Thursday, 29 March 2018

The Arjuna-Uttaraa Equation

Arjuna is one of the most complex characters in the Mahabharatha, and is without doubt, my most favorite character in this epic. One of the Parvas that gives us some very good insight regarding his personality is Virata Parva, which describes his one year in incognito exile (in Matsya Desh). When he first enters Matsya Desh during this period, he approaches King Virata in the guise of an eunuch. However, his lustre, manly, enormous body and gait betray his disguise to some extent, causing King Virata and some courtiers to doubt whether he was really one of the neuter sex:
"Vaisampayana said, 'Next appeared at the gate of the ramparts another person of enormous size and exquisite beauty decked in the ornaments of women, and wearing large ear-rings and beautiful conch-bracelets overlaid with gold. And that mighty-armed individual with long and abundant hair floating about his neck, resembled an elephant in gait. And shaking the very earth with his tread, he approached Virata and stood in his court. And beholding the son of the great Indra, shining with exquisite lustre and having the gait of a mighty elephant,--that grinder of foes having his true form concealed in disguise, entering the council-hall and advancing towards the monarch, the king addressed all his courtiers, saying, 'Whence doth this person come? I have never heard of him before.' And when the men present spoke of the newcomer as one unknown to them, the king wonderingly said, 'Possessed of great strength, thou art like unto a celestial, and young and of darkish hue, thou resemblest the leader of a herd of elephants. Wearing conch-bracelets overlaid with gold, a braid, and ear-rings, thou shinest yet like one amongst those that riding on chariots wander about equipped with mail and bow and arrows and decked with garlands and fine hair. I am old and desirous of relinquishing my burden. Be thou like my son, or rule thou like myself all the Matsyas. It seemeth to me that such a person as thou can never be of the neuter sex.'
Of course, Arjuna persuaded them that he was really an eunuch and then said that since he is proficient in dance and skilled in singing, he should be given the task of teaching princess Uttaraa dance. Virata, however, was still in awe of Arjuna's personality and refused to completely and unequivocally believe that Arjuna was really an eunuch. As a result, he told Arjuna that if he wants to instruct Uttaraa dance he can do so, but such a job is not worthy of him as he ought to be the ruler of the entire world...
"Arjuna said, 'I sing, dance, and play on instruments. I am proficient in dance and skilled in song. O lord of men, assign me unto (the princess) Uttara. I shall be dancing-master to the royal maiden. As to how I have come by this form, what will it avail thee to hear the account which will only augment my pain? Know me, O king of men, to be Vrihannala, a son or daughter without father or mother.'

"Virata said, 'O Vrihannala, I give thee what thou desirest. Instruct my daughter, and those like her, in dancing. To me, however, this office seemeth unworthy of thee. Thou deserves! (the dominion of) the entire earth girt round by the ocean.'
The fact that Arjuna was able to impress Virata to such an extent, within a single meeting, attests to his magnetic personality. Just like Arjuna was able to impress Virata, he was also able to greatly impress Virata's daughter, Uttaraa, as I will show later on in this article,... However, before I go about doing that, I would like to demonstrate that unlike what is shown in TV show-depictions of the Mahabharatha, Arjuna was not a father-like figure to Uttaraa. Rather, he was more like a good, close friend, belonging to the same generation as Uttaraa. In the first passage of this post, King Virata tells Arjun "I am old and desirous of relinquishing my burden. Be thou like my son, or rule thou like myself all the Matsyas". Such speech does attest to Arjuna's masculine body structure and his behavior betraying his disguise to some extent. However, it also suggests that Arjuna was around the age of Virata's children and hence, was like a son to Virata. This would put King Virata's children (Uttara, Sankha, Uttaraa) at the same generation as Arjuna. Furthermore, in Draupadi's Swayamvara, when Dhristadyumna names all the Kshatriyas that came to win Draupadi's hand, he lists both of King Virata's sons:
And when that vast amphitheatre, O monarch, became perfectly still, Dhrishtadyumna possessed of a voice deep as the sound of the kettledrum or the clouds, taking hold of his sister's arm, stood in the midst of that concourse, and said, with a voice loud and deep as the roar of the clouds, these charming words of excellent import, 'Hear ye assembled kings, this is the bow, that is the mark, and these are the arrows. Shoot the mark through the orifice of the machine with these five sharpened arrows. Truly do I say that, possessed of lineage, beauty of persons, and strength whoever achieveth this great feat shall obtain today this my sister, Krishna for his wife.' Having thus spoken unto the assembled monarchs Drupada's son then addressed his sister, reciting unto her the names and lineages and achievements of those assembled lords of the earth.'"

"Dhrishtadyumna said, 'Duryodhana, Durvisaha, Durmukha and Dushpradharshana, Vivinsati, Vikarna, Saha, and Duhsasana; Yuyutsu and Vayuvega and Bhimavegarava; Ugrayudha, Valaki, Kanakayu, and Virochana, Sukundala, Chitrasena, Suvarcha, and Kanakadhwaja; Nandaka, and Vahusali, and Tuhunda, and Vikata; these, O sister, and many other mighty sons of Dhritarashtra--all heroes--accompanied by Karna, have come for thy hand. Innumerable other illustrious monarchs all bulls among Kshatriyas--have also come for thee. Sakuni, Sauvala, Vrisaka, and Vrihadvala,--these sons of the king Gandhara--have also come. Foremost of all wielders of weapons--the illustrious Aswatthaman and Bhoja, adorned with every ornament have also come for thee. Vrihanta, Manimana, Dandadhara, Sahadeva, Jayatsena, Meghasandhi, Virata with his two sons Sankha and Uttara, Vardhakshemi, Susarma, Senavindu, Suketu with his two sons Sunama and Suvarcha, Suchitra, Sukumara, Vrika, Satyadhriti, Suryadhwaja, Rochamana, Nila, Chitrayudha, Agsuman, Chekitana, the mighty Sreniman, Chandrasena the mighty son of Samudrasena, Jarasandha, Vidanda, and Danda--the father and son, Paundraka, Vasudeva, Bhagadatta endued with great energy, Kalinga, Tamralipta, the king of Pattana, the mighty car-warrior Salya, the king of Madra, with his son, the heroic Rukmangada, Rukmaratha, Somadatta of the Kuru race with his three sons, all mighty chariot-fighters and heroes, viz., Bhuri, Bhurisrava, and Sala, Sudakshina, Kamvoja of the Puru race, Vrihadvala, Sushena, Sivi, the son of Usinara, Patcharanihanta, the king of Karusha, Sankarshana (Valadeva), Vasudeva (Krishna) the mighty son of Rukmini, Samva, Charudeshna, the son of Pradyumna with Gada, Akrura, Satyaki, the high-souled Uddhava, Kritavarman, the son of Hridika, Prithu, Viprithu, Viduratha, Kanka, Sanku with Gaveshana, Asavaha, Aniruddha, Samika, Sarimejaya, the heroic Vatapi Jhilli Pindaraka, the powerful Usinara, all these of the Vrishni race, Bhagiratha, Vrihatkshatra, Jayadratha the son of Sindhu, Vrihadratha, Valhika, the mighty charioteer Srutayu, Uluka, Kaitava, Chitrangada and Suvangada, the highly intelligent Vatsaraja, the king of Kosala, Sisupala and the powerful Jarasandha, these and many other great kings--all Kshatriyas celebrated throughout the world--have come, O blessed one, for thee. Endued with prowess, these will shoot the mark. And thou shalt choose him for thy husband who amongst these will shoot the mark.'"
The minimum age at which males would generally marry back then was around 16 years. When Rama was exiled, he was just 17 years old. Prior to that, he had spent a couple of seasons enjoying his honeymoon with Seetha, as I have shown in a previous article, putting the age at which he married Seetha around 16 years. Hence, Uttara and Sankha were a minimum of 16 years when they went to Draupadi's Swayamvara to win her hand. Arjuna, at that time, had just recently finished his gurukul education, and was a warrior in the truest sense. In those days, a warrior with his full education completed would be around 16 years old. For example, Mareecha tells Ravana (Critical Edition, Aranya Kanda Section 36, translation by Bibek Debroy):
‘With my great valour, I was once travelling around this earth. I possessed the strength of thousands of elephants and was like a mountain. I was like a dark blue cloud and wore golden earrings. Wearing a crown and with a club as a weapon, I generated fear in the worlds. I wandered around Dandakaranya, devouring the flesh of rishis. The great sage, Vishvamitra, with dharma in his soul, was terrified of me. He himself went to King Dasharatha and spoke these words. “The right time has come and let this Rama protect me. O lord of men! A terrible fear has arisen on account of Maricha.” Thus addressed, King Dasharatha, with dharma in his soul, replied to the immensely fortunate and great sage, Vishvamitra. “Raghava is less than sixteen years old and is unskilled in the use of weapons. If you wish, I and all my soldiers will go with you. O best among sages! As you wish, I will slay your enemy.”
It is noteworthy that Dasharatha was hesitant to send Rama to the forest because he was less than 16 years old and therefore not a full fledged warrior. This implies that the age of completion of gurukul education and transformation into a full fledged warrior in those days was 16 years. That being said, it logically follows that when Arjuna finished his gurukul education and invaded Panchala as part of his Gurudakshina, his youngest brothers (Nakula/Sahadeva) would have been 16 years old, making him 17 years old as he was just one year older than them.  Shortly after the Gurudakshina war, the Pandavas were sent to Varnavata, where they lived for one year prior to escaping from there (Critical Edition, Adi Parva Section 136, translation by Bibek Debroy):
Vaishampayana said, ‘Having seen them live there for an entire year, happy and unsuspecting, Purochana was extremely delighted. Witnessing Purochana’s delight, Yudhishthira, Kunti’s virtuous son, spoke to Bhimasena, Arjuna and the twins. “The cruelhearted and evil Purochana thinks us to be trusting and has been deceived well. I think the time has come for our escape. Let us escape, unobserved by anyone, after setting fire to the armoury, burning Purochana to death and leaving six bodies here.”
After escaping from there, the Pandavas swiftly went to the Kamyaka forest (where Bhima killed Hidimba) and then stayed in the village Ekachakra for a short while, till the death of Vakasura. The text clearly emphasizes that the time stayed there was short (Critical Edition, Adi Parva Section 145, translation by Bibek Debroy):
Vaishampayana said, ‘After going to Ekachakra, the maharatha Pandavas, the sons of Kunti, lived in a Brahmana’s house for a short while. O king of the world! They then begged for alms.
Shortly after departing from Ekachakra, the Pandavas encountered Chitraratha (whom Arjuna defeated in battle, single handedly, using just a torch), and then Arjuna taught him the science of the Agneya weapon. After this, the Pandavas proceeded to Draupadi's Swayamvara...

In short, not much time passed since the escape of the Pandavas from Varnavat to their arrival at Draupadi's Swayamvara. A maximum of 1 year may have passed between these two events... This would put Arjuna at (17+1+1 =) 19 years of age when he went to Draupadi's Swayamvara. Hence, Arjuna was a maximum of just 3 years older than Uttara and Sankha. It logically follows that he was a maximum of 3 years older than princess Uttaraa as well, since prince Uttara and princess Uttaraa were twins. Keeping in mind that Arjuna and Uttaraa were of the same age group, let us proceed to analyze the relationship between the two, as described in Virata Parva...

I have already provided the verses of the Arjuna-Virata conversation when Arjuna first entered Matsya Desh. Once it was agreed that Arjuna would teach Uttaraa dancing and singing, Vaisampayana speaks a few verses on how Arjuna entered the apartments of Uttaraa and his relationship with her, her friends, and her waiting maids (my translation):
11 [vai] bṛhannaḍāṃ tām abhivīkṣya matsyarāṭ; kalāsu nṛtte ca tathaiva vādite apuṃstvam apy asya niśamya ca sthiraṃ; tataḥ kumārī puram utsasarja tam 
12 sa śikṣayām āsa ca gītavāditaṃ; sutāṃ virāṭasya dhanaṃjayaḥ prabhuḥ sakhīś ca tasyāḥ paricārikās tathā; priyaś ca tāsāṃ sa babhūva pāṇḍavaḥ 
13 tathā sa satreṇa dhanaṃjayo 'vasat; priyāṇi kurvan saha tābhir ātmavān tathāgataṃ tatra na jajñire janā; bahiścarā vāpy atha vāntare carāḥ
"Vaisampayana continued, 'The king of the Matsyas then tested Vrihannala in dancing, music, and other fine arts, and having heard that his impotency was of a permanent nature, he joyfully sent him to the maiden's apartments. And there the Lord Dhananjaya began giving lessons in singing and instrumental music to the daughter of Virata, her friends, and her waiting-maids, and that Pandava became their beloved. And in this manner, high-souled Dhananjaya lived together with them, fulfilling their pleasures, unknown to the people within or without the palace.'"
From the above text, there are numerous points that can be noted...

