Arjuna’s penance

Published - July 10, 2024 04:00 am IST

Faced with adversities, devotees often wonder why God is testing them. Exhibiting patience to forbear ill deeds until the right time to fight back and unwavering faith in God are the correct margams, said Tirukkudanthai Dr. Venkatesh in a discourse. In the forests of Dwaitavanam, Draupadi tells Yudhishthira that one should get angry with wrongdoers and retaliate, lest the adversary think one is no better than a worm. Dharmaraja advocates patience given that they are in banishment and lacking in men and materials needed for warfare. When Bheema too advocates taking a tough stand, Vyasa arrives there and suggests that Arjuna undertake penance and procure Siva’s Pasupatha astram in order to take on the Kauravas in warfare.

Carrying his weapons and donning his armour plate over his hermit’s cloth, Arjuna undertakes severe penance at the foothills of Indrakkelam. Parvati recommends to Siva that he donate the astram, with one proviso: She must see Arjuna’s back. Attired as hunters, Siva and Parvati arrive at the forest. At the same moment, Duryodhana sends an asura, disguised as a porcupine to take out Arjuna. Both Arjuna and Siva kill the beast at the same time and both fight over whose arrow killed it. Siva aims his arrows at Arjuna’s side, hoping to make him turn his back, but to no avail. Running out of arrows, Arjuna hits Siva with the bow and within seconds everyone, including Arjuna, Parvati and the entire universe feel the blow. Siva wrestles Arjuna to the ground, but the warrior lands on his back. The hunters disappear. Arjuna, realising that it is none other than Siva, prays again. Siva reappears as the hunter, gifts his astram, shares the mantra with him, and tells him to use it only against a very powerful enemy. Indra and other devas also donate their weapons to Arjuna. 

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