yat-saṁśrayād drupada-geham upāgatānāṁ
rājñāṁ svayaṁvara-mukhe smara-durmadānām
tejo hṛtaṁ khalu mayābhihataś ca matsyaḥ
sajjīkṛtena dhanuṣādhigatā ca kṛṣṇā
yat—by whose merciful; saṁśrayāt—by strength; drupada-geham—in the palace of King Drupada; upāgatānām—all those assembled; rājñām—of the princes; svayaṁvara-mukhe—on the occasion of the selection of the bridegroom; smara-durmadānām—all lusty in thought; tejaḥ—power; hṛtam—vanquished; khalu—as it were; mayā—by me; abhihataḥ—pierced; ca—also; matsyaḥ—the fish target; sajjī-kṛtena—by equipping the bow; dhanuṣā—by that bow also; adhigatā—gained; ca—also; kṛṣṇā—Draupadī.
Arjuna said: "With my bow and arrow I could pierce the fish target and thereby gain the hand of Draupadi."
Only by His merciful strength was I able to vanquish all the lusty princes assembled at the palace of King Drupada for the selection of the bridegroom. With my bow and arrow I could pierce the fish target and thereby gain the hand of Draupadī.
Draupadī was the most beautiful daughter of King Drupada, and when she was a young girl almost all the princes desired her hand. But Drupada Mahārāja decided to hand over his daughter to Arjuna only and therefore contrived a peculiar way. There was a fish hanging on the inner roof of the house under the protection of a wheel. The condition was that out of the princely order, one must be able to pierce the fish's eyes through the wheel of protection, and no one would be allowed to look up at the target. On the ground there was a waterpot in which the target and wheel were reflected, and one had to fix his aim towards the target by looking at the trembling water in the pot. Mahārāja Drupada well knew that only Arjuna or alternately Karṇa could successfully carry out the plan. But still he wanted to hand his daughter to Arjuna. And in the assembly of the princely order, when Dhṛṣṭadyumna, the brother of Draupadī, introduced all the princes to his grown-up sister, Karṇa was also present in the game. But Draupadī tactfully avoided Karṇa as the rival of Arjuna, and she expressed her desires through her brother Dhṛṣṭadyumna that she was unable to accept anyone who was less than a kṣatriya. The vaiśyas and the śūdras are less important than the kṣatriyas. Karṇa was known as the son of a carpenter, a śūdra. So Draupadī avoided Karṇa by this plea. When Arjuna, in the dress of a poor brāhmaṇa, pierced the difficult target, everyone was astonished, and all of them, especially Karṇa, offered a stiff fight to Arjuna, but as usual by the grace of Lord Kṛṣṇa he was able to emerge very successful in the princely fight and thus gain the valuable hand of Kṛṣṇā, or Draupadī. Arjuna was lamentingly remembering the incident in the absence of the Lord, by whose strength only he was so powerful.
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