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Arjuna and Karna on the chariot blowing their conches during war

Arjuna: The Master Archer

Arjuna was the third Pandava. He was known as the best archer of his time. He was one of the major characters in the Mahabharata.

Family

  • Father: Pandu
  • Godly Father: Indra
  • Mother: Kunti
  • Brothers: Yudhistira, Bhima, Nakula, Sahadeva
  • Wives: Draupadi (Panchali), Subhadra, Ulupi, Chitrangada
  • Sons: Srutakarma, Abhimanyu, Iravan, Babruvahana
  • Grandson: Parikshita
Arjuna holding the Gandiva

Birth

Once, King Pandu went hunting. He saw two dear and killed them with his arrows. As soon as he killed them, they turned into a rishi and his wife. Pandu was shocked. He realized that the two dear had been Kindama rishi and his wife in the form of dear. Kindama rishi was really mad and cursed Pandu that whenever he engages in intercourse with any women, he will die. A moment after, Kindama and his wife died.

Pandu was really upset since he had killed a Brahmin who was a rishi. He decided to leave his post as king of Kuru kingdom. He and his two wives named Kunti and Madri left for the jungle. Pandu’s older blind brother, Dhitrastra was then coronated as king of Kuru. Dhitrastra them married Gandhari, the princess of Gandhara.

Due to his curse, Pandu could not have children. When she was small, Kunti was given a boon that she could have any children with any deva. Kunti used her boon. She had three children. Her first and oldest child was Yudhistira from Yama. Her second child was Bhima from Vayu.

Pandu now wanted a son who would be invincible. Pandu realized that Indra was the strongest deva. Pandu and Kunti performed austerities to Indra for one year. Kunti then said the mantra and invoked Indra deva. When the child was born, divine said voices said the boy would be named Arjuna and would have prowess equal to Shiva, would be one of the greatest warriors of all time, would obtain the Pashupashastra, would visit Indra’s swarga, would destroy the Nivatkavachas, would defeat many kings, and would perform the Ashwamedha yagna. Suddenly, devas started showering flowers on Arjuna. Apsaras started dancing and rishis came to visit Arjuna.

Kunti also taught the boon to Madri. Madri received Nakula and Sahadeva, sons of the Ashwini Kumaras. These five were called the five Pandavas.

Childhood

Arjuna used to love archery. Pandu made a bow for him from wood. In the forest, he always liked to shoot faraway targets that he put on trees. Soon he became an expert. He could hit tiny targets accurately and easily.

Once, Pandu engaged in intercourse with Madri, forgetting about his curse. Immediately, Pandu died. Madri was so heartbroken that she also killed herself. Kunti and the five Pandavas were really depressed. A funeral was performed for Madri and Pandu. Kunti and the 5 Pandavas were brought to Hastinapura, the capital of the Kuru kingdom, by Vidura and Bhishma.

The Pandavas were given a horrible greeting by the 100 Kauravas, the sons of Dhitrastra and Gandhari. Shakuni, Gandhari’s brother, had poisoned their mind and turned them against the Pandavas. Slowly an enmity developed between the Pandavas and Kauravas. Whenever the Pandavas and Kauravas played games together, the superior capabilities of the Pandavas would always show.

The Kauravas became frustrated with the Pandavas, especially Bhima. They made many schemes to end the lives of Bhima. But ultimately, all of these ploys were unsuccessful.

Education

Dhitrastra realized that the Pandavas and Kauravas were wasting their time with useless activities. He appointed Kripacharya, the royal preceptor, as the teacher of the princes. He taught the princes how to use weapons.

After the princes completed their short education with Kripacharya, Dhitrastra wanted to give the princes a higher education. He started searching for a teacher who was a master at weaponry.

Meanwhile, Dronacharya, the son of Bharadwaja, and his family had recently moved to Hastinapura. They stayed in the house of Kripa. Ashwastamma often helped Kripa give lessons about weaponry to the princes.

Once, the Pandavas and Kauravas were playing ball outside the palace. The ball accidentally fell into a nearby well. Everybody tried to take it out but it was to deep. At that moment, Drona arrived at the scene. He said, “If you promise me dinner today, then I shall remove this ball from the well and this ring which I am going to drop.”

Saying that, Drona dropped his ring into the well. He then threw a blade of grass at the ball and pierced it. He then pierced the blade of grass with another blade of grass and continued this until a chain was formed. Using the chain, he easily removed the ball. He then removed the ring by using an arrow.

