Ulupi or Uloopi is a character in the Hindu epic Mahabharata. The daughter of Kouravya, the king of serpents, she was the second among the four wives of Arjuna. Ulupi is said to have met and married Arjuna when he was in exile; she had a son with him, Iravan. She played a major part in the upbringing of Babruvahana, Arjuna’s son with Chitrangada. She is also credited with redeeming Arjuna from the curse of the Vasus by restoring his life after he was slain in a battle by Babruvahana. Little is said about Ulupi in the Mahabharata. Ulupi is known by numerous names in the Mahabharata.
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Arjuna is exiled from Indraprastha to go on a one-year pilgrimage as a penance for violating the terms of his marriage to Draupadi, the brothers’ common wife. Accompanied by Brahmins, Arjuna goes to north-eastern region of present-day India. One day when he bathes in the Ganga river to perform his rituals, the current pulls him inside the river. He later realises that it was Ulupi, the Naga princess, who “grasped” and pulled him into the river. She held him with her hands and traveled at her will. They finally ended up in an underwater kingdom, the abode of Kourvaya. Arjuna saw a sacrificial fire in the place and offered his rites in the fire. Agni was pleased with Arjuna’s “unhesitating offering of oblations”. Delighted by her act, Arjuna inquires Ulupi about her background. She reveals her lineage and admits that she had fallen in love with him.
Arjuna declines Ulupi or Uloopi’s proposal for marriage citing his celibacy on his pilgrimage. Ulupi argues that his celibacy is limited only to Draupadi, Arjuna’s first wife. Convinced by her argument, he marries her and spends a night with her. A son named Iravan was born to them. Pleased by Arjuna, Ulupi grants him a boon that all animals that live under water will obey him and he will be invincible under the water.
The Vasus, Bhishma’s brothers, cursed Arjuna after he killed Bhishma through treachery in the Kurukshetra War. When Ulupi heard of the curse, she sought the help of her father, Kouravya. Her father went to Ganga, Bhishma’s mother, and requested her for a relief from the curse. Upon hearing him, Ganga said that Arjuna would be killed by his own son, Babruvahana—Arjuna’s son through Chitrangada—and brought back to life when Ulupi places a gem on his chest. Following her father’s advice, Ulupi instigates Babruvahana to fight Arjuna. When Arjuna goes to Manipur with the horse intended for the Aswamedha sacrifice, the king Babruvahana, as directed by Ulupi, challenges Arjuna for a duel. In the fierce battle that took place between them, both are mangled by the other’s arrows. Finally, Arjuna is mortally wounded and is killed by his son when he shoots a powerful arrow at him. Chitrangada rushes to the spot and abuses Ulupi for instigating Babruvahana to fight Arjuna. Repenting of his deed, Babruvahana is determined to kill himself, but is promptly stopped by Ulupi. She goes to her kingdom and brings the gem. When she places the gem on Arjuna’s chest, his life is restored, thus relieving him of the Vasus’ curse. When brought back to his life, Arjuna becomes happy to see Ulupi, Chitrangada, and Babruvahana. He takes all of them to Hastinapur. Upon the onset of the Kali Yuga, the Pandavas along with Draupadi retired and left the throne to their only heir Arjuna’s grandson, Parikshit. Giving up all their belongings and ties, they made their final journey of pilgrimage to the Himalayas, accompanied by a dog. Ulupi went back to her kingdom in the Ganga river.
Babruvahana or Babhruvahana is a character in the Mahabharata. He is one of the sons of Arjuna, begotten through Chitrangada. Arjuna leaves Chitrangada due to a treacherous plot by Arjun’s wife Ulupi from the Naga Clan. Ulupi was envious of Arjuna’s marriage to Chitrangada. Arjuna leaves Chitrangada after questioning her chastity when Babruvahana was in her womb. Babruvahana was adopted as the son of his maternal grandfather and as his successor. Once he came to know Arjuna was his father, and when he came to see his father, Arjuna did not recognise him and said he was a wanderer.