Chapter 03 – Arjuna weds

Arjuna was not alone when he left. He journeyed like a king, accompanied by many brahamanas reciting from hold Vedas. They were with him to help him in the forest.

One day Arjuna, in his travels came and had a bath in the Ganges. This was near the foothills of the Himalayas. In the cool morning air, this prince took a dip in the river, clad in a silk cloth. He then took some water in his and offered that to the Gods. He took another dip. He was about to leave when something pulled him off.

I was there, hiding, watching him. The virgin widow of the Naga King, I was smitten with desire watching this dark handsome man, naked (the cloth covering him was wet and clinging to his body) each and every muscle perfectly defined, in his body. I could take it no more. I kidnapped him and before he could realize what had happened, he was off to my kingdom.

My fast chariots carried us swiftly to my kingdom. When Arjuna came to his senses , he saw himself in a room with no roof. Sunlight was coming in and a sacrificial fire was burning there with all material needed for worship, closeby. Seeing that fire Arjuna performed his worship with devotion. After finishing his worship Arjuna looked around. He hard some movement and it seemed to someone running. Anklets were heard. Which meant there was a girl or a woman around. Arjuna suddenly realized that all he had on was a single piece of cloth. Embarrased he tried to cover his modesty with his hands and waited to see what would happen next. He then saw me.

I will not forget the scene. A well built man, scars on his shoulder from holding the bow. Defined features. Long hair. Dark complexion. Two hands in front of his loins trying to protect himself. He seemed amazed and embarassed and confused. I asked him to relax. I told him he was my guest and that I had brought him there. I wanted to know who he was and what was doing in the hills. Also I called my staff and asked them to fetch clothes for the guest.

Dressed and relaxed, Arjuna told me about himself. He was comfortable talking to me. I was lost in him. The feeling seemed mutual. He stayed with me for a few days. We got married in Gandharva style. He made love to me.

After a few days, he relaized he needed to leave. He asked me to go with him, but I refused. My place was with my people, I told him. I told him my heart would be with him and I would be there with him always. He was lonely. He had won Panchali and now she was the wife of all five brothers. I would not leave my land, so I could not be his. He wanted someone his own. I asked him to go to Manipur and said I would leave him there.

With a heavy heart we decided to part. He refused to deck himself and said he was in exile now and was not a prince. I took him to Manipur. He went to explore the kingdom and I went back home to my land to be with my people.

Was this my last meeting with him? I was sad. I was heart broken. Fate had other things in store and somewhere I had a role to play in that. I was also happy. Unknown to Arjuna, I was carrying Arjuna’s seed. That was my consolation.

Arjuna met Chitravahana, the ruler of Manipur. He introduced himself and was hartily welcomed. He met the beautiful Chitrangada there. She was Chitravahana’s only child. Arjuna desired to possess her. He asked for her hand. Chitravahana then told him about Prabhajana. Prabhanjana was childless. He prayed to Mahadeva and was given a boon. The boon was that he would have a child. Everyone in his race would one child child only, is born to every successive descendant of his race. So far there had been only sons. Chitravahana had a daughter. She had been brought up like a son and she was destined to bear the heir to his kingdom. He could not let Chitrangada out of his site. He told Arjuna that he could marry Chitrangada but when she had a child, she would not leave with Arjuna. Arjuna stayed for a few years in Manipur. When Chitrangada at last gave birth to a son, Arjuna left Manipur.

Around this time my son was born too.

He wandered around and one day while taking a bath in river, he was attacked by a crocodile. Arjuna was strong. With all his might he dragged the crocodile from the water. The moment he did that, the crocodile changed into a beautiful maiden. She said had been cursed as she had to entice a sage, deep in meditation. He told us that Arjuna, the mighty prince would deliver us from our curse.

Travelling west wards, Arjuna reached Prabhasha. This was the land of Krishna, Arjuna’s dear friend and cousin. Krishna welcomed him. He told Krishna about the brahmana, his cows, about me, about Chitrangada and his son and about the crocodile.
Krishna took him to Dwarka so could see Krishna’s land and be His guest.

There Arjuna met Bhadra. The beautiful girl was so nice in her looks and nature that all called her SuBhadra. She was Krishna’s sister. Knowing that Arjuna liked his sister, and also knowing what fate had in store, Krishna agreed to give his sister away to Arjuna. With Arjuna’s consent, Krishna requested Vasudeva’s permission. Vasudeva was the father of Krishna and SuBhadra. He agreed to the match.

Krishna’s elder brother was against the match. Krishna advised Arjuna to abduct SuBhadra. He had asked SuBhadra and she had told Krishna that she liked Arjuna wanted to be his wife. Krishna told Arjuna to deck a charriot with all possible weapons and wait near a temple, where SuBhadra would be coming to worship the Gods.

