Reading Guide. As you can imagine, making a marriage work with five husbands and just one wife is complicated. Arjuna accidentally breaks the rules established for their living arrangements, and as a result he must leave for a period of individual exile, and during that exile, he has a series of extraordinary adventures! The encounter with the Naga princess Ulupi is one of the most famous of those adventures.
Source. Indian Myth and Legend by Donald A. Mackenzie (1913). [300 words]
The brethren lived happily together. In accordance with the advice of a rishi, they made a compact that when one of them was sitting beside Draupadi, none of the others should enter, and that if one of them should be guilty of intrusion, he must needs go into exile for the space of twelve years.
As it chanced, Yudhishthira was sitting with Draupadi one day when a brahmin, whose cattle had been carried off, hastened to Arjuna and entreated him to pursue the band of robbers. The weapons of the prince were in the king's palace, and to obtain them Arjuna entered the room in which Yudhishthira and Draupadi sat, thus breaking the compact made by the brethren. He hastened after the robbers and recovered the stolen cattle, which he brought back unto the brahmin.
On his return to the palace, Arjuna said unto his brother that he must needs become an exile for twelve years to expiate his offense. Yudhishthira, however, sought to prevail upon him not to depart. But Arjuna made answer that he had pledged his oath to fulfil the terms of the compact. "I cannot waver from truth," he said; "truth is my weapon." So when he had bidden farewell to Kunti and Draupadi and his four brethren, he took his departure from the city of Indraprastha. And a band of brahmins went with him.
Arjuna wandered through the jungle, and he visited many holy places. One day he went unto Haridwar, where the Ganges flows upon the plain, and he bathed in the holy waters.
There he met with Ulupi, daughter of Vasuki, king of the nagas, who had great beauty. She loved him, and she led him to her father's palace, where he abode a time, and she gave him the power to render himself invisible in water. A child was born unto them, and he was named Iravat.