Sunday, January 20, 2019

42. Drupada's Predicament

Drupada then asked Yudhishtira, addressing him as he would a Brahmin, “Are we to take you as Kshatriyas, Brahmins or Devas  roaming the earth disguised as Brahmins?”

Yudhishtira replied, “Be happy that your desire has been fulfilled. We are Kshatriyas. We are the sons of Pandu. I am Yudhishtira. The one who won your daughter is Arjuna. This is Bhima. The twins are Nakula and Sahadeva. Our mother Kunti is in the inner apartments with Draupadi. Your daughter, like a lotus, has just  been transferred from one lake to another."

Hearing these words, Drupada became so joyous that he became choked with emotion and couldn’t speak for a while.

He then asked Yudhishtira how the Pandavas escaped from the fire that took place in their abode at Varanavata.

Yudhishtira narrated their experience.

Drupada  became angry and censored Dritarashtra for his role in the affair. He assured Yudhishtira of his support to the Pandavas, vowing to restore the throne to Yudhishtira.

Drupada then told Yudhishtira, “Let Arjuna perform the rites and take the hand of Draupada today, which is an auspicious day.”

Yudhishtira replied, ”O, king! I also have to marry her.”

Drupada said,”If it pleases you, you may take the hand of my daughter. Or, you ask any of your brothers to marry her.”

Yudhishtira replied, “O, king! Your daughter will be the common wife of all the five of us. It has been so ordained by my mother. Your daughter was won by Arjuna, but we follow a rule of conduct that we enjoy equally whatever is obtained by any of us. We can’t abandon this rule. Draupadi will have to be the wedded wife of all the five of us.”

Drupada said, “O, scion of the Kuru race, the  practice of one man having several wives is prevalent. But one woman marrying many men is something unheard of. You cannot commit a sin prohibited both by practice and by the Vedas.”

Yudhishtira replied, ”O, monarch! Morality is subtle. My heart will never accept something sinful.  My mother commanded us to do this and my heart also accepted it. This is in conformity with virtue. You need not have any misgivings about this.”

Drupada said, “O, son of Kunti. Let this matter be discussed among  your mother Kunti, my son Drishtadyumna and yourself. Let me know of the outcome of your deliberation by tomorrow.”

When the three of them were discussing this issue, Vyasa came to that place in the course of his wanderings.

The great sage was received warmly and everyone paid obeisance to him.

 Drupada asked Vyasa, “O, illustrious sage, please tell me whether one woman can marry five men without committing a sin?”

Vyasa replied, “This is opposed to the practice and to the Vedas. It has become obsolete. However,  before I give my opinion, I would like to know what each of you think about this.”

Drupada who spoke first, said, “Nowhere  have I seen  many men having one wife. I think this is sinful. The wise should never commit a sin. Therefore, I cannot make up my mind to accept this proposal.”

Dhrishtadyumna who spoke next, said, “Oh, great sage, how can the elder brother approach the wife of his younger brother? It is true that morality is subtle and we may not be able to say whether this is in conformity with morality. But I feel we can’t do this with a clear conscience. I cannot say that Draupadi can become the common wife of five brothers.”

It was Yudhishthira who spoke next. He said, “My tongue never utters an untruth, and my heart never inclines towards what is sinful. Therefore, when my heart accepts something, it can’t be sinful. I have heard that it has been mentioned in the puranas that a woman by name Jatila, the foremost of all virtuous women belonging to the race of Gotama, had married seven Rishis.

“In another instance, the daughter of an ascetic married ten brothers, all having the same name Prachetas. It is said that obeying the superiors is ever meritorious. Among all superiors, mother is the foremost. Since our mother commanded us all to enjoy Draupadi as we do anything obtained as alms, I consider this proposal virtuous.”

Finally, Kunti said “As the virtuous Yudhishtira said, this act is virtuous since otherwise my word would become untrue.”

Vyasa said, “Drupada, what Yudhishtira said is in conformity with virtue. This is an eternal virtue. I won’t talk about it in front of all these people, but I will tell you why this practice is acceptable.”

Vyasa then took Drupada aside to tell him how this practice was virtuous. Vyasa told Drupada that the Pandavas were five Indras born into the world due to a curse of Lord Siva and that Draupadi was also a celestial woman. That was why she was born in a sacrificial fire, he said.

Vyasa revealed that it was Lord Siva’s dictum that the celestial woman would be the common wife of the five Indras, when they were born in the world as human beings.

