Thursday, 15 December 2011

Arjuna acquires astras. Visiting Mahabharata 73

The abode of Pandavas
Yudhisthira with the holy sages.
 Time must have weighed heavily on the pandavas. While both the narrations deal with their feelings, both expressed and suppressed, they fall short in describing their lives in the forest. However, Samhita depicts them in her delightful sketches. She adds that Yudhisthira was happy in the forest meditating but her brothers were bored! She leaves it to us think about how Draupadi felt.

Providentially sage Vyaasa appears (In author 
 Kamala's version) and supports Yudhisthira  by suggesting that it is too early to think of a war as Kauravas have now become stronger. He advises them that Arjuna should acquire pashupatha astra from Lord Shiva and get more astras, which were promised earlier by god Indra! He also suggests that they move back to Kamyaka, which they do.

It is already their sixth year in exile. Arjuna bids farewell to the family goes up north to the Himalayas and reaches Indrakila. Indra appears, first as a sage, (It is how it is with gods! They test you before they show up in their true form.) advises Arjuna to shed his weapons as it the abode of rishis and a place of peace.When Arjuna demurs, he reveals himself and asks Arjuna what he wants. When Arjuna explains his need for divine astras, Indra advises that he should first perform penance and please Lord Shiva and obtain pasupatha astra and that he will come later and disappears!

Arjuna performing a penance to please lord shiva.
Arjuna performs intense penance and Shiva finally appears in the form of  a hunter and his consort Parvati as a huntress! At this moment Arjuna is attacked by a Rakshasa who has taken  the form of a wild boar. The arrows of both Arjuna and Shiva hit the wild boar at the same time and there is an argument  between Arjuna and Shiva as to who had transgressed the rules of hunting! A fight ensues and Arjuna discovers his opponent is too strong and is about to loose his fight. He offers a prayer to shiva in his mind and places a garland on the image of shiva and is shocked when he sees it on the neck of the hunter! Arjuna realsies that he has been fighting with shiva and falls at his feet. The lord pleased at his bravery, reveals himself along with Parvati and gives him the pashupatha astra and disappears.

Soon the many gods who were witness to the fight between Shiva and Arjuna land on Indrakila and bless Arjuna. Varuna the lord of the oceans, Kubera the lord of riches, Yama the lord of death and Indra his father, all certain that he will use them wisely,  bestow their astras and bless him and vanish. Soon Matali the charioteer of Indra appears and takes him to Indralokha.

( Raghu reminded me about this bas-relief monolith at Mahabalipuram. It appears the whole world is keenly watching Arjuna's penance anticipating Shiva's arrival at any moment!)
Arhuna's penace at Mahabaipuram.

Photo by maremagna: courtsey



The bas-relief in Mahabalipuram beautifully depicts this episode.

Prakash said...


Reading your blog on the Mahabharata I came across this link which is very interesting.

After you finish reading this I am sure you will be as stunned as I was.


srinidhi said...

Thanks Prakash. In fact, I had seen this website in one my searches about Hastinapura! Interesting read!