Indian Mythology (by ApamNapat)

Arjuna Weds Subhadra

Mahabharata


When Arjuna had been a disciple in the hermitage of Drona, he had formed friendship with Gada, who belonged to the Vrishni house. (The Vrishni's were a part of the Yadava Clan.) He had described the beauty of his cousin Subhadra who was Krishna's half sister. She was the sister of Sarana. Hearing the description of her beauty, Arjuna had fallen in love with her. Now that he was free to roam around the country, and happening to be close to Dwaraka, the city of the Vrishni's, Arjuna decided to pay a visit. He did not want to be recognized, so he disguised himself as a Yati (a hermit who is a follower of Lord Shiva) and entered Dwaraka. He stayed at a place called Prahbasa Theertha, which was on the outskirts of Dwaraka.

Krishna who was omniscient, knew immediately that Arjuna had entered his city. He also knew the heart's desire of Arjuna, and decided to forward the cause of his close friend. It was night time and there was pouring rain. Krishna went to Arjuna, who had taken shelter under a banyan tree, sitting deep in meditation. Arjuna at once saw that his mentor had recognized him. He narrated all the incidents that had taken place on his pilgrimage up to this point. He said, "Madhava, you know what is there in my heart, please help me marry your beautiful sister Subhadra."

Krishna said, "My friend, it would give me great pleasure to see you wed Subhadra. However, my brother Balarama has other plans for her. It will be difficult to win his consent. Tell you what, I will arrange for you to meet my sister. If you can make her fall in love with you (and I have no doubt of it, for your fame precedes you, and you are a handsome man), then it will be best for you to abduct her and marry her out of hand. It is a well known custom, suitable for Kshatriyas. Tomorrow, I shall bring Balarama to see you. Do not disclose your identity to him. Simply follow my lead."

The next day, Krishna brought his brother as promised, to see Arjuna. Balarama was very much impressed by the appearance of the young hermit. He thought, "Here is a young man, who instead of indulging him in worldly pleasures, has chosen the path of penance. I must honor him." He told Krishna, that they must take the young hermit to Dwaraka, and honor him properly. This however, Arjuna declined to do so. He said that he had taken a vow never to enter a human dwelling. He would only spend time outside, communing with nature.

Balarama was even more impressed by these words. He said, "O great one, you must definitely pay us a visit. You need not come into the house, but you can stay in the gardens that adjoin my sister Subhadra's apartments. It is said that the blessings of holy men and elders is the surest path to a maiden's happy life. My sister will look after your needs. Please bless her and our family."

After exchanging a quick glance with Krishna, Arjuna accepted this offer. Krishna took his brother aside and said, "O Brother, you are elder to me and probably you know best. This hermit seems to be quite a young man, plus he is very handsome. Is it advisable to expose our sister to such a temptation? Consider carefully before putting your plan in action."

Balarama was furious. He said, "Krishna, it is unworthy of you to have such thoughts. Does not the very appearance of this ascetic command respect? You need not indulge in such fanciful apprehensions. My mind is made up. Our sister shall wait on him and seek his blessings."

Soon Arjuna was established under a tree in Subhadra's gardens. Now, the Vrishni's were staunch allies of the Pandavas. So naturally, Subhadra had grown up listening tales of their brave deeds and prowess. The skill of Arjuna with the bow was legendary. Besides, Krishna and Gada had spoken very highly about Arjuna. Naturally, Subhadra had a great admiration for the third Pandava. When she heard that she was to wait upon an ascetic, who had traveled widely around the world, she thought that it was likely that he might have seen the Pandavas. So while she was attending to his wants, bringing him materials for his devotions, she asked him if he had visited Indraprastha.

This was the opportunity that Arjuna was waiting for. He said, "Child, I have traveled all over the country. I did spend a long time in the capital of the Pandavas, as their guest. I had many a discussion about the path of truth with Yudhishtra, the son of Dharma. I have also seen great feats of strength performed by Bheema, the son of Vayu. I have also beheld the peerless beauty of Draupadi their queen." He then went on describe all the deeds of his brother, carefully avoiding any mention of his own.