Vyasa also granted a divine vision to Drupada that enabled him to see the Pandavas and Draupadi in their celestial forms.

After seeing the five Pandavas and Draupadi  in their celestial forms, Drupada was convinced about the virtue of Draupadi becoming the common wife of the Pandavas.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

41. Arrangements for the Marriage

Drishtadyuman narrated to his fathe,r the scenes he witnessed when he followed Draupadi and the “Brahmin” who won her hand in the Swayamvara. 

He confirmed to the king that it was indeed Arjuna who was disguised as the Brahmin that shot the target in the Swayamvara and became qualified to win the hands of the princess.

Drupada was elated on hearing this. However, he sent his priest to confirm that the five Brahmins were the Pandavas.

The priest went to the Pandavas and told them, “King Drupada had been a good friend of Pandu. He had all along cherished the idea of bestowing his daughter Draupadi upon Pandu as his daughter in law. He wants to ascertain the particulars of your family.”

Yudhishtira asked Bhima to wash the feet of the priest saying that being Drupada’s priest, he deserved great respect.  Accordingly, Bhima washed the priest’s feet. The priest was pleased.

Yudhishtira told the priest “Drupada, the king of Panchala gave away his daughter through a contest as per the practice of his order. This hero won the princess by winning the contest. Therefore, he has nothing new to say about his tribe, race or family. All the queries have been answered by this young man’s feat of shooting the target. The desire King Drupada had cherished all along for the princess will be accomplished.”

Even as Yudhishtira was saying this, a messenger from King Drupada came to that place and announced, “King Drupada has arranged for a good feast for the bridegroom’s party. Please come after finishing your rites. Draupadi’s marriage will take place there. Chariots adorned with golden lotuses which are suitable for kings have been arranged to take you to the king’s palace.”

The Pandavas then sent away the priest and departed to the palace. While Kunti and Draupada ascended one chariot, the five Pandavas ascended another.

Briefed by the priest of the conversation he had with Yudhishtira, King Drupada, with a view to ascertaining the order to which the heroes belonged, kept a large number of articles required by each of the four orders for their wedding. He also kept fruits, garlands, carpets, seeds, agricultural implements, beautiful chariots and horses, bows, arrows and other missiles of high quality and value, darts, rockets, battle-axes and other weapons, beds, clothes and several other articles.

After the Pandavas arrived at the palace, Kunti, along with Draupadi retired to the inner apartments of the palace. The ladies present there worshipped Kunti with joy.

The Pandavas, each having the gait of a lion, wearing deer skins as his upper garment, with eyes resembling those of bulls, with broad shoulders and long arms looking like snakes were looking joyous and cheerful. The king’s son, ministers, friends and servants were also happy.

After the guests were seated on highly comfortable seats, the male and female servants brought them excellent food and drinks on gold and silver plates.

After ingesting the excellent food served, the Pandavas began to look at the articles displayed. Ignoring all other articles, they focused on the weapons.

Watching this, Drupada, his son, ministers and others felt reassured that the heroes were of royal blood and felt relieved and happy.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

40. Yudhishtira's Decision

Kunti was anxiously awaiting the return of the Pandavas. She was speculating on various eventualities. She was worried whether her sons were recognized and killed by the sons of Dhritarashtra, whether they were killed by some demons or whether some other thing happened.

In the late afternoon, Arjuna, accompanied by his brothers and a number of Brahmins entered the hut. Even while entering the house, Kunti’s sons told Kunti in a loud voice that they they had brought the alms obtained by them. Kunti, who was inside the house, without looking at her sons or Draupadi said, "All of you enjoy what you have obtained.”

Presently, Kunti came out and saw Draupadi. Realizing that she had made a mistake, Kunti  exclaimed “Oh, what have I said!”. She asked Yudhishtira, "Tell me how what I said out of ignorance won’t become untrue, how sin won’t touch Draupadi and how she won’t become uneasy.”

Yudhishtira, after reflecting for a moment, told Arjuna “Draupadi was won over by you. It is only proper that you wed her.”

Arjuna replied, ”Don’t make me commit a sin. I should wed only after you and Bhima wed. Please guide us with your wisdom.”

All the five Pandavas looked at Draupadi and she also looked at them. Draupadi’s exquisite beauty stirred a desire in  their hearts and crushed their senses.

