Do you know that one of the heroes of the Mahabharatha – Arjuna the third Pandava, was killed by his own son in a small battle after the great war of Mahabharatha...
The five Pandavas – Yudhishtar, Bheem, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva together had married the dusky and beautiful Draupadi. After their marriage Sage Narada came to bless them.
Looking at the five brothers together with their wife, Sage Narada was very happy. But he was worried. Yudhishtar asked Narada anxiously, 'Sir! You seem to be worried...Is something wrong?'
Narada smiled and shook his head, 'It is just that....I am very impressed with the unity between you and your brothers....But I am also afraid...' Yudhishtar was alarmed and asked, 'What are you afraid of sir?'
For an answer Narada said, 'Long ago, there were two asura brothers – Sunda and Upasunda. They loved each other and always did everything together. They both prayed to the Lords and obtained a boon that they could be killed only by each other. They felt that their love for each other was so great that such a thing would never happen...The two of them then became so powerful that they drove away Indra and other Gods from Heaven. Indra was unable to face up to them....They ruled over the earth and the skies with no one to stop them...'
Yudhishtar wondered where this story was going but listened with rapt attention. Sage Narada continued, 'As the Devas did not know what to do, they decided that the only chance they had was to create a rift between the two brothers. Lord Brahma thought that over and created the most beautiful woman ever. She was called Tilotamma. Even the Devas could not remove their eyes off the beautiful Tilotamma. Tilotamma then went to the two brothers...'
Yudhishtar and his brothers were listening to the story as Sage Narada continued, '...However that proved to be the downfall of the two brothers....Both the brothers wanted to marry her....Neither wanted to give up the woman for the other...They became enemies and fought....' Sage Narada shook his head unhappily, '...and they killed each other...'
Sage Narada looked at the brothers as he finished his story. Yudhishtar was alarmed. He knelt before the sage. 'Sir! I do not wish to be separated from my brothers...I do not believe that Draupadi would do anything to destroy the unity between us...but what shall we do sir...'
Sage Narada smiled, 'I have a solution, your Majesty, if you are willing to listen...'
Yudhishtar and the other brothers nodded encouragingly as the Sage spoke, 'You all should share Draupadi equally...She should be the wife of each one of you, for a year. During that year, the other brothers should not have any rights on her...That is not all, none of the brothers should enter the room of the other brother, when he is alone with Draupadi...Any brother who breaks this rule, will have to go on exile for twelve years as punishment...'
Yudhishtar looked at the other brothers who nodded. He then looked at Draupadi, who also smiled. 'Sage Narada, we – me and my brothers along with Draupadi accept the condition...'
Sage Narada spoke, 'As you are the eldest, Yudhishtar, Draupadi would be your wife for the first year and then to Bheem and so on...'
Yudhishtar nodded his head.
Some weeks later, Yudhishtar and Arjuna were talking about his bow - the Gandiva. As he was talking, Yudhishtar picked up the bow and took it with him to his palace. Yudhishtara kept the bow in his room and soon forgot all about it.
The next day, a man came running to Arjuna, 'Arjuna! Protect me....Help...My cattle...it is being kidnapped by thieves...please....come immediately...'
Arjuna went inside his palace and much to his surprise, he found that he could not find his bow. Arjuna was astonished and then remembered that Yudhishtar had taken the bow with him.
Arjuna went to Yudhishtara's palace and searched everywhere for his bow. He could not find it. With a troubled mind, he realized that Yudhishtara was having the bow in his room.
Arjuna was troubled. He knew that he could not go to Yudhishtar's room and take his bow. That would amount to breaking his condition and he would have to go on exile for twelve years. But outside the palace, the man was yelling at Arjuna to come and protect his cattle. Arjuna could not just ignore the pleas for help coming from the man.
Without worrying about the consequences, Arjuna entered Yudhishtar's room. Yudhishtar and Draupadi were both astonished on seeing him. He went straight for his Gandiva and walked out of the room, knowing full well that he had just exiled himself for 12 years.