The Pandavas were astonished by this impossible feat. They quickly went and told Bhishma about what had happened. Bhishma instantly knew that his was none other than Dronacharya. Drona went to the palace and personally met Bhishma. He told Bhishma about all that had happened. Bhishma, who had been searching for a teacher for the princes, asked Dronacharya to become their teacher. Dronacharya readily agreed.

Bhishma built a house for Drona to live in. The Pandavas and Kauravas were taken to this house and their education commenced.

Teacher’s Favorite

One day, Dronacharya called all the Pandavas and Kauravas and said, “I have a motive in my heart. Promise me that once you become skilled with weapons, you will accomplish this motive for me.”

Silence. Utter Silence. Not one of the princes said a word. But then suddenly, Arjuna stepped up and vowed that he would accomplish this motive, no matter what it is. Dronacharya started shedding tears of happiness.

Dronacharya then began the education of the princes. He imparted scriptural and combat knowledge to the princes. Other princes from across Bharat also joined the Pandavas and Kauravas as pupils of the legendary Drona. But from all of these princes, Arjuna was clearly the BEST at the use of weapons.

Whenever Dronacharya would send his pupils to fetch water, he would give them a narrow-mouthed vessel. But he gave his son Ashwastamma a wide-mouthed vessel. Ashwastamma was thus able to fill his vessel faster and quickly return to his father. In these little intervals, Drona would teach his son about divine weapons of the gods. When Arjuna learned of this, he started quickly filling his vessel using the Varunastra weapon to summon water. He would return at the same time as Ashwastamma and receive the same lessons.

Arjuna’s devotion to his guru and the science of arms quickly made him Drona’s favorite. Once, while Arjuna was eating dinner, a strong breeze blew out the lamps. But Arjuna kept eating in the darkness. At that moment, Arjuna realized that through habit, he could master archery in the darkness as well. Thus, Arjuna began practicing archery at midnight. When Drona heard the twang of the bow, he approached Arjuna and said:

I give you a promise that you shall become and remain the greatest archer in the world!

-Dronacharya

Arjuna was overjoyed and resumed his practice with invigoration. Drona started teaching Arjuna how to fight on horseback, on an elephant, on a chariot, and on the ground. Arjuna was taught how to use a sword, spear, lance, mace, and the dart. Princes all around Bharat heard about Arjuna’s prowess. They flocked to Drona in the hundreds, eager to become like Arjuna.

Ekalavya- The Master of Archery

One day, the Pandavas and Kauravas went on a hunting excursion. A servant with a dog followed the princes. During the trip, the dog was seperated and wandered off alone into the woods. Suddenly, the dog encountered a dark-skinned adolescent with matted locks of hair. The dog started to loudly bark.

The adolescent quickly sent seven arrows into the mouth of the dog, which stopped it from barking. The dog ran back to the hunting party. When the Pandavas saw what had been done to the dog, they were filled with wonder and awe. Who was this impeccable archer? How could he do this without killing the dog?

The Pandavas started searching for the unknown archer. In time, the Pandavas came across an adolescent dexterously discharging arrows from his hunting bow. When the Pandavas asked him who he was, the man replied, “I am Ekalavya, the prince of the Nishadas. I am the son of King Hiranyadhanus. Know me as the pupil of Guru Dronacharya. When I approached Dronacharya as a student, he said that he only teaches royalty. Thus, I have made a clay idol of Drona and worship it as my Guru. I have practiced endlessly in front of this idol and mastered archery.”

After a brief conversation, the Pandavas bid farewell and returned to Dronacharya’s residence. They excitedly told him about the mysterious archer and his feats. But while the rest of the Pandavas were excitedly describing the feat, Arjuna was in deep thought…

After the other Pandavas left, Arjuna went up to Dronacharya and expressed his thoughts. “Earlier you had promised me that I would be your greatest pupil. Then why is this pupil, the son of the Nishada king, superior to me?” Arjuna questioned.

Drona painfully reflected for a moment. Realizing what had to be done, Dronacharya, accompanied by Arjuna, went to meet Ekalavya. Drona said, “Oh Ekalavya, if you are really my true pupil, then you must give me gurudakshina (repaying one’s teacher after education).”

Ekalavya responded, “Guruji, I am grateful to have the opportunity to give you something. Ask for anything, and I shall give it!”

“Well then give me your right thumb,” Drona demanded. Drona knew that without his right thumb, Ekalavya would never be as good as before. Arjuna would be able to surpass him in archery skills. Without hesitation, Ekalavya cut off his right thumb. Drona and Arjuna, who’s jealousy was cured, departed. Ekalavya would continue shooting with his left hand, but he would never be as good as before. Eventually, he would die to Krishna during Rukmini’s marriage.