Yudhishthira understood what was  going on in the minds of everyone. Desiring to prevent a division among the brothers, he said “Draupadi will be the common wife of all of us.”

At that time, Krishna and Balarama entered the house. Yudhishtira asked in surprise, “Krishna! How were you able to trace us when we are in disguise?”

Krishna said “Fire will be known even if it is covered. Who, but the Pandavas, could exhibit such might? It is by sheer good fortune that you have escaped from the fire. Just as a fire in a cave will spread all around, may you all grow in prosperity.”

Krishna and Balarama then left the place lest other kings should follow them and recognize the Pandavas.

 Dhrishtadyumna, the Panchala prince followed the Pandavas to their abode. He sent away his attendants who accompanied him and concealed himself in the Pandava’s  house.

In the evening, Bhima went out and returned with some food he received as alms. Kunti told Draupadi, “Take one portion from this, offer it to God and give it away to the Brahmins. Then feed those who have a desire to eat and our guests. Divide the rest of the food into two halves. Give one half to Bhima, who eats much. Divide the other half into six equal parts, four for these young men, one for myself and one for me.”

After they had taken their food, they all went to sleep. While the five Pandavas and Kunti  lay down with their heads towards the south, Draupadi lay down along their feet on a bed of Kusa grass laid by Sahadeva.

The Pandavas were conversing among themselves for a long time about weapons and wars.

Dhrishtadyumna was listening to the conversation. In the morning, he returned to his kingdom. 

Drupada who, for long, had nurtured the hope of getting his daughter married to Arjuna, was disappointed that Draupada was won by a Brahmin. As soon as Dhristadyumna came back, Drupada anxiously enquired him of Draupadi.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

39. The Angry Monarchs

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King Drupada expressed his intention to bestow his daughter on the Brahmin, who had hit the mark and won the contest. This enraged the kings who had come to the Swayamvara, hoping to win the hand of Draupati. They considered it an insult that the kings were bypassed and a Brahmin was chosen as the groom for Princess Draupadi.

They talked among themselves in the following lines.

“The Vedic declaration prescribes the Swayamvara only for the Kshatriyas. This wretched king has invited us for the Swayamvara and has insulted all of us. He doesn’t deserve our respect. We should kill him and his son.”

When some of the kings raised their weapons intending to attack and kill Drupada and Dhrishtadyumna, Bhima and Arjuna advanced towards them. This made the kings point  their weapons towards the duo.

Bhima uprooted a tree, divested it of its leaves by violently shaking the tree and stood before the kings like Yama standing with his mace. Arjuna also stood beside his brother, ready to use his bow.

Bhima and Arjuna assured Drupada “Don’t worry. We will fight your enemies.”

Krishna again pointed the brothers to Balarama and said "They are Bhima and Arjuna, as surely as I am Krishna. No one except Bhima can perform a feat like this."

Balarama replied “I am happy that the Pandavas and their mother Kunti, who is our father’s sister, have escaped death and are alive.”

The Brahmins present there came forward in support of Arjuna and offered to fight the kings. Arjuna smiled at them and said, “Stand aside and watch the fight as spectators. I will shower my arrows on these kings and subdue them the way one can bind the snakes through mantras."

The kings decided to confront Arjuna and Bhima intending to kill them though they were (believed to be) Brahmins, reasoning that killing a person who had entered a fight was not wrong. Karna was in the lead.

Karna sought out Arjuna, while King Salya of Madra (the maternal uncle of Nakula and Sahadeva) sought out Bhima. Initially Karna fell down unconscious by the impact of Arjuna’s arrows. But he regained consciousness and resumed his fight. The two fought with each other fiercely.

Duryodhana and others turned to the Brahmins and had a skirmish with them.

At one stage Karna told Arjuna, “Oh Brahmin! Observing your energy and the weapons you use, I wonder whether you are the embodiment of the science of weapons. Are you  Balarama, Indra or Vishnu?”

Arjuna replied, “I am neither an embodiment of weapons nor any of the persons whose names you mentioned. I am a Brahmin who has learnt the skills of weapons from my preceptor. I am here to vanquish you.”

After some time, Karna stopped fighting realizing that he could not overcome the energy of the Brahmin.

The fight between Bhima and Salya went on as a fight  between two equally strong warriors. After a while, Bhima lifted up Salya and threw him down. However, he did it without causing him much injury or pain.