When SuBhadra was coming out of the temple, Arjuna abducted her. Krishna reasoned with his father and others advising them to agree to let Arjuna take SuBhadra away. All agreed and Krishna himself went and fetched both his sister and Arjuna. They were married with full celebrations and when the time of the exile was over, along with SuBhadra, Arjuna left for Khandavaprastha.

He paid his respects to his brother and then approached Panchali. She refused to speak to him and asked him to go to where his new love was. Arjuna decided to do something. He asked SuBhadra to dress like a maid and approach Panchali. SuBhadra paid respects to Kunti and then approached Panchali and said she was there to serve the queen of KhandavaPrashtha. Struck by her humility, Panchali embraced her.

Krishna then took his elder brother to visit SuBhadra. Yudhisthira welcomed all. Balabhadra, Krishna’s brother, seeing his sister happy was pleased. All his anger gone, he blessed all and left. Krishna decided to stay in his aunt’s house. Arjuna’s mother, Kunti, was Krishna’s father, Vasudeva’s sister.

Soon a son was born to Subhadra. He was called Abhimanyu. Around this time Panchali also gave bith to her children.
Prativindhya by Yudhishthira, Sutasoma by Bhima, Srutakarman by Arjuna, Satanika by Nakula, and Srutasena by Sahadeva were born to her by each of her five husbands. Sacred thread ceremony was performed for all the six princes.

Chitrangada’s son was Vabruvahan and my son was Iravat. They grew seperately. I met Chitrangada a few times. We shared a similar story. We both had sons from the same man. We both were not with our love. Due to this, our friendship grew. Our sons became good friends.

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Chapter 02 – Arjuna’s Exile

Pandavas (Yudhishtira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva) passed their days in joy and happiness at Khandavaprastha with Krishna, their cousin, well wisher and guide. And Yudhishthira. endued with great energy and ever adhering to truth, having obtained the sovereignty, virtuously ruled the land, assisted by his brothers. One day the great sage, Narada, in course of his wanderings, visited the Pandavas. Panchali paid respect to the sage along with the Pandavas and stood with folded hands.
After Panchali had left, Narada addressed the Pandavas that they were all married to Panchali and they needed to establish a rule amongst so that so disunion took place among the brothers. He then told them of the two Asura brothers, Sunda and Upasunda who were very united and who lost their lives because of the celestial dancer, Tilottama. The Pandavas wanted to know more of this. Narada then told the story.

In olden days, the strong and mighty asura Nikumbha had two sons called Sunda and Upasunda. Both of them were mighty Asuras endued with great energy and ever engaged in achieving the same tasks and ends. They shared with each other, their happiness and sorrows. They sat on the mountains of Vindhya prayed there. After severe penance, Lord Brahma appeared and asked them to get what they wanted. The brothers wanted to have the knowledge of all weapons and also wanted to master the art of illusion. They also wanted a boon that they should fear no one except each other.

Sunda and Upasunda then cut off their matted locks that had grown in their heads. They went home, cleaned and dressed themselves and settled down. Sunda and Upasunda wanted to rule over all and set out to do so. The brothers set out with a huge army well decked and armed. Due to Brahma’s boons, they conquered Swarga, the Nagas of Patala and the Mlechchhas who lived on the coast. Then they started killing all Brahamans they saw offering prayers to Gods. The Asura warriors now called themselves Gods and wanted to be worshipped. The frightened sages fled and Sunda and Upasunda started destroying the temples built for various Gods.

When the Gods saw this they were saddened. Brahma felt guilty as He had given the boons to the brothers. He requested Vishwakarma to create a woman, whose beauty was capable of captivating any heart. Vishmakarma collected all that he needed and set to work. It was time taking. He formed a model and modelled it all things beautiful. There was not even a minute part of her body which by its wealth of beauty could not attract the gaze of beholders. She was named Tilottama – every part of her being supreme. He made it move and trained it to speak, sing and dance. This beautiful damsel then set forth to destroy Sunda and Upasunda.

The Asura brothers having conquered all they could think of, were happy. They roamed the earth, happy in each other’s company. One day they saw a beautiful woman dressed in a single piece of red silk cloth coming towards them. She was plucking flowers. The asuras were smitten by her beauty and each wanted her. Sunda said she would be his and asked Upasunda to stay away, while he had the damsel. Upasunda said the same to Sunda. Maddened by their desire the brothers started quarreling with each, they fighting with each and later killed each other. The damsel, Tilottama, then went away, her purpose accomplished.

