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Birth of Arjuna –
Arjuna was Pandu’s only biological son.
After the birth of Bhima, Pandu now thought of getting a son with immeasurable might and energy and prowess and glory. He resolved – ‘Gratifying him (Indra) with my asceticism, I shall obtain from him a son of great strength… I shall, therefore, practice the severest austerities, with heart, deed and speech’. If Kunti really had the power to invoke any God by her mantra, made him approach her with all obedience ‘whether he liketh it or not’, why would Pandu think of gratifying Indra? Pandu’s resolution seems stranger in this light! Pandu’s resolution ‘to observe an auspicious vow for one full year’, and ‘to stand upon one leg from morning to evening, and practise other severe austerities with mind rapt in meditation, for gratifying the lord of the celestials’, is also meaningless, unless we conclude that the couple were actually trying hard to make a fruitful union! Otherwise, Kunti, in possession of a God-taming mantra, did not need to do such penance at all! As per Mahabharatan evidence, Bhima was then in infancy. How could Kunti undergo rigorous penance leaving him? We know that Bhima was only one year older to Arjuna!
After a long time, however, Indra came gratified with such devotion, and ‘approached Pandu and, addressing him, said, 'I shall give thee, O king, a son who will be celebrated all over the three worlds’. The story goes that Kunti then invoked Indra who thereupon came unto her and begat Arjuna. Given Indra’s love and lust for woman, he would surely have come at the very pronouncement of the first syllable of Kunti’s mantra! The ‘penance’ indeed was an unnecessary exhaustion of Pandu and Kunti’s energy, as well as Indra’s, in responding to it!!
There is no description how Indra came, unlike the description of the coming of Dharma with a smile on Vimana, and Vayu on a deer, whereas Indra’s coming should have been described with more grandeur!!! Besides, Indra had to come twice!
My conclusion: Vyasa has deliberately given a touch of ‘absurdness’ to the story of invocation of Indra, for the wise readers to understand that no such invocation of God or any Rishi for niyoga actually took place, regarding the birth of Arjuna.
That Arjuna was Pandu’s biological son can be inferred from the immense gladness that his birth brought to the Rishis, Pandu and specially Kunti. There was great celebration and jubilation in the forest, which we do not find in case of the other births! In Section XIX of Virata Parva Draupadi attested this while inciting Bhima to kill Kichaka. She referred to Arjuna as one, – ‘whose birth dispelled all the sorrows of Kunti.’ And Draupadi said this before another son of Kunti! She could not have said this unless Bhima too was in agreement with her. What Draupadi said is confirmed by Kunti herself in Section XC of Udyoga Parva. Kunti told Krishna – “On the night of Savyasachin's birth, in the lying-in-room, an invisible voice told me, 'this son of thine will conquer the whole world, and his fame will reach the very heavens.’ Wasn’t it a dream Kunti wanted to dream?
Arjuna, indeed, is Indra’s son, as Pandu indeed is ‘Indra’! Pandu has been compared to Indra many a times! In Section CXII of Adi Parva, we see what Kunti felt in her sayamvara – ‘beholding Pandu--that best of men--in that assembly, (Kunti) became very much agitated. And advancing with modesty, all the while quivering with emotion, she placed the nuptial garland about Pandu's neck.’ Pandu is described as ‘another Indra in that royal assemblage’. It was a celebrated couple –‘daughter of Kuntibhoja formed a Couple like Maghavat (Indra) and Paulomi.’
Pandu is Indra not only as a ‘lady-killer’, but also in valour. ‘And Pandu….. began to consume all kings that came in contact with him (in his Digvijaya)… And all kings of the world, thus vanquished by him, regarded him as the one single hero on earth even as the celestials regard Indra in heaven’. Pandu, like Indra is also regarded as ‘subjugator of hostile cities. (Section CXXII of Adi Parva)
All attributes of Pandu are fully manifest in Arjuna! Arjuna bettered his father in both ‘killing’ ladies, and ‘killing’ lords! Moreover, Arjuna himself is Indra!
Bankim Chandra in ‘Krishnacharitra’ comments – “just as Arjuna is the name of Indra and the third Pandava, Falguni is yet another common name. Indra is known as Falgun, because he is the ruling deity of Falguni Nakshatra. Arjuna is Falgun because he was born with the moon in that star. May be, he is famous as Indra-putra for being born in a star ruled by Indra. That Indra fathered him, no educated reader will believe!” (My Translation) Bankim further muses – ‘isn’t it implied that Arjuna was a person, whose name is associated with Indra for glorifying him?’ Bankim also refers to the Satapatha Brahmana to cite that there too Indra finds mention as Arjuna.
