Arjunavanavasa Parva is the sixteenth upa parva in Adi parva, the first maha parva in Mahabharata. Vyshampayana had narrated the historical events to Janamejaya, on his queries:

Krishna reciting Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna
Krishna reciting Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna

What happened to Yudhishtira and his brothers when they started a new life in the new palace at Indraprastha?

Yudhishtira and his brothers lived happily in the new palace at Indraprastha. Kunti and Draupadi also felt very happy in the new palace. People were also happy under the ruling of Yudhishtira. Indraprastha and Khandavaprastha are adjacent sites and were later merged together.

What Narada had told to Pandava brothers in Indraprastha?

One day, Narada had visited the court of Yudhishtira. Yudhishtira had welcomed Narada with due respect. Then, Narada had discussed with Pandava brothers, many royal matters and other news of the world. After the discussion of various matters, the subject of family dealings had been started. Narada told Yudhishtira to take decisions on certain sensitive items, such as living with one wife, common to the five Pandava brothers, observing additional specific terms and conditions. Narada then advised Yudhishtira to keep the situations always in brotherhood terms and no chance for opinion differences among the brothers.

What is Sundopasundopakhyana?

Narada had advised Yudhishtira not to lead any circumstances towards quarrelling situations within the brothers. As a warning example, Narada had narrated about the brothers called as Sunda and Upasunda who had destroyed themselves in an attempt to marry a single lady, Tilothama, an Apsara.

In the lineage of Hiranyakashupu, there was a demon called Nikumbha. He had twins as children and they were Sunda and Upasunda. When they had grown up, they conducted penance together. They were always together in all their actions. They ate, slept and worshipped the God together. One day, God Brahma appeared before them and asked for their desired boon. They requested God, for the boon of remaining immortal for a long time and that they could be killed only by each other mutually. After getting the boon, they stopped penance and started to rule their kingdom. They were able to change themselves into any desired shape, of animals or reptiles. By disguising their body, they had eaten most of the other animals of the world.

Both Sunda and Upasunda lived as cruel demons annoying other animals. They had conquered all countries of the world and ruled as monarchs. Nobody could fight against them since both of them had got the boon from God Brahma. Also, they were always together in their actions.

Sunda and Upasunda were also always annoying Rishis and other kings for their own happiness. They insisted Rishis to offer oblations to them instead of offering to Indra or to the fire God. They had mercilessly murdered those who did not obey their words. Their naughty actions could not be tolerated by any innocent human beings, and Rishis gathered together and started praying to God Brahma and Indra to get rid of these two demons. Indra ordered Vishwakarma to create a beautiful lady. Brahma and Indra assured Rishis, regarding appropriate remedies to eliminate Sunda and Upasunda.

Indra instructed the newly created lady, the necessary actions to kill the demons and named her as Tilothama. Before leaving Brahma, Tilothama had circumscribed Brahma once and later she wandered more than thousand places of the world. Brahma was sitting and looking towards his own inside like performing penance. Tilothama started from east and then went to south. At four directions, Tilothama bowed to Brahma and in each directions, Brahma had created one head each in the respective four directions. Thus, Brahma got four heads. When Tilothama had halted at thousand places, Indra had opened his various eyes and hence he was named as Sahasraksha and he had become confident about the success of his plans.

Finally, Tilothama appeared in front of the twin demons in the dense forest. Sunda and Upasunda had seen the beauty of Tilothama. Both of the demons desired to marry her. Both of them had mace in their hands. They had started to boast themselves about their eligibilities and the discussion slowly turned into a quarrel. In the quarrel, they had forgotten everything. Then mace fight started between them and they hit simultaneously one another and died. There, it ended.

The story of Sunda and Upasunda had been narrated by Narada to Yudhishtira as a precaution to have an advance planned life and well-defined schedules in rulings.

How Pandava brothers and Drapuadi decided to rule as king and queen for their country? Was there any special instruction to his brothers by Yudhishtira?

Pandava brothers with Kunti and Draupadi had started a new life with well-defined code and rules. Yudhishtira had announced his policies; mainly Draupadi would be always a queen. The weapons of Pandava brothers would be deposited in the room of Draupadi, where the king would be housed during his ruling period.

Each of the brothers would be holding the charge as king for a period of one year. Then he would be allowed to enter the room of Draupadi where the weapons would be preserved. Except the king having the charge as a ruler, other Pandavas are not to enter that room, while Draupadi was present. If any of the other Pandava brothers, having no charge as the king, had happened to enter the room, while there was Draupadi, then he should go for exile for twelve years and live in forests. This was the special instruction to his brothers by Yudhishtira.

