Saturday, January 17, 2009

PDE Mahabharata: Arjuna and Subhadra


Reading Guide. As you will see throughout this epic, Arjuna has a special connection to Krishna, and in this episode you will see how he comes to marry Subhadra, who is Krishna's sister.

Source. Indian Myth and Legend by Donald A. Mackenzie (1913). [500 words]



Chitra | 33. Arjuna and Subhadra | Burning the Forest


Arjuna passed through many strange lands, travelling westward, and at length he reached the city of Prabhasa, which is nigh to Dwaraka, on the southern sea, the capital of his kinsman Krishna, rajah of the Yadavas.

Krishna welcomed Arjuna, and took the Pandava hero to dwell in his palace. Then he gave a great feast on the holy mountain of Raivataka, which lasted for two days. Arjuna looked with love upon Krishna's fair sister, Subhadra, a girl of sweet smiles, and desired her for a bride.

Now it was the wish of Balarama that Subhadra should be given unto Duryodhana, whom, indeed, she would have chosen had a swayamvara been held. So Krishna advised Arjuna to carry her away by force, in accordance with the advice of the sages, who had said aforetime, "Men applaud the kshatriyas who win brides by abducting them."

When the feast was over, Arjuna drove his chariot from the holy mountain towards Dwaraka until he came nigh to Subhadra. Nimbly he leapt down and took her by the hand and lifted her into his chariot; then he drove hastily towards the city of Indraprastha.

Balarama was greatly angered and desired to pursue Arjuna, and he spoke to Krishna, saying, "Thou art calm, and I can perceive that Arjuna has done this thing with thy knowledge. Thou shouldst not have given our sister unto him without my consent. But let the deed be upon his own head, for I will pursue him and slay him and his brethren, one and all."

Said Krishna, "Arjuna is our kinsman and of noble birth, and is a worthy husband for Subhadra. If thou wilt pursue him and bring back our sister, no one else will marry her now because that she hath been in the house of another. Better were it that we should send messengers after Arjuna and invite him to return here, so that the marriage may be held according to our rites."

Balarama said, "So be it, seeing that thou art well pleased with this matter."

Thus it came to pass that messengers followed Arjuna and prevailed upon him to return with Subhadra to Dwaraka. A great feast was then held, and they were married with pomp and in state. And Arjuna abode at the court of Krishna for many months, until the time of his exile came to an end.

When Arjuna returned to Indraprastha with Subhadra, he was received with great rejoicing by his brethren. He went unto Draupadi and greeted her, but she said coldly, "Why come hither? Where is the sister of Krishna?"

Arjuna soothed her with gentle words, and then Subhadra approached Draupadi, attired in red silk, but in the simple fashion of a keeper of cows, and made obeisance before her, saying, "I am thy handmaiden."

Draupadi embraced the sister of Krishna and said, "Let thy husband be without an enemy."

The heart of Subhadra was filled with joy at these words; she said, "So be it."

Thus was peace made; the two women thereafter loved one another, and to Kunti both were very dear.

Now Draupadi became the mother of five sons to her five husbands, and Subhadra had one son only, and his name was Abhimanyu, who in the years that followed was an illustrious warrior.


Chitrangada | Arjuna and Krishna | Burning the Forest




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