A son of Arjuna.
When the Pandavas were residing in Indraprastha after marrying Draupadi, Narada went to see them once. With a view to avoiding any quarrel between the Pandavas over the one wife they jointly possessed, Narada suggested that each should take Draupadi for a year in turn and he who violated the arrangement should go to the forest for a year.
Once Arjuna went to the house of Yudhisthira who was with Pancali and for thus violating the arrangement Arjuna had to go to the forest for a year.
During this exile while he was staying at Gangadvara he married the serpent girl, Ulupi and got a son called Iravan of her.
After that he went to a country called Manalur. At that time that country was being ruled by a king called Citrangada. Prabhanjana one of the forefathers of Citrangada had, by hard penance for a progeny, acquired from Siva a boon and each of his successors got a son each to maintain the line. But when it came to Citrangada to his surprise he got a girl instead of a son. But he got her up as a son and named her Citrangada. It was when she was ready for marriage that Arjuna went there. The king received Arjuna with respect and after enquiring about his welfare requested him to marry his daughter.
Arjuna married her and stayed there for three months. Leaving that place Arjuna went to Pancatirtha and there he gave salvation to the celestial maidens who were lying in the tirthas as crocodiles. When he went back to Manalur Citrangada had delivered a son whom he named #Babhruvahana. Promising them that he would take them later to Hastinapura, he left the place.
2) His fate to kill his own father.
It was by a ruse that Arjuna made Bhisma fall. Arjuna put Sikhandi before his chariot and Bhisma refused to take arms against a eunuch and accepted defeat. But Gangadevi witnessing the battle, between Bhisma, her son, and Arjuna from above could not bear this foul play and so cursed that Arjuna would die at the hands of his son.
Ulupi the serpent wife of Arjuna heard this curse and went to her father Kauravya who in turn went to Ganga and begged for a relief from the curse. Gangadevi then said that Arjuna would be killed by Babhruvahana but would be brought to life by Ulupi by placing the Mritasanjivani stone on the dead man’s breast.
3) The killing of Arjuna.
The Mahabharata battle was over. When Yudhisthira was performing the Asvamedha yajna Arjuna conducted a victory march with the yajna horse.
On his way he reached Manalur (Manipur).
At once Ulupi called Babhruvahana and asked him to challenge Arjuna. Babhruvahana with his bow and arrows attacked Arjuna and in the grim battle that followed Arjuna fell dead. Seeing this Citrangada came to the place of battle weeping and abused Ulupi for persuading Babhruvahana to kill his own father. Ulupi immediately went to the serpent world and brought the Mritasanjivani stone and as she placed it on Arjuna’s breast he came to life as if waking up from a sleep. When he saw Citrangada, Babhruvahana and Ulupi he smiled and asked them why they had all come there. Ulupi then explained to him the story of the curse and extremely pleased over the end of the curse Arjuna took them all to Hastinapura.
(Maha-bharata Chapters 218 to 210 of Adi Parva and Chapters 79 to 82 of Asvamedha Parva, Maha-bharata).
4) Other details.
(1) On reaching Hastinapura Sri Krsna gave Babhruvahana as a present a chariot drawn by divine horses.
(Sloka 6, Chapter 88, Asvamedha Parva, Maha-bharata).
(2) The different names given to him in the Puranas are as follows: Citrangadasuta, Manippurpati, Dhananjayasuta and Manipuresvara.
The horse reached Maṇipur, where Arjuna was greeted peacefully by his own son Babhruvahana, whom he had conceived with the princess Citrāṅgadā. As Arjuna had agreed at the time of his birth, Babhruvahana had remained at Maṇipur, ruling that kingdom and not taking any part in the great war. He came to Arjuna with offerings of gold and gems, but Arjuna was nevertheless clearly displeased. His mind was seized with anger and he shouted out to his son, “Why, O child, have you come in peace when an antagonist has entered your land? This is never in keeping with kṣatriya duties. You have acted like a woman! I have come here bearing arms and you should have challenged me with heroic words. O wretched boy, take up your weapons and give me battle.”
Babhruvahana was surprised by his father’s reaction. He tried to appease him, but Arjuna would not listen. He repeatedly goaded his son to fight.
As that exchange was taking place, Ulūpī suddenly appeared from the earth. The daughter of the Nāga king, and Arjuna’s wife, stood before Babhruvahana and said, “Listen, O prince. I am Ulūpī, your mother, and have come here desiring to do both you and your father good. Fight with him, for this will please him and you will then acquire merit.”
Hearing his stepmother’s words as well as the repeated urgings of his father, the prince agreed. After putting on his blazing armor and mounting a chariot, he stood before his father ready for battle. Seeing the sacrificial horse nearby, Babhruvahana had some of his men seize it and take it into his city. Arjuna was incensed and he rained down arrows on his powerful son.
A terrible fight took place between father and son. Both showed no quarter, releasing countless arrows at one another. Arjuna was suddenly struck on the shoulder by a steel shaft that pierced him deeply and made him almost lose consciousness. He leaned on his standard pole. When he regained his senses, he praised his son. “Excellent! Well done! O son of Citrāṅgadā, I am pleased with you for your prowess and power. Now stand fearlessly, for I will let loose my terrible shafts.”
Arjuna fought relentlessly, shooting arrows which smashed his son’s chariot and killed his horses. Jumping to the ground, the prince stood fearlessly before his father. In a moment he took out a long golden arrow bedecked with jewels and kankafeathers and fired it from his fully drawn bow. That arrow sped toward Arjuna and struck him on the chest, piercing his armor.
