Arjuna and Lord Shiva
In Mahabharata, Duryodhana with help of his uncle Shakuni robbed the Pandavas of their rightful share of the kingdom in a game of dice. As a result of this, the Pandavas had to spend many years in the forest. While they were in the forest, Vedavyasa (Sage who wrote Mahabharata) came to visit the Pandavas. Vedavyasa told them that they should pray to Lord Shiva. But since Arjuna was the best suited amongst the Pandavas for worshipping Lord Shiva, Vedvyasa taught Arjuna a special mantra (incantation). Then he asked Arjuna to go to Mount Indrakila and pray to Shiva there. Mount Indrakila was on the banks of the river Bhagirathi.
Arjuna went to Mount Indrakila. He made a linga (A linga is an image of Lord Shiva) out of clay and started to pray to Lord Shiva. The news of Arjuna’s wonderful tapasya spread everywhere. Arjuna stood on one leg and continually chanted the mantra that Vedavyasa had taught him.
Suddenly, Arjuna saw a boar. Arjuna thought that this fierce boar might have come to distract him from his tapasya. Alternatively, it might be a relative of the several demons that he had killed and therefore might wish him harm. Thinking this, Arjuna picked up his bow and arrow and let fly an arrow at the boar. Meanwhile, Lord Shiva had decided to subject Arjuna to a test and he had also arrived at the spot disgusted as a hunter. When Arjuna shot an arrow at the boar, so did Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva’s arrow struck the boar in its hindquarters and Arjuna’s arrow struck the boar in its mouth. The boar fell down dead.
A dispute started between Arjuna and the hunter about who had killed the boar. Each claimed it for his own. They began to fight. But whatever weapons were hurled by Lord Shiva were easily repelled all of Arjuna’s weapons. When all the weapons were exhausted, the two started to wrestle.
After the fight had gone on for a while, Lord Shiva gave up his disguise of a hunter and displayed his true form to Arjuna. Arjuna was ashamed that he had been fighting with the very person to whom he had been praying.
Please forgive me, said Arjuna.
It is all right, replied Lord Shiva. I was just trying to test you. Your weapons have been like offerings to me, you are my devotee. Tell me, what boon do you desire?
Arjuna wanted the boon that he might obtain glory on earth. He said – “O lord, if you are pleased with me, then I humbly ask that you bestow upon me your irresistible personal weapon known as the Pashupata. You destroy the universe with this weapon at the end of creation, and with it I may be victorious over Rakshasas , Danavas , Gandharvas (a class of celestial), Nagas , ghosts and spirits. It will enable me to emerge successfully from the battle I shall fight against Bhishma , Drona , Kripa , and the son of the suta, Karna.
Lord Shiva replied – “O son of Kunti , I will give you this weapon. You are capable of holding, throwing, and withdrawing it. Not even Indra , Yama , Kuvera , or Varuna knows the mantras to this weapon – what to speak of any Man. However, you must use it only against celestial fighters. The Pashupata should never be released at lesser enemies or else it may destroy the creation. This weapon is discharged by the mind, eyes, words, or a bow. No one in the three worlds of moving or nonmoving creatures can withstand its force.”
Arjuna then bathed for purification and stood before Shiva to receive the mantras. The god gave his weapon to Arjuna and it then waited upon him just as it waited upon Lord Shiva himself. When the celestials saw the fearful weapon standing in its embodied form by Arjuna’s side, the earth trembled and terrible winds blew in all directions. Thousands of conches and trumpets were heard resounding in the sky. This was such a divine weapon that its possession made Arjuna invincible.