First of all, it is evident that King Virata did not test Vrihinnala's impotency. Rather, he only tested Vrihinnala in dancing, music, and other fine arts. We are then told that he believed in the rumors of Vrihinnala's impotency being of a permanent nature, and subsequently, without doing a proper check on Vrihinnala's impotency, he joyfully sent Vrihinnala to his daughter's apartments. Such behavior from King Virata should definitely raise an eyebrow. Why would he let a stranger who claims to be an eunuch, but looks like a handsome male, enter the inner apartments of his daughter, without a thorough check of his impotency? Wouldn't he be putting his daughter at a risk of potential sexual assault by this stranger?

Or perhaps, did King Virata deliberately send this handsome male to his daughter's inner apartments without a proper check of his claimed impotency... and just to silence the voices of his well-wishers (who would have been questioning Virata's decision of not thoroughly checking Vrihinnala's impotency), did he say that he believed the rumors that Vrihinnala was truly and permanently impotent?

Well, let us take a closer look at the sanskrit to gain some further insight regarding the matter...  The sanskrit phrase used here is tataḥ kumārī puram utsasarja tam which literally means "he joyfully sent him into the virgin's (kumārī) apartments" The use of the word kumārī (which means virgin) here alludes that King Virata's purpose in sending Vrihinnala to his daughter's apartments was of a sexual nature, that is, he realized Vrihinnala was just putting up the pretense of being an eunuch (remember King Virata's constant doubt on Arjuna being of a neuter sex when the latter first approached the former?) and wanted this handsome, powerful person as a sexual partner (i.e. husband) for his daughter, so that Matsya Desh would be fully protected. One of the first things King Virata says upon seeing Vrihinnala is "I am old and desirous of relinquishing my burden. Be thou like my son, or rule thou like myself all the Matsyas". Such a statement by King Virata alludes to his constant worry of Matsya Desh's security and his desire of a powerful person, like Vrihinnala, to protect the Matsyas. Such a desire would be fulfilled if he married his daughter off to this powerful man who was bearing the guise of Vrihinnala... and hence, King Virata was taking steps in that direction, by allowing that man (Vrihannala) easy access to Uttaraa's apartments, without a thorough check of his claimed impotency...

King Virata's desire of having this male as a sexual partner of Uttaraa can be understood by looking at princess Uttaraa's age. She was a minimum of 16 years old at the time of Draupadi's Swayamvara, and would therefore be around 31 years of age (3 years in Indraprastha after Draupadi's marriage + 12 years of exile completed) by the time Vrihinnala came to Matsya Desh. In those days, females were married as soon as they hit puberty. We see this in the story of Nala and Damayanti. When Damayanti's father, Bhima, found out that Damayanti hit puberty, he arranged for her Swayamvara right away:
"Vrihadaswa said, 'O Bharata, hearing those words of the swan, Damayanti thenceforth lost all peace of mind on account of Nala. And heaving frequent sighs she was filled with anxiety, and became melancholy and pale-faced and lean. And with her heart possessed by the god of love, she soon lost colour, and with her upturned gaze and modes of abstraction, looked like one demented. And she lost all inclination for beds and seats and object of enjoyment. And she ceased to lie down by day or night, always weeping with exclamation of Oh! and Alas! And beholding her uneasy and fallen into that condition, her hand-maids represented, O king, the matter of her illness unto the ruler of Vidarbha by indirect hints. And king Bhima, hearing of this from the handmaids of Damayanti, regarded the affair of his daughter to be serious. And he asked himself, 'Why is it that my daughter seemeth to be so ill now?' And the king, reflecting by himself that his daughter had attained to puberty, concluded that Damayanti's Swayamvara should take place. And the monarch, O exalted one, (invited) all the rulers of the earth, saying, Ye heroes, know that Damayanti's Swayamvara is at hand, And all the kings, hearing of Damayanti's Swayamvara, came unto Bhima, agreeable to his message, filling the earth with the clatter of their cars, the roar of their elephants, and the neighing of their horses, and accompanied with their fine-looking battalions decked in ornaments and graceful garlands. And the mighty-armed Bhima paid due reverence unto those illustrious monarchs. And duly honoured by him they took up their quarters there.'
Likewise, in the Valmiki Ramayana, when Seetha narrates the tale of her marriage to Anusuya, she said that her father was very sorrowful when he discovered that she had passed puberty and attained an age where she could have sexual union with a husband (पतिसंयोगसुलभं), yet was still unmarried:
पतिसंयोगसुलभं वयो दृष्ट्वा तु मे पिता।चिन्तामभ्यगमद्धीनो वित्तनाशादिवाधनः।।2.118.34।।
When my father saw I obtained the age fit for sexual union with a husband, he was immersed in sorrow like an indigent man who had lost all his wealth.
सदृशाच्चापकृष्टाच्च लोके कन्यापिता जनात्।प्रधर्षणामवाप्नोति शक्रेणापि समो भुवि।।2.118.35।।
Even though he was an Indra on earth, as a father of an unmarried girl he would be humiliated by men who are his equal or inferior in this world.
तां धर्षणामदूरस्थां दृष्ट्वा चात्मनि पार्थिवः।चिन्तार्णवगतः पारं नाससादाप्लवो यथा।।2.118.36।।
Having perceived that the humiliation is not very far, king Janaka was plunged in a sea of sorrow like one who cannot reach the shore without a float.
अयोनिजां हि मां ज्ञात्वा नाध्यगच्छद्विचिन्तयन्।सदृशं चानुरूपं च महीपालः पतिं मम।।2.118.37।।
The ruler of the earth knew that I was not born from a woman's womb, and could not find a suitable husband for me after deep reflection.
तस्य बुद्धिरियं जाता चिन्तयानस्य सन्ततम्।स्वयंवरं तनूजायाः करिष्यामीति धीमतः।।2.118.38।।
After constantly pondering over the matter, the wise king arrived at the decision to perform a swayamvara for his daughter.
Take note of verse 2.118.35, which says "even though he was an Indra on earth, as a father of an unmarried girl he would be humiliated by men who are his equal or inferior in this world". This shows the attitude people back then had towards keeping a female, who had already hit puberty, in an unmarried state. Well, this attitude still persists today, to a great extent... King Virata, being a product of such a society, ought to have had similar apprehensions regarding keeping his daughter unmarried for such a long period of time... In his case, his daughter remained unmarried till the age of 32, passing roughly 20 years after she hit puberty in an unmarried state. Hence, King Virata was bound to be extremely worried that his daughter remained unmarried for so long, and hence he would try his level best to find a groom for his daughter Uttaraa.

Here, the scapegoat was poor Arjuna!

King Virata sent Arjuna, who was bearing the guise of Vrihinnala, to his daughter Uttaraa in hopes that he would become her sexual partner cum husband, and that such an alliance would confer immense security on Matsya Desh... From the passage above, we know that once Arjuna entered Uttaraa's apartments, he became the beloved (priyaś) of not only Uttaraa, but also her friends and her waiting-maids... and that he lived together with them, fulfilling their pleasures in a manner, unknown to the people inside and outside of the palace. Of course, we already know that Arjuna was a master in seducing women (i.e. the apsara Urvashi serves as a great example of this). But what was this pleasure that he was conferring on these females? Considering Arjuna's womanizing tendencies, it is most likely sexual pleasure that we are talking about here. This is further corroborated by the fact that in the passage, when Arjuna enters the apartments of Uttaraa and becomes her beloved, he is addressed as "Lord Dhananjaya" (dhanaṃjayaḥ prabhuḥ). In the context of females, Lord is almost always used to refer to their husband/sexual master. Hence, by using the epithet of Lord (prabhuḥ) for Dhananjaya, we are very subtly told that Arjuna was fulfilling the sexual pleasures of Uttaraa, her friends, and her waiting-maids (just as a Lord would do), in this year of incognito exile.

With this, Vaisampayana moves away from the Arjuna-Uttaraa equation, and proceeds to say "living in such disguise, those mighty warriors, the sons of Pritha, passed ten months in Matsya's city" (Virata Parva Section 14), and then drifts to the conflict between Kichaka and Draupadi that unfolds the rest of the events in Virata Parva. We are only, from then onwards, restricted to bits and pieces of the behavior of Arjuna and Uttaraa with regards to one another. The next time we get to hear about the duo is when princess Uttaraa receives from her brother, prince Uttara, the news of the nearly invincible Kuru army dashing towards Matsya Desh, with its King, Virata, unable to repulse the assault, already engaged as he was in war with the Trigarta army...

Once prince Uttara gets to know that the Kuru army has come to invade Matsya Desh, he boasts to all the females in the inner apartments that he alone is capable of defeating the Kuru army, and that all he needs is a new charioteer as his old charioteer died in a previous battle that he (Uttara) fought in:

"Uttara said, 'Firm as I am in the use of the bow, I would set out this very day in the track of the kine if only some one skilled in the management of horses becomes my charioteer. I do not, however, know the man who may be my charioteer. Look ye, therefore, without delay, for a charioteer for me that am prepared for starting. My own charioteer was slain in the great battle that was fought from day to day for a whole month or at least for eight and twenty nights. As soon as I get another person conversant with the management of the steeds. I will immediately set out, hoisting high my own standard. Penetrating into the midst of the hostile army abounding with elephants and horses and chariots, I will bring back the kine, having vanquished the Kurus who are feeble in strength and weak in weapons. Like a second wielder of the thunderbolt terrifying the Danavas, I will bring back the kine this very moment, affrighting in battle Duryodhana and Bhishma and Karna and Kripa and Drona with his son, and other mighty bowmen assembled for fight. Finding none (to oppose), the Kurus are taking away the kine. What can I do when I am not there? The assembled Kurus shall witness my prowess today. And they shall say unto one another, 'Is it Arjuna himself who is opposing us?'
Take note of how prince Uttara boasts of his prowess to the females in the inner apartments, throughout his entire speech... He starts off by telling the females that he needs a charioteer, and then, in his vain boasting of his own prowess, adds on that "my own charioteer was slain in the great battle that was fought from day to day for a whole month or at least for eight and twenty nights". Note the emphasis prince Uttara places on the fact that this previous war was a "great battle" and that it extended for a very lengthy period of time... Such speech, by prince Uttara, reeks of vain boasting that even after taking part in such a tough battle, he returned alive due to his extreme prowess as a warrior. He then continues on with his boasting, in the aforementioned speech, belittling the Kuru warriors and essentially saying that defeating them would be like a walk in the park for him.

