Curses on Arjuna
Mahabharata is full of incidents of curses, yet when curses are mentioned with reference to Mahabharata in Indian mythology, we would normally associate Karna, but Arjuna also had some curses. But this can be argued that though these have been curses, Arjuna was able to use them to his and Pandava’s advantage.
Curse of Vasus
Chitrangada, in the Hindu epic Mahabharata, is one of Arjuna’s wives. Arjuna travelled through India during his term of exile of twelve years. His visited Manipur in the eastern Himalayas, an almost mystic kingdom renowned for its natural beauty. There, he met Chitrangada, the daughter of the king of Manipur, and was moved to seek her hand in marriage.
Her father demurred on the plea that, according to the matrilineal customs of his people, the children born of Chitrangada were heir to Manipur; he could not allow his heirs to be taken away from Manipur by their father. Arjuna agreed to the stipulation that he would take away neither his wife Chitrangada nor any children borne by her from Manipur and wedded the princess on this premise. A son, whom they named Babruvahana, was soon born to the couple.
Babruvahana would succeed his grandfather as king of Manipur. Long after the battle of Kurukshetra, Yudhishthira decided to conduct the Aswamedha Yaga. The yaga horse enters the dominion of Manipur, where Arjuna challenges their King Babruvahana for a fight. Babruvahana kills his father in the ensuing battle. However Arjuna’s snake-wife Uloopi resuscitates him to life by using the magical mritasanjivani gem owned bythe Nagas.
Arjuna’s death in the battle is also attributed to the curse of the Ashta-Vasus. The Vasus, enraged by Arjuna’s deceptive tactic of using Shikandi as a shield to kill Bhishma (an incarnation of one of the eight Vasus), cursed Arjuna that he would be slain by his own son. This curse comes to pass during the battle between Arjuna and Babruvahana.
Curse of Urvashi
Arjuna was received with all love and affection by his father Indra. Arjuna spent some very pleasant time going around and seeing the world of Indra. Capital of Indra was called Amaravati. In the court of Indra all the Gandharva’s sang divine songs and all the beautiful apsaras gave dancing recitals. All the apsaras, Rambha Urvashi, Menaka, Tilottama were there Arjuna watched all there performance and was very much fascinated. He kept looking at Urvashi. She also noticed Arjuna’s interest in her and the fire of love was kindled in her. Urvashi fell in love with Arjuna. Urvashi could not sleep in the night. She was constantly thinking about
Arjuna. She became too overpowered by her desire for Arjuna. She stole in to Arjuna’s chamber. Arjuna welcomed her with love, courtesy and honour. Urvashi expressed her desire for Arjuna. A surprised Arjuna told her that he had heard about the great romance between her and his ancestor Pururva. That was the reason he was kept watching her in Indra’s court as a child looks at her mother whom he had never seen. He only regarded her as the beloved of his ancestor. She was like a mother to him. Any other relationship was impossible even to contemplate.
Urvashi was very much mistaken,she thought Arjuna was interested in her as an admirer. Urvashi became furious with rage. She took it as a great insult to be turned down by a mere mortal. She said it was not proper to refuse a woman, her desire. Arjuna, by doing so has insulted her. Therefore, she declared, Arjuna, shall never be able to enjoy a woman’s company. He will become a eunuch. Arjuna was dumb with the injustice done to him by Urvashi. In the morning he told these things to a Gandharva, Chitrasena who he had befriended. Indra, being informed about Arjuna’s curse, came to him to console him. Indra said that he would request Urvashi to reduce her curse for a period of one year. The Urvashi curse will be of great help to Arjuna during the period of one year when they were to live in disguise. Arjuna stayed in Amravati for sometime. Indra gave him all the divine astras. Then he came back to earth but before that he learnt the art of dancing and singing from his friend Chitrasena and he became quite an expert in these fine arts.
Thus we see, such is the beauty of mythology stories from Mahabharata, where every incident serves a purpose and fits impeccably in the bigger scheme of things. Everytime I hear these stories, I wonder about the master story teller. A priceless contribution to world mythology.