Bird’s Eye

The education of the princes continued and Arjuna became an astounding archer. One day, Drona gathered all the princes for a test. He placed an artificial bird on the branch of a nearby tree. First, he called Yudhistira to shoot the bird’s eye. Yudhistira drew his bowstring and when Drona asked what he saw, Yudhistira replied that he saw the bird, the tree, his brothers, and himself. Drona told Yudhistira to back off and not shoot. Drona called all the other pupils, one-by-one, but they all gave the same answer.

Finally, Dronacharya smilingly called Arjuna. When Arjuna stood aiming with his bow bent, Drona asked what he saw. Arjuna replied, “I see the bird’s head and only the bird’s head!” Dronacharya was impressed and ordered him to shoot. Arjuna’s arrow pierced the bird’s eye and struck off the head of the bird. Drona was really happy and congratulated Arjuna.

After that, Drona and all the princes went to the river to bathe. When Drona was in the river, a crocodile seized him by the thigh. Drona was capable of saving himself, but he asked his pupils to save him. Everyone stood dumbfounded and nobody took action. But Arjuna quickly took his bow and shot five arrows, subduing the crocodile.

“Oh Arjuna, I am really impressed with your readiness,” Drona said. “Thus, I am going to give you the Brahmashira Astra. No other weapon is equal to this. It has the potential to destroy the Universe. But you must never use it against a human foe. If you do so, the entire universe will burn.” Arjuna was taught the incantation and received the weapon with his hands folded.

The Tournament- The Son of the Sun

In a short time, the education of the Pandava and Kaurava princes was complete. To display their skills to the Kuru elders, Dronacharya hosted a tournament. A grand stage and hall was constructed. The day of the demonstration arrived and the entire royal family and the citizens gathered in the arena. The princes entered one-by-one and each exhibited their skills. Bhima and Duryodhana fought each other with their maces, but when the fight became too aggressive, Drona sent Ashwastamma to separate them.

Lastly, Arjuna entered the arena with his bow in hand. He entertained the audience through his exceptional archery skills. He released many divine astras, such as Vayavayastra, with creates fierce winds, and Parvatastra, with forms mountains. The audience loudly cheered and encouraged Arjuna.

In the midst of the excitement, a youth entered the arena…. He was tall and handsome, his prowess comparable to that of a lion. He shone like the Sun. He was the Son of the Sun. He was Suryaputra Karna.

With the permission of Drona, this youth replicated the feats of Arjuna. Everyone was confused as to who he was and who he learned from. Seeing this youth stand up to Arjuna, Duryodhana was overjoyed and accepted him as a friend. Karna, determined to show his prowess, challenged Arjuna to a duel.

Upon seeing Karna and Arjuna confront each other, Kunti fainted. She couldn’t bare to see two of her sons fight each other. Yes, Karna was a son of Kunti. Before she married Pandu, Kunti had used to her boon to beget a son from Surya deva. But because she was afraid that she would be scorned in society, she left the infant adrift in the river. Soon, Adhiratha, the charioteer of Dhitrastra, would find the baby and adopt it. Karna grew up with Adhiratha and his wife Radha, unaware of his true lineage. When he grew up, Karna wanted to master archery, so he approached Dronacharya. But Drona denied him, saying that he only taught royal princes, not the low-caste. Karna was enraged and he approached Parshuram in the guise of a Brahmin. With Parshuram as his guru, Karna mastered archery. But one day, Parshuram found out that Karna wasn’t actually a Brahmin. Parshuram cursed him that he would forget how to invoke the Brahmastra when he most needed it. Remember this curse, because it will be very important in the future.

Before they started fighting, Kripa intervened and said, “Arjuna is a prince, so by the rules of duels, Arjuna must fight with a man of glorious lineage. You must tell us your lineage and your royal line.”

Hearing Kripa’s words, Karna became silent. But at that moment, Duryodhana declared, “Many years ago, Bhishma Pitamah conquered the eastern kingdom of Anga. I officially crown Karna the King of Angadesha!”

Karna’s coronation ceremony was quickly performed on the spot. At that moment, Adhiratha, Karna’s father, approached Karna. Karna respectfully bowed down to his father and took his blessings. Realizing that Karna was the son of a charioteer, Bhima said, “Oh son of a charioteer, if you fight Arjuna, you will truly perish. You aren’t worthy of fighting Arjuna and nor are you worthy of ruling Anga.”