Prince Uttara ends his speech by saying "And they shall say unto one another, 'Is it Arjuna himself who is opposing us?" Upon hearing prince Uttara compare himself to Arjuna at the end of his above speech, Draupadi could not bear it any more and spoke to prince Uttara the following words (Critical Edition, Virata Parva Section 34, translation by Bibek Debroy):
Vaishampayana said, ‘He repeatedly spoke these words in the presence of the women and Panchali could not tolerate his reference to Bibhatsu. In the midst of the women, the ascetic one approached him. With a bashful expression, she softly spoke these words. “This extremely handsome youth is known by the name of Brihannada and resembles a gigantic elephant. He has been Partha’s charioteer. He was the great-souled one’s disciple and was not inferior to him in the use of the bow. O brave one! I have seen him earlier, when I dwelt with the Pandavas. When the conflagration of the fire burnt down the great Khandava, it is he who drove Arjuna’s supreme steeds. With him as charioteer, Partha conquered all the beings in Khandavaprastha. There is no other charioteer like him. O brave one! Your maiden sister has beautiful hips and there is no doubt that he will follow her orders. If he becomes your charioteer, there is no doubt that you will vanquish all the Kurus and return swiftly with the cattle.”
Draupadi tells prince Uttara "your maiden sister has beautiful hips and there is no doubt that he will follow her orders", thereby implying that according to Draupadi, Vrihinnala would obey princess Uttaraa due to her physical state of having beautiful hips (the sanskrit word used is susroni, which also is a reference to princess Uttaraa's loins and buttocks). Such speech by Draupadi, further confirms at the bare minimum, Arjuna's sexual attraction (if not a full fledged sexual relationship) towards princess Uttaraa. Moreover, such speech hints to the reader that even Draupadi knew of the sexual escapade between Arjuna and princess Uttaraa. Since prince Uttara was in a state of worry about who was going to be his new charioteer for the war with the Kurus, he did not dig deeper into Draupadi's words. Rather, in a state of hurry, he just asked his sister Uttaraa to bring Vrihinnala to him (Critical Edition, Virata Parva Section 34, translation by Bibek Debroy):
On being thus addressed by Sairandhri, he spoke to his sister. “O one with the unblemished limbs! Go and bring Brihannada here.” Thus sent by her brother, she quickly went to the dancing hall where the mighty-armed Pandava lived, hidden in his disguise.’
What is interesting is the way princess Uttaraa approaches Vrihinnala to ask for his help. Below is the narrative of her approaching Vrihinnala:
"Vaisampayana said, 'Thus despatched by her elder brother, the far-famed daughter of king Matsya, adorned with a golden necklace, ever obedient to her brother and possessed of a waist slender as that of the wasp, endued with the splendour of Lakshmi herself, decked with the plumes of the peacock of slender make and graceful limbs, her hips encircled by a zone of pearls, her eye-lashes slightly curved, and her form endued with every grace, hastily repaired to the dancing-hall like a flash of lightning rushing towards a mass of dark clouds. And the faultless and auspicious daughter of Virata, of fine teeth and slender-waist, of thighs close unto each other and each like the trunk of an elephant, her person embellished with an excellent garland, sought the son of Pritha like a she-elephant seeking her mate. And like unto a precious gem or the very embodiment of prosperity of Indra, of exceeding beauty and large eyes, that charming and adored and celebrated damsel saluted Arjuna.
This entire passage of Uttaraa approaching Vrihinnala evokes a great deal of sexual imagery. The beauty of her waist is praised and fantasized, through its comparison to a wasp, an insect known to have a thin waist, and then intricate details of the waist are given. For example, this waist is said to be decked with the plumes of the peacock. Uttaraa is then described to have graceful limbs, with the emphasis being made on her hips, which were encircled in a zone of pearls, and her thighs. Her thighs were sexualized and fantasized to a great extent by the poet. The thighs were described as being close to each other, with each thigh being likened to the trunk of an elephant, thereby demonstrating a level of fantasization due to their large girth. She was also described as possessing "fine teeth". Such a meticulous description of her teeth would only be possible if she was transmitting a large smile that allowed her teeth to be visible to the observer. Moreover, emphasis was also placed on her "large eyes" and "slightly curved eyelashes", that enhanced her overall beauty and splendor such that it was fantasized to be equal to Lakshmi herself...

This large emphasis placed by the poet on various aspects of Uttaraa's sexuality serves as a prelude for the way Uttaraa approaches Vrihinnala. That is, the emphasis on her sexuality shows that she was approaching Vrihinnala, just like a female seeks her sexual partner, attempting to flaunt her charms to evoke passion in her partner so that he does her bidding. As a result, after such emphasis on the way Uttaraa was sexually approaching Vrihinnala, the poet says that she "sought the son of Pritha like a she-elephant seeking her mate". Such behavior on the part of princess Uttaraa tells us volumes of the relationship between her and Arjuna. She considered Arjuna no less than her sexual partner, and hence approached him in a sexual manner, so that he agrees to do her bidding...

I see a parallel in this behavior of Uttaraa and how Draupadi gave the sleeping Bhima (who was bearing the guise of Vallabha in Matsya Desh) a sexual embrace and thereby charged his passion so that he would agree to do her bidding and slay Kichaka.

Needless to say, Vrihinnala reciprocated princess Uttaraa's behavior, and instead of showing shock or dismay at the way she approached him, he said the following:
And saluted by her, Partha asked that maiden of close thighs and golden complexion, saying 'What brings thee hither, a damsel decked in a necklace of gold? Why art thou in such a hurry, O gazelle-eyed maiden? Why is thy face, O beauteous lady, so cheerless? Tell me all this without delay!'
Note how Vrihinnala does not rebuke Uttaraa for approaching him in a sexual manner. Rather, the poet uses epithets like "that maiden of close thighs and golden complexion" to address princess Uttaraa, thereby alluding that Vrihinnala's attention was affixed on her beauty and her sexual aspect when addressing her. Vrihinnala also addresses her as "O gazelle-eyed maiden" and "O beauteous lady", thereby attesting that he was comfortable, nay delighted, to see princess Uttaraa approach him in such a sexual manner.

That being said, Vrihinnala then asked princess Uttaraa to quickly tell him the reason for her worry, which she replies to, by saying (Critical Edition, Virata Parva Section 35, translation by Bibek Debroy):
“O Brihannada! The kingdom’s cattle are being robbed by the Kurus. My archer brother is leaving to defeat them. But not long ago, the charioteer of his chariot was slain in battle. There is no other charioteer who is equal to him as a charioteer. O Brihannada! While he was looking for a charioteer, Sairandhri spoke to him about your skill in handling horses. O Brihannada! Be good enough to act as a charioteer for my brother, before the Kurus drive our cattle too far away. If you do not act in accordance with the request I am affectionately making to you, I will give up my life today.”
What is noteworthy in the above passage is the kind of authority and influence that princess Uttaraa had over Vrihinnala. She goes on to say "dya niyuktā na kariṣyasi praṇayād ucyamānā tvaṃ parityakṣyāmi jīvitam" (meaning "if you do not act in accordance with the request I am affectionately making to you, I will give up my life today"). As a side note, word praṇayā used in this verse is translated as "affection" by Kisari Mohan Ganguly and Bibek Debroy, but actually extends beyond the realms of mere affection and points towards "romantic love". That being said, the point I am making is that princess Uttaraa had enough authority on Vrihinnala that she could ask him, on account of the (romantic) love between them, to act in accordance with her request and even threaten to end her life if he refused to do her bidding...

Needless to say, upon hearing these words of princess Uttaraa, Vrihinnala dashed towards prince Uttara to assist him. Seeing him arrive, prince Uttara asked Vrihinnala to drive his horses (Critical Edition, Virata Parva Section 35, translation by Bibek Debroy):

‘On seeing him from a distance, the prince spoke to him. “With you as a charioteer, Partha satisfied the fire god in Khandava. Dhananjaya, Kunti’s son, conquered the entire earth. Sairandhri knows the Pandavas and spoke to me about you. O Brihannada! Drive my horses too, when I fight with the Kurus and recover our riches of cattle. In earlier times, you were Arjuna’s favourite charioteer. It is with your aid that the bull among Pandavas conquered the earth.”

Having been thus addressed by the prince, Brihannada replied, “What capacity do I possess to be a charioteer in a field of battle? Singing, dancing, or the playing of a musical instrument would have been different. I can do that. O fortunate one! How can I drive a chariot?” Uttara said, “O Brihannada! You will become a singer or a dancer again. Swiftly ascend the chariot and control these supreme horses.” Pandava, the scorcher of enemies, knew everything. But before Uttara, he committed mistakes in jest. He donned the armour upside down on his body. The large-eyed maidens laughed when they saw this. On seeing him thus confused, Uttara himself fastened the expensive armour on Brihannada. He himself donned superb armour that was as dazzling as the sun. Having raised a pennant with a lion, he instructed him to be the charioteer. The brave one had Brihannada as his charioteer and rode out, with expensive bows and many beautiful arrows.
The fact that even in this stressful situation of war, Arjuna was sarcastically replying to prince Uttara, and later jested around to entertain his damsel friends, tells us volumes about Arjuna's bubbly, optimistic nature and his belief in living life to its fullest. Which person would not be attracted to such a character, who manages to find purpose and enjoyment in such bleak situations, where he is forced to live as practically a servant for an entire year? Even Draupadi and Bhima were tired and frustrated with their lives in Matsya Desh (as we know from various narratives in Virata Parva), but not Arjuna, who managed to find and enjoy small happiness' in the rather bleak present that he was thrusted into by his elder brother, Yuddhistira...

Just prior to Uttara and Vrihinnala departing to fight the war, princess Uttaraa and her maiden-friends asked Vrihinnala to bring back beautiful dresses for their dolls (Critical Edition, Virata Parva Section 35, translation by Bibek Debroy):

‘Uttara and the other maidens who were her friends told him, “O Brihannada! When you have defeated the Kurus, led by Bhishma and Drona, in battle, you must bring back many beautiful dresses for our dolls, colourful and fine.” Partha, descendant of the Pandu lineage, smilingly replied in words that were like the rumbling of the clouds, “If Uttara vanquishes those maharathas in battle, I will bring back divine and beautiful garments for you.” Having spoken these words, brave Bibhatsu drove the chariot towards the Kurus, who had many kinds of flags and pennants.’
There are a few points in the above passage that I find quite noteworthy. First of all, any young lady and her friends would naturally appeal to her brother to bring her such gifts of beautiful dresses. It is not very normal for one to make such a request from their dance instructor instead of their brother, when the latter is clearly present to fulfill their desires. The fact that these females appeal to their dance instructor, Vrihinnala for such wishes, in the presence of everyone, speaks to how emotionally close they were to him, and how much authority and influence they wielded over him, as a result of this emotional bond. Another point that must be made is Vrihinnala's response to Uttaraa and her friends. In response to their request, Vrihinnala speaks in a very masculine voice, akin to the rumbling of clouds, that he will get those beautiful garments if prince Uttara wins the war. The emphasis placed on this masculine voice of Arjuna is very important to take note of, and gives a general feel of Arjuna trying to woo/impress these feminine creatures with his tough, masculine voice.

The masculine voice used by Vrihinnala is also another good piece of evidence, suggesting that the females knew he was not an eunuch, but rather a man in disguise as an eunuch. Why would Vrihinnala attempt to employ such a masculine voice to woo/impress the females had these females thought that he was an eunuch. Wouldn't that work to blow away his disguise? Wouldn't it raise an eyebrow and suggest to these ladies that whom they were believing was an eunuch was actually a man and an imposter? These are all points to ponder upon...

After replying in this manner to Uttaraa and her friends, Vrihinnala departed with prince Uttara for the war with the Kuru army. In the meanwhile, King Virata returned to his palace, having defeated the Trigarta army in war. He soon came to hear that his son, accompanied by Vrihinnala, was successful in defeating the Kuru army. As a result, he then said the following (Critical Edition, Virata Parva Section 63, translation by Bibek Debroy):

On hearing about the victory of his infinitely energetic son, King Virata was extremely delighted and his body hair stood up. He rewarded the messengers with garments and instructed his ministers, “Let the royal roads be decorated with flags. Let all the gods be honoured with offerings of flowers. Let princes, foremost warriors, well-ornamented harlots and all the musicians go out to receive my son. Let a man with a bell quickly mount an intoxicated elephant. Let him go to the crossroads and proclaim my victory. Let Uttara go to receive Brihannada, surrounded by many maidens who bear the garments and ornaments of love.”
Normally, a king would send women and musicians to greet his son upon being victorious in war. However, it is definitely not normal for a king to send women specifically directed to greet the charioteer, even if the charioteer was a teacher of dance and music to the king's daughter. It is much less common for the king to send his own daughter to greet this charioteer. The fact that King Virata, however does that, makes his behavior worthy of examination. He asks his own daughter and other maidens to bear the ornaments of love (shringara) and personally go and greet Vrihinnala, speaking of them in the same set of breaths he spoke of harlots going to greet his son. The fact that he sends such women, decked with adornments, to greet Vrihinnala very clearly suggests that he knew Vrihinnala was not an eunuch. Had King Virata truly thought that Vrihinnala was an eunuch, he would not have sent sexually attractive women to greet him, as sexual pleasure/feelings towards women would generally not have a place in the heart of an eunuch (at least from the perspective of King Virata et al...). Furthermore, the fact that King Virata sends his own daughter, decked with garments and ornaments of love (sringara) to Vrihinnala is quite odd, unless we interpret it in the context of what I earlier said about King Virata. That is, King Virata was eager to have Vrihinnala, whom he knew was a powerful male, married to his daughter Uttaraa, and hence the reason at the forefront of his mind behind sending Uttaraa to receive Vrihinnala was that this would allow for greater bonding between the two, and would thereby increase the chances of the two wanting to marry one another...

