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32-Arjun and Bheem

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32-Why only Arjun should aim at the fish, why not Bheem?
From MBTN=Mahaabhaarat Taatparya Nirnaya [read it here]

Because Bheem was the true follower of Dharm.

In the Mahaabhaarat, the episode of Draupadee Swayamvar is an extremely interesting episode. Depending upon the version of Mahaabhaarat one is reading, the same story can be interpreted differently. Also, many of the incidents that occur in this episode are difficult to comprehend, if one sticks to just the original. This is where commentaries such as the Mahaabhaarat Taatparya Nirnaya by Sri Madhwaachaarya come in very handy.

One of the questions that is constantly asked with regard to the Swayamvar is – why did Bheemsen not attempt to lift and string the bow?

One naive conclusion drawn usually is that it would not have been possible for him to lift or string the bow. It is established beyond a doubt, in the original Mahaabhaarat itself, that Bheemsen is incomparably stronger than Arjun. Further, Draupadee herself declares in the Mahaabhaarat that there are only three people who can string the Gandeev are Krishn, Arjun and Bheem.

Therefore, the bow that Drupad had arranged for the contest would not have been a challenge for Bheemsen.

The other question – Did the Paandav want Draupadee to marry Arjun only? Is that the reason why Bheemsen did not attempt stringing the bow? That is also not true. Even before the Paandav enter the city of the Paanchaal, Ved Vyaas Jee visited them in the forest and informed them that the daughter of King Drupad will become the wives of all five Paandav. (see also Drauapdee's Past Life)

So all the Paandav, especially Bheemsen, knew very well in advance that Draupadee would marry all of them. So it was not a question of who would string the bow. Although Arjun did it.

One reason for Arjun getting up ahead of Bheemsen is that, according to the Shaastra, an achievement by the younger brother is also considered as an achievement of the older ones. The reverse is not true. Hence one could say that Arjun stringing the bow is equivalent to Bheemsen stringing it as well. But that is just a less important reason. The real reason has been brought out beautifully by Sri Madhvaachaarya in the MBTN.

To understand that reason, we need to briefly recall the story associated with Drupad and the birth of Draupadee.

When Bheeshm brought Ambaa, Ambikaa and Ambaalikaa to Hastinaapur as wives for Vichitraveerya, Ambaa reveals that she likes Shaalv. Bheeshm releases her and she approaches Shaalv. Shaalv refuses to accept her as he was defeated by Bheeshm and he does not accept any lost thing in donation. She returns to Hastinaapur and expresses her wish to Bheeshm but there also she is rejected by Bheeshm. Dejected, she performs a penance. Lord Shiv appears in front of her and grants her two boons. Firstly, he grants her a boon, "that she would, in her next life, be a important part of the plot in killing Bheeshm. The same Ambaa is born as Shikhandinee in her next life and later turns into a man called Shikhandee. Shikhandee is the reason why Bheeshm lays down arms on the tenth day of the great war.

Secondly, Lord Shiv grants Ambaa a celestial garland and tells her that the person who wears the garland would kill Bheeshm. Ambaa goes around many kingdoms asking people to wear the same. Knowing the boon of Shiv, and utterly scared of Bheeshm, no one dares to accept the garland. Ambaa finally places the garland on the gates of Drupad’s palace and ends her life.

Drupad keeps the garland with him. During the early years of Shikhandee, the garland is worn by him once. Now, the same garland is given to Draupadee during the Swayamvar, which means the person whom Draupadee garlands in the Swayamvar will (have to) kill Bheeshm. Bheemsen, a true follower of the Bhaagvat Dharm, would never kill a devotee of Krishn (Vishnu). And it is well known that Bheeshm is a great devotee of Krishn (Bheeshm gave us the Vishnu Sahastra Naam). Therefore, since Bheemsen would not kill Bheeshm at any cost, he would not accept that particular garland from Draupadee.

Where it is written that whichever garland Draupadee carried as her Varamaalaa was the same garland which Ambaa hung on the gates of Drupad's palace? Any idea?

Another thing to note is that Bheemsen in this case, decides to honor the boon, unlike in the cases of other Raakshas who had boons from various Devtaa. Ambaa, in her original form, is the wife of the Vasu Dyaus, who has incarnated as Bheeshm. The fulfillment of Ambaa’s vow would only unite them back and hence Shiv’s boon was to be honored.

So, the real reason for Arjun stringing the bow ahead of Bheemsen is because it is Arjun who has to kill Bheeshm and not Bheemsen.



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Created by Sushma Gupta On 05/27/04
Modified on 10/01/12