In Rig-Veda too the name ‘Arjuna’ is used as a synonym of Indra. In RV 1.112.23 we find the following hymn – ‘ Wherewith ye, Lords of Hundred Powers, helped Kutsa, son of Arjuni, gave Turviti and Dabhiti strength, Favoured Dhvasanti and lent Purusanti help,--Come hither unto us, O Asvins, with those aids.’ (Griffith’s translation) Here Arjuna is none other than Indra!
In the Javanese version of the Mahabharata – ‘Bharata-Yuddha’ – Arjuna and all his brothers are Pandu’s biological sons! The Harivamsha (32nd Chapter, Harivamsha Parva), just after recounting the birth of Duryodhana etc. tells of Dhananjaya emanating from Pandu, and Abhimanyu from Dhananjaya in Subhadra’s womb.’ If the Harivamsha poet wanted to say that Arjuna was a ‘khsetraja’ son, he would have mentioned it clearly, as he has done in other cases. Besides, only Arjuna, and no other Pandavas, is mentioned here as Pandu’s son.
Another clue that Arjuna was Pandu’s only biological son is the status of Abhimanyu among the Pandava sons. He was not the elder of the Pandava sons, but he always enjoyed a special status among them. Why this special status? Was it only for his valour extraordinaire? Or, was it because the Pandavas knew at heart that he was the true carrier of Pandu’s blood through Arjuna? Section XCV of Adi Parva informs us of the names of all Pandava sons and then states – ‘These are the eleven sons of the Pandavas. Amongst them all, Abhimanyu was the perpetuator of the family.’ Bhima had the eldest son among the Pandavas – Ghatothkacha. But he had no claims for him. Even if that is explained as ‘Non-Aryan’ case (a Naga father and a Rakshshasa mother!), in Section XXXIII of Vana Parva, when Bhima told yudhishthira- ‘this, thy course of life is approved neither by Krishna, nor Vibhatsu, nor by Abhimanyu, nor by the Srinjayas, nor by myself, nor by the sons of Madri,’ his prioritizing Abhimanyu, over Yudhishthira’s eldest son Pratibindhya, and his own – Ghatothkacha, is clearly evident!
The Yadavas too knew that Abhimanyu was pre-destined to inherit Yudhishthira’s throne. In Section CXX of Vana Parva when the Yadavas came to the forest to meet the Pandavas, Satyaki told in an assembly ‘Let the united army of the Satwatas and Suras, together with the best soldiers of the Vrishnis, the Bhojas, and the Andhakas, kill those sons of Dhritarashtra in the field of battle and let them swell their expanded fame throughout the world. Then let Abhimanyu rule the world so long as this most excellent of virtuous men, the magnanimous Yudhishthira, may be engaged in fulfilling his vow.’ Satyaki said this very normally, without expecting the least protest or raised eyebrows, as if its veracity was self-manifest!
Draupadi too gave priority to Abhimanyu. In Section LXXXII of Udyoga Parva she told Krishna – ‘My five sons also that are endued with great energy, with Abhimanyu, O slayer of Madhu, at their head, will fight with the Kauravas.’
Undoubtedly, Abhimanyu is Pandu’s true lineage! He is destined to be the ruler of Hastinapura. God disposes otherwise, and cut his life short, but his progenies get the throne. At the end of the Kuru-war Arjuna is the true inheritor of the throne, though Yudhishthira rules, or rather the Pandavas rule with their elder brother as the titular head!
The other Pandavas’ and Draupadi’s five sons find mention many a times, but none finds exclusive mention (excepting off course Ghatothkacha) like Arjuna’s sons like Iravan and Babhruvahana! The focus is clearly on Arjuna, who carries Pandu’s blood and therefore Vyasa’s! Yudhishthira’s eldest son, Prativindhya is a pathetically marginalized figure, whereas in normal circumstances he should have carried the limelight!
Some other quick references will prove conclusively that Arjuna could not have been ‘God’ Indra’s son –
1) In the Swayamvara Parva (Section CLXLII, Adi Parva), Karna told Arjuna – ‘No other person except the husband himself of Sachi or Kiriti, the son of Pandu, is capable of fighting with me when I am angry on the field of battle’. – Indra is not the father of Pandu’s son in the eyes of Karna. Arjuna is mentioned as Panduputra!