Karna and other kings were alarmed by Bhima’s feat. They exclaimed “These Brahmins are excellent warriors. Who but Balarama, Drona or Arjuna can fight Karna? Who can fight Duryodhana except Krishna or Kripa? And who can overpower Salya except Balarama or Bhima? “ 

Krishna addressed the kings and said “Draupadi has been justly acquired by these Brahmins” and advised them to abandon the fight.

The kings accepted the fact that Draupadi was won by a Brahmin and returned to their kingdoms.

The Pandavas were surrounded and cheered by the Brahmins who were proud of the feat of Bhima and Arjuna, whom they considered to be Brahmins like themselves.

Eventually, the Pandavas  left the arena taking Draupadi along with them. The Brahmins and Krishna followed them.

Meanwhile, Kunti began to worry about her sons having not returned home even after a long time. She began to harbor fears about various kinds of mishaps that might have befallen them. She even doubted whether Vyasa had misguided them by advising them to participate in Draupadi’s Swayamvara.

It was only in the late afternoon that Arjuna,  entered the house in the company of many Brahmins.


Monday, February 26, 2018

38. Draupadi's Swayamvara

Arjuna asked the Gandharva to suggest whom the Pandavas should appoint as their priest.

The Gandharva said “Dhaumya, the younger brother of Devala is doing penance at Utkochaka. You may choose him as your priest.”

Arjuna took leave of the Gandharva after presenting him his weapon of fire. He told the Gandharva that they would collect the horses presented by him when the occasion for using them came.

The Pandavas went to Utkochaka, met Dhaumya and after presenting him with fruits and roots, requested him to be their priest. When Daumya consented to their request, the Pandavas felt as if they had already regained their lost kingdom and had won Draupati in the Swayamvara! 

After receiving the blessings of Daumya, the Pandavas, along with Daumya, set out to Panchala to participate in the Swayamvara of Draupadi.

On the way, they met some Brahmacharis (Brahmin bachelors) who were also proceeding to Draupati’s Swayamvara. When these Brahmins learnt that the Pandavas were also proceeding to attend this event, they told them about the grandeur of the event and about the large amount of wealth that would be gifted to the Brahmins.

"You people can also receive valuable presents and money," they said.

Yudhishtira told them that they would all go together for the event.

On the way, they met Sage Vyasa and received his blessings.

On reaching the capital city, they stayed in the house of a potter.

Drupada, also known as Yajnasena, desiring that Arjuna marry his daughter, arranged for the bow to be made very stiff so that it could be bent only by Arjuna. He erected a device at a high level and had a mark attached to it. He declared, “He who strings this bow and hits the mark using the well adorned arrows will have my daughter.”

Many Kings, Duryodhana among them, came for the event with a keen desire to win the hand of Draupadi in marriage. Many sages and Brahmins were also present to witness the spectacular event.  All of them went around the mansion and looked at the grandeur of the mansion with amazement. The Pandavas also reached the venue.

After the sacrificial fire was lit to propitiate Agni, the God of Fire and the invocation was done by the priests by chanting mantras (divine hymns), Dhrishtadyumna came to the arena holding his sister Draupadi’s hand and spelt out the task already outlined by his father. 

He introduced  Duryodhana, Karna and other kings to Draupadi by announcing their names and the names of their kingdom. He told Draupadi “Choose as your husband the person who hits the mark.”

The princes then stood up brandishing their weapons and declared “Draupadi will be mine!”

Many celestials like the Adityas, the Vasus, the Rudras, the Aswin twins, the Swadhas, the Marutas, the Daityas, the Suparnas, the Nagas, the Charanas, the Gandharvas, Kubera, Yama, Viswavasu and Narada had also come to witness the event.

Krishna was also present along with his elder brother Balarama. Krishna pointed the Pandavas, who were in disguise, to Balarama. Balarama was happy to learn of the Pandava’s presence.

The princes attempted to string the bow but none of them could succeed. Many of them were thrown to the ground by the weight of the bow. Duryodhana and his brothers also failed in their attempts.

Karna then came forward to demonstrate his prowess. But even as he lifted the bow, Draupadi said firmly that she won’t accept the son of a charioteer as her husband. Karna withdrew, throwing the bow down in disgust.

After this, other kings including  Sisubala, Jarasandha and Salya (the maternal uncle of Nakula and Sahadeva) attempted to string the bow but failed in their attempts.