Duryodhana was enraged and gave back a fitting response. However, by this time, the sun had disappeared over the horizon and the duel was cancelled. Arjuna returned to his brothers and Karna returned to the Kauravas.

The Siege of Panchala

When the Pandavas and Kauravas returned from their studies at Drona’s ashram, they had grown into young adults. As a token of thanks, the Pandavas and Kauravas would have to give Dronacharya a gurudakshina.

“What should we do for you, guru,” Yudhistira asked.

“Capture Yajnasena Drupada, the king of Panchala, and bring him to me,” Drona ordered.

Dronacharya and the Kuru princes proceded towards Kampilya, the capital of Panchala, with a huge cavalry force. As always, Duryodhana wanted to show off his might to the Pandavas. “Guruji, can we attack first,” Duryodhana asked. Drona and the Pandavas agreed.

Duryodhana, followed by his brothers, Karna, and Yuyutsu, stormed the city but were easily defeated by Drupada and his force. The Kauravas came back fleeing from the city.

Arjuna laughed. “Now we shall go. You stay behind,” he said to Yudhistira. Arjuna raced to the city, with Nakula and Sahadeva at his flanks and Bhima in front of him. They broke through the city gates and Bhima started destroying the Panchala army with his mace. Elephants, horses, and infantrymen fell in thousands as Bhima spun his mace around like a tornado.

Meanwhile, Arjuna defeated Drupada and his son Satyajita. He successfully captured Drupada and told Bhima to stop slaughtering the soldiers. Panchala was then split between Dronacharya ruling the northern half and Drupada ruling the southern.

As they returned to Hastinapura, Drona rode on Arjuna’s chariot. He said, “Oh hero, you are now the best bowman. You have already repaid me by capturing Drupada. But I will ask one more thing from you as guru dakshina. I want you to promise to me that you will fight me when I fight you!”

Arjuna was surprised by this promise. How could he ever fight his own guru? But being a loyal pupil, Arjuna promised.

Further Education

When they returned to Hastinapura from Panchala, Yudhistira was appointed the Crown Prince of Hastinapura. Meanwhile, Arjuna expanded his repertoire of archery skills. He learned how to use the bow as an extension of oneself. In this mode of archery, the bow is used as a part of the arm and treated like a sword. The archer stands sideways and, wielding the bow like a sword, is able to flexibly move the bow in all directions. This art form requires dexterity and agility of every single part of the hands.

Arjuna also experimented and identified which type of arrow is suitable for which situation. The arrows he used were the Kshura, which has one sharp side, the Naracha, which is a normal arrow, and the spear-like Bhalla arrow. He also learned when to use to large and heavy Vipatha shaft.

One day, in the court of Hastinapura, Drona called Arjuna and said, “Every teacher dreams of a pupil who will replace them in skill. For me, you are that pupil. You have learned everything that I can teach you. I now wish to send you to Agnivesha Jatukarnya, the son of Agastya Rishi and my own teacher.”

Hence, Arjuna went to Agnivesha Rishi, from whom he furthered his skill of the sword, mace, archery, and chariot-fighting.

Military Campaigns after Education

Soon, Yudhistira decided to begin various military campaigns to recover the lost land of King Pandu. During his reign, Pandu had annexed various places, including Vatsa, Mithila, Kashi, and Suhma. He even killed Jarasandha’s predecessor and conquered Anga. With all these new territories, there was a constant flow of gold into Hastinapura. But with the weak reign of Dhitrastra, the situation had reverted back to the pre-Pandu reign. All of the territories and viceroyalties had been lost.

One of these kingdoms was Sauvira. Under Dhitrastra’s rule, a powerful king rose to power and took Sauvira from Kuru. This king was really capricious and powerful. He performed a three-year yagna, which kept many Gandharvas as bay.

Yudhistira had heard of how the king of Sauvira had imprisoned Subala. He told Arjuna to go on a western military campaign and conquer Sauvira. Arjuna killed the Sauvira king. Sauvira once again came under Kuru rule.

Next year, Sauvira rose in a rebellion under Vipula, a strong leader. He showed a strong disregard for the powerful kingdoms that bordered Sauvira. Along with that, he used violence for no reason, slaughtering merchants. Again, Arjuna went and killed Vipula. He also defeated Dattamitra, also called Sumitra. He was the leader of the Yadavas that lived in Sauvira. Since Dattamitra was his relation, Arjuna appointed Dattamitra the king of Sauvira. For the rest of the story of Sauvira, visit Sauvira Kingdom.