2) When Duhshasana drags Draupadi to the Sabha, Draupadi cried out at him (Section LXVI of Sabha Parva) – ‘O wretch! O thou of cruel deeds, drag me not so. Uncover me not so. The princes (my lords) will not pardon thee, even if thou hast the gods themselves with Indra as thy allies.’
- If indeed Indra is Arjuna’s father, what a way of referring to one’s father-in-law! Surely, Draupadi never regarded Arjuna as Indra’s son!
3) In Section LXXXVI of Bana Parva, Yudhishthira remarked ‘That conqueror of hostile cities, Vibhatsu, will, without doubt, succeed in obtaining from
Indra himself all the celestial weapons with their fullness and life.’
- Such reference to father-Indra is impossible for all humble Yudhishthira!
In the Bheel version of the Mahabharata, Arjuna is shown in very poor light. He is no match to Naga king Vasuki, who can easily tie him up with his whiskers. But, Bhima is heroic. (The Rape of Draupadi by Satya Chaitanya). From this strange version, what I gather is that, Arjuna is humiliated because he was a direct descendant of Kuru dynasty. Vyasa had Puru blood in him from his mother’s side! Satyabati was Puru-king Uparichar Vasu’s daughter. Bhima is glorified because he had Naga blood. Vasuki is glorified because he was a Naga. Abhimanyu is, however, glorified! That may be an instance of sympathy and admiration taking precedence over racial motives of hero-worshippers! We must remember that every war dominating the scene is actually marginalizing and subverting some other war! The Kuru-Pandava war likewise marginalized a Kuru-Naga war! The Bheel Mahabharata is a revenge version of the Nagas on Purus!
After Arjuna’s birth Madri complained Pandu – ‘by birth I am superior to Kunti yet I am inferior to her in station. …. This, however, is my great grief that while Kunti and I are equal, I should be childless, while it should so chance that thou shouldst have offspring by Kunti alone.’ This may be a direct charge against Pandu for giving birth to Arjuna. The point to note is why Madri is raising such a Question now! Why did she keep mum for the last three years or so? It would have been natural for her to ask for a child after the very birth of Yudhishthira! Or at least, when Kunti was carrying Bhima, or had given birth to him. It is clear that she did not do so because she did not want to embrace other men! But now that Pandu and Kunti had made a successful union, she too wanted a child for herself! Why should she be deprived now? After all Pandu is not incapable!
The story of the birth of Nakula and Sahadeva with Kunti’s mantra is untenable! Another absurdity is evident in Kunti’s feeling jealous over Madri’s cunningness in getting twins, for which she refused to give her the mantra again! Why should Madri depend on Kunti for that? As per Pandu’s own sayings, she could seek a brother-in-law or a Brahmana for a son! Kunti told Madri 'Think thou, without loss of time, of some celestial, and thou shall certainly obtain from him a child like unto him.' It was a blank cheque! Madri could invoke any Celestial! Once Madri got the mantra she could invoke the Aswins again and again, if not other Gods, had she really wanted more sons. Kunti gave her the ‘mantra’ O.K. But how could she take it back? So, we cannot believe that Kunti had anything to do with Madri’s giving birth to Nakula and Sahadeva.
The story goes that, with Kunti’s mantra, Madri thought of the twin Aswins, ‘who, coming unto her with speed begat upon her two sons. Can twins or a single son be begot in lightening speed? Moreover, nature hardly calculates in arithmetical terms. It is absurd that sex with twins will produce twins!
The Mahabharata reports ‘those foremost sons born at an interval of one year after one another, looked like an embodied period of five years.’ If Pandavas were born one year after another, how could Nakula and Sahadeva be twins? Why is then ‘five years’ mentioned? This discrepancy has been deliberately retained to hint that the story of the birth of the Pandavas is a myth!
‘One day in the season of spring which maddens every creature’, Pandu accompanied by Madri, began to rove in the woods. ‘Pandu felt the soft influence of desire’ being alone with Madri. She was clad in semi-transparent attire. Why was Madri in such a dress? It seems she accompanied Pandu intentionally in his jungle trip to arouse the flame of desire in him. From other sources we know that was the day of Arjuna’s 14th birthday! There was usual celebration. The significance is understandable. That day always reminded Madri of her own deficit in comparison to Kunti.