After all the kings had tried and failed, Arjuna, who was seated among the Brahmins, rose from his seat and proceeded towards the bow. There was a clamour among the Brahmin spectators, with some cheering him and others showing their disapproval.

Arjuna strung the bow in the time it would take for twinkling of the eye. He hit the mark with the arrow and brought it down. The kings who had tried and failed gave out exclamations of grief and despair.

Flowers were rained from above. The musicians began to play the instruments and the bards began to chant encomiums in praise of the person who had accomplished the feat.

Drupada recognized Arjuna and felt joyous. The Brahmins saluted him in reverence.

Krishna got up from his seat, went to Arjuna and garlanded him.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

37. The Story of Tapati and Samparana

The Gandharva  then pointed out to Arjuna that he and his brothers lacked three things.

First, though they had completed their studies, they were yet to get married.

Second, they were not following any Ashram (way of life) While their life of Brahmacharyam (bachelorhood) was over, they had not yet entered Grahastashram (the married life).

Third, they were without the guide of a priest (Guru).

The Gandharva  said that he lost to Arjuna in the fight because Arjuna was not married while the Gandharva himself was under the grip of anger at having been humiliated in front of his wife.  

The Gandharva  would defeat a married man but if the married man had a priest to guide him, the Gandharva won’t be able to defeat him. That was the power of having a priest as a guide, he said.

He then narrated the story of Samvarana, one of Arjuna’s ancestors. Samvarana, the son of Riksha, once met Tapati, the daughter of Surya, the Sun God. in the forests and instantly fell in love with her.  

When Samvarana expressed his love to Tapati, she said that she had also fallen in love with him but that he should seek her father’s consent for having her as his wife.

After Tapati went away, Samvarana became unconscious, unable to bear the separation.  His minister came to him and helped him gain consciousness by sprinkling water on him.

When the minister advised Samvarana to return to his kingdom, the king refused to come. He sat there in penance prating to Surya. He also prayed to Vasishta, the Guru of his kingdom, to help him.

Sage Vasishta appeared before him on the 12th day and offered to help him.

Vasishta went to Surya and asked him to give his daughter Tapati in marriage to Samvarana, after apprising Surya of Samvarana's virtues.  

Surya was pleased. He said that he had always considered Samvarana to be a prospective groom for his daughter. He  handed over Tapati to Vasishta and requested him to get her married to Samvarana

Accordingly, Vasishta performed the marriage of Tapati with Samvarana.

Vasishta having been the Guru of Samvarana’s ancestors came to the help of Samvarana, said the Gandharva.  The ancestors of the Pandavas were able to perform grand sacrifices by having Vasishta as their priest, the Gandharva added

After marrying Tapati, Samvarana remained in the forest for 12 years. He did not visit his capital even once. There were no rains in the kingdom for these 12 years. Affected by the severe drought, people began to leave the country. 

Seeing the plight of the people affected by the drought, Vasishta came to Samvarana and asked him to return to his capital.

After Samvarana returned to his capital, it began to rain and the drought came to an end. To express his gratitude to Indra for blessing his kingdom with rain and ending the drought, Samparana, in the company of his wife Tapati, performed a sacrifice for 12 years.

Kuru was born to Samvarana and Tapati.  It was after him that Arjuna’s ancestors began to be called Kauravas (the descendants of Kuru), said the Gandharva. the Gandharva 

The Gandharva advised Arjuna to have a learned Brahmin as his priest to accomplish great things.

Friday, July 28, 2017

36. Pandavas leave for Panchala

After Bakasura was  slain, the Pandavas were living  a quiet life.

One day, a  learned Brahmin visited them. The Pandavas entertained him as their guest.  At the request of the Pandavas, the Brahmin spoke to them about the various countries he had visited and about moral values. 

He then spoke of the Swayamvara* of Draupati, the daughter of the Panchala king Drupada (also kown as Yagnasena). He also narrated the story of Drupada’s obtaining his son Drishtadyumna and daughter Draupadi through a sacrifice.

After the Brahmin had let, Kunti suggested that they leave for Panchala since they had stayed  at Ekachakra  for a long time. Her sons agreed. They left that place after taking leave of the Brahmin in whose hose they were residing.

As promised  by him earlier, Vyasa came to see them. Kunti and her sons received the sage and paid obeisance to him. After enquiring about their welfare and their activities and advising of their moral duty to pursue a virtuous path, he narrated a story.