When Arjuna had won Panchali and taken her home, he had just said from the door to his mother , Kunti – See what I got home. The Pandavas were then in exile. They used to beg for food, dressed as Brahmanas. Kunti had thought they had some alms and she, unknowingly had said whatever it was, was to be shared between the brothers.

So Panchali had married all the five brothers.

 

The Pandavas did not want any discord to come in between themselves. They established a rule and promised to keep that. In the presence of Narada, they said that when one of them was with Panchali in her chambers and if knowingly, any other brother saw that, he would have to go the forest for twelve year exile. The rule established, the Pandavas carried on with their lives in Khandavaprastha.

One day a brahmana was robbed of his cattle. Khandavaprastha being near the brahaman’s home, he came and approached the Pandavas and wanted help. Arjuna heard the Brahmana and he decided to help him. The only problem now was, his weapons were in the room where Yudhishtira and Panchali were together. Arjuna decide that it was more important to help the brahman than to worry about the exile. He entered the chamber and talked with Yudhishthira. Coming out with his weapons he asked the brahmana to show where the robber was hiding. It was not one robber but many. Arjuna defeated the robbers and they returned the cattle and fled. Arjuna went back and Yudhishtira to permit him to leave for his exile. Yudhishtira said Arjuna had gone into the room to perform his duty and had been compelled to do so. There was no sin there, Arjuna could stay back. Arjuna said that duty was duty and so was a promise. It needed to be kept. Taking off his royal robes, Arjuna prepared himself and left his home, to spend twelve years in the forest.

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Chapter 01 – Ulupi

I am at the river bank. The banks of the river Iravati, the river named after the mother of the great Naga king Airavata. I dangle my feet in the water. My clothes are getting wet.  Oblivious I sit on the beach. Close by I see a friend, a companion play with her grandchildren. I see her. When I look at her, I both sad and happy. Happy for her. Happy that a friend is happy. I am also sad. Very Sad. My heart cries out. If all was fine, I would have had my son with me. Today he is not there. My husband is not with me. I sit here all alone.

My skin is wrinkled, my hair grey. I walk with a help of a stick. My people are there to fulfill all my wishes. Happiness around me. And I am sad.

I am old now. Feeble. An old queen. No longer a queen but still treated as one. My subjects have been good to me. They have been kind to me when I have been said, they have been beside me when I have needed them. Now I want to be alone.

Dusk approaches. Also time for the tide to come in. My companions pull off the bank of the river. It is now time to go home.

Home.

A home is one has laughter. One has family. One has someone who can be called one’s own.

My home is empty. I have servants. I have friends. No family.

I think of days gone by. When I close my eyes and think I feel I can still hear the laughter of my companions as they run around. Chasing me, Playing Hide and Seek. Dodging the guava trees, the banana groves, the mango trees, hiding behind bushes. Running in the water,playing on the river bank, trying to catch the small water insects.

I see myself steling flowers, stealing fruits, playing games. Growing up. The daughter of the king, I had many friends. My whole life was full of fun and laughter. I was at no loss.

I see three girls running , playing, happy oblivious of the future. One of them is the daughter of the Naga King, Kauravya. That is me, your unfortunate, Uloopi.

I had been named Uloopi as I had a beautiful face, I am told. When in the summer evenings, I would stand near the jasmine vine, wearing jasmine garlands, artists would throng to capture me on their canvas, poets would come for a glimpse of my beauty, to write about their princess.

I see my myself, being trained, educated. The best of the teachers coming to teach me. I grew up, skilled in letters and also war craft. I also learnt medicine. The art of the physicians fascinated me. They would pluck leaves from various plants, mix them together and people would get well after that.

I trained my self to be a medicine girl. I learnt the sciences from the greatest of the sages. It was expected that I learn that. My mother would tell me that all Naga people knew the science and I was no exception.

My quest for knowledge was big. I kept learning. Then I discovered the hidden texts. The science of Sanjivani. The way to bring the dead to life. This too was a science. I learnt of the plants to be collected, how to process them and how to use them.

Weapons were another fascination. I learnt how to wield a sword, how to hold a bow, how to shoot arrows. I practiced well.

Arts were taught to me. I learnt the veena, I learnt singing and I learnt dancing.

I was the only child. When I attained youth , I was married off to a naga king, in the clan of Takshaka.

Like many other women I went off to my husband’s home.

A day after my wedding , my husband had to go to a war.

He went and never returned alive.

I was a widow. A young widow.

I was young, my beauty with me, pining for love, pining for a male companion.

My life went, sometime in my husband’s land, in the kingdom of Takshashila, on the banks of the Iravati river, or sometimes in my father’s home.

I tried my attention to learning. I read a lot, learnt all I could, pining for that one person who would come in my life and free me, deliver me from my passion.

 

 

 

 

 

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