‘And beholding the youthful Madri thus attired, the king's desire flamed up like a forest-fire… he was completely overpowered. The king then seized her against her will, but Madri trembling in fear resisted him to the best of her might …And the Kuru king Pandu, of virtuous soul, thus succumbed to the inevitable influence of Time, while united in intercourse with his wife.’ How much can we rely on this story? Didn’t Madri have the chance to be alone with Pandu in the last fourteen years? Did Pandu never have the urge for sex in the last fourteen years? Had Kunti been constantly keeping them in watch?
Madri, clasping the body of senseless Pandu, began to weep aloud. Kunti with her sons came rushing to the spot. If Kunti and the Pandavas could hear her cry, and come immediately, that means they were not very far off!
Kunti scolded Madri for tempting him in solitude. Kunti felt Madri was more fortunate than her – ‘thou art really to be envied, for thou hast seen the face of our lord suffused with gladness and joy.' Kunti was not envious for Madri having sex with Pandu, but for the ‘passion’ in Pandu’s face! Pandu’s intercourse with Kunti to beget Arjuna was rather mechanical, because it was done rather mechanically under hard penance! Madri said she had tried to resist, and that her ‘appetite hath not been appeased.’ Where was this ‘appetite’ when Kunti gave birth to her first two sons? Madri is telling this after her children are quite grown-up. So, it does not seem probable that ‘appetite’ refers to either sexual appetite or that of motherhood! It is appetite of an offspring from Pandu alone! She further said to Kunti – ‘if I survive thee, it is certain I shall not be able to rear thy children as if they were mine.’ That is because Arjuna would always remind her of what she had been deprived!
When Pandu and Madri’s bodies were brought to Hastinapur after 17 days, Dhritarashtra ordered (Section CXXVII of Adi Parva) – ‘let Madri's body be so carefully wrapped up that neither the Sun nor Vayu (god of wind) may behold it’. So, Madri’s body was there! She did not commit a ‘Sati’! She must have died of shock and of guilty feeling! Or she might have committed suicide holding herself responsible for Pandu’s death. Vyasa puts this remarkable dialogue in blind Dhritarashtra’s mouth to show the mysterious scheme of God, and also to give us a hint, who the real ‘violators’ of Kunti’s body were!! We now know, beyond doubt, just as ‘Sun’ violated Kunti, so did ‘Vayu’!
‘Kauravas set fire to the dead bodies of the king and the queen.’ It is not specifically mentioned who put the fire. As the elder son, Yudhishthira should have done that. That he did not do so shows, the Pandavas were children! That means, the death of Pandu and Madri on the 14th birthday of Arjuna might not be true! This is elsewhere supported in the Mahabharata that the Pandavas spent their infancy in the mountains, but childhood in Hastinapur! In Devi Bhagabata Purana, however, the final rites of Pandu and Madri had already been done in the Himalayas. This is more probable, otherwise after 17 days the bodies would have rot! We cannot believe the bodies were ‘mummified’ to be brought to Hastinapur! Devi Bhagabata version is also probable because that gives us an explanation why ‘God-father’ myth was created!
Father of Nakula and Sahadeva –
Are the father of Nakula and Sahadeva totally shrouded in mystery? Who were these Ashwins? We may explore some clues.
- 3.58.6 of the Rig-veda addresses the Ashwins as follows – “Ancient your home, auspicious is your friendship: Heroes, your wealth is with the house of Jahnu.’ Srikant Talegiri in ‘The Rgiveda - A Historical Analysis’in Chapter 4 of ‘The Geography of the Rigveda’ criticizes Grifith’s translation and remarks that ‘Jahnavi’ in this hymn is the name of the Ganga.
- Our conclusion is that if the Ashwins had their ancient home on the Ganges, then they could be Gangeya or Matsya like Bhisma’s mother and Satyabati’s mother! Nakul and Sahadeva, then, had the same blood as Bhisma!
- They could even be sons of some Puruvamshi Rishi, given the connection of Ashwins with Ganges, and the connection of Ganges with Bharadwaja and Divodasa, as in Rig-vedic hymn – 1.116.19.
- Draupadi once referred to Nakula as one of ‘black complexion (shyama-kalebara)’. So, his father could be any ‘Bhoomi-putra’ Rishi. Given the body complexion this could mean their father was a Vashishtha! Gangeya connection increases the possibility of Ikhsbaku blood, which again means Vashishtha blood!