He fought the thieves and brought back the cattle to the man.
The man praised Arjuna, but Arjuna was in no mood to listen. Arjuna was feeling unhappy and carried back the bow and entered his own room, where Yudhishtar was waiting for him.
'Arjuna! I am so proud of you...You just single-handed drove away thieves in the kingdom...The man whose cattle you saved has been singing your praises...' Yudhiishtar repeated, '...I am so proud of you...' Yudhishtara was silent for some time and then spoke quietly, 'When you first came....to my room...I was surprised....' Arjuna looked ashamed and was looking downcast as Yushishtar continued, '...but you were only coming to my room to get your bow...You were coming to fulfill your duty of protecting our people....I do not think you committed anything wrong... Besides I think you can come to see me at any time...after all I am your elder brother...' Yudhishtar said with a little smile, 'Please do not think of going on a twelve year exile...away from all of us...I cannot bear to be separated from my brother....for that long.' Yudhishtar said with tears in his eyes.
Arjuna shook his head. 'You talk out of your love for me, Yudhishtar....All of us were there were Sage Narada told us the story of Sunda and Upasunda...We all accepted the condition....I cannot go back on it...' Arjuna said firmly.
'Arjuna...please...' Yudhishtar continued but was silenced when Arjuna raised his hands. 'No Yudhishtar...I broke the agreement and I have to be exiled....I am not going to change my mind...'
Yudhishtar realized that he could not change Arjuna's mind. He unhappily nodded his head and blessed his younger brother. Arjuna with a heavy heart set out of Indraprasta on an exile for twelve years. He traveled all over the country to distant places and had many adventures.
As he was traveling, Arjuna was once going to the river for his morning bath. As he entered the water, he felt the current pull him. Arjuna gasped and struggled to break free. But he could not pull himself free. He felt himself being pulled deeper and deeper inside the water. He could not breath and soon everything went black....
As Arjuna opened his eyes, wondering whether he was dead, he saw a beautiful woman standing before him. She was looking at him with lovely eyes and sweet smile in her face. Arjuna was struck by her beauty. 'Who...who are you?' He asked the woman in a dazed manner.
The woman smiled, 'I am Uloopi. I am the daughter of King Kauravya, the king of serpents....great Arjuna!' She said in a soft melodious voice. 'I am a Naga princess.' She said with looking at Arjuna with a smile.
Arjuna looked around him, 'Where am I?'
Uloopi spoke, 'Arjuna! I have been watching you daily...You are the greatest archer I have ever seen....Ever since I saw you, I fell in love with you...' She said speaking in a rush looking at Arjuna shyly, 'Today when I saw you, I dragged you though the water to my kingdom and here you are....'
Uloopi looked at Arjuna shyly and spoke, 'Will you marry me Arjuna....'
Arjuna explained about his exile and told her. 'You are a Naga princess...I cannot stay here for long....I will need to go back to my own people....'
Uloopi pleaded with Arjuna. 'Please Arjuna...'
Arjuna looked at the woman and nodded his head. 'I will live with you for a year...but after that...' Uloopi happily nodded her head.
Arjuna and Uloopi were happily married. Living with Uloopi, Arjuna was about to forget everything about himself...she was so kind and considerate....Arjuna also found that Uloopi was very skilled in archery and warfare...Arjuna enjoyed her company even more. Soon Uloopi and Arjuna had a son Iravan.
Arjuna was very happy with Uloopi, but after some time, he remembered his life, his exile...
He talked with Uloopi, 'Uloopi,you have kept me very happy here....'
Uloopi sensed her husband was telling her some grave news did not speak. She waited for him to continue, 'I...I have to get back to my own place...to my people...they will be waiting for me....' Uloopi realized that Arjuna belonged to the land of the people and not among the Nagas. Though she loved Arjuna dearly, she made preparations for him to be sent back immediately.
Saying goodbyes to Uloopi and Iravan, Arjuna emerged from the river where he was first dragged by Uloopi.