A sage had a daughter. Though she was beautiful and virtuous, she could not get a husband. She practiced ascetic penances for seeking a good husband for her. 

Pleased by her penances, Lord Siva appeared before her and asked her to seek any boon that she wished. She said, “Oh lord! Give me a husband endowed with all accomplishments.” In her anxiety, she repeated her request several times.

Lord Siva said, “You will have five husbands from the Bharata race.”

The girl replied, “Oh lord! I want to have only one husband.”

Siva said, “Since you made your request five times, you will have five husbands. But this will happen in your next birth.”

Vyasa said, “That girl has been born as the princess of Panchala. Go to the Panchala kingdom and reside there. You will be very happy after getting her as your wife.”

Vyasa then took leave of them.

(There is a kind of ambiguity here. It is not clear whether the Pandavas left for Panchala after hearing what Vyasa  had said or after listening to the Brahmin who visited them. Possibly, one of the two incidents is an interpolation into the text. We can see this kind of a discontinuity at several places. Perhaps some scholars had studied these and given some valid reasons for them.)

Kunti and Pandavas  left for Panchala. When they were walking on the banks of the Ganga, a Gandharva who was sporting  in the river with his wives intercepted them. 

He told them, “As you know, except for the first forty seconds, the twilight preceding the nightfall is earmarked for the wandering of the Yakshas, the Gandharvas and the Rakshasas, near reservoirs of water.  If any other person wanders near any pool of water during this time, we will kill them. Therefore, even kings do not come near any reservoir of water during this appointed time. 

"I am Angarparna (the blazing vehicle), the Gandharva and I am a friend of Kubera. This forest is called Angarparna, after my name. Even Devas, Yakshas, Kapalikas or other Gandharvas do not dare to set foot on my land. So, how dare do you walk on the banks of the Ganga at this time?”

Arjuna replied, “Whether it is day, night or twilight, who can bar anyone from visiting the ocean, the Himalayas and this sacred river? People who are too weak to fight you may fear you and avoid coming here. But we are mighty people capable of taking on you. So, we are not concerned about disturbing you. 

"This river emanating from the Himalayas gets distributed into seven streams before reaching the ocean, the streams being  Ganga, Yamuna,  Saraswati, Vitashtha, Sarayu, Gomati and Gandaki.  All the seven streams have the power to clean people of their sins. 

"This Ganga, flowing through the Devaloka (the land of the celestials) is called Alakananda and flowing through the Pitruloka (the world of the Pitrus – our deceased ancestors), it becomes Vitarani, a river difficult for sinners to cross. Why do you prevent us from going to this auspicious river that can lead us to the Heaven?”

Enraged by Arjuna’s words, Angarparna  began to shoot arrows from his bow on Arjuna.  

After warding them off using a shirld, Arjuna told him “I consider you to be superior to men in prowess. Therefore I shall fight you with the celestial weapon which was given by Vrishapati, the preceptor of Indra to Bharadwaj, from whom it was passed on to  Agnivesya, from him to my preceptor Drona and  from him to me.”

Arjuna hurled the weapon at Angarparna. The weapon burnt  the Gandharva’s chariot  making him fall head downward. Arjuna seized his head and dragged him towards Yudhishtira.  

Kumbhinasi, the Gandharva’s wife appealed to Yudhishtira to save her husband’s life. Yudhishtira  asked Arjuna to spare the life of the Gandharva  and Arjuna  obeyed his brother’s command.

The Gandharva told Arjuna, “From now, I abandon my name Angarparna, since I have been vanquished by you. In return for your sparing my life, I want to impart to you the science of producing illusions, which only the Gandharvas have mastered. 

"This science called Chakshushi was taught by Manu to Soma, by Soma to Viswavasu and by Viswavasu to me. I will also give you and your brothers hundred horses,  born in the land of the Gandharvas. These horses, the offspring of Vadava, have been used for carrying the Devas and the Gandharvas because of their ability to run very fast.”

Arjuna said that he could not accept the gifts if they were given in return for his sparing the life of the Gandharva. The Gandharva  said, “Lest the gifting should appear to flow in one direction,  I will accept from you the weapon of fire, as your gift to me.”

Arjuna agreed to this suggestion. He told the Gandharva that they would remain friends forever.

*Swayamvara – an event in which a prospective bride  9a princess)will choose her groom from among the men offering to marry her. This practice had prevailed mostly among kings.