Why Arjuna had gone on twelve years exile from Khandavaprastha?

One day, one Brahmin had visited the Palace of Khandavaprastha when the King Yudhishtira was in office. That man had suffered by a theft case of his cow. He was crying and pleading his helpless condition as the robbers were strong and the poor Brahmin could not face them.

Arjuna had heard his narrations and felt extremely sympathetic and thought, under their rulings, nobody should suffer. He was a part of ruler and felt as a strong man to maintain law and order under control. But then Yudhishtira was in the room of Draupadi and in order to chase the robber, Arjuna required his weapons.  As per the condition, if he entered the room to procure his weapons, then he had to go for exile for twelve years to live in forests.

Arjuna had become sympathetic towards the Brahmin. He was ready to go on exile for twelve years. When Yudhishtira was speaking with Draupadi in his room, Arjuna had quickly entered the room and procured his weapons. He immediately chased the robbers and captured the lost cow and returned to the Brahmin. The captured robbers had been produced before the law officers for further penal actions.

Then, as per the conditions, Arjuna had started for twelve years exile to live in forests. But Yudhishtira had allowed him to continue to live in Khandavaprastha, itself and declared him as pardoned since his purpose was motivated by goodwill. Arjuna wanted to stick to the rules. Then, they modified the conditions of exile as the period of pilgrimage changing to live in forests. But Arjuna preferred to live with Rishis who liked to live in forests. 

What isthe story of Uloopi?

As per the orders of the king Yudhishtira, Arjuna had started to go on exile for twelve years. In Khandavaprastha, Arjuna was very popular among the Agnihotri Brahmins and they had followed Arjuna since he was to go on pilgrimage also. They had travelled and gradually moved narrating good stories of divine nature to avoid fatigue on the way. They reached the banks of River Ganga and joined other Agnihotri Brahmins and then on both sides of the Ganga River, the sight of fire oblations in the morning was very much fascinating to everybody and also the divine angels. The persons later had become Rishis.

In the evening, they took bath in the River water and offered Arghyas to Gods. Then they sat in a line on both sides of the River, to perform Sandhya japa. Arjuna had also took bath and was about to come out of the water after offering Arghya water to Gods. Suddenly, one Naga lady had grabbed his hands and requested to go to her palace. Arjuna had asked the whereabouts of her palace. She told Arjuna as she was the daughter of the Naga king called Kauravya and born on the lineage of Iravatha. Her name was Uloopi. As per her request, Arjuna visited her palace and slept for that night there as their guest and on the following early morning, joined other Rishis on the banks of the River Ganga.

Since the Naga palace was under water, lower than water level of River Ganga, Arjuna had to come out successfully on the following day, moving on the path as guided by Uloopi, the Nagakanya. The Nagaraja, her father, was very happy to see Arjuna. Since he was out of Khandavaprastha for the next eleven years, the Nagas felt free to go out of water and started to live near Khandavaprastha. Those Nagas had lived for more than ten years at Indraprastha. They abandoned the area and left that place before Khandavadaha by Arjuna. Arjuna was given a boon, by the happy, thankful Uloopi, the Nagakanya, a special power by which he would conquer any animals residing in water. This boon was very helpful for Arjuna to eradicate the curses of the five apsaras later when he was returning from Manipur.

Arjuna had joined the other Rishis and continued his pilgrimage.

What is the story of Chitrangada?

After travelling Anga, Vanga and Kalinga, Arjuna had reached Manipura. In that country, there were many Rishis who welcomed Arjuna. He performed fire rituals and gave donations to the eligible, deserving people. Later Arjuna had been requested by the king of that country to marry his daughter, Chitrangada. But he told them the truth of twelve years exile period after which he had to return to Khandavaprastha.

How many years did Arjuna spend with Chitrangada?

Since Arjuna had already told the truth of the exile period, Chitrangada had allowed him to move freely after three years of his life at Manipura country. Arjuna had spent three years after marriage with Chitrangada and continued his pilgrimage.  

What was the special boon offered to king Prabhankara by God Shiva?

King Prabhankara was ruling Manipura or Manalur. He was a pious man. His predecessors were also worshippers of God Shiva. One of the kings after penance got a boon from God Shiva as there would be always one child to the king. Hence for many years, there was always a prince for the ruling king as an inheritor. Then there was Prabhankara but at his time, that child was a female. Prabhankara had brought her up like a prince and provided her freedom to choose her own husband.