After that, Yudhistira sent Bhima and Arjuna to annex Videha, Suhma, and Dasarna. They also annexed a part of Kashi and gave it to Subahu, the son of the Kashi king who had taken refuge in Hastinapura. The year after that, Arjuna single-handedly conquered the entire south. He brought back so much wealth that he was given another name: Dhananjaya. He gave this wealth to Dhitrastra, Yudhistira, Vidura, and Bahlika.

The House of Lac- The House of Death

Duryodhana and Shakuni made a plan to kill the Pandavas. Duryodhana sent them and Kunti to a palace at Varnavrata for a few days. Their plan was to have Purochana burn the palace one night so that the Pandavas would burn in the palace. When Purochana did this, the Pandavas and Kunti barely escaped. Vidura, who was waiting near Varnavrata, helped them cross the Ganga river and advised them to live in the forest for a while. The Pandavas and Kunti followed his advice. In Kuru kingdom, everybody thought that the Pandavas had died.

Arjuna got to know that there was a svayamvara for Draupadi, the princess of Panchala and Drupada’s daughter. He decided to go watch the svayamvara. He sat in the area where the Brahmins sat. The person who strung a huge bow and used to that bow to shoot an arrow at a fish’s eye on the ceiling using the reflection of the fish in a bowl of water would get to marry Draupadi. Many kings tried but failed. Karna was also present there. He easily accomplished the task, but Draupadi rejected him because he was of a low-class. Drupada got really worried. He opened the challenge to any class. Many Brahmins and Vaishyas tried but couldn’t accomplish the task. Finally, Arjuna decided to try.

He accomplished the task easily. He brought Draupadi to the Pandavas’ small hut. When Arjuna led Draupadi to Kunti, he said, “I brought something”. Kunti, who was not paying attention, unknowingly said to share between the five. When Kunti saw that Arjuna meant that he had brought Draupadi as a wife, Kunti was shocked. The five Pandavas were forced to all marry her since Yudhistira refused to disobey his mother.

The Pandavas soon made an agreement with Narada. Every month, one Pandava would get to spend time with Draupadi. If another Pandava interfered, he would have to go on a 12-year pilgrimage. Arjuna had a son from Draupadi named Srutakarma.

Soon, the Pandavas, Draupadi, and Kunti returned to Hastinapura.

Indraprastha, Tirtha Yatra, and Rajasuya Military Campaign

Dhitrastra and Bhishma decided to give a part of Kuru kingdom to the Pandavas. They gave the Pandavas a region called Khandavprastha. This region was every infertile. It was hard to grow crops here. Krishna came there to help the Pandavas. Soon, the Pandavas had built their capital, the great city of Indraprastha.

After the Pandavas built Indraprastha, they focused on other parts of the half of the kingdom that had been given to them. Krishna and Arjuna went to the Khandava forest, thinking of how to make Khandavaprasta into a beautiful city. At that time, Agni appeared in front. He told them how he had been plagued by indigestion due to King Svetaki’s yagna, and he would only be cured if he burned the Khandava forest. (For the full story, see Agni)

“I have tried countless times to burn this forest, but my efforts are always futile due to Indra. His friend Takshaka, the king of the Nagas, resides in this forest. Every time I set off a fire, Indra sends down rains to protect his friend’s tribe,” Agni explained.

Arjuna and Krishna agreed to help Agni. But they needed to arm themselves. Agni gave Arjuna a chariot bearing the flag of Hanuman and four white horses. Arjuna then prayed to Varuna deva, who gave him the Gandiva bow and two inexhaustible quivers.

Agni then started burning the forest. Immediately, Indra sent down a rainstorm, but Arjuna created a canopy of arrows above the forest to block the rain. Krishna used his Sudarshan chakra and assisted Arjuna. Soon, the entire forest was reduced to ashes and Agni was cured of his indigestion. Arjuna took a vow that he would kill whoever asks him to give up the Gandiva.

When the forest had lit, Maya, the divine architect, had run out. Krishna had aimed his chakra at him, by Maya had fallen at the feet of Arjuna and sought protection. Arjuna had stopped Krishna from attacking and had thus saved Maya. Besides Maya, Ashwasena, Takshaka’s son, had also saved himself.

After Khandavadaha, Maya became a loyal friend of Arjuna. He asked Arjuna what he could do in return for saving him from Krishna and the fire. Arjuna said that he didn’t want anything, but Maya insisted. Krishna then suggested that Maya can build a palace for them in Indraprastha. Maya built a very grand palace with many illusions for the Pandavas. Soon, Draupadi made a rule that no other Pandava wives could live in Indraprasta.

