Son of Kunti by the god Indra, Arjuna is, next to Karna, the greatest warrior in the poem and one of the five heroes of the Mahabharata. Trained by the military expert Drona from a young age, this Pandava prince is skilled in archery, able to string and release dozens of arrows with deadly accuracy in mere seconds. A gallant warrior, Arjuna is called Vijaya, or "victor" and Dhanamjaya, or "winner of wealth." Although an unconquerable fighter at the start of the great battle, Arjuna experiences an intense feeling of self-doubt and loses his resolution to fight when he sees his kinsmen lined up against him. His courage is restored by Krishna, who sings to him the Bhagavad Gita, or the "Song of the Lord." With these words the divine Krishna convinces Arjuna that death is merely an illusion, that souls are immortal and return, reincarnated, to the earth after a period in heaven.
Arjuna's exploits include his journey to Indra's heaven—where his father, the king of the gods, advises him—and his discovery of magical weapons to aid the Pandavas in the war against the Kauravas. He also draws King Drupada's bow at Draupadi's svayamvara, or ceremony of self-choice, winning her as wife for himself and his brothers. He defends the town of Matsya from the attacking forces of Duryodhana, and slays Karna during the climactic moment of the great war. Near the end of the poem, he ascends to heaven with his brothers and wife, after a brief time of...
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