After Vrihinnala and prince Uttara entered the royal palace, Vrihinnala was eager to give to Uttaraa the garments she desired, with his own hands. Hence, he took permission from King Virata to do so. Once again, King Virata allowed such interaction between his daughter and Vrihinnala, likely because he was eager to accelerate their bonding with one another so that they would eventually desire to marry one another (Critical Edition, Virata Parva Section 64, my translation):
34 tataḥ pārtho 'bhyanujñāto virāṭena mahātmanā pradadau tānivāsāṃsi virāṭa duhituḥ svayam35 uttarā tu mahārhāṇi vividhāni tanūni ca pratigṛhyābhavat prītā tani vāsāṃsi bhāminī
Having obtained the great-souled Virata’s permission, Partha himself gave those garments to Virata’s daughter. They were extremely expensive and fine and the passionate Uttara accepted those garments with delight.
Vrihinnala presents these garments to princess Uttaraa with his own hands. His stubbornness to present the garments with his own hands to her, even if it means having to take permission from King Virata, is worthy of being noted, as it sheds some light on the emotional bond between Vrihinnala and Uttaraa. After Vrihinnala presented these garments, Uttaraa, described as a passionate/beautiful woman (bhāminī) in the above verses, accepted the gifts with delight/pleasure/love (prītā)...

Three days after this, the Pandavas bathed themselves and donned white garments, having completed the year of incognito exile. They then seated themselves on thrones in King Virata's assembly... Seeing this, King Virata got angry and asked Yuddhistira the following (Critical Edition, Virata Parva Section 65, translation by Bibek Debroy):
On seeing the handsome Pandavas, blazing like fires, with Kanka seated there in the form of a god, like the lord of the thirty gods attended by the Maruts, Matsya told him, “I put you in charge of the dice and appointed you the official gamester. Why are you ornamented and why are you seated on the royal throne?”
Arjuna, who was ever devoted to Yuddhistira, intercepted King Virata's speech and replied to him in a semi-sarcastic manner, telling Virata that this Kanka is actually Yuddhistira, extolling his praises and then asking Virata "does such a king not deserve a seat that is meant for a lord of the earth?"(Critical Edition, Virata Parva Section 65, translation by Bibek Debroy):
‘O king! On hearing Virata’s words, Arjuna laughed and spoke the following words. “O king! This one deserves to be seated on Indra’s throne. He has the qualities of a brahmana. He is learned in the sacred texts. He is generous. He is the performer of sacrifices. He is rigid in his vows. He is a bull among the Kurus. He is Kunti’s son, Yudhishthira. His deeds are established on this earth, like the rays of the rising sun. O king! When he dwelt in the land of the Kurus, ten thousand powerful elephants used to follow him at the back. Thirty thousand chariots and well-trained and handsome horses, with golden harnesses, always used to follow him from behind. There were eight hundred bards, with earrings studded with polished gems, together with minstrels chanting his praises, like rishis praising Shakra earlier. O king! Like the immortals wait on the lord of riches, the Kurus, and all the kings, waited on him, like servants. O great king! All the lords of the earth offered him tribute then, like ordinary vaishyas. The king was excellent in his vows and eighty-eight thousand great-souled snatakas earned their living off him. O lord! In accordance with dharma, he protected his subjects like sons, the aged, the unprotected, the disabled and the crippled. Such was his dharma, his self-control over anger and his carefulness in observing vows. He was extremely generous. He had the qualities of a brahmana. The lord of the earth was always truthful. The lord Suyodhana was tormented because of his prosperity and his power, together with his followers, Karna, Soubala and the others. O lord of men! It is impossible to recount all his qualities. These are vested in the great king Pandava, bull among the lords of the earth. Does such a king not deserve a seat that is meant for a lord of the earth?”’
Hearing this, King Virata's curiosity was aroused and he wanted to know that if Kanka was actually Yuddhistira, then where could the other Pandavas and Draupadi possibly be. So he asked Arjuna about that (Critical Edition, Virata Parva Section 66, translation by Bibek Debroy):
‘Virata said, “If this is King Kouravya Yudhishthira, the son of Kunti, where is his brother Arjuna? Where is the powerful Bhima? Where are Nakula, Sahadeva and the famous Droupadi? From the time they were defeated in the gambling match, no one has got to know about the Parthas.”
Arjuna replied, telling King Virata where the remaining four Pandavas and Draupadi were (Critical Edition, Virata Parva Section 66, translation by Bibek Debroy):
‘Arjuna replied, “O lord of men! This cook of yours, known by the name of Ballava, is the mighty-armed Bhima, whose speed and valour are terrible. To fetch divine sougandhika flowers for Krishna, it is he who killed the demons on Mount Gandhamadana. He is the gandharva who slew the evil-souled Kichaka. It was he who slew tigers, bears and boars in your women’s quarters. The one who tends to your horses is Nakula, the scorcher of enemies. The one who looks after your cattle is Sahadeva, the other one of Madri’s maharatha sons. These two bulls among men are capable of withstanding thousands of warriors and are handsome and famous. They now wear the garments and ornaments of love. O king! This lotus-eyed, slender-waisted and sweet-smiling sairandhri is Droupadi. It is because of her that the Kichakas were killed. O great king! I am Arjuna and you have no doubt heard about me. I am Partha, the younger brother of Bhima and elder to the two twins. O great king! We have happily spent our period of concealment in your abode, like beings inside a womb.”’
After Arjuna spoke in that manner, prince Uttara recounted the valor of Arjuna, and upon hearing that, King Virata decided to offer princess Uttaraa to Arjuna as a wife, along with his kingdom to the Pandavas (Critical Edition, Virata Parva Section 66, translation by Bibek Debroy):
Vaishampayana said, ‘When Arjuna had revealed the five brave Pandavas, Virata’s son recounted Arjuna’s valour. “This is the one who was like a lion among deer in the midst of the enemies. He ranged among the mass of charioteers and killed the best of them. With a single arrow, he pierced and killed a giant elephant in the battle. Adorned with a golden harness, it fell down, embedding its tusks on the ground. It is he who won back the cattle and defeated the Kurus in battle. It is the sound of his conch shell that deafened my ears.” On hearing these words, the powerful king of Matsya, who had insulted Yudhishthira, told Uttara, “I think the time has come to seek the favour of the Pandavas. If you so think, I will bestow Uttara on Partha.” Uttara replied, “They deserve worship, homage and honour and I think that the time has come. Let the immensely fortunate Pandavas, who are deserving of honour, be honoured.” 
Virata said, “When I myself came under the power of enemies in the field of battle, it was Bhimasena who rescued me and won back the cattle. It is through the valour of their arms that we have been victorious in battle. With all our advisers, let us seek the favours of Kunti’s son, Yudhishthira, bull among the Pandavas, and his younger brothers. Let the fortunate lord among men forgive everything that we have said in ignorance. Pandava has dharma in his soul.” Virata was extremely delighted and he made an alliance with the king. He offered the great-souled one his entire kingdom, together with the royal staff, the treasury and the capital. ‘Then addressing all the Pandavas, with Dhananjaya at the forefront, the powerful king of the Matsyas repeatedly kept on saying that he was fortunate. He repeatedly embraced and inhaled the fragrance of the heads of Yudhishthira, Bhima, Madri’s two sons and Pandava. Virata, lord of an army, was not satisfied from looking at them. He happily told King Yudhishthira, “It is through good fortune that all of you have returned safely from the forest. It is through good fortune that you have spent the period of concealment, undetected by those evil-souled ones. I am offering this kingdom, and whatever else I possess, to the Parthas. May the Kounteyas accept everything, without any hesitation. Let Savyasachi Dhananjaya accept Uttara. That supreme among men is the right husband for her.”
Note King Virata's words: "Let Savyasachi Dhananjaya accept Uttara. That supreme among men is the right husband for her". Such speech, especially the last sentence, should not be surprising, since, as I have shown earlier in this post, King Virata had seen through Arjuna's disguise the day he entered Matsya Desh, and had taken steps to ensure that the powerful, mighty man one day becomes his daughter's husband... Hearing such a proposal from King Virata, Yuddhistira glanced towards Arjuna, as if not happy with Arjuna's ways (wink wink) and demanding an explanation from Arjuna for why King Virata thought of putting forth this proposal (after all, Yuddhistira also knew that Arjuna lived with Uttaraa for an entire year, and could probably gauge from where King Virata got the idea of marrying his daughter to Arjuna). Seeing Yuddhistira put him on the spot with that glance, Arjuna evaded the alliance by thrusting Uttaraa on his son (Critical Edition, Virata Parva Section 66, translation by Bibek Debroy):
Thus addressed, Dharmaraja glanced towards Partha Dhananjaya. When his brother looked at him, Arjuna spoke these words to Matsya. “O king! I will accept your daughter as my daughter-inlaw. Such an alliance between supreme Matsyas and Bharatas will be proper.”’
King Virata was taken aback by Arjuna's words as he had always felt that Arjuna loved his daughter Uttaraa... and hence, he told Arjuna to not feel shy or back down, as he (King Virata) himself is offering Uttaraa to him (Arjuna):
‘Virata asked, “O best of the Pandavas! Why do you refuse to accept my daughter as your wife? Accept her. I am offering her to you.”
King Virata's pressurization on Arjuna to accept princess Uttaraa as a wife can be understood by the fact that this marriage was what King Virata had desired from day 1, when Arjuna had first entered Matsya Desh, disguised as Vrihinnala. However, once again Arjuna refused to accept Uttaraa as his wife, giving the following reasons (Critical Edition, Virata Parva Section 67, translation by Bibek Debroy):
‘Arjuna replied, ‘Dwelling in your inner quarters, I always observed your daughter. Whether in private or in public, she always trusted me as her father. I was loved by her and respected because of my skills in dancing and singing. Your daughter has always thought of me as her teacher. O king! I lived for a year with a woman who is nubile. O lord! Suspicion on your part, or that of your subjects, is not misplaced. O lord of the earth! Therefore, I am asking for your daughter. I have been pure and have been in control of my senses. Because of my self-control, she has been kept pure. There is no difference between a daughter and a daughter-in-law, nor that between a son and one’s own self. I do not see any misdemeanour in this and purity will be preserved. O scorcher of enemies! I am terrified of curses and false accusations. O king! That is the reason I will accept your daughter Uttara as my daughter-in-law. O lord of the earth! My mighty-armed son Abhimanyu is Vasudeva’s nephew. He is just like a child of the gods. He is learned in all weapons and is loved by the one who wields the chakra. He is the right son-in-law for you and a husband for your daughter.”
Arjuna's speech would make it seem, when analyzed at a superficial level, that he truly considered Uttaraa his daughter and had no sexual feelings for her. However, I have already provided some verses in this article, where Arjuna is called Uttaraa's lover cum sexual mate/partner, in addition to speech by Arjuna where he himself addresses Uttaraa in quite sexual terms. Hence, the theory (proposed by many so-called Arjuna fans) that Arjuna considered Uttaraa as his daughter, and that this was the reason for him refusing to marry her, needs to be re-examined. Critically analyzing the above speech of Arjuna is a good place to start, and there is much that can be discussed regarding that speech.

First of all, Arjuna says that he cannot accept Uttaraa as a wife because he truly considered her as his daughter and she considered him a father figure. This would be enough justification for refusing to marry Uttaraa as it makes no sense for a man to marry a female whom he considers his daughter. However, Arjuna does not stop his speech here. He speaks more after this, and this subsequent speech is where the issue arises. He then says that "O king! I lived for a year with a woman who is nubile. O lord! Suspicion on your part, or that of your subjects, is not misplaced. O lord of the earth! Therefore, I am asking for your daughter. I have been pure and have been in control of my senses. Because of my self-control, she has been kept pure.... I am terrified of curses and false accusations. O king! That is the reason I will accept your daughter Uttara as my daughter-in-law." Such speech by Arjuna contradicts what he earlier said. Earlier he said that the reason why he could not accept Uttaraa as a wife is that he considered her his daughter. Now he is saying that he could not accept Uttaraa as a wife because people would think he made her impure in the 1 year they lived together? The first reason would obviously encompass the second reason (i.e. if he considered her his daughter, then he would obviously not have sex with her and make her "impure"). So why did he find the need to specifically state the purity reason (second reason)? The fact that Arjuna not only states that he was worried about society's accusations regarding Uttaraa's purity, despite already touching on that point in the first reason he gave, in addition to the fact that he spends most of his speech justifying this second, purity reason suggests very strongly to the reader that when Arjuna said he considered Uttaraa as his daughter (the first reason he gave for rejecting her), he was simply making an excuse to avoid the marriage. Hence, it cannot be taken that Arjuna truly, genuinely, and unequivocally considered princess Uttaraa his daughter.

But how genuine was Arjuna's refusal to marry Uttaraa on the grounds that such a marriage would allow false accusations on Uttaraa's purity to spread? This must also be discussed...

