Navagunjara! An unique form!
When news of the exile reached Lord Krishna, he had felt shock roll through him. His beloved Arjun was condemned to live in the far reaches of the kingdom for twelve whole years?! For one be deprived of the comfort of family- the Lord felt the ache of it as if it were his own. Krishna immediately commanded Garuda wahana ( aerial vehicle) to prepare for a trip to Hastinapur.
Kunti and her sons were overjoyed at seeing Lord Shri Krishna. He smiled and greeted Kunti, Yudhisthira and Bhim with respect and affectionately hugged the youngest brothers- Nakul and Sahadev. Arjun was nowhere to be found.
Curiosity piqued, Krishna asked Yudhisthira about his missing cousin, immediately the atmosphere took on a sombre tone! At last, Sahdev was the one to reply, beckoning to Krishna to sit.
He recited the unfortunate incident:
Long ago, we had taken a vow, and whoever breaks it would be exiled for twelve years! And the vow was- No one would enter the chamber if Draupadi is inside with one of us(among five Pandavas). We never expected anyone of us to break this. However, fate seems to continuously conspire against us.
It was a cruel trick of Agni dev. He came in disguise as a Brahmin priest and coerced Arjun to bring Yudhisthira at once or else everything would be burnt to cinders. He had left no choice. A Brahmins curse is a powerful tool for total destruction! So my brother ran to bring Yudhishthira at once.
Before he could reconsider, he had entered Yudhishthira’s room while Draupadi was inside. He had broken the vow. When Yudhisthira came with Arjun, the Brahmin had vanished.
Sahdev ended his tale with a pained sound. Again with great misery said, ‘Arjun had promptly took it upon himself to go to exile. Dharmaraj had pleaded Parth to disregard the treaty but failed. Arjun was a man of virtue! ‘Virtue is anytime superior to the body and ever shining, it lasts even after the body perishes!’, he had replied with an easy smile. Bound by valour and virtue, Arjun remained unchanged in his decision. and had gone for twelve years ‘banvas’!’
Sahdev took a deep sigh after describing what had happened years ago!
When Krishna showed his interest to know exactly where he would be, Sahdev, the one who could see the past, present and future, claimed that Arjun would be roaming around the Manibhadra mountain hill ranges, sharpening his weapons on a tree.
Yudhisthira including others looked at Krishna with a hope and requested him to bring him back. Knowing fully well Arjun’s will was unshakable though, Krishna agreed to try and bring him back.
Bidding the Pandavas and Kunti farewell, Krishna mounted Garuda and set off to the Manibhadra mountain. As he was considered as the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, nothing was far-off from His knowledge! Yet he behaved like a normal human being.
Krishna admired the divine prowess of Sahadev when he reached at Manibhadra. True to Sahdev’s word, Arjun engrossed in sharpening his arrows and sword. Krishna was amazed! Admiring Sahdev’s uncanny power, he set down and planned his approach.
Krishna smiled silently and planned to surprise the warrior. Nothing was impossible for him, so he disguised himself into an amazing creature which had never been seen before in this universe!
He transformed himself into a strange animal- Navagunjara!! An unique creature composed of nine different animals! The head of a rooster, amazingly standing on three feet- and all the limbs are parts of different animals- an elephant, tiger and horse. The fourth limb was a raised human arm carrying a lotus. The creature had a peacock neck, bull’s back, and the waist of a lion, the tail was a serpent. He started dancing hiding himself now and then in the thick bushes of the jungle creating peculiar sound.
Engrossed with work, Arjun did not pay any mind to the strange sounds coming from the forest at first. However, it soon got too much for him to bear- he turned around only to be met by the sight of this beast. His first reaction was to jump into the strange animal, but he couldn't release the arrow. As he encountered that extraordinary creature, he was astonished, terrified and mesmerised too! He raised his bow deciding to shoot at it, but abruptly stopped. He realised the composite being could be manifestation of Mahavishnu. He lowered down his bow and bowed before the creature. As he surrendered, Krishna took his original form.
They warmly greeted each other. Krishna expressed his grief to Arjun about his exile. He asked him to join with him to Dwarika. But Arjun as hard as thunderbolt in his promise requested Krishna to allow him to complete his vow. Krishna overwhelmed with joy seeing his determination! They both roamed around the jungle in Manibhadra, gossiping so many beautiful memories.
While chatting, Krishna expressed his wish before Arjun that had they been at Prayag at that very time, they could have taken their bath on that auspicious day on the sacred water of Ganga. Immediately Arjun had convinced him not to feel sorry as he would bring down Ganga the same time at once! Krishna knowing fully well the divine power of Arjun, pretended showinghis doubt about that impossible event.
Parth (other name of Arjun) determined to fulfil Krishna’s wish. Using a heavenly weapon- an arrow named Jal-Taranga gifted from a Yaksha, Arjun ordered him to bring the Ganga to their spot. Instantly the arrow carried his command and crossed thousands of miles, approached near Ganga. It conveyed the message of Arjun.
Ganga easily perceived the pure intention of Lord Sri Krishna- the incarnation of Maha Vishnu! She happily agreed to flow over Manibhadra. But it was far far away! She asked the arrow to move ahead of her to show her the path. Holy Ganga resumed her flow penetrating the earth’s surface, speedily moved to the mountain. At last, the sacred water of Ganga overflowed through the hole of a huge tree. Both Krishna and Arjun accomplished their wish taking their bath in the pious Water on that auspicious day!
It was the magical power of that arrow which could successfully brought The Ganga to Manibhadra! After reaching there, the arrow again inserted itself in the quiver of Arjun. The uncanny power of arrow made impossible to possible!
Lord Krishna took the form of a strange animal- Navagunjara, to impart a deep knowledge to the whole world!