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Mahabharata : Vana Parva Part 2


Arjuna’s tapasya Arju­na, after learn­ing the sci­ence of Pra­teesm­rithi, leaves for the Himalayas. There, in Indrakela, a moun­tain, he encoun­ters a brah­mana who is fierce and glow­ing. The brah­mana stops him and says, ”In this region, there is no require­ment for weapons. What are you doing with your Gan­di­va and oth­er weapons?And who are you?”Arjuna says, ”I am a ksha­triya. The weapons are my com­pa­ny. I can­not leave them behind. ”The brah­mana argues with him, but Arju­na is firm. He is clear in his mis­sion. And final­ly, the brah­mana reveals his true form to Arju­na. He is Indra him­self! Arju­na is Indra­pu­tra-the son of Indra. Arju­na is very hap­py to see Indra, his father. He pros­trates, and asks Indra, ”O Indra!Please give me the celes­tial weapons. ”Indra says, ”After you get the bless­ings of Shankara, I will def­i­nite­ly give you the celes­tial weapons. ”And hence Arju­na starts his tapasya, his high­ly intense tapasya, to please Shankara and obtain the astras from Shankara — Shi­va Him­self. In the first month of his tapasya, he eats only dry leaves. The sec­ond month, he eats once in a fort­night and just sips water. After that, he does not even con­sume water; he sur­vives on air, stand­ing on one leg with upraised arms. All the rishis and the devas are con­cerned, because such intense tapasya gen­er­ates a lot of heat. They approach Lord Shi­va and say, ”The ksha­triya Arju­na is doing immense tapas. Please grat­i­fy him so that oth­ers can live in peace.”

Arju­na and the Kira­ta Shi­va agrees. He is aware of it. And hence, he appears as a kira­ta, a hunter, along with Par­vati. A rak­shasa named Mukha assumes the form of a boar and plans to attack Arju­na. Arju­na becomes aware of the boar and he shoots his arrow. At the same instant, the hunter, who is Shi­va in dis­guise, shoots his arrow. Both the arrows pierce the boar and it dies. Now, there is a duel between Arju­na and the kira­ta. Arju­na says, ”How dare you attack my tar­get?” The hunter says, ”Nobody has said that it is your tar­get. Who­ev­er attacks it first gets the boar. And my arrow pierced the ani­mal first. ” Arju­na is extreme­ly angry. He shoots arrows at him, but noth­ing hap­pens to the hunter. Arjuna’s inex­haustible quiver of arrows gets exhaust­ed! Arju­na is not able to under­stand this, and no mat­ter what weapon he uses, all of them fail to even touch the hunter. Arju­na now tries to fight the hunter with his bare hands. A sin­gle blow from Shankara, and Arju­na almost faints. Shankara is very hap­py with Arju­na. Then, Shi­va and Par­vati reveal their form, their glo­ri­ous, efful­gent form, and the whole region lights up with their efful­gence. Arju­na, through his tapasya, can per­ceive the bril­liance of Shankara. With­out tapasya, no human mor­tal can. We can­not even look at the sun, how could we look at some­one much beyond the sun, like Shankara? Shankara bless­es Arju­na and gives him the Pashu­pa­ta astra, which is his own astra. Shi­va and Par­vati, after bless­ing Arju­na, leave to their abode.

Kirātār­junīya (San­skrit: किरातार्जुनीय, Of Arju­na and the Kirā­ta) is a San­skrit kavya by Bhāravi, writ­ten in the 6th cen­tu­ry or ear­li­er. It is an epic poem in eigh­teen can­tos describ­ing the com­bat between Arju­na and Lord Shi­va at Indra­kee­ladri hills in present-day Vijayawa­da in the guise of a kirā­ta or moun­tain-dwelling hunter. Along with the Naiṣad­hacari­ta and the Shishu­pala Vad­ha, it is one of the larg­er three of the six San­skrit mahakavyas, or great epics. It is not­ed among San­skrit crit­ics both for its grav­i­ty or depth of mean­ing, and for its force­ful and some­times play­ful expres­sion. This includes a can­to set aside for demon­strat­ing lin­guis­tic feats, sim­i­lar to con­strained writ­ing. Lat­er works of epic poet­ry fol­lowed the mod­el of the Kirātār­junīya

Arju­na receives dev­as­tras Then, the celes­tials, the gods Varuna, Yama, Indra and Kubera arrive. They are very hap­py with Arju­na. Hence, Varuna gives his Pasha, his noose, which is his celes­tial weapon, to Arju­na. Yama gives him his mace, which is his celes­tial weapon. Kubera too gifts him his celes­tial weapon, and all of them bless Arju­na and leave to their abodes. Final­ly, Indra bless­es him and Matali, the char­i­o­teer of Indra, takes Arju­na to Indra loka. The depic­tion of all this is very won­der­ful. It may seem almost too good to be true, but it is fac­tu­al. It is def­i­nite­ly not imag­i­na­tion.