In a conservative society where chastity would be greatly valued, a woman having sex with a man other than her husband would be frowned upon. In that same strain, a woman having pre-marital sex would also be frowned upon in such a society, as the partner of this pre-marital escapade would likely be a man other than the lady's future husband. If a woman would be found to engage in such a pre-marital affair, this society would then force her to marry this sexual partner, as doing so would ensure that she only had sex with the man that was her husband (i.e. her husband and the man whom she had a pre-marital affair with would be the same person). Hence, Arjuna could have silenced all these accusations that may have been raised at him by simply marrying Uttaraa. On the other hand, refusing to marry Uttaraa would allow such accusations and rumors to still float. Hence, Arjuna's reasoning in his above speech fails a simple test of logic, and it therefore seems that even this reason/justification was was simply Arjuna's excuse to avoid the marriage.

Arjuna ends his speech by giving Virata a cue that he would continue his sexual relationship with princess Uttaraa even after her marriage with Abhimanyu... He says "There is no difference between a daughter and a daughter-in-law, nor that between a son and one’s own self. I do not see any misdemeanour in this and purity will be preserved"... Through such speech, Arjuna very subtly tells King Virata that since a daughter and daughter-in-law are equal, he would preserve the purity that the society seeks with regards to Uttaraa by accepting her as his daughter-in-law, nay daughter. Likewise, he also says that since a son is equal to one's own self, his son marrying princess Uttaraa would be like he (Arjuna) himself marrying her. That is to say, Arjuna subtly says that after the Abhimanyu-Uttaraa marriage, both father and son would enjoy a conjugal relationship with Uttaraa.

Hearing these words of Arjuna, King Virata was satisfied that princess Uttaraa would get the man she really desired (Arjuna) and that a political alliance with Arjuna would be formed, thereby keeping the Matsyas protected (Critical Edition, Virata Parva Section 67, translation by Bibek Debroy):
‘Virata said, “This is indeed appropriate for Kunti’s son, Dhananjaya, the best of the Kurus. Pandava is learned and wise and always follows dharma. O Partha! What do you think should be done after this? If one has an alliance with Arjuna, all one’s desires are completely satisfied.”’
Once King Virata said these words, Yuddhistira gave his consent to the alliance and subsequently sent messengers to all friends as well as Krishna, inviting them for Abhimanyu's marriage with Uttaraa (Critical Edition, Virata Parva Section 67, translation by Bibek Debroy):
Vaishampayana said, ‘When the Indra among kings said this, Kunti’s son, Yudhishthira, gave his consent to the alliance between Matsya and Partha. O descendant of the Bharata lineage! Virata, lord of the earth, and Kounteya sent messengers to all their friends and Vasudeva. Thus, after the thirteen years were over, all the five Pandavas began to live in Virata’s Upaplavya. Bibhatsu Pandava went to bring Janardana, Abhimanyu and the other Dasharhas from the Anarta region. O lord of the earth! The kings of Kashi and Shaibya, who were affectionate towards Yudhishthira, arrived with two akshouhinis. The immenselystrong and powerful Yajnasena arrived with one akshouhini, and Droupadi’s brave sons and the unvanquished Shikhandi. There was the invincible Dhrishtadyumna, supreme among those who wield all weapons. There were others with many akshouhinis, those who sacrificed with a lot of donations. All of them were learned in the use of weapons and all of them were brave and were ready to give up their lives. Matsya, supreme among those who uphold dharma, was happy at seeing that they had come. He was happy that he had bestowed his daughter on Abhimanyu. After the lords of the earth had arrived from different directions, Vasudeva Vanamali arrived, and so did the wielder of the plough. Hardikya Kritavarma, Yuyudhana Satyaki, Anadhrishti, Akrura, Samba and Nishatha arrived. Those scorchers of enemies brought Abhimanyu and his mother with them. Indrasena and the others arrived there, taking good care of the chariots, having remained away for one entire year. Ten thousand elephants arrived and one million horses. There were a full one hundred million chariots and one billion foot soldiers. There were many supremely energetic Vrishnis, Andhakas and Bhojas. They followed that tiger among the Vrishnis, the greatly resplendent Vasudeva. Krishna separately gave each of the great-souled Pandavas a collection of women, gems and garments.
With this I originally intended to end this post. However, the rest of Section 67 of Udyoga Parva (Critical Edition) describes how the marriage of Abhimanyu and Uttaraa was conducted, and since it is quite rare to find a description, in the Mahabharatha text, of how marriage was conducted in those times, I feel that I should end this post with a description of how the Abhimanyu-Uttaraa marriage was conducted. I will start off by presenting the passage describing how this marriage was conducted  (Critical Edition, Virata Parva Section 67, translation by Bibek Debroy [verses 25c-31, 34-38] and Kisari Mohan Ganguly [verses 32-33]):
25c tato vivāho vidhivad vavṛte matsyapārthayoḥ 26 tataḥ śaṅkhāś ca bheryaś ca gomukhāḍambarās tathā pārthaiḥ saṃyujyamānasya nedur matsyasya veśmani
‘In accordance with the rites, the marriage between the Matsyas and the Parthas took place. Conch shells, kettle drums, trumpets and drums were assembled and played in Matysa’s palace, honoured by the Parthas.
27 uccāvacān mṛgāñ jaghnur medhyāṃś ca śataśaḥ paśūn surā maireya pānāni prabhūtāny abhyahārayan
Many hundreds of diverse deer and other animals were slain. Liquor and other celestial drinks were brought in large quantities.
28 gāyanākhyāna śīlāś ca naṭā vaitālikās tathā stuvantas tān upātiṣṭhan sūtāś ca saha māgadhaiḥ
There were many skilled singers and raconteurs, dancers and minstrels. The assembled bards, together with the minstrels, began to chant praises.
29 sudeṣṇāṃ ca puraskṛtya matsyānāṃ ca varastriyaḥ ājagmuś cārusarvāṅgyaḥ sumṛṣṭamaṇikuṇḍalāḥ
With Sudeshna leading the way, the supreme women from the Matsyas arrived. All of them were beautiful in their limbs and wore earrings that were studded with excellent gems.
30 varṇopapannās tā nāryo rūpavatyaḥ svalaṃ kṛtāḥ sarvāś cābhyabhavat kṛṣṇā rūpeṇa yaśasā śriyā
They were well complexioned, noble, beautiful and ornamented. But Krishna surpassed them in beauty, fame and prosperity.
31 parivāryottarāṃ tās tu rājaputrīm alaṃ kṛtām sutām iva mahendrasya puraskṛtyopatasthire
They surrounded the ornamented Princess Uttara and honoured her, as if she was a daughter of the great Indra.
32 tāṃ pratyagṛhṇāt kaunteyaḥ sutasyārthe dhanaṃjayaḥ saubhadrasyānavadyāṅgīṃ virāṭa tanayāṃ tadā
Dhananjaya accepted Virata’s daughter of faultless limbs on behalf of his son by Subhadra.
33 tatrātiṣṭhan mahārājo rūpam indrasya dhārayan snuṣāṃ tāṃ pratijagrāha kuntīputro yudhiṣṭhiraḥ
And that great king, Yudhistiraa, the son of Kunti, who stood there like Indra, also accepted her as his daughter-in-law.
34 pratigṛhya ca tāṃ pārthaḥ puraskṛtya janārdanam vivāhaṃ kārayām āsa saubhadrasya mahātmanaḥ
When Partha had accepted her and honoured Janardana, the wedding ceremony of Subhadra’s great-souled son was performed.
35 tasmai sapta sahasrāṇi hayānāṃ vātaraṃhasām dve ca nāgaśate mukhye prādād bahudhanaṃ tadā
He gave him seven thousand horses that possessed the speed of the wind, two hundred supreme elephants and a great deal of riches.
36 kṛte vivāhe tu tadā dharmaputro yudhiṣṭhiraḥ brāhmaṇebhyo dadau vittaṃ yad upāharad acyutaḥ 37 gosahasrāṇi ratnāni vastrāṇi vividhāni ca bhūṣaṇāni ca mukhyāni yānāni śayanāni ca
Once the marriage was over, Dharma’s son, Yudhishthira, gave the brahmanas the riches that Achyuta had brought—thousands of cows, gems, diverse kinds of garments, excellent ornaments, vehicles and beds.
38 tan mahotsava saṃkāśaṃ hṛṣṭapuṣṭa janāvṛtam nagaraṃ matsyarājasya śuśubhe bharatarṣabha
There were great festivities. O bull among the Bharata lineage! The city of the king of Matsyas was resplendent and crowded with people who were happy and well fed.’
Verse 25c begins by saying tato vivāho vidhivad vavṛte (meaning "in accordance with the rites, the marriage took place). Hence, this marriage serves as a model for how marriages were conducted back in those times... Following this verse, the poet spends the next 13 verses discussing these rites (vidhiin accordance with which, the marriage (vivāho) took place. In the palace of the bride (i.e. the Matsyas) conch shells, kettle drums, trumpets and drums were played to honor the groomsmen (i.e. the Parthas) that came for the marriage. For the wedding feast, an array of animals were slain and alot of liquor and celestial drinks were brought. In addition to this, many skilled singers along with minstrels began to chant praises, while dancers were displaying their art of dancing and providing entertainment to all the guests. As this was going on, the mother of the bride (Queen Sudeshna) accompanied by the best women from the bride's side (i.e. the Matsyas), all wearing ornaments and very beautiful, surrounded the bride (princess Uttaraa), who herself was wearing ornaments, and they collectively began to honor her as if she was the daughter of the great Indra.

Following this, before the actual wedding could be performed, the elected fathers of the groom had to accept the bride, on behalf of the groom. In this case, first Arjuna accepted the bride, Uttaraa, on behalf of his son by Subhadra. Then, Yuddhistira (who was also a father-like figure for Abhimanyu) accepted the bride Uttaraa, in a similar manner, as his daughter-in-law. Then this honor of accepting Uttaraa was given to Krishna (Janardana), who was also like a father to Abhimanyu, having lived with him in Dwarka for a large part of his (Abhimanyu's)  life. The manner in which these elected fathers accepted princess Uttaraa is somewhat controversial, and I will discuss it in some more detail later on in this post, but for the time being, I would like to say that the epithet anavadyāṅgīṃ (meaning "of faultless limbs") used by the poet for Uttaraa, when Arjuna (one of the elected fathers of the groom) accepts her on behalf of his son, Abhimanyu (in verse 32), gives a sexual tone to verses 32-34, where the rest of the elected fathers accept the bride, thereby suggesting that it was a marriage rite for the elected fathers of the groom (Arjuna, Yuddhistira, Krishna) to sexually accept the bride (Uttaraa) prior to her marriage with the groom. Once this rite was completed, the wedding ceremony of the bride would take place.

Following this, gifts and dower were given by the groom's side to the bride's side and the prominent brahmanas. After this happened, there were great festivities to celebrate the wedding, and the wedding feast was grandly held, with even the commoners crowding and being well fed by the king (i.e. father of the bride).

And that concludes the wedding rites...

