She is also called Naga Kanya Ulupi, Uloopi or Uluchi. Her other names are Bhujagatmaja, Bhujagondrakanyaka, Bhujagotamma, Kauravi, Kauravaduhita, Kauravyakulanandini, Pannaganandini, Pannagasuta, Pannagatmaja, Panna...gi and Uragatmaja.
Together with three other wives, Draupadi, Subhadra, Citrangada, Arjuna had four sons namely Srutakriti, Abhimanyu, Babhruvahana and Iravan. The sons were to be as good as Arjuna; irrestible as fire and unsurpassable as the ocean.
Arjuna met Ulupi at Hardwar. She belonged to the Nagaloka caste. Indeed she was a widow Naga
princess. Arjuna was attracted to her also. But it is also said that Ulupi induced Arjuna to take her in marriage. Becoming infatuated with him, Arjuna was caught unaware and intoxicated with a potent concoction. Neigh the pleasures of the flesh! Thus Ulupi masterminded the abduction and had him conveyed to her
realm in the netherworld.
An unwilling Arjuna gives in to Ulupi erstwhile. In that relationship Ulupi conceives Iravan. Iravan’s story was told as a separate posting earlier. Chitrangada, one of Arjuna’s wives laments the
husband. She knew that he travelled the length and breadth of Baratha. It was in
of such trips that Arjuna went to ancient town of Manipura, a mystic city known
for its natural beauty. He meets Chitrangada, the princess of Manipura and asks
for her hand. The King stipulates that children born of Chitrangada cannot be
taken away from Manipur. Arjuna agrees that he would also not take Chitrangada
To Arjuna and Chitrangada was born a son Babruvahana. He was to
succeed the grandfather to become King of Manipura. Chitrangada was fanciful and
sentimental. Being the only heir to the throne, she dressed like a man. She was
a renowned warrior. She loved Arjuna immensely and often missed his absence. Now
she missed him as his wife and mother of his child. Learning of this, Ulupi
restored Arjuna to the lamenting Chitrangada.
Ulupi also went further
to play a major part in contributing to Babruvahana’s welfare. She taught him
the art of war. Her role in the Krukshetra war are related to Arjuna’s welfare.
When pithamagaha Bhishmar was killed, his brother, the Vasus cursed Arjuna. It
is also said that Ganga Devi also cursed Arjuna that he will be killed by his
own son for treacherously killing Bhismar. It was Ulupi that redeemed him from
the curse. In her own way, Ulupi was a loving wife and nothing has been said to
During the battle, Babruvahan’s arrow hit Arjuna and he
fell unconscious. Ulupi rushed to the scene to restore him to life. This
knowledge was only available to the nagas. She firmly set on her own coils that
her lower serpent part afforded. Holding a conch in folded hands, Ulupi
commemorated the Mrat-sanjivi mantra, the life giving mystic hymn to restore
Arjuna to life. It is commonly said as a cliché that Ulupi had him ‘killed and
then brought him back to life’. Once for enabling him to keep his words that he
had given Yudhisthrara, his eldest brother, and also marry her, and second time,
when during Ashvamedha yajna he was killed by Babhruvahana, his own son. When
the Pandavas started their final journey, Ulupi is said to have returned to the
water kingdom in the Ganga River.
DEPICTION: Ulupi is a mythical form
of a Naga-kanya, half maiden and half serpent but with fairy looking wings
attached. The lower half, and the upper-most, the five-hooded head are
serpent’s form. The middle and the upper are that of a maiden. She has a pair of
fairy wings on her back, all representing a mythical being. Ulupi thus is a
blend of three forms; human, serpent and a fairy, suggestive of an entity having
access alike into waters, skies and the earth.
NAGA KANYAS: World
mythology and medieval literature is full of Naga-kanyas stories. In Greek
mythology, Echidna is a half woman half snake known as the ‘Mother of All
Monsters.’ Apparently all the Greek monsters were mothered by Echidna. In Hindu
Purana they transmigrate into the mortal world and play all sorts of roles by
having supernatural powers. They also completely discard their serpent aspect
and lead a life of a normal human. They become companions and wife, even having
children born for their mortal husbands. In this role they are depicted as
humble beings. They are rarely seen harming anyone they chose to live with or
protect. Like Ulupi, they are auspicious beings doing good and enhancer of
COMMON WIFE AND PILGRIMAGE: For all things said and done about
the sage Narada, he had been a trouble-shooter in many Puranic instances.
Despite the one year rule with each Pandava husbands, the busy peddling of the
smooth moving swan was not that unseen. Once Narada visits and advises the
Pandavas to avoid open confrontation. The Pandavas heed Naradas advise that as
penalty if any of the husbands saw Draupadi, then they are to go for pilgrimage
for a year.
Once a farmer complained to Arjuna that his cows had been
stolen. Arjuna’s agrees to help him recover the cows. His Gandiva, the spiritual
bow and arrow were in Draupadi’s palace, where it was Yudhistira’s turn to have
company of the common wife. In haste, Arjuna entered the palace and became
subjected to the pilgrimage curse.
It was during this pilgrimage that
Arjuna met Ulupi. It is better described in the Mahabaratha writing below.