Once, Takshaka attacked Indraprastha’s cows and cattle. At that time, Yudhistira and Draupadi were spending time together. Arjuna’s Gandiva was in the room they were in. He quickly got his Gandiva and defeated Takshaka, who ran away in fright. But, since Arjuna had interfered in Draupadi and Yudhistira’s privacy, he had to go on a 12-year pilgrimage.

Arjuna started his pilgrimage by visiting the source of the river Ganga. One day, when he bathing in the Ganga, he was pulled by a really strong current. The current pulled him to deep under the river, where he saw a Naga princess approaching him. She said to him,” I have been watching you for a long time Arjuna. You are really brave and valiant. I wish to marry. Please accept my offer.” After resisting a bit, Arjuna decided to marry her. They married and had a son named Iravan. After a few months of staying at the Naga palace with Ulupi, Arjuna realized he had to leave to continue on his pilgrimage. He said his goodbyes to Ulupi and Iravan and then left.

Arjuna then continued his pilgrimage. He went east, following the Himalayas, till he reached the exotic kingdom of Manipura. When he reached the capital, he spotted the princess of Manipura- Chitrangadaa. He was attracted by her beauty. He went to Chitravaahana, the King of Manipura and asked him,” I am Arjuna. Can I marry your daughter.” Chitravaahana was really happy that Arjuna, the mighty archer, was marrying his daughter. He said,” Yes. But, according to our culture, the son of the King’s daughter becomes the heir. So, can Chitrangadaa stay here after marriage.” Arjuna said,” Sure. Chitrangadaa and our son can stay here.” Chitravaahana was really happy. Arjuna and Chitrangadaa got married and had a son named Babravuhana. After staying at Manipura for a year, Arjuna left to continue on his pilgrimage.

Arjuna passed through many tirthas. He went to South India. Finally, he reached Dwarka. There he met Krishna for the first time and realized he was someone great. Arjuna soon fell in love with Subhadra, Krishna’s sister. He wanted to marry her, but Balrama had already promised to Duryodhana that he could marry Subhadra. Krishna told Arjuna to kidnap Subhadra and take her away from Dwarka. When Arjuna did this, Balrama got really mad, but Krishna was able to calm him down. Arjuna and Subhadra lived in Pushkara for a while.

Finally, Arjuna’s 12-year pilgrimage got over. He and Subhadra returned to Indraprasta. Arjuna remembered Draupadi’s rule about other Pandava wives not living in Indraprasta. He realized Draupadi wouldn’t let Subhadra live in Indraprasta. He disguised Subhadra as a milkmaid. After a few days, Draupadi realized she had been tricked. But, she decided to allow Subhadra to live in the palace.

Soon, news came that Subhadra was going to have a child. Once, when the child was still in Subhadra’s womb, Arjuna started talking to Subhadra about how to break into a chakravyuha. The child inside Subadhra’s womb also heard what Arjuna was saying. When Arjuna started talking about how to escape out of the chakravyuha, Subhadra fell asleep. This resulted in the child not hearing about how to escape out of the chakravyuha. Soon, the child was born, and his name was Abhimanyu.

Yudhistira decided to perform the Rajasuya yagna. He sent his 4 brothers to defeat all the kingdoms in India and collect tribute from them. Arjuna went to the north part of India with a large army.

Kingdoms, Territories and Kings he Defeated: Bhagadatta of Pragjyotisha, Uttarkuru, Kulinda, Kalakuta Region, Devaprastha, Utsava Sanketas, Puru Kingdom, Vahlika, Trigarta, Uluka, Kashmira, Uraga, Avisari, Singhapura, Darada, Northern Kambhoja, Eastern Rishika, Loha

Arjuna came back to Indraprastha with a lot of tribute. The Rajasuya yagna was performed successfully.

Gambling

Duryodhana and Shakuni made another cruel plan. They invited the Pandavas and Draupadi to Hastinapura (capital of Kuru) for a gambling game. Not knowing of the cruel plan, the Pandavas accepted. The Pandavas and Draupadi went to Hastinapura. Shakuni, with his magical dice, made the Pandavas lose everything, including their wealth, jewelry, chariots, Indraprasta and lots more. Soon Yudhistira also lost his brothers and himself.

In the end, Dushasana dragged Draupadi to the court and attempted to disrobe her. Krishna saved Draupadi by continuing to magically add more to her clothing. After a long time. Dushasana gave up. In the end, it was decided that the Pandavas and Draupadi would go into exile for 12 years and incognito for 1 year. If they were identified during incognito they would repeat they exile and incognito.