Before concluding this post, however, I find it very necessary to clarify the point I made earlier about the elected fathers of the groom having sex with the bride and thereby accepting her sexually, prior to conducting the actual wedding ceremony of the bride and groom. To further elaborate on this point, I would like to direct readers to Rig Veda 10.85, which is a hymn about the wedding of Suryā, the daughter of Surya. This hymn sheds alot of light on how weddings took place back in the Vedic era (~1200 BCE). Since Mahabharatha took place around this era, it logically follows that the wedding rites mentioned in that Rig Vedic hymn would be relevant for the wedding of Abhimanyu and Uttaraa. Hence, without further delay, I will present the translation of Rig Veda 10.85 (Suryā's Wedding) by Stephanie Jamison and Joel Brereton:
1. By reality is the earth propped up; by the sun is heaven propped up.
By truth do the Ādityas stand, and Soma is fixed in heaven.
2. By Soma the Ādityas are strong; by truth is the earth great.
And in the lap of these heavenly bodies Soma is set.
3. A man thinks he has drunk the soma when they crush the plant.
But the Soma that the formulators know—no one at all consumes that.
4. Protected by those whose regulation is sheltering, guarded by those
belonging to heights, o Soma,
you just stay listening to the pressing stones. No earth-dweller
consumes you.
5. When they take their first drink of you, god, after that you swell
up again.
Vāyu is the guardian of Soma. The moon is the model of the years.
6. Raibhī was (the female attendant) to be given along (with the bride),
Nārāśaṃsī the in-dweller.
Sūryā’s auspicious garment goes adorned with a song.
7. Perception was the pillow, the eye was the adorning salve,
Heaven and Earth were the bucket (seat), when Sūryā drove to her
8. The praise songs were the crossbars, meter the veil and headdress.
The Aśvins were the wooers of Sūryā and Agni was the leader.
9. Soma was the bridegroom; the Aśvins were both wooers,
when Savitar gave Sūryā to her husband, as she pronounced (her vow)
with her (whole) mind.
10. Mind was her wagon, and heaven was her canopy.
The two glowing ones [=sun and moon] were the draft-oxen, when
Sūryā drove to her (new) home.
11. Your two oxen, harnessed by verse and tune [/r̥c and sāman], went of
one accord.
The ear was your two wheels. The path to heaven meandered back
and forth.
12. The two gleaming ones [=Heaven and Earth?] were your two wheels as
you drove. Breath was hammered in as the axle.
Sūryā mounted the wagon made of mind, as she went forth to her
13. Sūryā’s wedding proceeded, when Savitar set it going.
In the Aghā’s the cows are killed; in the two Arjunī’s she is conveyed (to
her new home).
14. When, o Aśvins, you two drove with a three-wheeled (chariot) to the
wedding of Sūryā to ask for her,
all the gods then gave assent to you two. The son Pūṣan chose you as
his two fathers.
15. When you drove, you two lords of beauty, to Sūryā to woo her,
where was your single wheel; where did you stand for the pointing out?
16. Your two wheels, o Sūryā—the brahmins know (them) according to
their season.
But the one wheel that is hidden—that just the experts know.
17. To Sūryā, to the gods, to Mitra and Varuṇa—
those who are forethoughtful of creation—to them I have made this
obeisance here.
18. First in front, then behind, these two roam by their magic power. As
two playful children, they travel around their ceremonial course.
The one [=Sun] watches over all creatures; the other [=Moon] is born
again (and again) as he portions out the seasons.
19. He becomes ever new as he is born; as beacon of the days he goes at the
forefront of the dawns.
He portions out their share to the gods as he comes here. The Moon
extends his lifetime long.
20. Lovely with kimśuka flowers, (made of) śalmali wood, having all forms,
of golden color, well-turning, well-wheeled—
mount, o Sūryā, the world of immortality. Make your wedding
procession a comfortable place for your husband.
21. “Rise up from here, for this woman has a husband.” I call on Viśvāvasu
with reverence, with hymns.
“Seek some other girl sitting in (the house of) her father, adorned (for
marriage) [/smeared (with menstrual blood)]. That is your share by
nature. Know this.”
22. “Rise up from here, Viśvāvasu.” With reverence we invoke you.
“Seek some other burgeoning maiden. Send the wife to join with her
23. Let the paths be straight and harmless to men, by which the comrades
go to the wooing.
Aryaman and Bhaga should lead us all together. Let the united
household be easy to hold fast, o gods.
24. I release you from the fetter of Varuṇa, with which well-disposed
Savitar bound you.
In the womb of truth, in the world of the well-performed (sacrifice?)
I place you unharmed along with your husband.
25. I release (her) from here, not from yonder. I have made her well bound
so that, o Indra the rewarder, this woman here will have good sons,
good fortune.
26. Let Pūṣan lead you from here, having taken you by the hand. Let the
Aśvins convey you forth in their chariot.
Go to the house, so that you will be mistress of the house. Exerting
your will you will announce the ceremonial distribution.
27. Here let your heart’s desire be realized through children; here in this
house be vigilant for the ruling of your household.
With this husband merge your body. Then (even) as an elderly couple
you two will announce the ceremonial distribution.
28. It [=bride’s garment] becomes dark red. [She=bride] becomes
witchcraft, a noose. She is smeared (with blood).
Her relatives are elated; her husband is bound in bonds.
29. Hand over the stained garment; to the brahmins parcel out the goods.
She herself has become walking witchcraft: the wife enters her
30. His body loses its splendor—glistening in that evil way—
when the husband is about to put on his own member the “garment” of
the bride.
31. The diseases from the people that follow after the glittering wedding
procession of the bride,
those let the gods worthy of the sacrifice lead back again whence
they came.
32. Let highwaymen who lie in wait not find the married couple.
Let them cross over the hard place by easy roads. Let hostilities
run away.
33. Of good omen is this bride here: together approach her, behold her.
Having given good luck to her, then scatter away home.
34. This is rough; this is sharp, barbed, poisonous: it is not for eating.
The brahmin who would know Sūryā, only he deserves this thing
associated with the bride(groom).
35. Carving up, carving open, and then cutting apart:
behold the forms of Sūryā! But the brahmin makes them clean.
36. I grasp your hand for good fortune, so that with me as your husband
you will reach old age.
Bhaga, Aryaman, Savitar, Plenitude—(all) the gods—have given you to
me for the ruling of the household.
37. Pūṣan, rouse her, most kindly disposed—(she) in whom humans scatter
their seed,
(she) who will willingly spread apart her thighs for us, (she) in whom we
can willingly thrust our penis.
38. To you at first they conveyed Sūryā along with her wedding procession.
Give the wife back to her husbands, Agni, along with progeny.
39. Agni has given the wife back, along with lifetime and luster, (to him)
who as her husband will live, long-lived, through a hundred autumns.
40. Soma acquired (you) first; the Gandharva acquired (you) next.
Agni was your third husband. The fourth was human-born.
41. Soma gave (her) to the Gandharva; the Gandharva gave (her) to Agni.
Agni has given both wealth and sons to me, and also this woman here.
42. Stay just here, (you two); don’t go apart. Attain your entire lifespan,
playing with your sons and grandsons, rejoicing in your own house.
43. Let Prajāpati generate progeny for us. Let Aryaman anoint (you?) till
old age.
Without ill-omen enter the world of your husband. Be weal for our
two-footed, weal for our four-footed.
44. Be free from the evil eye, not husband-smiting, kindly to the livestock,
of good mind and good luster,
hero-bearing, god-loving, comfortable. Be weal for our two-footed,
weal for our four-footed.
45. Make this woman here, o Indra the rewarder, possessed of good sons
and of good fortune.
Confer ten sons on her: make her husband the eleventh.
46. Become sovereign queen over your father-in-law; become sovereign
queen over your mother-in-law.
Become sovereign queen over your sister-in-law, sovereign queen over
your brothers-in-law.
47. Let all the gods jointly and jointly the waters anoint our two hearts.
Together Mātariśvan, together the Disposer, together the Director—let
them join us two together.
This description of Suryā's marriage is very lengthy, convoluted, and far from being straight forward, due to the kind of language employed by the poet. However, a close examination of some verses in the above hymn can shed some light on the marriage rites.

The hymn describes the wedding of Suryā, followed by the various male-devas into whose hands she goes, prior to being united with her humanly husband. In verses 39-41, we are told that Soma first acquired Suryā as a wife, and then gave her to the Gandharva (Viśvāvasu), who in turn gave her to her third husband Agni. Agni, then gave her to her final and actual husband she was married to, a human-born individual. It must be understood from looking at the hymn as a whole that these three individuals that were addressed as the first three husbands of Suryā were not in reality married to her, but were addressed as her husbands (pati) because they were the ones that conveyed her to her humanly husband, and in the interim period behaved as her sexual partners. For example, in verse 38, we are told that for a certain period of time, Agni behaved as her transient sexual partner, giving her offspring. This Agni is then asked to deliver Suryā to her actual (humanly) husband.

Hence, despite Soma being addressed as a bridesgroom in verse 9, he cannot be taken to be Suryā's actual husband. Rather, he was one of the groomsmen that wooed Suryā (using the Aśvins) and conveyed her to Viśvāvasu, thereby starting the chain of divine husbands that Suryā passes through, prior to uniting with her actual, humanly husband. It is not clear exactly when Soma had delivered Suryā to Viśvāvasu, however, it must have happened before verses 22-23, because in verses 22-23, we are told that Viśvāvasu was asked to abandon Suryā and look for some other maiden. This next transient husband that Suryā is passed on to is Agni. Agni has sex with Suryā and gives her offspring before having to convey her to her final humanly husband (verses 38-39, 41). These devas, into whose hands Suryā passed, prior to being united with her humanly husband, were members from the groom's side that were given the responsibility of conveying the bride to the groom. For example, Agni was described as the leader of the marriage train/procession (verse 8).

These devas belonged to the groom's side and competed with one another, attempting to woo the bride Suryā (using the Aśvins) for the role of conveying her to her humanly husband. Although these devas were the ones that conveyed the bride to her humanly husband, they did not woo the bride themselves. Rather, they elected as their fathers, the Aśvins, to woo the bride on their behalf. This can be seen very clearly in verses 14-15. Pushan, one of the suitors competing for the role of conveying the bride Suryā to her husband, appoints the Aśvins as his two fathers. It is these Aśvins, that on the behalf of Pusan attempted to woo the bride, Suryā. The Aśvins also acted as the wooer of the bride on behalf of Agni in verse 8 and Soma in verse 9 (presumably acting as their elected fathers, given the context of verse 14).

That being said, we are given some evidence in verses 26-31 of the hymn above (Rig Veda 10.85) that the process of the elected fathers (the Aśvins) wooing the bride Suryā has a sexual component. That is to say, these elected fathers accept Suryā sexually prior to giving her to the transient husband on whose behalf they wooed her. Verses 26-31 read as follows:
26. Let Pūṣan lead you from here, having taken you by the hand. Let the
Aśvins convey you forth in their chariot.
Go to the house, so that you will be mistress of the house. Exerting
your will you will announce the ceremonial distribution.
27. Here let your heart’s desire be realized through children; here in this
house be vigilant for the ruling of your household.
With this husband merge your body. Then (even) as an elderly couple
you two will announce the ceremonial distribution.
28. It [=bride’s garment] becomes dark red. [She=bride] becomes
witchcraft, a noose. She is smeared (with blood).
Her relatives are elated; her husband is bound in bonds.
29. Hand over the stained garment; to the brahmins parcel out the goods.
She herself has become walking witchcraft: the wife enters her
30. His body loses its splendor—glistening in that evil way—
when the husband is about to put on his own member the “garment” of
the bride.
31. The diseases from the people that follow after the glittering wedding
procession of the bride,
those let the gods worthy of the sacrifice lead back again whence
they came.
In verse 26, we see that the wooing task of the elected fathers of Pusan, the Aśvins, involved asking the bride to ascend the chariot. This chariot symbolically represents the sexual union (of the Aśvins) with the bride, and that is evident in verses 27-28, where the Aśvins act as husbands of the bride (notwithstanding them also being her fathers-in-law) and have sexual intercourse with her to test whether she is a virgin or not (note the phrase "elderly couple" in verse 27, which alludes to sex between the elderly elected fathers [the Aśvins] and the bride, instead of that between the youthful son [Pusan] and the bride). If the bride is smeared with blood in this subsequent sex, it is confirmed that she is a virgin, and she then becomes like a noose on her husband, that is to say, the husband (in this case, Pusan) is stuck with her and is forced to keep her as his wife and have sex with her, now that she has passed the virginity test (verses 28-30). Following this, in verse 31, there is a prayer that the bride remains free from any (sexually-transmitted) diseases she may have obtained from this wedding procession (i.e. the elected fathers of the groom). Hence, it is evident from the above verses, that in the Rig Vedic wedding, an elected father was chosen to woo the bride for his son, and subsequently have the first sex with the bride to ensure that she is a virgin. Once that happened (and assuming that the bride passed this virginity test), the bride was given to the groom as a wife.

As a side note, Jamison provides some more evidence in her paper "THE RIGVEDIC SWAYMVARA? FORMULAIC EVIDENCE" that the ascending of the chariot symbolically represents sexual intercourse. She directs the reader to a Rig Vedic hymn of the Aśvins (7.69) that says in verse 3c "vi vāṃ ratho vadhvā yādamāno..." (meaning "your chariot, being united with the bride..."). This verse provides an intricate linkage between the bride (in that hymn, the bride is Suryā) ascending the chariot of the Aśvins and her having sexual intercourse with them. That is to say, ascending the chariot was of great significance as it implied ascending the owner of that chariot (in this case, the Aśvins) in sexual intercourse. Jamison provides one more Rig Vedic verse from a hymn of the Aśvins (1.118.5) that affirms what I explained above regarding 7.69.3c (translation of Rig Veda 1.118.5 by Griffith):
5 The youthful Daughter of the Sun, delighting in you, ascended there your chariot, Heroes.Borne on their swift wings let your beauteous horses, your birds of ruddy hue, convey you near us.
This verse also suggests that the daughter of the Surya ascending the chariot of the Aśvins implies her having taken sexual delight in them. These pieces of evidence suggest that in the wedding hymn of Suryā (10.85), when she is invited to mount the elected fathers' (the Aśvins) chariot, it is also an invitation for her to choose these fathers to have sex with to prove her virginity.

