By Kamlesh Tripathi




Pandavas were leading a life in vanvas (forced exile in forest). Inspired by sage Vyas, Arjun had left for the jungles for a prolonged tapasya (intense meditation and austerity). He pleased lord Shiva with his tapasya, is when Ashutosh (Lord Shiva) presented him with his pashupatastra (destructible weapon of Lord Shiva). Amidst all of this Devraj Indra took Arjun on his chariot to Swarg Loka (heaven). Indra and other Lokpals (caretakers) of heaven also presented their divyastra (weapons of God) to Arjun for his victory. With those divyastras, Arjun waged a war on asuras (demons) known as ‘Nivaatkavach.’ Even the Devatas (Gods) were not able to defeat these asuras, and repeat attack by these asuras had frustrated the Devatas. In the war that followed Arjun defeated the asuras. They could not withstand the powerful attack from the ever famous Gandeev dhanush (the famous bow) of Arjun and they ran towards paatal (hell).
After defeating the asuras when Arjun returned to Amravati (abode of deathless) all the Devatas welcomed him in a grand fashion. The assembly of Devraj Indra was decorated and Devraj along with Arjun sat on the throne. All the Gandharvas (melodious singers) picked up their veenas (stringed instrument) to sing. The beautiful apsaras (beauties) of swarg (heaven) one by one started dancing to the melodious tunes of the Gandharvas. Devraj at any cost wanted to please Arjun. He was therefore very intently noticing Arjun to find out as to what was attracting him.
Arjun was now residing in heaven. The one and only one heaven, majestically decorated. The apsaras were busy dancing and while dancing they wanted to attract and cajole the favourite guests of Devraj Indra. After each dance representative of Devraj used to introduce another apsara and in this manner the assembly of Devraj swung into a band of melodies. But Arjun in whose honour all this was being done was quietly sitting with his head down and eyes staring at the ground. And while the grand show in heaven was going on he was only remembering his exiled brothers who were living in extreme austerity by eating fruits and roots and by sleeping on the ground. He was therefore not at all attracted towards Amravati.
Suddenly Devraj Indra uttered the name of Urvashi. Arjun looked at Urvashi several times who was dancing in the assembly. Devraj Indra noticed Arjun while he was looking Urvashi. After the celebrations got over Devraj called Gandharva Raj Chitrasen and said—‘go across to Urvashi and tell her that tonight she needs to spend with Arjun. Arjun is one of our most loved ones. And she should make him happy.
Urvashi herself was attracted towards Arjun, and therefore when she received the message of Devraj she willingly accepted the same. She then decorated herself as much as she could to look ravishing. In the night after decking up she reached the residence of Arjun.
As Arjun saw Urvashi he got up from his bed. And with both hands he offered his pranam (greetings) and said—‘Mata! (Mother) you, and what brings you here at this time? And what can I do for you?
Urvashi was astounded in the manner Arjun had addressed her—as mother. She minced no words and clearly said she was attracted towards him, as if in love, and that she had also received a message from Devraj to make him happy. She prayed to Arjun to accept her. But Arjun with a stable mind said—‘please don’t say these unbecoming words again. You are the mother of kurukul. I have heard this from many rishis (sages). Today in the sabha (assembly) when the pratihari (chamberlain) called your name, I felt like seeing you. Considering, you as the mother of my kul (lineage). I several times glimpsed your feet. I feel this is what led to some misunderstanding in Devraj’s mind.
Urvashi explains—‘Parth! (Name given to Arjun- an archer who never misses his target) This is not dhara (earth) this is heaven. We apsaras are neither any ones mother, nor sister nor wife. Anyone coming to heaven as per his punya (collective virtues) can enjoy us (upbhog kar sakta hai). So you please accede to my request.’
In the middle of a romantic night the most beautiful apsara of the heaven was incessantly requesting Arjun to accept her; but Dharmyug (righteous) Arjun was adamant, where Kamdev (God of love) could not even touch him. Arjun in the same manner with folded hands was praying to Urvashi—‘just as Kunti is my mother, just as Madri is my mother, in the same manner I consider you like my mother. Kindly consider me as your son and shower your affection.’
Urvashi never expected this kind of a treatment even from the rishis (sages) who led a life of extreme austerity and so this was least expected of Arjun. And in all of this she felt as if her beauty had been insulted. She then in the lust of love cursed Arjun—‘like an impotent man you did not accept my request and therefore for a year you’ll live as a hijra (eunuch) where you’ll only sing and dance amidst women.’
After cursing Arjun, Urvashi left. Arjun too had the power to curse her especially when she had cursed him wrongly; but even then Arjun was looking down with his hands folded as a mark of respect, conveying his pranam (respectful greetings).
In the morning Devraj came to know what had transpired during the night. He was happy and said—‘Dhananjay! People who follow the righteous path (dharma) are never surrounded by vippatis (calamites). And even if calamity strikes it turns into a lucky mascot. The curse of Urvashi will be for only a man year, after which it will turn into a blessing when after vanvas you enter a year of agyatvas (anonymity) where no will recognise you.’


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