Arjuna asks for Chitrāngadā to be his wife
Manalur was a kingdom in the Southern region of India during Mahabaratha period. It was ruled by a king named Chitrasena. He had a daughter named Chitrangada, whom he named after Madhulika flower. For multiple generations, the dynasty did not have more than one heir. Since Chitrasena did not have any other heir, he trained Chitrangada in warfare and rule. Chitrangada was well-versed in warfare and acquired the skills to protect the people of her land.
Her marriage with Arjuna
It is not described in Mahabaratha as to how Arjuna, the Pandava prince met Chitrangada. The account is described in Rabindranath Tagore's play Chitra, where Tagore depicts Chitrangada as a warrior dressed in male clothes. Arjuna fell in love with her on account of her honesty and courage. Arjuna’s wanderings, during his period of exile, also took him to the ancient kingdom of Manipura. Visiting king Chitravahana, the ruler of Manipura, he beheld his beautiful daughter Chitrangada and fell in love with her. When he approached the king to seek her hand in marriage, the king told him the story of his ancestor Prabhanjana who was childless and undertook severe austerities to obtain offspring. Finally, Mahadeva appeared to Prabhanjana, granting him the boon that each successive descendant of his race should have one child. As Chitravahana, unlike his ancestors, had not a son, but a daughter, he made her a “Putrika” according to the customs of his people. This meant that a son, born of her, would be his successor, and no one else. Arjuna readily agreed to this condition. Marrying Chitrangada, he stayed with her for three years. When Chitrangada had given birth to a son, Arjuna embraced her affectionately and took leave of her and her father to resume his wanderings.
Arjuna left her and returned to Hasthinapura, promising her that she would take her back to his kingdom. Chitra named her son Babruvahana and started his upbringing. Mahabharata loses mention about Chitra and her kingdom for several chapters. On the other side, the Pandavas went through various ordeals and finally winning the war against the Kauravas. Yudhishthira became the king of Hastinapura. His mind was restless since he always felt bad of killing his own kith and kin during the war. On the advise of sages, he conducted Ashvamedha yagna, where a decorated horse would be sent across the kingdom and wherever it goes unopposed, the land would be acquired by the king who sent it. Arjuna was tasked to take care of the horse. While the horse moved toward South, a young man opposed Arjuna. While Arjuna asked about the identity of the young man, he said he was the prince of the land and that was enough introduction to start a fight. A fierce fight started and Arjuna was shocked to see the dexterity with which arrows were pouring at him. He was finally hit by one of the arrows and before he fell unconscious, he realised that the young man was the son of Chitra. Chitra came crying to the spot hearing the incident and he met Arjuna at his death bed. Ulupi, the other wife of Arjuna came to the spot with mrityusanjivi, a stone capable of bringing back dead men to life. She told Chitra and Babruvahana that Arjuna had a curse that he would be killed by his own son and that with the incident, he was relieved off his curse. Arjuna was woken up with the stone and he was happy to see both his wives and his son. Arjuna took Chitra and her son to Hasitnapura, where Chitra readily became the servant of Gandhari, the step mother of Arjuna. She spent her life in her service to Gandhari.
- Citrāngadā in: M.M.S. Shastri Chitrao, Bharatavarshiya Prachin Charitrakosha (Dictionary of Ancient Indian Biography, in Hindi), Pune 1964, p. 213
- The Mahabharata of Krishna Dvaipayana Vyasa, trl. from the original Sanskrit by Kisari Mohan Ganguli, Calcutta 1883-1896
- Chitrangada in: Wilfried Huchzermeyer, Studies in the Mahabharata, edition sawitri 2018, p. 17-19. ISBN 978-3-931172-32-9 (also as E-Book)
- Shastri Chitrao (1964), p. 213
- Bhanu, Sharada (1997). Myths and Legends from India - Great Women. Chennai: Macmillan India Limited. pp. 7–9. ISBN 0-333-93076-2.
- Tagore, Rabindranath (2015). Chitra - A Play in One Act. Read Books Ltd. p. 1. ISBN 9781473374263.
- J. E. Luebering (ed.). The 100 Most Influential Writers of All Time. The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc. p. 242. ISBN 9781615300051.
- Ganguli (1883), Book I, Section 218