Categories: Hindu Mythology

Ulupi: A Saga of Love and Sacrifice

Ulupi, also known as Uluchi and Ulupika, is a character from the Hindu epic Mahabharata. She’s a Naga princess, daughter of King Kauravya, and one of Arjuna‘s four wives. Their union resulted in the birth of Iravan. Ulupi played a significant role in raising Babruvahana, Arjuna’s son with Chitrangada. She’s also credited with saving Arjuna from a curse by reviving him after he was killed in battle by Babruvahana. Ulupi’s story is also mentioned in the Vishnu Purana and the Bhagavata Purana (Srimad Bhagavatam).

Mythical Nagakanya Form

Ulupi is often mentioned with various names like Bhujagatmaja, Bhujagendrakanyaka, and others. She is portrayed as a mystical being, half-maiden and half-serpent, known as a Nagakanya or Naga princess. According to Wm. Michael Mott in “Caverns, Cauldrons, and Concealed Creatures,” Ulupi is described as having a lower body resembling that of a snake or crocodile, making her partly reptilian in appearance.

Childhood Training

Ulupi, the daughter of Naga King Kauravya, hailed from the underwater realm of serpents within the Ganga river. Born into royalty, she possessed exceptional skills as a warrior, honed through rigorous training. Her father, Kauravya, governed their kingdom with wisdom and strength, instilling in Ulupi the values of courage and resilience. As a member of the royal family, she embraced her heritage and dedicated herself to mastering combat techniques, making her a formidable force in battle. With her lineage, prowess, and determination, Ulupi stood as a symbol of power and prowess among the Naga people.

Arjuna’s Union: Marriage & Motherhood

Arjuna, one of the Pandava brothers, faced exile from Indraprastha, their capital, due to breaking the terms of his marriage with Draupadi, their shared wife. This exile mandated a twelve-year pilgrimage as a penance. Accompanied by Brahmins, Arjuna journeyed northeast in present-day India.

During a ritual bath in the Ganga river, Arjuna was unexpectedly seized by Ulupi, a Naga princess, and taken to an underwater kingdom ruled by Kauravya. There, Arjuna, undeterred, continued his rituals and pleased Agni, the fire god.

Curious about Ulupi, Arjuna inquired about her background. She revealed herself as the daughter of Kauravya and expressed her desire for him, explaining that her attraction was due to the influence of the god of desire.

Despite his celibacy vow, Ulupi argued that it only applied to Draupadi, his first wife. Convinced, Arjuna married her for one night, resulting in the birth of their son, Iravan. Ulupi also granted Arjuna a boon, ensuring his prowess over amphibious creatures.

Tragically, Iravan perished in the Kurukshetra War, fighting alongside his father. This event deeply affected Ulupi, as she lost her beloved son on the battlefield.

Tragic Redemption: Ulupi’s Role

After the Kurukshetra War, Arjuna faced a curse from the Vasus, Bhishma‘s brothers, for his treacherous killing of Bhishma. When Ulupi, Arjuna’s wife, learned of the curse, she sought help from her father, Kauravya. He approached Ganga, Bhishma’s mother, asking for a solution. Ganga replied that Arjuna would be killed by his own son, Babruvahana, and could only be revived if Ulupi placed a gem called Nagamani on his chest.

Following Ganga’s advice, Ulupi influenced Babruvahana to challenge Arjuna to a duel when Arjuna visited Manipur with the horse for the Ashvamedha sacrifice. In the intense battle, both father and son inflicted severe wounds on each other. Eventually, Arjuna was fatally wounded by Babruvahana’s powerful arrow.

Chitrangada, Arjuna’s wife and Babruvahana’s mother, arrived at the scene and blamed Ulupi for instigating the fight. Realizing her mistake, Ulupi stopped Babruvahana from harming himself and retrieved the Nagamani from her kingdom. Placing it on Arjuna’s chest, she restored his life, breaking the curse.

Arjuna, upon being revived, was overjoyed to see Ulupi, Chitrangada, and Babruvahana. He then took them all to Hastinapura, relieved to have been freed from the curse and reunited with his family.

Final Journey: Pandavas’ Retirement

As the Kali Yuga began, the Pandavas, along with Draupadi, decided to step down from their royal duties and passed the throne to their only heir, Arjuna’s grandson, Parikshit. Renouncing all their possessions and worldly attachments, they embarked on a pilgrimage to the Himalayas for their final journey. Accompanied by a faithful dog, they sought spiritual enlightenment in the tranquil mountains. Meanwhile, Ulupi, Arjuna’s wife from the Nagas, returned to her kingdom in the depths of the Ganga river, bidding farewell to her husband and his kin.

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Krishna Das is an experienced article writer. He writes about Hinduism in his spare time.

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