Arjuna told her that as per his oath, he couldn’t marry for 12 months. Ulupi
debated with him and convinced him that it was right to marry her. Arjuna
married her and their son was Iravan. According to Chapter 87 of the Mahabaratha
Ashwamedhaparva, After that episode, Ulupi came to Hastinapura with Chitrangada,
another wife of Arjuna and her son Babruvahana. On arrival she greeted Kunti,
Draupadi, Subhadra etc and presented them with many gifts. In Ashramavasikaparva
Chapter 1 verse 23, it is indicated that Ulupi spent her time looking after
Gandhari. Ashramavasikaparva Chapter 10 verse 46 also indicates that Ulupi was
liked by the subjects. When the Pandavas started their Himalayan climb for
moksha, Ulupi went into the Ganges and Chitrangada returned to her kingdom, as
per Mahabharata Mahaprasthanikaparva Chapter 1 verse 27.
IN THE MAHABARATHA: The Arjuna-Ullupi affairs are described in Arjuna Vanavasa
Parva Chapter in the Mahabaratha. Arjuna, the head of the Kuru race, sets out to
the forest accompanied by sages well-versed in the Vedas and the Puranas. They
told Arjuna sacred stories, of celibate life of Vanaprasthas and contemplation
of the Supreme Soul. As he journeyed he saw many delightful and picturesque
forests, lakes, rivers, seas, provinces, and waters. At length, on arriving at
the source of the Ganges the mighty hero thought of settling there. There he
took residence and performed several agnihotras. He observed great vows and was
ignited by sacred mantras.
The place was boosted with nature. Where the
Ganges entered the plains became exceedingly beautiful. One day that bull
amongst the Pandavas, while residing in that region in the midst of those
Brahmanas, descended (as usual) into the Ganges to perform his ablutions. After
his ablutions and he had offered oblations of water unto his deceased ancestors,
he was about to get up from the stream to perform his sacrificial rites before
the fire, when Arjuna was dragged into the bottom of the water by Ulupi, the
daughter of the king of the Nagas. She was urged by Kamadeva, the god of desire.
In common parlance we can say this as kidnapping. And it so happened that the
son of Pandu was carried into the beautiful mansion of Kauravya, the king of the
Arjuna saw there a sacrificial fire ignited for himself. In
reverence he performed his sacrificial rites with devotion. And Agni was much
gratified with Arjuna for the fearlessness with which that hero had poured
libations into his manifest form. After he had thus performed his rites before
the fire, Arjuna, beholding Ulupi, the daughter of the king of the Nagas,
addressed her smilingly and said, 'O handsome girl, what an act of rashness hast
thou done. O timid one! Whose is this beautiful region, who art thou and whose
"Hearing these words of Arjuna, Ulupi answered, 'There is a
Naga of the name of Kauravya, born in the line of Airavata. I am, O prince, the
daughter of that Kauravya, and my name is Ulupi. O tiger among men, beholding
thee descend into the stream to perform thy ablutions, I was deprived of reason
by the god of desire. O sinless one, I am still unmarried. Afflicted as I am by
the god of desire on account of thee, O thou of Kuru's race, gratify me today by
giving thyself up to me.'
"Arjuna replied, 'Commanded by king
Yudhishthira, O amiable one, I am undergoing the vow of Brahmacharin for twelve
years. I am not free to act in any way I like. But, O ranger of the waters, I am
still willing to do thy pleasure, if. I have never spoken an untruth in my life.
Tell me, therefore, O Naga kanya, how I may act so that, while doing thy
pleasure, I may not be guilty of any untruth or breach of duty.'
answered, 'I know, O son of Pandu, why thou wanderest over the earth, and why
thou hast been commanded to lead the life of a Brahmacharin by the superior.
Even this was the understanding to which all of you had been pledged, viz., that
amongst you all owning Drupada's daughter as your common wife, he who would from
ignorance enter the room where one of you would be sitting with her, should lead
the life of a Brahmacharin in the woods for twelve years. The exile of any one
amongst you, therefore, is only for the sake of Draupadi. Thou art but,
observing the duty arising from that vow. Thy virtue cannot sustain any
diminution by acceding to my solicitation. Then again, O thou of large eyes, it
is a duty to relieve the distressed. Thy virtue suffereth no diminution by
relieving me. Oh, if by this act, O Arjuna, thy virtue doth suffer a small
diminution, thou wilt acquire great merit by saving my life. Know me for thy
worshipper, O Partha! Therefore, yield thyself up to me! Even this, O lord, is
the opinion of the wise, that one should accept a woman that wooeth. If thou do
not act in this way, know that I will destroy myself. O thou of mighty arms,
earn great merit by saving my life. I seek thy shelter, O best of men! Thou
protectest always, O son of Kunti, the afflicted and the masterless. I seek thy
protection, weeping in sorrow. I woo thee, being filled with desire. Therefore,
do what is agreeable to me. It behoveth thee to gratify my wish by yielding thy
self up to me.'
Arjuna was thus addressed so directly by Ulupi. There
was no bidding around the bush. Arjuna was also attracted to Ulupi. She too was
forthright in expressing her lustful desires. Thus the mighty Arjuna, spent the
night in the mansion of the Naga prince. He did everything she desired, making
virtue his motive. He rose with the sun in the morning, accompanied by Ulupi he
came back from the palace of Kauravya to the region where the Ganges entered the
plains. The chaste Ulupi, taking her leave there, returned to her own abode.
Before leaving, Ulupi gave Arjuna a boon making him invincible in water, saying,
'every amphibious creature shall, without doubt, be vanquishable by thee.’
Hari Om... Yogi Ananda Saraswathi