Arjuna-The Handsome Ksatria-Warrior of Pandawa

The number three son of Pandudewanata, the King of Hastinapura was a famous handsome ksatria. He was very Sakti (has strong magical power) and he was very skilfull in the art of archery and battle. He got all his skill due to serious training since living as a prince in the palace.

Under the guidance of Durna as his guru, he learned a lot of thing such as etiquette, sastra (litterature and philosophy) beside knowledge of battle and war. The young boy Permadi (Arjuna’s name as a boy) was very polite, diligent, loyal and cooperative, that’s why his guru liked him very much. Permadi was his favorite and best student. Secretly, the guru did not wish other person to be better or more sakti than Permadi.

Beside the regular training he got in Hastina, he never stop to pursuit of skill outside the Karaton wall, if necessarily he should live as an ascetic somewhere in remote places to learn from a guru or meditating alone.

As a prince Permadi did not always live in glamour. In many occasions he had to endure a hard life together with his mother, Kunti and his four brothers. The Pendawa had been forced to life in exile, by their cousins, the Korawa. These life experiences had made Pandawa stronger and wiser

The Amorous life of Permadi/Arjuna

When the Pendawa had to clean the jungle of Wanamarta to build a new palace for them, they had to fight with unseen spiritual beings. The work and the fight were very trouble some. Fortunately the charming of Arjuna had lured Dewi Jimambang, the daughter of Begawan Wilwuk from Pringgadani, she was deeply in love with him. Their love was concluded into marriage. From his father in law, Arjuna received a kind of perfume oil Jayengkaton, with this perfume oil, the unseen became clearly visible. In sort the constraction in Wanamarta to build Amarta Kingdom was smoothly done.

The marriage with Subadra

Princes Subadra was the younger sister of Kresna from the Kingdom of Mandura., she was a dark beautiful lady. Her other name was Lara Ireng (sweet black girl). Upon seeing her, Arjuna fall in love with her and his love was not in vain. Although their love affair was not approved by Baladewa, her eldest brother. He had plan to marry her with other candidate. But Kresna could arrange everything in order and Subadra became Arjuna’s wife.

An extravagant court marriage was performed, inviting dignitaries from other countries. One of the guests was Srikandi, after seeing the handsome groom, she could not stop the temptation to become her wife. Although Arjuna at that time was marrying a beautiful lady. Srikandi then tried to find a way to be closer to Arjuna. Her strategy worked, Arjuna was appointed as her teacher in archery, in the Wayang stories this episode is called "Srikandi learns to shoot an arrow", in fact she was shooting his heart. In Java, the classical court dance, performing the battle (Petilan) between Srikandi against Larasati is popular. After completing her course in archery, Srikandi told Arjuna that he could be her husband, if he could find a woman who can defeat her in an archery contest. Larasati was appointed by Arjuna. In the contest, Srikandi who was really in deep love with Arjuna, made herself beaten.

Goddess’ Love

Arjuna had also several goddess’ wives. The most beautiful was goddess Supraba. She was also the most beautiful goddess in Khayangan (the abode of gods). Their son was Prabakusuma. He married Supraba as a gift from Batara Guru after defeating Nirwatakawaca, the ogre giant King. He married also with goddess Dresanala, a very sakti son (Wisanggeni) was born. And also Wilutama, with whom he got a son, Wilugangga. The puppet master (Dalang) said, that the total of Arjuna’s wive was 1 million – 1. Of course it was not true as he had "only" 41 wives. Arjuna did not fall in love with all women he met. Sometimes he was helping and even risking his life to help others to be able to marry their beloved ones.

He had helped his half brother Karna to marry Surtikanti, Arjuna had to kill king Kalakarna who wanted to take Surtikanti by force and he helped also his Korawa Cousins to marry. His relation with Banowati, the wife of Durjudana was special one. In fact she loved Arjuna, but he insisted her to marry his cousin Durjudana. But secretlly Banowati still loved Arjuna. After the Bharatayuda, Banowati who was already a widow, continued her love with Arjuna.

As a ksatria, Arjuna was very responsible. He defended the interest of Pandawa with all his heart, as it was in Bharatayuda. He has eliminated a lot of enemies. Although when Bharatayuda started, he hesitated, how could he fight against his guru and his relatives. Only after the explanation of Krisna, popularly as Bagawadgita (the voice of heaven). Arjuna fought as told in Bagawadgita that the best way to die for a ksatria is in the battle field.

The Heirlooms of Arjuna

As a Ksatria he had a collection of heirlooms. Mostly are gifts from gods as: Pasopati, Sarotama, Ardadadeli, Agnirastra and from his Guru Durna he received Arya Sengkali and Cundamanik. Some of his keris were Pulanggeni, Kalanadah, Kalamisani.

Other names of Arjuna:

Usually in wayang stories a famous figure had several names. The other names of Arjuna are:

  1. Kuntadi, as an appreciation that he was very good in the mastering of archery.
  2. Dananjaya, he was not materialistic.
  3. Margana, he could fly.
  4. Parta, a polite man
  5. Parantapa, a strong meditator
  6. Danasmara, he could take care the love of many women.
  7. Endratonaya, the son of god Endra, his real spiritual father.

His elder brother Bima always called him Jlamprong (feather of Peacock), his wife Srikandi and Larasati refered him as "My Prince".

Subadra the sister of Kresna was treated as his first wife. His son from her was Abimanyu, the father of Parakesit, the future King of Hastina. Srikandi was very clever in the art of archery, in Batarayuda she could kill the mighty Bisma.

Arjuna’s marriage with some of his Gurus’ daughters, symbolizing that he could absorb all knowledge given by his Gurus. That kind of thing was common in the old days.

Dewi Anggraini, was a lady who refused the love of Arjuna, she remained loyal to her husband and rejected Arjuna’s temptation.

In the other hand, once Arjuna refused the love of a goddess by the name of Uruwasi, an aggressive goddess who wanted to make love with him. He declined politely. Of course she became very angry.

Incarnation of Wisnu

The same as Kresna, Arjuna was also incarnation of Wisnu. In the episode of Kresna’s marriage with Rukmini, both of them had appeared as Wisnu, fighting each other. It was stopped immediately by Barata Guru.

Relation with Semar.

Everywhere Arjuna went, was always escorted by his loyal servant, Semar, accompanied by his sons. Gareng, Petruk, Bagong (the Ponokawans). They were inseparable. That was the duty of God Ismaya (Semar) to always protect Arjuna, the Ksatria fighter of truth. Semar was never tired to give wise advise to Arjuna to always do the right things. Semar had advised him to treat his sons on equal basis.

It was known that Arjuna’s care to Abimanyu was overwhelming. He was careless when his other son, Bambang Sumitra, the son of Larasati, was going to marry. Semar took care everything. The party was extravagantly performed with the help of many beautiful goddesses, even the food was supplied from Khayangan (heaven) and many dignitaries, kings, Princes and Princesses attended the ceremony. Seeing this, Arjuna was ashamed. It was a good lesson from Semar.

Other Semar strong advice was:

Arjuna had to take good care of the younger generation, his children and grand-children etc. he should not only think of his own and Pandawa safety.

He should take care of Pandawa’s descendants also. In Arjunawiwaha episode, he made a big mistake in his reply to Batara Guru. He requested only the Pandawa safety in Baratayuda and not safety of Pandawa’s children. Semar was very angry to Arjuna. All Pandawa’s children took part in Baratayuda were killed, others even before the Baratayuda.

(Bambang Harsrinuksmo)
Translated and Edited by: Suryo S. Negoro