- Again, if we remember the myth that the Ashwins were accepted as ‘Soma-drinkers’ by the aid of Chyavana, a Bhrigu, then Nakula and Sahadeva might also possibly be Bhrigu offsprings.
- The Adi Parva of the Mahabharata provides a remarkable ‘sukta’ to the Ashwins. It comes in the 3rd chapter of the Adi Parva known as the pauShya section (1.3.60 in the critical Poona edition of the Mahabharata). In this tale, an Audha Dhaumya, Upamanyu (also of Vashishtha Gotra) and the Ashwins are found together. The connection of Ashwins and Vashishthas is weighing heavily!
In Section CLXXII of Adi Parva the Gandharva Angaraparna said to the Pandavas – ‘I also know Dharma, Vayu, Sakra, the twin Aswins, and Pandu,--these six perpetuators of Kuru race’. He advised that they must have a brahmana priest with them. He also narrated the story of Kalmashapada, Madayanati, and Vashishtha, (Section CLXXXIV) in which the Brahmani of Angira-gotra cursed Kalmashapada, 'Vile wretch, since thou hast today cruelly devoured under my very nose my illustrious husband dear unto me, even before my desires have been gratified, therefore shall thou, O wicked one afflicted by my curse, meet with instant death when thou goest in for thy wife in season. And thy wife, O wretch, shall bring forth a son uniting herself with that Rishi Vasishtha whose children have been devoured by thee’. Long after this, one day Kalmashapada, forgetting the curse in passionate desire, approached his wife Madayanati when her season came. But Madayanati softly refused him and reminded him of the curse. An alarmed Kalmashapada immediately appointed Vasishtha to beget a son upon his queen. Immediately after narrating this story the Gandharva advised the Pandavas, 'There is in these woods a shrine of the name of Utkochaka. Dhaumya, the younger brother of Devala is engaged there in ascetic penances. Appoint him, if ye desire, your priest."
This story is a clear parallel to Pandu’s curse, though with different outcome. Kalmashapada like Pandu forgot the curse. The resemblance between the two names Madayanati and Madri is striking! Why would Gandharva Angaraparna tell them the story? Why would he suggest them to have a priest? Why would the Pandavas listen to him? That Angaraparna suggested Dhaumya’s name just after narrating the story of Vashishtha’s ‘niyoga’ to impregnate Madayanati, Kalmashapada’s wife, is indeed loaded with hints!
The Pandavas went to Utkochaka, the sacred asylum of Dhaumya and installed Dhaumya as their priest. ‘The Pandavas having obtained Dhaumya as their priest regarded their sovereignty and kingdom as already regained and the daughter of the Panchala king as already obtained in the Swayamavara. They regarded themselves as placed under a powerful protector.’
Why would Dhaumya who was ‘engaged there in ascetic penances’ become their priest? Why did Kunti agree to take him in their company? Was he really unknown to Kunti? How could an unknown person like Dhaumya immediately become ‘powerful protector’ and ‘the spiritual preceptor of the virtuous Pandavas’, and that too just on the basis of a Gandharva’s advice, and within such a short period of time of their acquaintance?
Now, who is this Dhaumya? Section XIV of Asramavasika Parva informs us that Dhaumya was a Vyaghrapada. Again, Section XIV of Anusasana Parva informs us that Upamanyu was a descendant of Vyaghrapada. That means Dhaumya, a Vyaghrapada Brahmana, was a Vashishtha! In 'Cerusseri Bharatam' by Cherusseri Namboodiri (Fifteenth century), Dhaumya told Pandavas and Draupadi to assume their particular disguises in Matsya's country. This is very probable because in Mahabharata Yudhishthira identified himself in Virata’s court as a Vyaghrapada Brahman. In Section LXXIX of Sabha Parva when the Pandavas were leaving for exile, Dhaumya was ‘singing the mantras of the Sama Veda that relate to Yama,’ signifying, 'When the Bharatas shall be slain in battle, the priests of the Kurus will thus sing the Soma mantras.’ His inimical feelings for the Kurus is evident! After the Kuru-war, we see Dhaumya gaining in power. In Section XXIII of Asramavasika Parva, after the Pandavas went to forest to visit Dhritarashtra etc. ‘Yuyutsu of mighty energy, and Dhaumya, the priest at the command of Yudhishthira, were engaged in protecting the city.’ Now my discussing is narrowing to a point which is clearly hinted by Vyasa. Section XXV of Vana Parva mentions – ‘And their priest, Dhaumya endued with great energy, like unto a father to those princes.’
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