Faith

Arjuna’s many names

Arjuna had many names, each of which he bore for a reason, said V.S.Karunakarachariar, in a discourse. Arjuna himself talks of these names and the reasons behind them, in the Virata Parva of the Mahabharata. He is calledArjuna, because he is white skinned. There is also a symbolic reason for this name. Arjuna’s hands are clean and never tainted, because he does not do anything that is wrong. Even when he fights, he plays by the rules. Arjuna says that another of his names is Phalguna. He is so called, because he was born in the month of Phalguna. He is Jishnu, because he is unapproachable and cannotbe suppressed. He is Kiriti, because Indra, the king of the celestials, placed a celestial crown on his head. He is called Swetavahana, because his horse is white (sweta) in colour. Why did Arjuna always have to use white horses to draw his chariot? This was to show what a skilled warrior he was. At the end of a day of fighting, his horses would return without a nick or a scratch on their bodies. While this would be true regardless of what colour the horses were, the fact that they were uninjured would be more evident in the case of white horses. Had they been of some other colour, brown for instance, it could be said that perhaps there was a small scratch somewhere, that wasn’t showing up due to the colour of the horse. But even a small scratch will show up against the white skin of a horse. And so, to show everyone what a skilled archer he was, Arjuna always had white horses draw his chariots.

Arjuna was also called Bhibatsa, because he would be filled with a sense of revulsion at the thought of doing something wrong. He not only did not do wrong things, but never even contemplated doing wrong. He was Vijaya, because he was always victorious.


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Printable version | Feb 15, 2022 7:56:35 am | https://www.thehindu.com/society/faith/arjunas-many-names/article24692325.ece