Subhadra grew impatient. Besides, the mention of Draupadi had made her jealous. She pressed him for more details, especially about Arjuna. Now Arjuna was caught in a dilemma. On one hand, he had to extol his virtues to this girl, for he wanted her to fall in love with him. On the other hand, he was a modest man, and shrank from boasting about his skill. In the end, he was forced to tell her the details of all the battles that he had been and the many great feats of marksmanship he had performed. Over the years, admiration that Subhadra had for Arjuna had turned into love. She asked the young ascetic, "It has been said that you can look into the future. I have fallen in love with the great Arjuna. Can you tell me if the desire of my heart will ever be fulfilled?"

This was exactly the kind of sentiment that Arjuna had dared to hope to inspire. He revealed who he was. Subhadra was thunderstruck. When she thought of her frank avowal of love for him, she blushed to think what an impression it must have conveyed to him. However, Arjuna soon put her embarrassment out of her mind. He also confessed that he had been in love with her for a long time. In fact, his sole purpose on visiting Dwaraka was to win her hand. The lovers exchanged vows of fidelity.

It was all very well for both of them to happy in their love, but practical considerations soon began to obtrude. Subhadra knew that Balarama wanted her to wed one of the Kauravas. Just as the Pandavas were the favorites of Krishna, the Kauravas were the favorites of Balarama. She knew that it would be difficult to secure his consent. Arjuna suggested that they lay the matter before Krishna, who might be able to suggest a plan.

While they were thus discussing their future, Krishna came there. He was very happy to see his dear friend and beloved sister in love. He once again re-iterated his advice that an elopement was the only feasible course. He said, "Everyday my sister goes to worship the Lord Rudra at the temple. I shall lend you my chariot. You must abduct her from there. Carry her off to your kingdom and marry her there."

According to this plan, the abduction and elopement was carried through. However, some of the guards who were accompanying the Vrishni princess recognized the abductor as Arjuna, who had been disguised as a hermit. The alarm was raised. When Balarama came to know of this, he became full of wrath. He immediately wanted to go to Indraprastha and destroy the Pandavas for the insult offered. Krishna pacified him saying, "Brother, do not be out of reason so angry. Our sister has gone willingly enough with Arjuna. It is no wonder, for he is the handsomest of men, and unequaled as an archer. I had already warned you of this possibility. He has acted according to the rules of conduct laid for the Kshatriyas. Let us all go to Indraprastha, and celebrate this match, for we could not have found a better husband for our sister."

After a long argument, Balarama was pacified at last. Preparations were begun for the journey of the Vrishnis to Indraprastha. Meanwhile, Arjuna was absorbed deep in thought as he approached Indraprastha with his bride-to-be. He knew that Draupadi was temperamental and might be very angry with him for wanting to marry Subhadra. So said to her, "You must first win the affection of Draupadi. Go to her, dressed in simple clothes and introduce yourself as Krishna's sister. She is sure to welcome you with open arms. Win her affection by constant devotion to her. Later, we can express the secret of our love and win her consent to our marriage".

Subhadra agreed that this was a good plan. She therefore, went to Draupadi, dressed as a milk-maid. Draupadi was very glad to see her. They spent many an hour talking about Krishna and the Vrishnis. At last, after seeing that Draupadi really liked her, Subhadra disclosed the secret of her love for Arjuna. Although momentarily stunned, Draupadi felt that it was only natural. She readily gave consent for the marriage.

When Arjuna entered the city, he was greeted at its entrance by all his brothers. The townspeople were also very happy to have their prince restored to them. Draupadi was also present there, along with Subhadra. One glance at them and Arjuna knew that all was well. He announced his upcoming marriage with Subhadra to his brothers. They were also glad for his sake.

Once the Vrishnis reached Indraprastha, the preparations for the marriage were begun. Balarama had brought great wealth with him, to be bestowed upon his sister upon her marriage. Every one was happy. The marriage was celebrated upon an auspicious day. Balarama and most of the Vrishnis left for Dwaraka after the marriage, however, Krishna decided to stay some more time in Indraprastha.

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Last Modified At: Sun Nov 7 16:20:04 2004