Arjuna Vivaha

In Arjuna Vivaha, the heavenly realm of the god Indra is in a state of turmoil. A terrifying demon, who is possessed by his love for the nymph Supraba, becomes enraged when Indra refuses to give the maiden to him. A difficult situation arises, for none of the gods can beat the demon in battle, and it is known that only a heroic mortal can do this.

A message arrives at a meeting of the gods, telling the assembly that the heroic Arjuna has retired to a cave to practise asceticism and meditation to prepare himself for battle. Indra decides to test Arjuna’s will-power and self-control to find out whether he is able to conquer the demon. He selects the seven most beautiful nymphs and sends them to the cave to tempt Arjuna. The loveliest nymph is Supraba, with whom the demon falls in love. To their dismay, the nymphs must return to Indra’s heaven, as the fair Arjuna remained unperturbed; he did not even notice the maidens.

Indra decides on another trial to find out if Arjuna’s asceticism is meant only for his own salvation, or whether he is interested in the most important task of all, to help the whole of creation. Disguised as an old ascetic, Indra finally makes Arjuna speak. To his pleasure, Indra hears that Arjuna is practising meditation in order to better fulfil his duties as a warrior and to be able to help others. The demons hear of Arjuna’s meditation, which makes them concerned.

One of the demons transforms himself into an enormous wild boar and begins to topple the mountain where Arjuna is meditating in the cave. Bow in hand, Arjuna steps out of the cave, and at the same moment the god Shiva appears in the guise of a king on a hunting expedition, also ready to shoot the boar. They tense their bows at the same time and their arrows fly into the boar’s flesh. They meet their mark simultaneously in exactly the same spot, and miraculously blend into a single arrow. Shiva claims the arrow for himself, which leads to an argument and a fight, but Arjuna manages to throw Shiva down on the ground. When he tries to catch Shiva’s foot, it miraculously disappears, and flowers begin to rain from heaven as Shiva now appears in his divine form. Arjuna kneels in respect, and the god gives him the magic arrow, instructing him in the art of combat.

The time is now ripe for the grand battle, and the gods invite Arjuna to visit them to work out a scheme to find out the demon’s weak point. Together with the lovely Supraba, Arjuna, now invisible, sets out to meet the demon, who is overjoyed to see the maiden coming voluntarily to him. The lovesick demon approaches the maiden, but Supraba asks him to reveal the secret of his strength as her bridal reward. The foolish demon reveals that his tongue is the only part of his body that can be wounded.

The invisible Arjuna causes a commotion, Supraba flees, and the demon realizes his grave error. An enraged army of demons sets out to attack the heavens. One after another, the heavens fall to the invaders, who now approach Indra’s realm, the highest heaven of all. Finally, Arjuna engages the demon in a duel and pretends to be wounded. When the demon begins to boast of his victory, Arjuna suddenly shoots his magic arrow into the demon’s tongue, thus defeating him.

A great celebration is held in Indra’s heaven, and Arjuna is crowned King of Heaven for seven days. He is sprinkled with the water of life, and Supraba, together with the six other nymphs, who tempted him in the cave, are given to him as consorts. After the celebration, however, Arjuna asks lndra to let him return to earth to his brothers. Permission is granted and the seven nymphs express their heartache.