Hence, the marriage of Abhimanyu and Uttaraa must also be interpreted in this light. Prior to the wedding rites, the elected fathers (Arjuna, Yuddhistira, and Krishna) accept Uttaraa on behalf of the groom, Abhimanyu, and have sex with her to test her virginity. After this test is performed, and the bride, Uttaraa, passes with flying colors (of course due to match fixing by Arjuna, wink wink), her wedding rites can be performed. In Rig Veda 10.85, we see that the groom does not take part in the actual wedding. The wedding only involves the bride Suryā, who is then conveyed by Devas to her humanly husband's home. We can see a parallel in Uttaraa's marriage. It can be noticed that the wedding rites all revolve around Uttaraa alone, and that the groom, Abhimanyu, has no role in the wedding rites. His role is only to accept the bride (Uttaraa) as his wife once the wedding is over. Another similarity between the two weddings is that in both weddings, there is a ritual slaughter of animals for the wedding feast. In the wedding of Suryā (Rig Veda 10.85.13), there is a slaughter of cows, whereas in the wedding of Uttaraa (Mahabharatha Critical Edition 4.67.27), there is a slaughter of deer.

Related image


  1. One of the best articles you have written, enjoyed reading it.

    Arjun is one of my favorite characters too, from Mahabharat or Ramayan.

    Things have changed so much over the last few thousand years. Today's Hinduism is simply disguised Christianity. Very sad.

    As I have expressed my views in previous comments, it is vitally important to develop love for other human beings in the heart, not just for our success and enjoyment in life, but also for the sake of survival of mankind.

    It is not immoral or sinful to love another human being, be it your daughter-in-law or your father-in-law. Sex is simply a part of the greater love.

    Look at Arjun's love for Uttaraa. He went to war, risked his life against the Kauravas, then if he wanted he could have married her outright, but that would put her status under Draupadi, so to give her legitimate status in the family and give her respect and legitimacy in the eyes of the general public at the time, he proposed to have his son marry Uttaraa, but knowing that she preferred Arjun, he also promised to give her love and sexual satisfaction as her father-in-law.

    Who knows, maybe Parikshit is Arjun and Uttaraa's son.

    This kind of love of Arjun for Uttaraa is surely considered immoral in today's fooking society, but it truly is a love story if you can appreciate it, in my opinion.

    Thanks for posting the article.

    1. Rohit,

      I agree with you. I don't find anything immoral in their relationship. It is only natural for such a relationship to form... You explained Arjuna's rationale behind marrying Uttaraa to Abhimanyu very nicely. I think those that for those that find this gross or disgusting, the problem is within themselves... And I find this quite common in some so-called Arjuna fans. Stripping all the sexuality out of Arjuna's character will no longer make him Arjuna...

      Yes, I also considered the possibility of Parikshit being Arjuna and Uttaraa's son, but since he is said to be born after the war (and since 1 year took place between end of exile and war), Parikshit's conception would have taken place after Uttaraa's marriage to Abhimanyu. Hence who was the father? Arjuna or Abhimanyu? This is not clear. But in ancient societies (such as ancient Rome, for example) it was a marriage rite for the father of the groom to deflower the bride prior to the groom having a relationship with the bride. Under such circumstances, these societies believed the first born (of the bride) to belong to the groom's father, not the groom. So, it is possible for Parikshit to be Arjuna's son, but nothing can be said with certainty.

      This post was actually an extension of my old Quora posts (from 2016) that I had always wanted to convert into a blog post. I finally got the chance to do so...

    2. Also, in addition to the British and Muslim influence in desexualizing Hinduism, Buddhism also played an important role. With Ashoka's rule promoting Buddhism, it strengthened in India. If you saw my post on the Dasharatha Jataka, it depicts Rama and Seetha as siblings and makes Seetha a consort of Rama, but sans the sexual aspect of their relationship. By the Gupta period (due to Buddhism's influence), we see more restraint on sexuality and punishments for adultery. In the Mauryan period, however, where Buddhism was sidelined by Brahminism, we see a different picture altogether. Megasthenes, who was a Greek diplomat and stayed in the Magadha Empire writes about India and its culture. He says that majority of Indians were not chaste and would prostitute their bodies even after marriage (so, extramarital sex). Below are excerpts from his Indika:

      Some they marry, hoping to find in them willing helpmates; and others for pleasure and to fill their houses with children. The wives prostitute themselves unless they are compelled to be chaste.

      The Indians are spare in body and tall and much lighter than other men. Most of the Indians ride camels, horses, and asses, and those who are well off, elephants. For among the Indians royal personages ride on elephants. Next to this in honour is the four-horsed chariot, third camels. It is no honour to ride on horseback. Their women who are very chaste and would not go astray for any other reward, on the receipt of an elephant have intercourse with the donor. The Indians do not think it disgraceful for them to prostitute themselves for an elephant, and to the women it even seems an honour that their beauty should appear equal in value to an elephant. They marry, neither giving or receiving any dowry, but the fathers bring forward the girls who are of marriageable age and station them in a public place for the man who wins the prize for wrestling, boxing or running, or who has been adjudged winner in any manly contest, to make his choice. The Indians are bread-eaters and agriculturalists, except those who live in the mountains. These live upon the flesh of wild animals.

    3. Hi Milin, thanks for the replies. Nice info on Megasthenes, I did not know about it.

      I agree with you on the influence of Buddhism and Christianity on sexual restraint. Additionally, I think Jainism and Jagadguru Shankaracharya had similar influences on the society as well. In Christianity, the Victorian period of high morality played a major role.

      Regarding the elephant ride that you mentioned - it is eerily similar to girls taking a ride with a guy owning a hot car. Except, I don't feel that girls are as honest in this "business" as they are supposed to be, they are looking for "free" rides.

      2 People that I would particularly like to point fingers at, regarding sexual restraint in India culture, over the last few decades/centuries - Swami Vivekanand and Gandhi.

      Gandhi had/maybe still has a strong impression on the masses of Indians, because he was a social reformer and led in deliverance of independence from the British. But, I have heard that he used to experiment with diet that suppressed sexuality. Then, he would sleep naked with 2 grown women who would also sleep nude with him, I believe that they were his nieces. If Gandhi's semen invariably leaked at night, he would be disappointed and try harder to not let that happen.

      The entire culture was about living like a puritan and suppressing life itself. If somebody was found drinking a cup of tea in his ashram, he would go on fast until the poor guy who drank tea did not weep himself to death.

      Swami Vivekanand was quite a suppressive guy himself.

      Incidentally, both had heavy English/Christian influence on them.

      The people who were affluent and powerful understood the stupidity of what Gandhi was doing and found outlets to satisfy themselves, but the poor masses blindly believed in Gandhi and hence not much of an outlet for them except marriage to a single woman/man, which reaches a saturation point immediately and no love develops for the spouse or in general.

      3K+ years of such suppression of senses has brought us to the point where we cannot enjoy life anymore, there is immense amounts of guilt and fake idealism burdening our hearts, and true love for the opposite sex has vanished, even in so called happy marriages.

      I would never want to take birth in such societies in the future, I have seen enough in this lifetime.

  2. This one is enticing... 😂

    1. Haha! Thanks for reading and commenting, Amit.

  3. MILIN PATEL i need you to send a message to "Raghu Ram sola" and "Shantam Sarma" and "Anmol Kumar Sharma" and "SUbhasis Cowdary" & "Amrita Talukdar" and even "Arnab Ghosh" on Facebook! Tell them that Jaideep wants them to report the account of this person HERE IS THE LINK

    1. I was blocked from quora. SO i can't do it.


  4. Hi Milin - where was Matsya desh located? After the marriage of Uttaraa to Abhimanyu and after the Mahabharat war, was Matsya desh part of the kingdom that Yudhishthir ruled, or did it remain a separate kingdom? IOWs - who ruled Matsya desh after king Virat?

    Virat had expressed desire that Arjun and then his son rule Matsya desh after him.

    In historical/religious epics, these kinds of words of prophecy come true. So, if Matsya desh indeed came under the dominion of the Pandavas after the Mahabharat war, it could indicate that Arjun ruled it, then Arjun and Uttaraa's son Parikshit ruled it.

    I am trying to make an educated guess here, as to whether Parikshit was Arjun's son or Abhimanyu's son.

    Virat and Uttaraa were not happy with the proposal of Abhimanyu marrying Uttaraa. There may be more to it than meets the eye. IOWs, what if Abhimanyu was impotent and Virat and Uttaraa knew that?

    After all Uttaraa marrying Abhimanyu does not disallow her to have sexual relations with her father-in-law - Arjun. So, why the displeasure in marrying Abhimanyu?

    Only after Arjun reassures Virat that he will sexually satisfy her, they agree. Maybe, there was an unrecorded understanding as well that Arjun will father a child to Uttaraa on behalf of Abhimanyu, who will rule the kingdom after the Pandavas. Virat and Uttaraa may have been concerned about having a legitimate heir ... sexual satisfaction may not have been the only concern.

    What if Arjun satisfied Uttaraa after marriage, but does not produce a heir, and Abhimanyu is unable to produce a heir?

    To me, it is not a big obstacle to overcome, regarding Uttaraa's sexual satisfaction by Arjun, even if she was married to Abhimanyu. The concern about an heir could also have been present.

    Also, if Arjun knew that Uttaraa was very attached to him, why would he do something unfair to his own son Abhimanyu, by marrying him to a woman who does not desire him (Abhimanyu)? Why would Arjun promise Virat to have long term sex with Uttaraa without considering if Abhimanyu would like it or not? Why would he want to hurt his own son? Having sex with your daughter-in-law every once in a while is fine, but my feeling from reading the blog article is, Arjun promises to continue his full-fledged relationship with Uttaraa even after her marriage.

    It is just my instinct that Abhimanyu was impotent, hence Arjun confidently promised what he promised.

    Maybe, this means Parikshit is Arjun's son.

    1. Rohit,

      The map of ancient India can be seen here (under "ancient india map" in google images):

      So, Matsya was SouthWest, relative to Hastinapura (situated in Northern India). In Virata Parva itself, the kingdom of the Matsyas is given by Virata to Yuddhistira, implying that Virata agreed from then itself to rule as a vassal of Yuddhistira. After the war was over, the entire India was ruled by Yuddhistira, with the vassals taking care of the individual kingdoms. Virata himself died in the Kurukshetra, as well as all his sons. So, I am not sure who ruled after Virata. However, Yuddhistira does appoint princesses to rule in kingdoms where the princes were all slain in the Kurukshetra war. So, it is possible that Uttaraa's son may have ruled that region (but nothing can be said with certainty).

      I have not found a reference of Abhimanyu being impotent. From my reading, Virata was convinced with the marriage when he realized that Uttaraa would still get the love she wanted from Arjuna post-marriage. I don't think it is a betrayal to Abhimanyu... She would have likely had sex with Abhimanyu as well. Also, men would have many wives, so it is not like Abhimanyu would be stuck with Uttaraa only for the rest of his life. Abhimanyu would be made to realize that his marriage with Uttaraa was a political alliance...

    2. Thanks for the info on ancient India.
      You are right, maybe Abhimanyu was not impotent and Uttaraa enjoyed both him and Arjun after her marriage.

      BTW - I read the comments on this article on the Facebook group. I don't think Indrajit is right. The sexual meanings are quite clear between Uttaraa and Brihannala. I believe you are right.

      I am convinced that India was a free sex society in ancient times. There was sexual intimacy between father-in-law and daughter-in-law during the marriage ceremony (like you described) and also after marriage.

      Women were treated as objects to be loved, back then. In some ways they were treated as properties, although not insentient objects/properties. Every men in the household enjoyed every women owned by the household, including incest relationships.

      As you have mentioned and I agree, incest is good for the younger of the two people involved, it builds a strong nurturing bond between the 2 people involved.

      In ancient times, there were no harmful genetic traits, people were fully healthy - bodily and mentally. So, no risk of recessive genes of harmful traits becoming dominant in future generations due to incest. There were no harmful recessive genes to begin with.

      Thanks for creating this blog.

    3. Rohit,

      Yes, I also don't agree with Indrajit. He began to cherrypick translations of sanskrit words, disregarding the context, thereby deriving half-baked conclusions. That is not the proper way to go about an analysis of any text. Then he resorted to name calling, so I disconnected from the conversation as it was not going to lead to anything beneficial. The group anyways has turned into, in a way, an Indrajit-fanclub group, if you follow the group for long enough... :D

      I am not sure about there being no harmful genetic traits in the past. There probably were, but since incestuous relationships in the epics were pleasure-based and not formed with the intention of having children, there was no real problem (from a genetics standpoint) of having such relationships...

