wife Ulupi revives Arjuna using a divine serpent.
Arjuna's ascension with the Pandavas
When Lord Krishna went to meet Gandhari during the war of Mahabharata, Gandhari was very sad on the death of her sons and she considered Lord Krishna responsible for this. So he cursed Lord Krishna that one day his dynasty would also end like this. When Lord Krishna’s dynasty was destroyed and he himself left this physical body and went to Vaikunthaloka in his Vishnu form. Then Arjuna was taking Lord Krishna’s wife along with Dwarkavashi to Indraprastha when some dacoits attacked him. He forgot the mantras to active his weapons to fight them. Although he had protected everyone there from the dacoits and reached Indraprastha.
On reaching Indraprastha, he went to Maharishi Vyas and narrated the incident that had happened to him. Then Maharishi Vyas told him that those Divyastras were given to him for religious war and now his work is finished so now he cannot be used. Arjun understood the gesture of Maharishi Vyas and then all the Pandavas left their kingdom and went towards the Himalayas and from there they left for heaven.
Author's thoughts on Arjuna
Arjuna was known as the greatest warrior of the era of Mahabharata but we see Arjuna as a great personality even in today’s time. Not only in India, in the whole world, the knowledge of its archery is the greatest. The Government of India has named many of its sports awards after Arjuna. Apart from India, Arjun is also a very respected person in the culture of Indonesia. We can learn a lot from them but the most thing to learn and understand in them is their dedication towards their goal. When Arjuna was learning archery in Guru Dronacharya’s hermitage, then once Dronacharya asked him a question – O Arjuna, what are you seeing? Then Arjun says that he is only seeing his goal. Arjuna was always aware of achieving his goal and this awareness used to make him achieve his every goal. Whether it is the war of Mahabharata, or that of Virat, he has always proved the goal set by him. Seeing his devotion, Lord Krishna himself became his charioteer. He received blessings from Lord Shiva. People like Bhishma Pitamah, Guru Dronacharya, Vice-Chancellor Kripacharya etc. are especially dear to him because of his special respect and devotion towards elders. Many people consider Angraj Karna superior to Arjuna, but when Karna himself faced Arjuna in the battle of Mahabharata, he also said that Arjuna is Arjuna, he has no match.