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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (Retd.)

Ulupi (उलूपी) was a character known to Panini and mentioned in Mahabharata. She was daughter of Kauravya, the king of Nagas. She was the second among the four wives of Arjuna. She also finds a mention in the Vishnu Purana and the Bhagavata Purana.


Mention by Panini

Aulapi (औलपि), a warlike tribe, is mentioned by Panini in Ashtadhyayi. [1]


V. S. Agrawala[2] mentions Sanghas known to Panini which includes - Aulapi (औलपि), under Damanyadi (दामन्यादि) (V.3.116).

V. S. Agrawala[3] mentions Ayudhajivi Sanghas in the Ganapatha, which includes - Dāmanayādi' group (V.3.116) – The names which are supported both by Commentary on the Chandra and the Kashika are Aulupi, Audaki, Āchyutanti (or Achyutadanti), Kākādanti, Sārvaseni, Bindu, Tulabha (Kashika Ulabha), Mauñjāyana, and Sāvitriputra. Of these only the Sāvitriputras are mentioned in Mahabharata (Vanaparva, 297.85; Karnaparva, V.49) and should be located in the Punjab adjacent to Ushinaras. The Sarvaseni seem to be a branch of the Sarvasenas mentioned in the Śaṇḍikādi Gana (IV.3.72), like Gāndhāri-Gandhāra, Sālva-Sālveya. Kāra in Madrakāra meant army or troops, being an old Persian word. It is the same as Sanskrit Senā. The Madrakaras were a division of the Sālvas (IV.1.173), a significant name derived from their territory containing rich pockets of kāras or soldiery. This is just the idea of Sārvaseni also,

[p.447]: and it appears that this was the region of north Rajasthan, where we have already located the Sālva. This is confirmed by the Kashika counting it amongst three rain-less areas, viz. Trigarta, Sauvira, and Sārvaseni. Mauñjāyana (V.3.116, IV.1.99) seems to be Munjān in the upper Oxus region, the home of the Galcha dialect called Munjani (cf. Maunjayani in IV.1.73 gana). The Baijavāpi seem to be genuine reading in ganas.

Birth and early life

Ulupi was the daughter of Kauravya, a Nagavanshi, who ruled the underwater kingdom of Nagas in the Ganga river.[4] Ulupi was a well-trained warrior.[5]

Married Arjuna

Ulupi is said to have met and married Arjuna when he was in exile; she had a son with him, Iravan. She played a major part in the upbringing of Babruvahana, Arjuna's son with Chitrāngadā. She is also credited with redeeming Arjuna from the curse of the Vasus by restoring his life after he was slain in a battle by Babruvahana.

Arjuna, the third Pandava brother, is exiled from Indraprastha—the capital city of the kingdom—to go on a one-year pilgrimage as a penance for violating the terms of his marriage to Draupadi, the brothers' common wife. Arjuna goes to north-eastern region of present-day India.[6] One day when he bathes in the Ganga river to perform his rituals, the current pulls him inside the river.[10] He later realises that it was Ulupi, the Naga princess, who "grasped" and pulled him into the river. She held him with her hands and traveled at her will. They finally ended up in an underwater kingdom, the abode of Kauravya. Arjuna saw a sacrificial fire in the place and offered his rites in the fire. Agni was pleased with Arjuna's "unhesitating offering of oblations".[7]

Delighted by her act, Arjuna inquires Ulupi about her background. She reveals her lineage and admits that she had fallen in love with him. Arjuna, however, declines her proposal citing his celibacy on his pilgrimage. Ulupi argues that his celibacy is limited only to Draupadi, Arjuna's first wife.[8] Convinced by her argument, he marries her and spends a night with her. A son named Iravan was born to them.[9] Pleased by Arjuna, Ulupi grants him a boon that all animals that live under water will obey him and he will be invincible under the water.[10][11]

Retirement of the Pandavas

Upon the onset of the Kali Yuga, the Pandavas along with Draupadi retired and left the throne to their only heir Arjuna's grandson, Parikshit. Giving up all their belongings and ties, they made their final journey of pilgrimage to the Himalayas, accompanied by a dog. Ulupi went back to her kingdom in the Ganga river.[12]

In Mahabharata

Adi Parva, Mahabharata/Mahabharata Book I Chapter 2 describes Arjuna's meeting on the way with Ulupi, the daughter of a Naga. Ulupi is mentioned in verse (I.2.91).[13]

External links


  1. V. S. Agrawala: India as Known to Panini, 1953, p.446
  2. V. S. Agrawala: India as Known to Panini, 1953, p.500
  3. India as Known to Panini,p.446-447
  4. Debroy, Bibek (2010). The Mahabharata: Volume 2. Penguin Books. p. 536. ISBN 978-0-14-310013-3.
  5. Chandramouli, Anuja (2012). ARJUNA: Saga Of A Pandava Warrior-Prince. Leadstart Publishing Pvt Ltd. ISBN 978-93-81576-39-7.
  6. Vettam, Mani (1975). Puranic Encyclopaedia: A Comprehensive Dictionary With Special Reference to the Epic and Puranic Literature. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 0-8426-0822-2. p.96
  7. Debroy 2010, sec.Arjuna-vanavasa Parva.
  8. Vettam 1975, p. 54.
  9. Debroy 2010, sec.Arjuna-vanavasa Parva.
  10. Vettam 1975, p. 332.
  11. Thadani, N. (1931). The Mystery of the Mahabharata. 4. India Research Press. GGKEY:EUL3QR74A0R., pp. 185–186.
  12. Ganguli, Kisari Mohan (1883–1896). "SECTION 1". The Mahabharata: Book 17: Mahaprasthanika Parva.
  13. पार्दस्य वनवासश च उलूप्या पदि संगमः, पुण्यतीर्दानुसंयानं बभ्रु वाहन जन्म च (I.2.91)

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