Urvashi’s Curse To Arjuna – Urvashi Shrapam Upakaram

Our lives are surrounded by curses and boons.

According to Indian philosophy, life is just a resultant of the boons and banes the subject has inherited through his/her karma. The resultant will reflect on the life and decide the next course of action, which will again result in further boons and banes, thereby generating “Debt” and “Equity”.

Debt and Equity do not cancel each other. If you have generated Debt, you can not use your Equity to pay off your debt (and vice versa). To pay off the Debt, you will get a “Shrap” (curse) and you have to pay off the debt without any help from the “Equity” that you have generated so far.

Mahabharata tells us the story of Urvashi and Arjuna and how one curse actually helped Arjuna turn his weakness into his strength.

Urvashi – Arjuna Samvad

Arjuna went to Indralok to obtain divine weapons. He needs this weapons to counter warriors like Drona, Bheesma and Karna. A difficult war is waiting for Arjuna and hence he thinks that this is the right time to do some homework.

Urvashi is an Apsara (nymph) in the Hindu legend “Mahabharata”. She was a celestial maiden in God’s court and was considered the most beautiful of all the Apsaras. She is perennially youthful and infinitely charming but always elusive. Urvashi literally means “Uras”(heart) + “Vashi” (control) – someone who controls the heart.

Following is the conversation between Arjuna and Urvashi and how Arjuna was cursed


Did you get all the divine weapons?


Yes. I have obtained the weapons and I have learned how to use them. I think now I can depart for home.


But you haven’t obtained Gandharva-astra.


I am a warrior. What will I do with Gandharva-astra which will teach me the nitty gritty of music and dance?


Art is the most powerful weapon.


If that is the case, I can learn that after I have finished the war. I don’t need this weapon and its knowledge for the war that lies ahead.


What will you with weapons and knowledge after the war is over? Remember, you have to spend one year in incognito mode (“Agyata vaas”). How will you hide yourself? Hiding yourself in your real form is impossible and hence you must prepare yourself to seek an Alibi.

Arjuna agrees to take lessons on music and dance from Chitrasen and Urvashi.

During the training session, Urvashi falls for Arjuna. She is the finest of all maidens in the God’s court and highly desirable by all gods. However, Urvashi falls for the mortal Arjuna and starts craving for obtaining Arjuna as her husband.

Urvashi –

You have surpassed your Guru, excellent.


No student can surpass his Guru ever. If you are pleased of my dancing skills, it means that you will not be ashamed of me for my performance.


Had you been an Apsara, you would have ruled this court. How can I warrior like you dance so well, I wonder. You have made the impossible, possible.


Nothing is impossible, Devi.


My name is Urvashi, why are you calling me Devi? Address me with the name.


That is not possible, Devi


Just now you said, nothing is impossible.


Crossing the limits of Decency is impossible. I am a man of virtues and I cannot cross the limits of decency and respect.


Has your mind ever strayed? We at the God’s court don’t know what straying of the mind is. You are a mortal, tell me more why the mind strays?


If the mind is straying, it means that the mind is looking for a new objective. If the mind wants something, it means the objective is fixed. To reach the objective if your duty. This gives meaning and direction to life. One should always try to reach his/her goals.


You are my objective and I desire you. I want your love, accept me as your partner.


That is impossible.


Sometimes you say, nothing is impossible. Am I not beautiful enough or not worthy to become your darling?


Your are so beautiful that your beauty can break the penance of sages. But I am not a sage and neither I am your inamorato. I see a mother and guru in you, it is a fortune for a son to embrace his mother.


What did you say? Mother? An Apsara is not anyone’s mother, neither anyone’s wife. I am an epitome of beauty. The god’s stand in queue to get my company and you being a mortal, how dare you defy me. I am telling you the last time, accept me as your significant other.


I have already accepted you as my mother and teacher. I cannot marry my teacher because it will cause “Paap” and generate debt for me. I beg your pardon. There can be only one relation between a mother and a son. Please forgive me. To you, I can only become a son and not a man. Always a son, never a man.


I am giving you a curse. You will be stripped of your manhood for one year and you will lead the life of an enunch (impotent).

So the best warrior is now in a situation wherein he has been cursed by a woman. It is not his fault. There is nothing he can do about it.

He has worked so hard on his craft for years and now when the war awaits, he has been cursed. This curse is forced on him and he is not responsible for the “Debt” that has been generated.

The “Boon” disguised as a Curse

In the thirteenth year of Exile, Arjuna and the other four brothers had to live in exile without being identified as to who they are. If their real identity is revealed, they will have to again go for 12 years of exile.

Arjuna desperately seeks a cover and this reminds him of the curse that he inherited from Urvashi. Arjuna turns his weakness into his strength. He takes the form of “Brihannala“, an eunuch who teaches dancing lessons to Uttara, daughter of King Virata.

So whom did the curse help?

  1. Arjuna, because he found a way to hide himself. Had Arjuna not been cursed, he would have been easily identified which would have resulted in 12 more years of exile.
  2. Uttara, since she got a teacher who helped her learn the art of Dancing.
  3. Uttar, since Arjuna helped Uttar fight the war against mighty Kaurava warriors.
  4. Abhimanyu, since he married Uttara. Uttara was initially offered to Arjuna and then he said that since Uttara is her student, he cannot marry her. So he let his son marry her.
  5. Virata kingdom, since Arjuna saved Virata kingdom from the attack of Kauravas

As we can see, one curse actually helped an entire Kingdom and saved thousands of lives. One curse saved a warrior 12 years of exile, helped a young man marry a maiden princess, saved lives of Virata kingdom and “Dharma” was established.

No matter who you are and what you do, you will be cursed in life.

And there is little  you can do to prevent it. Some curses are just incidental and there is no escape from the “external debt” that is generated without you even knowing it. All you can do is “accept” the curse and move on.

However, if you look closely and stand the test of time, you will see the positive side of a curse. The “Shraap” will recoil in time and come back with its positive side effects, provided you “accept” it cheerfully.

Lesson: Accept the curse, But do not fight it

Arjuna could have fought with Urvashi for a curse he did not deserve. But he did not. He didn’t utter a word, accepted it and “moved on”.

Arjuna knew that now that the curse has been delivered, there is no way fighting on it, trying to see if it can be undone. That will make the curse even worse and further derogate his situation.

Same is the case with our lives.

You will be cursed somewhere down the road. Do not fight the “Curse”. The debt has been given to you for a cause. Identify that debt, and wait for the right time, when you can utilize that debt to your advantageDo not be a foolish “Duryodhana”, who always fought with the curses and never identified the opportunity that came with each curse. Any “curse” is but just temporary and will recoil in time with its boons.You just have to identify it and “wait” for the right time and place to execute it.

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One Comment

  • Beautifully explained thank you so much. Sure rare pieces of of the epic of Mahabharatha are to be remembered and you have greatly decoded the lesson that is applicable to us even today, please continue this in helping us revive the beauty of our religion.

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