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Krishna Arjun from Mahabharat.wikimedia

Many of us find the story of Mahabharata very complex, which is because of the innumerable great characters that the epic contains. Every other person and incident has a deep connection with the story and leads to everything that happened in it.

With all the great heroes in the story including the Pandavas and Draupadi, there are so many warriors who contributed to the victory of Dharma at the Kurukshetra. One such unsung hero is Aravaan.

Aravaan, also known as Iravan is a small, yet very crucial character in the epic. It is from him, the lineage of trans-genders has been formed in this world and it is said that this is the reason why they are known as Aravaanis.

kurukshetra wikimedia

The most tragic tale of Mahabharata belongs to Aravaan, where he sacrifices himself obliging lord Krishna for the greater good. His sacrifice and the lineage he left on earth makes him immortal in the world. Let us see how.

Aravaan was the son of Arjuna and Ulupi, the Naga princess. Like Arjuna, one of the greatest warriors of all time, Aravaan was also a fierce warrior who participates in the Kurukshetra and sacrificed himself for the greater good.

Mention about Aravaan is found earliest at Perutevanar's Parata Venpa, which was the 9th century Tamil version of the Epic. The Venpa talks about the war sacrifice known as 'Kalappali', which was followed as a tradition at the battlefield. The people then believed that whoever performs this sacrifice ensures victory in war. Aravaan volunteers himself to be sacrificed for Kali in the ritual.

The Three Boons

According to the Parata Venpa, Aravaan wished for three boons from Krishna. The first one- he asked Krishna for the death of a hero in the battlefield. The second was that he wanted to see the 18-day war completely.

About the third boon details could be found only in the folk rituals. Aravaan wanted to marry before the sacrifice as he would be granted funerary rights and cremation as bachelors were only buried. No young girls came forward to marry him knowing his fate. Thus Krishna took the Avatar of Mohini to marry him and spent the night with him. The Koovagam related the mourning of Krishna after the sacrifice of Aravaan and returns to the masculine form for the duration of war.

It is believed that the Kuttandavar cult that bears the name of Aravaan has him as their chief deity. The marriage of Aravaan and Mohini, the widowhood of Mohini is the main theme of the 18-day Kuttandavar festival that is held annually in the Tamil month of Chithirai.

Keywords: Mythology, Mahabharat, Kurukshetra, Aravaan, folk tales


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