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Adi Parva Part 9

Arju­na and Ulupi

First, he encoun­ters Ulupi, Kauravya’s daugh­ter. Kau­ravya is a naga. So Ulupi is a nagakanya and she requests Arju­na for a union. Arju­na agrees because it is Ksha­triya Dhar­ma and he can­not refuse. So, from the point of view of Dhar­ma ‑not Kaa­ma-but Dhar­ma, Arju­na agrees and Ulupi and Arju­na unite. Then Arju­na goes his way. Ulupi gives birth to Aira­van. Then he encoun­ters, in Manipur, Chitravahana’s daugh­ter, Chi­tran­ga­da. Chi­tran­ga­da is giv­en in mar­riage to him as per Putri­ka Dhar­ma. Accord­ing to Putri­ka Dhar­ma, the father of the girl will retain the son born to the girl, because they don’t have a suc­ces­sor to con­tin­ue their lin­eage. Out of the union of Arju­na and Chi­tran­ga­da is born Babru­va­hana.

Arjuna’s theerthay­a­tra

After this, Arju­na goes on a theerthay­a­tra. He vis­its many holy places. He goes to the South­ern Ocean, where he encoun­ters these five holy water bod­ies, which do not have any rishis or sad­hus around them. He is very sur­prised. Then he comes to know of the croc­o­diles-five croc­o­diles- liv­ing in those water bod­ies. He ven­tures into one and kills the croc­o­dile, after which appears an apsara who is lib­er­at­ed. She says, ”We are five apsaras who had been cursed by a brah­mana. Please lib­er­ate my oth­er friends as well and we will be grate­ful to you. We were, in fact told by Nara­da Muni, when we were cursed, that we would be lib­er­at­ed by you-Arju­na, the Pan­da­va”. So, he lib­er­ates all the five apsaras and from then on, rishis could do tapasya on the banks of those sacred spots.

Arju­na and Sub­hadra

Then, Arju­na goes to Prab­hasa, and there, he meets Krish­na. Krish­na intro­duces Sub­hadra to him. Arju­na falls in love with Sub­hadra at first sight. He tries to med­i­tate, only Sub­hadra resides in his heart! Krish­na knows Arjuna’s con­di­tion. So he says to Arju­na, ”There are dif­fer­ent ways by which a ksha­triya can mar­ry a girl. But I find, in these cir­cum­stances, the best to be Sub­hadra­hara. You take her away by force. Kid­nap Sub­hadra.” Krish­na arranges for his own char­i­ot to be made avail­able so that Arju­na can take her away. What an awe­some friend Sri Krish­na is! And Arju­na takes away Sub­hadra. There are dif­fer­ent types of mar­riages-accept­able forms of mar­riages. What Arju­na does is an accept­able form of viva­ha for ksha­triyas, but not for brah­manas, vaishyas and sudras.

The return to Indraprastha

So, by force, Sub­hadra is tak­en away, and all the Yadus, the whole of Dwara­ka is angry- because they are such pow­er­ful peo­ple, and how dare Arju­na come as a guest, be received well by them and final­ly stab them in their back? That is unac­cept­able! But then, Krish­na con­vinces all of them. He says that it is an accept­able form of mar­riage and explains the log­ic and they get con­vinced. And hence, they go and treat Arju­na as their mapil­lai. (In Tamil, ’mapil­lai’ refers to one’s son-in-law or broth­er-in-law). Hence, they all pro­ceed to Indraprastha, where the mar­riage is solem­nised. Krish­na is there and every­body has a good time.

The Pan­davas’ chil­dren are born

In due course of time, chil­dren are born to the Pan­cha­pan­davas. Abhi­manyu is born to Arju­na and Sub­hadra. Drau­pa­di has five sons-one with each of the Pan­da­va broth­ers-Pra­tividya is born to Yud­hishthi­ra, Suta­so­ma to Bhi­ma, Sutakar­man to Arju­na, Tatani­ka to Naku­la and Sutase­na to Sahade­va. So they have a very good time with chil­dren and babies around. It’s a won­der­ful time‑a very hap­py time for all of them.

The burn­ing of Khan­da­va vana

That is when Krish­na and Arju­na decide to have some time alone, because they are like long-lost friends. Actu­al­ly, they are the rishis Nara and Narayana who have tak­en birth on earth as Arju­na and Krish­na. They choose to spend time in Khan­da­va vana, along the banks of the Yamu­na. There, a blaz­ing brah­mana appears, whom they rec­og­nize as Agni. Agni says, ”I want to burn this for­est to sati­ate my hunger, but the devas don’t allow me to, because there is Tak­sha­ka who dwells with­in. Tak­sha­ka is a friend of Indra, and Indra pours his rains and puts out the fire. So please help me.” Why does Agni have his eyes on Khan­da­va specif­i­cal­ly? Because there was, once upon a time, a king named Swe­ta­ki. He con­duct­ed a lot of yaj­nas. So many yaj­nas, one after the oth­er, so many yaj­nas simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, that all the brah­manas got tired. They said to him, ”Please leave us. Pothum. Mudi­la da Saa­mi!” (In Tamil: Enough! This is not pos­si­ble any­more!) And the brah­manas left him. Swe­ta­ki approached Rudra. He did immense tapasya and grat­i­fied Rudra, who appoint­ed Dur­vasa-an amsha of Him­self-as the rishi who would con­duct the yaj­nas of Swe­ta­ki. Then, there was this twelve year long yaj­na in which so much clar­i­fied but­ter (ghee) was poured into the sac­ri­fi­cial fire that Agni began to suf­fer from indi­ges­tion.