Thus, Chitrangada was that child, then grown up and she desired to marry Arjuna and intimated her father. Her father also agreed and told Arjuna regarding the boon also. After marriage with Chitrangada, Arjuna had spent three years in Manipura. The son of Chitrangada was named Chitravahana and he assured to them, after reaching Khandavaprastha on completion of the twelve years exile and pilgrimage, he would call them to his palace and they could visit him, if they desired.

Then, within India, there were several holy places remaining to visit and in the remaining period, he had to complete his pilgrimage. In the hurry, while returning, he crossed the holy River Ganga, without saluting her. So she cursed Arjuna to forget about Chitravahana and Chitrangada. Anyhow, immediately he understood his mistakes and begged her pardon. But the curse could not be taken back by River Ganga. Arjuna was very brave and prayed to God Shiva later. God Shiva had relaxed the curse by putting another condition. Arjuna would remember his son as Chitravahana only after a fight and if Arjuna had been defeated by his own son.

Who were the five Apsaras and what they have done to Arjuna?

One Rishi was performing penance. Around his seat, at a distance, there were five lakes and water was flowing as five streams from them. One day, five apsaras, with names Varga, Saurabheyi, Sameechi, Budbudha and Latha came there. They tried to sing, laugh and dance as per their will and desire. They disturbed his concentration, silence and penance. Due to the disturbances, the Rishi had cursed them to become crocodiles and to live for hundred years in those five lakes.

The water was so transparent and Arjuna desired to take bath in the first stream called Saubhadra. The other local Rishis warned him not to go near any one of the streams as the crocodiles would pull the legs of the human beings and eat them. But then Arjuna had already plunged into the water and Varga, the crocodile suddenly pulled his legs. The other Rishis had been awe stuck. Arjuna had remembered the boon of Uloopi and pulled the crocodile out of water, brought it in front of the Rishis. The crocodile was powerless when it was out of water.

Arjuna then jumped to the remaining four streams and pulled the four other crocodiles out of water.  Arjuna had placed, all the five crocodiles, in a row and suddenly all the five aquatic animals had removed their crocodile body and five apsaras had evolved from them and stood above the ground, saluting Arjuna as if they were thanking him.   

How the five cursed Apsaras have been liberated by Arjuna?

Arjuna had thanked the Nagakanya, Uloopi, for her provision of the special powers to conquer animals under water. When the crocodiles had touched the feet of Arjuna, who had performed pilgrimage and visited many holy places, their sins had been removed and also their curses had been removed. Thus they had been liberated and they had fled into heaven.  

Where Arjuna had gone after liberating the five Apsaras?

Arjuna had gone to Gokarna after liberating the five Apsaras. Gokarna is a very holy place where God Shiva and his son Ganesha always bless their worshippers. Later Arjuna had visited a good number of holy places and finally reached Prabhasa. When Arjuna had reached Prabhasa, the news had spread to many places. Krishna from Dwaraka had also heard about the pilgrimage of Arjuna and desired to meet him at Prabhasa.

There was a cruel king in Magadha called Jarasandha. Krishna with Balarama had migrated to Dwaraka to avoid the cruelty of Jarasandha. Satyaki was an active commando for Krishna. Krishna had advised Satyaki to be a disciple of Arjuna and to learn the most crucial war techniques from him. Kritavarma was an active commander in chief for Narayani Sena of Balarama. Balarama had advised Kritavarma to arrange a festival in Raivata Mountain for living away from Dwaraka for a short summer period since Jarasandha could not attack their military there. All the family members of Krishna and his military people went to Raivata Mountain except Krishna himself. Then Krishna alone went to Prabhasa to meet Arjuna.

At Prabhasa, Krishna and Arjuna had met each other and were very happy. Arjuna was called as Nara and Krishna was called as Narayana. They had spent a few days together in Prabhasa by performing penance together. There was no need for penance in the case of Krishna but for demonstrating to Arjuna, he had also performed it. A few people from Dwaraka and Raivata Mountain also visited Prabhasa to have the Darshan of Nara and Narayana together. After visiting Arjuna and Krishna, they had returned to Dwaraka to make arrangements for their reception to Dwaraka. Then Krishna and Arjuna had also gone to Raivata Mountain to see the festival at Raivata Mountain.

Next post, Mahabharata: Subhadradarshana parva would be more interesting.

Mahabharata: Subhadravivaha Parva would be presented separately in another article.

It is humbly prayed for the blessings of God Krishna upon us.

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