Exile and Incognito Year

The Pandavas and Draupadi immediately went to Kamyaka forest. They soon arrived at a region called Sairisaka. The made a hut over there. One day, the Pandavas went hunting. They left Draupadi alone with sage Dhaumya and the great ascetic Trinavindu. Jayadratha, who happened to be passing Sairisaka noticed Draupadi. With Jayadratha was Kshemankara (King of Trigarta), 12 kings of Sauvira, Jayadratha’s brothers, Suratha (brother of Kshemankara) and Suratha’s son who was named Kotikasya. Jayadratha kidnapped Draupadi and went away from there.

When the Pandavas got to know about this after they returned, they ran after the tracks of Jayadratha and his followers’ chariots. In the fight that happened, Nakula killed Suratha, Yudhistira killed Kshemankar and Arjuna killed all 12 kings of Sauvira. Jayadratha started to run away. The Pandavas ran after him. When they caught up, Bhima was about to kill Jayadratha, but Yudhistira told Bhima to spare Jayadratha. Bhima eventually shaved Jayadratha’s hair as an insult.

Vyasa told Arjuna to go do penance ans acquire the Pashupashastra from Lord Shiva. He agreed. He started his penance on Indra Keelandri Mountain. While he was doing penance, he saw a boar. He shot the boar with an arrow. At the same time, another arrow shot the boar also from the opposite direction. Arjuna was surprised and wondered where the arrow had come from. A hunter and a gang of tribal men at the spot. The hunter said,” This bore was my kill. I shot it first.” Arjuna argued and said that he shot it first. The hunter challenged Arjuna to a duel. The hunter easily defeated Arjuna.

Arjuna realized that the hunter was Shiva in another form. He bowed down to the hunter. The hunter then turned into Shiva and the tribal people turned into Shivaganas. Arjuna started begging for forgiveness. Shiva then gave Arjuna the Pashupashastra.

After Shiva disappeared from the spot, many devas including Indra, Vayu, Varuna, Kubera, Agni and Tvashtra appeared there and gave Arjuna their weapons. Arjuna received divine weapons such as the Antardhana Astra (from Kubera), Gandharvastra, Aindrastra, Agneyastra, Vayvayastra, Varunastra, Sudaamanastra, Sailastra and the Tvashtraastra.

Indra told Arjuna to come to swarga. Arjuna agreed. He was amazed by the splendor of his father’s palace. He got large meals every day and loads of entertainment. Chitrasena, the Gandharva king, taught him dancing and singing. During Arjuna’s stay at Swarga, Urvashi (an apsara), wanted to marry Arjuna. Arjuna said no because she used to be Puruvas’s husband. Pururavas was his ancestor. Hence, Urvashi was like a mother to Arjuna. When Arjuna called Urvashi mother, she got really mad and cursed him that he would have to live as a eunuch, singing and dancing with women. Indra requested her to reduce her curse. She reduced it so that Arjuna would have to be an eunuch only one year of his life.

Indra asked Arjuna to defeat the Nivata-kavachas and the Kalakanjas at Hiranypura. These were both Asura tribes. Arjuna easily demolished them. Arjuna then left swarga and returned to where his brothers and Draupadi were.

Duryodhana decided to tease the Pandavas on how rich he was and how poor they were. He came to the forest where they were living and set up a camp, right in front of their hut. He brought along tons of wealth to show off. One day, Duryodhana went to bathe in a nearby pond. When he was bathing, a few Gandharvas arrived there. They wanted to bathe in the pond also. Duryodhana refused to let them into the pond. Thus, a fight started. The Gandharvas easily defeated and captured Duryodhana. At that time, Arjuna arrived there. He defeated the Gandharvas and freed Duryodhana. Duryodhana was really ashamed and told Arjuna to ask for a boon. Arjuna replied,” I will surely ask for a boon, but not right now.”

It was now time for the incognito year. The Pandavas made a list of kingdoms they could stay in for the incognito. They decided they would stay in Matsya Kingdom. Each Pandava and Draupadi disguised themselves as someone and took up an occupation. Arjuna remembered the curse Urvashi gave him and decided to be a eunuch named Brihanalla.

