Chapter XVII - 60 Home | Index | Previous | Next

"Son! King Drupada grew anxious to give his only daughter in marriage to a suitable groom, but could not succeed in securing one, in spite of the most diligent search. So, he announced a Swayamvara (festival for choice of bridegroom) and, kings of great might and majesty assembled in his capital, along with scholars endowed with charming personality, all eager to wed the princess whose beauty was unexcelled in the three worlds. They were all proud of their wealth and valour, for they felt they could win her by those attainments."

"In that assembly hall, the king had fixed a contrivance on a pillar. It was a wheel revolving fast, a wheel that was reflected in a sheet of water, below the pillar on which it turned. The wheel had a 'fish' tied on it; the competitors for the hand of the princess were asked, one by one, to come forward and, drawing the bow looking at the reflection, shoot at the fish-target up above. Drupada announced his intention to give away his daughter in marriage to whosoever hit the target, so prepared. The city was full of princes and kings who had arrived to try their hands at this unique festival of bowmanship."

"News of this festival reached the ears of your grandparents who had then assumed the role of Brahmins, to mislead the wily Kauravas. They felt at first that they should not come out in the open on that occasion; but, Arjuna, your grandfather, was able to persuade his brothers to attend the festival of valour, for, as he said, no Kshatriya should stay away when bowmen compete for a worthy prize.

Thus it happened that the five brothers sat among the assembly, in the garb of Brahmins, like a group of lions, casting a halo of heroism around; all eyes were drawn towards the place where they sat; people commented on their presence, many in admiration, some in derision; some praised them as champions, some laughed at them as prize fighters or guards. The whispers aroused by them spread all round."

"Lord Krishna had come for that festival. His eyes were fixed on Arjuna all the time; this was noticed by his brother, Balarama, who spoke something to his brother. At last, the Swayamvara contest began; one by one, the candidates proceeded to the image seen in the water and aimed the arrow at the 'fish' rotating above. They failed and returned pale with humiliation. They walked back to their seats, heavy with disappointment and shame, and sat sunk in sorrow."

"Krishna had no intention to rise and have a try at the target, for, He sat quiet in His own place. If He had that intention, He could have quite easily hit the 'fish' and won. But, who can gauge the depths of His mind?"

"Just then, Arjuna rose and proceeded towards the 'contrivance', casting a lightning flash of brilliance over the assembly by the heroic aura of his personality. Droupadi, the princess, lifted her head and watched him in admiration. Her mind merged in that flash of light. In an instant, Arjuna's arrow split the 'fish'; he won. The applause of the gathering rose to the skies. The princess came forward and wedded him, placing a garland of flowers around his neck and holding his hand."