Indian Mythology (by ApamNapat)

Arjuna - The Peerless Archer


Arjuna was the third Pandava, born to Kunti, the wife of Pandu, by the grace of Indra. He rivalled his divine father Indra in his prowess in arms. It was said that none of the mortals and few of the Gods could stand up to him in battle, such was his skill with his bow, Gandiva. His guru is Drona, who had taught all the Pandavas and Kauravas.

He is an incarnation of Nara, one of the primeval twins. He won the hand of Draupadi, the Panchala princess, by his feat of marksmanship and she became the common wife of all the five Pandavas. In addition to her he married many other women during his voluntary exile. One of his wives is Subhadra, the sister of Krishna, through who be had a valiant son Abhimanyu. Abhimanyu was slain treacherously by the great warriors on the Kaurava side, who could not defeat the young warrior in fair combat.

Since Jayadratha, the son-in-law of Dhritharashtra was chiefly responsible for his son's death, Arjuna vowed to kill before sun-down the next day. He accomplished this feat with the help of a little trickery from Krishna.

He was the best archer in the world. He was known as Sabyasachi, since he was ambidextrous. Another of his names was Vibhatsu, or 'one-who-shirks-from-doing-an-ignoble-act'.

He had obtained the knowledge of many divine missiles from his his Guru Drona. Along with Krishna, he helped Agni burn the forest of Khandava, and in return obtained the divine bow Gandiva, and inexhaustible quivers.

While the Pandavas were serving their thirteen years of exile, he obtained more divine weaponry by praying to Lord Shiva. He also visited his father Indra's court at this time, where the dancer Urvashi fell in love with him. Arjuna rejected her advances, as she had been married to Puroorava, an ancestor of his. Angered, she cursed him to become a eunuch, but Indra modified the curse so that it would take effect for just a year, to be chosen by Arjuna himself. This curse came in handy when the Pandavas had to spend a year incognito. Arjuna disguised himself as Brihannala, a eunuch, and taught the ladies of the Virata Royal family in dance and music.

During his stay in heaven, he conquered the Daityas known as Nivata-Kavachas and destroyed another group of Asuras residing in a flying city called Hiranyapura (city-of-gold), as his perceptor's fee for the instruction received from his father Indra. He was given a conch named Devadatta for his use during this campaign, which Indra then gifted to him after the successful completion of this campaign.

Arjuna's friendship with Krishna is legendary. Krishna is both his friend and his teacher. Krishna was Arjuna's charioteer in the great battle of Kurukshetra. The principal rival of Arjuna was Karna, whose skill with the bow came close to matching Arjuna's. So evenly matched were these two warriors, that Arjuna had to resort to an ignoble stratagem to slay Karna, killing him with a missile when Karna was attempting to move his chariot that had gotten stuck in the mud. This shameful act was against the laws of combat prevailing at that time.


Savyasachin Ambidextrous
Phalguna Dark hued
Vibhatsu One who shirks from an ignoble act
Vijaya Victorious
Partha -

Last Modified At: Fri Sep 30 08:32:51 2005