Would you credit Sachin’s bat with all of his devastating cricket innings? Would you bestow sole glory of Steffi’s formidable forehand to her tennis racquet? Would you credit Shakespeare’e quill with every literary masterpiece?
No?? You say they are mere instruments to transmit the finesse & the genius of its owners!!
Right! Then why is the Gandiva bow given near-total credit for Arjun’s martial triumphs?
Arjun & Gandiva were indeed an Invincible Team. However, Arjun was gifted the Gandiva only before Khandav dahan. His chain of triumphs began much, much prior to the Gandiva phase of his life.
Here is an impressive list of Arjun’s conquests without Gandiva bow:
2] Drona’s best disciple – ‘Ever since his student days, Arjuna became celebrated for the firmness of his grasp (of weapons), for his lightness of motion, precision of aim, and his proficiency in the use of the Kshura, Naracha, Vala and Vipatha weapons.’
3] Drona sprung surprise tests on his students. Arjun aced them all without the Gandiva. These tests include hitting the wooden bird’s head, rescuing Drona from the deadly crocodile attack and imbibing Sonic Archery. (The latter inspite of Drona trying his darned best to prevent Arjun learning it)
4] Conquests for Hastinapur – After Gurudakshina was complete, Arjun expanded and enriched Hastinapur’s sovereign.
‘He defeated the great Sauvira King, Yavana King (whom Pandu could not defeat), King Vipula and King Sumitra. Also, Arjun assisted by Bhima on only a single car subjugated all the kings of the East backed by ten thousand cars. In the same way, having conquered on a single car the whole of the south, Dhananjaya sent unto the kingdom of the Kurus a large booty.’
5] Defeating Gandharva Angaraparna : This incident occurred enroute to Draupadi swayamwar, when the Pandavas were in Brahmin disguise. On being challenged by Angaraparna, Arjun did not even possess a bow! Arjun converted a mere torch into a weapon. In defeating Angaraparna, Arjun also nobly spared Angaraparna’s life.
6] Draupadi swayamwar – Drupad had installed a mighty bow which most couldn’t lift, let alone string or shoot with. This was the massive bow which Arjun effortlessly wielded to achieve Drupad’s impossible task.
7] Post-swayamwar skirmish – Arjun fought the disgruntled, sore losers of Drauapdi swayamvar, using the same Drupad bow, which crumbled many a Kshatriya pride beneath its massive weight .
8] Savior for Apsaras – During his lonesome 12 year exile, Arjun rescued 5 Apsaras who had been cursed into crocodile forms.
Thus, Arjun’s prowess was never solely dependent on the Gandiva bow. Their was a SYMBIOTIC ALLIANCE, which brought as much glory to Gandiva bow as it did to Arjun.
The Gandiva was Shiva’s bow handed down though multiple hands to Varuna. Yet, it remains embedded in our minds as uniquely associated with Arjun – and no other master.
Ultimately, a bow is only as good as its wielder.