Can Agni suf­fer from indi­ges­tion? Def­i­nite­ly. Any­body can. When we suf­fer from indi­ges­tion, we will see that our state of ener­gy is dull. We are not in our full spir­it. When the Jatarag­ni-diges­tive fire, is blaz­ing, we are in full spir­it. When it is doused, we are dull and lethar­gic. So Agni has lost his splen­dor. Brah­ma­ji advis­es Agni, ” You can con­sume Khan­da­va-burn the Khan­da­va for­est. There are many herbs, roots and ani­mals liv­ing there. Their flesh and fat will help rein­voke your fire-your appetite. Besides, Khan­da­va has become a home to many rak­shasas, asur­as and nagas. You go there and burn. ” So Brah­ma­ji has appoint­ed Agni to burn Khan­da­va, but Indra does not allow Agni to con­sume it com­plete­ly. Hence Agni approach­es Krish­na and Arju­na and they agree to help. Arju­na asks for an appro­pri­ate bow and arrows. Agni invokes Varuna, who gives Arju­na his Gan­di­va. This is when Arju­na receives the Gan­di­va-the famed bow-and two quiv­ers of arrows which are inex­haustible, and an awe­some char­i­ot. Also, Arju­na already has superb hors­es giv­en to him by Angara­parna, the gand­har­va. And to Krish­na, the Sudar­shana Chakra is giv­en. In this incar­na­tion, this is giv­en to him for the first time. With these, Krish­na and Arju­na do an awe­some job. They defeat Indra’s army with all the devas mul­ti­ple times. And hence, Indra has to give up.

The escape of Ash­wase­na and Maya­sura

But before that, there is a full-fledged war going on. There is Agni burn­ing and Indra pour­ing his rains simul­ta­ne­ous­ly. Arju­na shoots his arrows in such a way that there is a dome‑a dome of many square miles around the Khan­da­va for­est, so that Agni can burn in spite of Indra’s show­ers. Tak­sha­ka is liv­ing in that for­est. Takshaka’s wife wants to save their son Ash­wase­na. She swal­lows him, with his tail point­ing out, and tries to rise up. Arju­na, at that moment, cuts off her head. See­ing this, Indra, for an instant, makes Arju­na uncon­scious with his pow­ers and Ash­wase­na escapes. Hence Arju­na curs­es Ash­wase­na say­ing, ”You have escaped in a very unholy man­ner. You did not fight back with me. So you will be infa­mous. You will not attain to fame.” Then Arju­na fights with even greater vigour. After that, the asura Maya, the archi­tect, who is equal to Vish­wakar­man of the devas, seeks Arjuna’s pro­tec­tion, and hence Arju­na offers his pro­tec­tion and Krish­na and Agni do not harm him. So Maya­sura escapes.

The Saranga birds

Then, there are these saranga birds. Their sto­ry goes like this-there was this rishi Man­da­pala, who does awe­some tapasya and engages him­self in many yaj­nas. But when he goes to heav­en, the door is closed, and it is announced to him, ”You don’t have chil­dren. These doors will open only after you beget chil­dren. ”Because that is also Dhar­ma. As per the Indi­an Dhar­ma, there are three aspects to be tak­en care of. One is the per­for­mance of yaj­nas to sat­is­fy the devas. Anoth­er is the study of scrip­tures to sat­is­fy the rishis. And the third, is hav­ing chil­dren to sat­is­fy the ances­tors-pithris. When we take a human body, we are sup­posed to incur debts. We are indebt­ed to the devas, to the rishis and to the pithris, and so we have to sat­is­fy them. So the rishi Man­da­pala assumes the body of a saranga bird and, with his wife Jari­ta, has four chil­dren. The Khan­da­va for­est is burn­ing. Man­da­pala goes to Agni and requests him to spare his chil­dren, and Agni agrees. Man­da­pala then goes to anoth­er wife, Lipi­ta. So when Agni is burn­ing the for­est, the four chil­dren of Jari­ta and Man­da­pala, because of their knowl­edge of the Vedas, sat­is­fy Agni and he does not burn them. And hence, the fam­i­ly is reunit­ed. The young birds know the Vedas because they are rishis who have assumed the form of birds. When Man­da­pala comes back, at first he is reject­ed, but then, he explains the rea­son for leav­ing to his wife. His wife, Jari­ta con­stant­ly doubts Mada­pala-just as Arund­hati did to Vasish­ta, and hence Arund­hati became a small­er star, com­pared to Vasish­ta, in bright­ness and lumi­nos­i­ty. They are bina­ry star sys­tems, both going around each oth­er, around a com­mon cen­ter of grav­i­ty. We will be look­ing at this in astron­o­my.

So Ash­wase­na, Maya­sura and the saranga birds have escaped. The entire for­est, along with all oth­er crea­tures is burnt and Agni has a won­der­ful time, burn­ing the for­est for fif­teen days. At the end of it, Indra is actu­al­ly hap­py with Arju­na. He grants a boon to Arju­na. Arju­na asks for celes­tial weapons. Indra says, ”At the appro­pri­ate time, I will give you the celes­tial weapons. ” But Krish­na can­not ask for a boon from Indra because he is supe­ri­or. In the Bha­ga­va­ta Purana, it is writ­ten that that Sri Krish­na lifts the Govard­hana moun­tain and pro­tects the all the peo­ple of Vrin­da­van from Indra him­self. So Indra is no match for Krishna’s ener­gy. Hence, Krish­na can­not ask for a boon from some­one who is infe­ri­or to Him. So, he sim­ply says, ”Let Arju­na and I be friends for­ev­er. ”And Indra says, ”So be it.” Thus ends the Adi par­va.



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