Duryodhana and Susharma (King of Trigarta) did a combined attack on Matsya. This was because Duryodhana had guessed that the Pandavas were at Matsya. Virata and his army had gone to the north to attack Susharma and his army. There was no one to attack Duryodhana and the Kuru army. Virata’s young son Uttara said he would attack them. But, he needed a good charioteer. Arjuna (Brihanalla) decided to be his charioteer. When they approached the battlefield, Uttara was frightened when he the size of the Kuru army. It was huge. He forced Brihanalla to retreat. Brihanalla took him to an oak tree where the Pandavas had hidden their weapons before the incognito year. There, he revealed to Uttara that he was Arjuna in disguise. Uttara was shocked. Arjuna took his Gandiva and Uttara became the charioteer. Arjuna single-handedly defeated the entire Kuru army and Bhishma, Drona, Karna, Dushashana, Ashwashtama, and Duryodhana. Meanwhile, Virata and his army defeated Susharma. The Kurus and the Trigartas both retreated.

After the war, since their incognito year was over, the Pandavas revealed their real identity to Virata. He was really shocked.

Kurukshetra War

Duryodhana refused to give the Pandavas Indraprastha back after the exile. He also ignored all peace treaties. Hence, the war was declared. The war occurred at the battlefield of Kurukshetra and lasted 18 days. The Pandavas won the war.

Before the war started, Bhishma gave Duryodhana five golden arrows that would kill the Pandavas no matter what. Krishna got to know this. He reminded Arjuna of the boon Duryodhana had given him earlier and told him to ask for these 5 arrows as a boon. Arjuna did as Krishna advised. Duryodhana was shocked but reluctantly gave away the arrows as he didn’t want to break his promise.

In the war, Krishna became Arjuna’s charioteer. Before the war, when Arjuna was doubtful about killing his own family on the Kaurava side, Krishna gave him the knowledge of the Geeta.

arjuna and krishna

In the war Arjuna killed:

Warrior Killed:Day Killed:Kingdom:
 Karna 17th Anga
 Sudharman 12th Trigarta
 Bhagadatta 12th Pragjyotisha
 Jayadratha14th Sindhu-Sauvira
 Vrishasena 17th Anga
 Vinda 14th Avanti
 Anuvinda 14th Avanti
 Shatrujaya 12th 
 Shrutayaus 14th Ambastha
 Danda 16th Maghada Outskirts
 Dandadhara 16th Maghada Outskirts
 Ashwasena 17th Naga Territories
 Shrutayu 14th Abhishaha
 Achyutayu 14th Abhishaha
 Dirghayu14th Abhishaha
 Niyatayu14th Abhishaha
 Paurava Parvatraja  Sivi
 Vrishaka  Gandhara
 Achala  Gandhara
 Satyasena16th 
 Shatrunjaya 16th 
 Chandradeva 16th 
 Chitravarma 16th 

Arjuna’s son Iravan died on the 8th day. He was killed by Alambusha. Srutakarma was brutally killed by Ashwashtama on the 18th day while sleeping. Babravuhana didn’t participate in the war. He became the king of Manipura after the war.

Ashwamedha Campaign

After the war, Yudhistira became the king of Hastinapura. Yudhistira decided to perform the Ashwamedha yagna. Arjuna was sent to collect tribute from the kingdoms. He soon arrived at Manipura, where his son Babravuhana was king. Babarvuhana came to receive Arjuna with splendor. Arjuna got really angry. He told Babravuhana,” You are a coward. Instead of battling me, you are grandly receiving me as a guest.” Babravuhana realized his mistake and challenged Arjuna to a duel. In the following duel, Babravuhana killed Arjuna. Ulupi arrived at the scene and applied a magical medicine on Arjuna, bringing him back to life.

Soon, Arjuna finished his Ashwamedha military campaign. The yagna was preformed successfully.

Death

After some time, the Pandavas and Draupadi left for their last journey. They went on a final pilgrimage to the Himalayas. Along the way, Draupadi fell to her death. Then Sahadeva fell to his death. After that, Nakula fell to his death. Then Arjuna and Bhima also fell to death. They were being dragged down by all their sins. After dying, Arjuna met  Sahadeva, Nakula, Bhima and Draupadi at swarga along with all his enemies. Soon, Yudhistira also joined them.

Skills

Arjuna was an amazing archer. He was one of the best archers of his time. He shot his arrows really fast and knew many divine astras.

Qualities

Arjuna was really strong. He loved to be challenged. He always listened to his elders and always followed the path of righteousness.

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2 thoughts on “Arjuna: The Master Archer”

  1. Lavanya D Reddy

    I feel Arjun thinks he is a best archer of his time. I think he is a coward like Indra ( as father as son) and have insecurities and lacks self confidence.
    He is not Bold and no courage to stand against Ekalavya and Karna.
    He needs support from his Guru or Krishna the lord to rescue him all the time.
    A mark of a real Warrior is to face any adversities and be fearless of the outcome though. I could not never accept Arjuna as a REAL HERO at all.

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