Subhadradarshana Parva is the seventeenth upa parva in the first maha parva, named as Adi parva, in Mahabharata. Vyshampayana had narrated the historic events to Janamejaya, on his queries:

Who had arranged the festival at Raivata Mountain?

The king of Dwaraka was Balarama. His commander in chief was Kritavarma. His army was known as Narayani Sena. Balarama always accepted the opinions of Krishna before the commencement of any new work. On the orders of Balarama, Kritavarma had arranged the festival in the Mountain of Raivata. The father of Krishna, Vasudeva, had also supported the festival. The people from Mathura and Dwaraka had attended the common festival at Raivata Mountain.

Arjuna and Subhadra in a horse-drawn chariot towards Dwaraka
Arjuna and Subhadra in Krishna’s chariot moving towards Dwaraka

Why the festival at Raivata Mountain had been arranged?

Few people had settled in Dwaraka who had migrated from Mathura along with Krishna and Balarama. Raivata Mountain was well protected by Kritavarma. The people from Mathura also visited Raivata Mountain during the festival. The people of Vrishni or Yadu lineage worshipped Nature on the solar New Year day, generally known as Sauramana Yugadi. In Bhagavatha Purana also, Govardhana Mountain worship is mentioned. Every year, they celebrate the festival at Raivata Mountain as a common point of meeting and worshipping nature. In the Raivata Mountain, they felt safe and there was no disturbance from the king of Magadha, named as Jarasandha.

There were many reasons for the festival held at Raivata Mountain. The Rishi people who were weak in physique could visit neither Dwaraka nor Mathura, but could have darshan of Krishna at Raivata Mountain. But Krishna had a far sighted and secret aim in arranging the festival. The Yadu dynasty people were living under fear of the Magadha king Jarasandha and Krishna wanted a permanent remedy for this problem. There was a sister for Krishna called Subhadra. One day, Duryodhana and Bheema had come to learn mace war techniques from Balarama. After a few days, they had learned the techniques and returned to their own homes. Later, Duryodhana had become the ruler of Hastinapur.

Krishna and Balarama thought, if they give their sister in marriage to the strongest kings of Hastinapur or Khandavaprastha, then Jarasandha would not dare to disturb them. Therefore, Vasudeva, father of Subhadra had accompanied her to the festival so that she would be introduced to Pandava or Kaurava brothers in the festival, in case if they visit there.

Who attended the festival at Raivata Mountain?

The festival at Raivata Mountain had been attended by Balarama with his wife Revati. The daughter of Vasudeva and Devaki, Subhadra also attended with many of her attendants and maids in aid. Since there was frequent life threats from the Magadha king Jarasandha, Kritavarma was very vigilant at Raivata Mountain with his Narayani sena troops. Sathyaki and many others from Mathura also attended the festival.

How many horses had been tied to the chariot of Krishna to attend the festival?

Two horses had been tied to the chariot of Krishna and it was decorated with golden bells. There were soft pillows also for comfortable seating. Krishna had first visited Prabhasa, met with Arjuna, and after spending a few days, invited Arjuna to the festival at Raivata Mountain. Krishna and Arjuna travelled in the same chariot with royal glories to the festival.

Where Arjuna had seen Subhadra for the first time?

Arjuna had seen Subhadra for the first time in the Raivata Mountain festival. Subhadra was surrounded by many attendants and Arjuna could not ask her opinions regarding marriage. Krishna told Arjuna if he liked to marry Subhadra, then he would convey the message to his father Vasudeva for arranging their marriage.

Who had permitted Arjuna to marry Subhadra?

Arjuna told Krishna about the requirement of permission of Yudhishtira for his marriage with Subhadra. Then Krishna allowed Arjuna to meet Yudhishtira and seek his permission. Arjuna was permitted by Yudhishtira for the marriage with great happiness. But Arjuna was waiting to get the opinion of Subhadra personally.

Who had brought Subhadra from Raivata Mountain to Dwaraka Palace?

Krishna left his chariot to Subhadra and Arjuna. All others, except the security guardians of Subhadra, started to return to Dwaraka. Balarama and Revati with their father also started towards Dwaraka. Then, a problem had arisen. There were persons in the security wing who had never seen Arjuna before. Subhadra had driven the chariot and Arjuna was sitting comfortably with the pillows in the chariot.

When the chariot moved towards Dwaraka, some of them feared the new guy in that chariot might be a man of Jarasandha and thus started to protest him. But Arjuna was ready with his bows and arrows. They complained to Balarama as if it could be an abduction of Subhadra. Later, Krishna explained to Balarama and his kinsmen and brought the situation under control. Arjuna had got the consent of Subhadra for marriage when she had driven the chariot towards Dwaraka accommodating him in the same chariot.

Why there was a false propaganda regarding Subhadra and Arjuna?

Balarama intended to give away in marriage Subhadra to Duryodhana, his disciple in learning mace fight. When Subhadra and Arjuna travelled in the chariot towards Dwaraka, due to misunderstanding, the security persons discussed with Balarama and guessed their journey as abduction. But Krishna explained the eligibilities and efficiency of Arjuna and convinced against the false propaganda. The chariot belonged to Krishna and then the charioteer was Subhadra and they understood the true situation. 

How the marriage of Subhadra and Arjuna had been fixed?

After travelling many holy places, Arjuna finally returned from Prabhasa to the festival at Raivata Mountain. Arjuna appeared as if he was a monk. Initially, few persons like Kunti and others thought the new lady with Arjuna might be a milkmaid since Arjuna had gone on pilgrimage for twelve years. The marriage was conducted by Balarama with glorious pomp and show but the couple had remained like a monk and a milkmaid till they had entered Khandavaprastha. Vasudeva and Devaki had fixed the marriage of Subhadra with Arjuna but due to the fear of Jarasandha there was limited publicity regarding it.

अयोध्या मथुरा मया काशी कान्ची अवन्तिका
 पुरी द्वारावती तथा सप्तैते मोक्ष दायका:

Meaning: Ayodhya, Mathura, Mayapura, Kashi, Kanchi, Avantika or Ujjain, Puri, as well as Dwaraka are the seven holy places for pilgrimage, where Arjuna had visited and completed the twelve years term of his exile. As a proof of visit to Dwaraka, he had brought Subhadra to Indraprastha.

In order to gain virtues, people visited holy places within India. The travelling was almost on foot and Balarama had completed the visit of the same holy places within one fortnight period during the Great War of Mahabharat.

Next post, Mahabharat: Subhadravivaha would be more interesting.

Mahabharat: Khandavadahana would be presented separately in another article.

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

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