      The Mahabharatha is a Gupta Era text, so the present version is filled with orthodox views regarding sex. As I mentioned earlier, in the Gupta era, there were more restrictions forming on sexuality, due to invader and Buddhist influence. Hence, much of these orthodox Gupta era rules on sex are reflected in the present version of Mahabharatha. Taking such Gupta era orthodoxy apart, we can see that Vyasa places a great emphasis on liberality in the epic, so atleast from his perspective, orthodoxy (with regards to matters such as sex) was not ideal. He supported the kind of liberal views regarding sex that characters like Arjuna and Draupadi had. That being said, in Mahabharatha times there was still much orthodoxy with regards to sex. Consider the Karna-Shalya Samvada (Karna Parva Sections 40-45), which sheds light into Karna's orthodoxy. Shishupala and Jarasandha were also orthodox. Vyasa used liberality to offset this orthodoxy... He wanted to create a more liberal society...

      Free sex is described in the society even ancient to the Mahabharatha era. If you want I can extract the quotes that talk about this (let me know). But the gist is that in ancient times women were free and could mate with whomever they wanted to. The formation of laws/rules with respect to sexuality made the society more orthodox, and prevented such free sex. Vyasa tried to offset this orthodoxy in the Mahabharathan times by introducing a more liberal system... Of course, this liberal system got once more infested by orthodoxy in the post-Mauryan period...

    4. Thanks for the reply Milin. Nice info in your comment about Mhb. I also have felt for a long time that what is presented in the 2 poetic epics is not authentic, and the changes were not only influenced by the British, but even prior to that.

      It is a shame, because for those of us who are interested in the original views/outlooks presented in the epics, should have access to it. I am not a fan at all of any changes in the epics.

      Please do extract quotes showing proofs of liberal sexual attitude in the past. I'd love to read them.


    5. Rohit,

      I believe that Gupta Era influence was the most on these epics. There may have been some British influence, but Gupta influence greatly overshadowed it... One piece of evidence that suggests Gupta influence is the manner in which kings are addressed in the Mbh. In Asoka's edicts, when he is addressed as king, the word "raja" is only used. However, in the Gupta era, this intensified to "raja adhiraja" (meaning king of kings). Such epithets are also present in the Mahabharatha text.

      The earliest actual evidence we have of Indian History are the Asokan Edicts. Unfortunately, we have not found any inscriptions or other tangible evidence from the Mahabharathan time, so there is always this doubt factor (that academics have) regarding whether Mahabharatha is myth or history. I have made a previous post on whether Mahabharatha is history or myth, where I showed that according to Arthashastra and Kamasutra, Mahabharatha is itihaasa (history). But the same problem arises... These texts' composure finished only in the Gupta Era. Furthermore, Megasthenes (4th century BCE) is silent on the Mahabharatha/Ramayana... So, there is always a doubt factor. I personally consider the Mbh itihaasa (although in very loose terms as the Mbh text is an amalgamation of various bardic legends packaged as a single epic), but this bit of doubt always remains...

    6. Anyways, here is the quote of liberal sexual attitude in the ancient (pre-Mahabharathan) times...

      "Vaisampayana said, 'Thus addressed by his loving wife, king Pandu, well-acquainted with all rules of morality, replied in these words of virtuous import, 'O Kunti, what thou hast said is quite true. Vyushitaswa of old did even as thou hast said. Indeed he was equal unto the celestials themselves. But I shall now tell thee about the practices of old indicated by illustrious Rishis, fully acquainted with every rule of morality. O thou of handsome face and sweet smiles, women formerly were not immured within houses and dependent on husbands and other relatives. They used to go about freely, enjoying themselves as best as they liked. O thou of excellent qualities, they did not then adhere to their husbands faithfully, and yet, O handsome one, they were not regarded sinful, for that was the sanctioned usage of the times. That very usage is followed to this day by birds and beasts without any (exhibition of) jealousy. That practice, sanctioned by precedent, is applauded by great Rishis. O thou of taper thighs, the practice is yet regarded with respect amongst the Northern Kurus. Indeed, that usage, so lenient to women, hath the sanction of antiquity. The present practice, however (of women's being confined to one husband for life) hath been established but lately. I shall tell thee in detail who established it and why.

      "It hath been heard by us that there was a great Rishi of the name of Uddalaka, who had a son named Swetaketu who also was an ascetic of merit. O thou of eyes like lotus-petals, the present virtuous practice hath been established by that Swetaketu from anger. Hear thou the reason. One day, in the presence of Swetaketu's father a Brahmana came and catching Swetaketu's mother by the hand, told her, 'Let us go.' Beholding his mother seized by the hand and taken away apparently by force, the son was greatly moved by wrath. Seeing his son indignant, Uddalaka addressed him and said, 'Be not angry. O son! This is the practice sanctioned by antiquity. The women of all orders in this world are free, O son; men in this matter, as regards their respective orders, act as kine.' The Rishi's son, Swetaketu, however, disapproved of the usage and established in the world the present practice as regards men and women. It hath been heard by us, O thou of great virtue, that the existing practice dates from that period among human beings but not among beings of other classes. Accordingly, since the establishment of the present usage, it is sinful for women not to adhere to their husbands. Women transgressing the limits assigned by the Rishi became guilty of slaying the embryo. And, men, too, viol ting a chaste and loving wife who hath from her maidenhood observed the vow of purity, became guilty of the same sin. The woman also who, being commanded by her husband to raise offspring, refuses to do his bidding, becometh equally sinful.

  5. Thanks for the info on the Gupta era. I agree with you, there is no proof going before Gupta era to make any determination. There is also one other point of confusion - there were 2 Ashoks as king in Indian history - Ashokvardhan, the son of Bindusar, and Ashok the Great who was a king of the Gupta era.

    I believe, restraint on sexuality started with Gautam Buddha (born 1814 BC), and it has slowly become stronger over the last 3+ millenia, with Victorian era greatly speeding it.

    1. Rohit,

      I don't agree with the theory that Asoka the Great was of the Gupta origin because, first of all, none of the Gupta kings were named Asoka, and secondly, the language of the Asokan inscriptions is different than what we find in the Gupta inscriptions (hence, the two classes of inscriptions cannot belong to a single lineage/dynasty).

      So, Asoka of the Mauryan Dynasty was Asoka the Great, in my opinion. Also, Buddha's date was not 1814 BC. That is too early. According to the Dipavamsa, Buddha's death date ranges from 100-218 years before Asoka's coronation (various traditions have various dates for his death). But the point is that Buddha's death date cannot be over 1000 years before the Mauryan Asoka's coronation as king. King Asoka was coronated as king in 269 BCE, so Buddha's death date varies from 368 BCE to 487 BCE. I personally believe in the tradition that he died around 412 BCE...

    2. I had heard from a source that I trust, but I don't trust 100% percent, you may be right.

  6. Thanks for the 2 quotes Milin. They were eye opening. Regarding restrictions placed on women or even men, one should ask this question - if the act gives pleasure, how can the after effect not give pleasure?

    The punishment or reward should mirror the misery or pleasure obtained during the act. So, these restrictions were placed by human beings for probably not a benevolent cause, but selfish cause. Today, we are all suffering for it.

    Thanks again.

  7. Hi Milin - I have one question and some requests.

    1) Has Valmiki written any other versions of Ramayan, besides the one on I know that there are other versions of Ramayan out there, but has Valmiki written more than one version of Ramayan?

    Specifically, are you familiar with this verse from Valmiki Ramayan? Is it even from Valmiki Ramayan?

    Loke nahi sa vidyeta yo na ram manuvrata
    (There is no entity who is not devoted to Ram.)

    2) You may be busy writing another article, for example on Karna, but please do not forget my requests. I am very much interested in reading your opinion on -

    - Conclusion of Sita agneepariksha. In a previous comment, you had briefly mentioned about it, Lakshman acting as agni dev, etc., but would love to read a full article on it.

    - Ram's perspective on Sita's kidnapping episode.

    - Truth about Draupadi's disrobing episode, in your opinion.


    1. Rohit,

      1) Yes, the one on that website is only one of the recension. There are other versions as well of what we call Valmiki Ramayana. If we assume that Valmiki was just a title used to refer to Ramayana poets, then the different versions were composed by different people. However, I am more inclined to believe that Valmiki Ramayana was written by a single anonymous poet, and as this epic spread via the brahmanas throughout India, it was tampered with to reach its final form. These later poets that tampered with the epic all called themselves Valmiki and adjusted their various regional texts slightly differently. These Valmiki-poets all added Bala and Uttara Kanda to the epic. The critical edition compared/contrasted over 300 manuscripts of the Valmiki Ramayana, to create another version that was the average of the other versions. The verses that were less common across the versions were removed and those that were more common were retained. Of course, this would cause the text to appear somewhat choppy at parts, but overall, it is a good resource, as it allows us to go beyond what seem to be interpolations by considering the flow and writing style of a single version. The sanskrit text for the critical edition is available here:

      I have pdfs of the translation (by Bibek Debroy) with me. I can give them to you (via facebook), just in case you want access to them. A better translation is available by Pollock and Goldman (who are actual researchers on the Ramayana, unlike Debroy). I have only Ayodhya Kanda of their translation with me. The other Kandas can be purchased but they are kind of expensive.

      I cannot recall that verse you provided. But my guess is that it may be in Bala Kanda...

      2) Yes, I will finish up my Seetha Agnipariksha article and do the other two as well. But I am quite busy lately with my Medical School application process and the MCAT, so it may take some time for me to complete those articles... I am also planning to do another post dedicated to revising my theory about Rama-Shurpanakha-Lakshmana as it has many loopholes...

    2. Thanks for the reply Milin, and for the info, it is very interesting to know about the different recensions of Ramyan. I have a follow-up question.

      The parts on, regarding Sita - Viradh episode, sex with Ravan on the way to Lanka, sex with Hanuman, how she approached Ram after the war was over, etc., are they all in the critical edition as well?

      I will go over the CE link, but wanted to get a quick answer from you on the above question.

      Good luck on your MCAT. Hope you continue this blog and continue writing articles even when in med school.


    3. Thanks Rohit. I will try to continue to write (1 post per month maybe) even when in med school.

      All of those instances are in the critical edition also. But one thing I should mention is that according the non-critical edition versions, Rama fights Viraadha, is defeated, and carried off by him. Later, when Seetha asks Viraadha to take her along instead, Rama gets hyper-possessive and breaks Viraadha's shoulders. The critical edition removes too many verses and as a result, the text goes as follows. Rama goes to attack Viraadha and is successful in the first attempt itself, with him breaking one of Viraadha's shoulders (i.e. Seetha does not intervene). The text does seem very choppy for the critical edition (in the Viraadha-Rama fight), and hence I prefer the recensions in this case...

    4. Thanks for the reply Milin.

      Please do continue writing articles, I will always look forward to them.

  8. MILIN PATEL i need you to do the following things...
    1. Make me a second Facebook account called Jaideep Singh Gill a account that CANNOT BE BANNED use my profile picture on it if you wish.
    2. Tell Mishra Ashish and all of my facebook friends that i have been banned from Facebook for 30 days (this is the 3rd time so my account is basically finished).
    3. Tell Mishra Ashish to kick Ravi Surya Bhadauria out of the messenger chat between me and Mishra.
    4. Ask Shantam Sharma to give a list of all of the groups that are owned by Deepak Kumar Jha & Vijay Bhide.
    5. Tell Mishra Ashish to create a separate messenger chat between me (my first facebook account) and ravi surya.

    1. Jaideep, you can use your current g-mail account to create a new facebook account. The instructions for signing up to facebook are on the main facebook page itself.

    2. If you still need some more help in that, send me a private message on youtube...

  9. milin are u suggesting that arjuna and uttara had affair and abhimanyu was sacrificed in chakravuyha for arjuna to continue the affair with uttara

    1. Rohan, "sacrificed" would not be the appropriate word. But yes, Uttaraa would have been expected to have a proper married life with Abhimanyu, while continuing her extramarital escapade with Arjuna.

  10. How come the Matsya King, from the very beginning know the fact that this man with enormous size, elephant like gait exquisute beauty in the ornament of women is actually Arjuna,
    As we generally see that this fact is disclosed much later.

    1. Hi Harnaman, welcome back to the blog after a long time... It seems that Arjuna's enormous body size and his muscles were a give away that he is not an eunuch...