Gasping in pain, Arjuna fell from his car and lay on the earth. Babhruvahana, himself pierced all over by Arjuna’s shafts, was seized with grief upon seeing his father killed. Overpowered, he too fell to the ground.
Citrāṅgadā heard that her husband and son had both fallen on the battlefield. She rushed out of the city. Seeing them lying there, she too fainted. When she had recovered her senses, she saw Ulūpī standing before her. Knowing that Babhruvahana had fought his father at her behest, she said, “O Ulūpī, see our ever-victorious husband slain as a result of your instructions to my son. Do you not know the practices of respectable women? Are you not devoted to your husband? If Arjuna has offended you in some way, you should have forgiven him. Why are you not grieving? O snake-lady, you are a goddess. I beseech you to revive our husband.”
Citrāṅgadā ran over to Arjuna and fell to the ground weeping. With the arrow protruding from his chest and blood seeping from the wound, he seemed like a hill with a tree on the summit and its rocks running with red oxide. The Maṇipur princess placed Arjuna’s feet in her lap and cried uncontrollably.
Regaining consciousness, Babhruvahana got to his feet and ran over to his father. Along with his mother, he too began to cry. In a choked voice he lamented, “Alas, what have I done? What is the atonement for one who has killed his father? I should doubtlessly suffer every sort of misery for such a sin. Indeed, I cannot continue my life. I will sit by my father’s side, abstaining from food and drink, until death takes me. Let me follow the path taken by Arjuna.”
The prince cried for some time, then fell silent. He sat in a yogic posture next to Arjuna and prepared to observe the Praya vow of fasting until death.
Seeing both her co-wife and stepson overcome by sorrow, Ulūpī approached them. By her mystic power she fetched from the Nāga kingdom a celestial gem that had the power to revive the dead. Taking the effulgent gem, which shone with a hundred different hues, she went over to Babhruvahana and said, “Rise up, O son. You have not killed Arjuna. Indeed, neither man nor god can slay him. He is an eternal ṛṣi of indestructible soul. His apparent death is simply illusion. O child, take this gem and place it on your father’s chest and he will rise.”
The prince did as he was told and, almost at once, Arjuna opened his eyes. His wound healed and he sat up and looked around. Babhruvahana sighed with relief. He bowed at his father’s feet and begged forgiveness. Kettledrums resounded in the sky and a shower of flowers fell. Voices in the heavens called out, “Excellent! Excellent!”
Arjuna stood up and embraced his son with affection. “What is the cause of all these signs?” he asked. “Why has your mother Citrāṅgadā come onto the field? Why do I also see the Nāga princess here?”
Babhruvahana told his father to ask Ulūpī. Arjuna looked at her, the question in his eyes. “What brings you here, O daughter of the Nāgas? Have you come here desiring to do us good? I hope neither I nor my son have done you any injury.”
Ulūpī smiled and reassured Arjuna that she had not been offended. She had urged the prince to fight to serve both him and Arjuna. “Listen to my words, O mighty-armed Arjuna. During the war you deceitfully killed Bhīṣma, placing Śikhaṇḍī before you when you approached him. For that sin you would have fallen into hell, but your sin has been expiated by your son’s actions.”
Ulūpī explained that soon after Bhīṣma’s fall, she had seen the Vasus come to the river Ganges to bathe. While they were there, they called for the goddess Gaṅgā and said, “Arjuna has unfairly slain your son. For this we will curse him to die.” Gaṅgā had agreed. Seeing all this, Ulūpī had gone before her father in anxiety. She told him what she had seen and her father, king of the Nāgas, went at once to the Vasus. He begged them to be merciful to Arjuna, his son-in-law, and they replied, “Dhanañjaya has a youthful son who is now king of Maṇipur. That king will cast his father down in battle and free him from our curse.”
Ulūpī continued, “It is for this reason that you were slain by your son. Indeed, not even Indra could kill you, but it is said that the son is one’s own self. After he killed you, I revived you with this celestial gem.”
Ulūpī showed Arjuna the brilliant jewel and he cheerfully replied, “Everything you have done is agreeable to me, O goddess. You have not committed any fault.”
Babhruvahana beseeched Arjuna to spend a night in the city with his two wives, but Arjuna declined, saying that he could not rest until the sacrificial horse returned to Hastināpura. He took leave from his wives and his son, who said he would soon come to Yudhiṣṭhira’s sacrifice. After telling his wives to join him in Hastināpura, he continued on his way in pursuit of the horse.
Arjuna next came to Rajagriha, the city where he had long ago gone with Bhīma and Kṛṣṇa to kill Jarāsandha. Jarāsandha’s grandson, Meghasandhi, still only a boy, but observing the duty of a kṣatriya, came out and offered to fight with Arjuna with bold and heroic words. “It seems this horse is protected only by women,” he challenged, and a great fight ensued. During the battle, Meghasandhi’s chariot was smashed and he was finally overpowered. Arjuna said, “At the command of Yudhiṣṭhira I will not slay those kings whom I defeat if they acquiesce to his rule.”
Meghasandhi agreed to attend Yudhiṣṭhira’s sacrifice and offer tribute, and Arjuna continued on his way. He fought with several other monarchs, obliging them to accept Yudhiṣṭhira as emperor, before the horse at last reached the road leading back to Hastināpura.
Prabhupāda: Babhruvāhana was adopted by his grandfather. That is called putrikā, putrikā-putra, “daughter’s son adopted as son.”
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