Arju­na at Ama­r­a­vati So Arju­na sees many celes­tial beings all around on his way to Indra loka. Final­ly he arrives at Ama­r­a­vati. There, Indra is seat­ed on the throne in all grandeur with all the gand­har­vas, apsaras, and the devas sur­round­ing him. It is such a bril­liant vision in his palace of Sud­har­ma- the sab­ha of Indra. When Arju­na is made to sit beside Indra, he shines forth like a sec­ond Indra, to everybody’s aston­ish­ment. Every­one rec­og­nizes that he is Nara, the great sage and friend of Rishi Narayana. They have been born as Krish­na and Arju­na to uplift the earth and relieve its suf­fer­ing. Arju­na learns how to mas­ter the var­i­ous celes­tial weapons, their mantras, how to invoke them, and how to revoke them. One by one, all the celes­tial weapons merge with­in Arju­na. The astras are depict­ed as doors that are not just phys­i­cal weapons, but that can be invoked with spe­cif­ic mantras, which require a cer­tain puri­ty of the per­son using them. If the per­son is not pure enough, the astra can burn the per­son who is using it. Astras are actu­al­ly a sci­ence that is now lost to the world, as we do not under­stand these prin­ci­ples. The astras also obey the will of the per­son who is using them. For exam­ple the Brah­mas­tra that is used by Arju­na will work dif­fer­ent­ly when Kar­na uses it. To give a mod­ern day anal­o­gy, if we con­sid­er a car, we find that accord­ing to the will of the dri­ver, the same car per­forms dif­fer­ent­ly. Sim­i­lar­ly, these astras work dif­fer­ent­ly accord­ing to the puri­ty of the per­sons involved, their tapasya and their will.

Urvashi’s curse The astras are won­der­ful weapons, and all the celes­tial astras merge with­in Arju­na. He fur­ther learns music and dance from Chi­trase­na, the gand­har­va chief­tain of Indra loka. Once, dur­ing a per­for­mance by the apsaras, Indra notices that Arjuna’s atten­tion is held by Urvashi, and hence he asks Chi­trase­na to inform Urvashi of this. Urvashi pre­pares her­self to vis­it Arju­na. When she vis­its him, Arju­na falls at her feet and says, ”You are like my moth­er. How can I treat you like any oth­er woman?”Urvashi says, ”The laws that apply in Deva loka are not human laws. Human beings have laws based on age, but in Deva loka, there is no age, and no decay. There is eter­nal youth. These laws work dif­fer­ent­ly. So please sat­is­fy me. I have come to you. ”Arju­na remains at her feet and says, ”You are my moth­er. I can­not accept you. ”Urvashi, her desire thwart­ed, is extreme­ly angry. When we are look­ing for­ward to some­thing, when we desire some­thing very much, and that desire is thwart­ed, anger aris­es. So, in her anger, she curs­es Arju­na. ”Since you did not dis­play man­li­ness, you be a eunuch, amongst women. Women will not look at you as a man. You will not be able to sat­is­fy them. ” Arju­na is heart-bro­ken, as he had not done any­thing wrong. On hear­ing about this inci­dent, Indra laughs in glee, and says to Arju­na, ”Even great rishis were not able to avoid the advance of Urvashi. Now, her pride is bro­ken. Her pride in her supe­ri­or beau­ty, in her abil­i­ty to attract any­one, has been bro­ken by a mere mor­tal. O Arju­na, you have done a won­der­ful thing. ” Indra reduces the curse to take effect for just a peri­od of one year and says, ”It will def­i­nite­ly be use­ful for you in the thir­teenth year, when you will have to live undis­cov­ered by any­body. ”Because Arju­na is so famous, that wher­ev­er he goes, every­body rec­og­nizes him. So this curse becomes a bless­ing in dis­guise.

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