The death of Arjuna – at the hands of Babhruvahana

Posted on March 29, 2010

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Arjuna is slain by his son Babhruvahana, who was born out of the Pandava’s marriage to Chitrangada, the princess of Manipur. (Mbh 1.218)

Long after the battle of Kurukshetra, Yudhishtira decides to conduct the Aswamedha Yaga. The yaga horse enters the dominion of Manipur, where Arjuna challenges their King Babruvahana for a fight. Babruvahana kills his father in the ensuing battle. (Mbh 14.80)

However Arjuna’s snake-wife Ulupi resuscitates him to life by using the magical mritasanjivani gem owned bythe Nagas.

Babruvahana with the horse vs Arjuna (Source: circa 1850)

Arjuna’s death in the battle is also attributed to the curse of the Ashta-Vasus. The Vasus, enraged by Arjuna’s deceptive tactic of using Shikandi as a shield to kill Bhishma (an incarnation of one of the eight Vasus), curse Arjuna that he would be slain by his own son. This curse comes to pass during the battle between Arjuna and Babruvahana.

In the Jaimini-Bharata, a version of the Mahabharata attributed to Vyasa’s disciple Jaimini, Babhruvahana, upon Ulupi’s advise wages a war against the snakes in Nagaloka by leading an army of mongooses. He then successfully claims the elixir  which is used to revive Arjuna to life. The Jaimini-Bharata is popular for its rich and colourful treatment of the Aswamedika Parva.

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