Arjuna is very well known as the ace archer amongst the Pandavas. One of his many names is Phalguna. And this is because of his connection to a Phalguni Nakshatra. It is very interesting to see how the characteristics of this Nakshatra is clearly seen in the life of Arjuna.
The Names Of Arjuna
We learn of the detailed explanation of the names of Arjuna in the Mahabharata (Virata Parva, section 44). He is in conversation with Uttara who will later be his daughter in law.
उत्तराभ्यं च पूर्वाभ्यं फल्गुनीभ्याम् अहम् दिवा
जातो हिमवतः प्रेस्ष्ठ तेन माम् फल्गुनं विधुः
uttarābhyaṁ ca pūrvābhyaṁ phalgunībhyām aham divā
jāto himavataḥ presṣṭha tena mām phalgunaṁ vidhuḥ
This translates as “ I am known as Phalguna because I was born in the snowy season on a day of both Uttaraphalguni and Purvaphalguni.” What this means is that the Moon was in Purvaphaguni and then went to Uttarphalguni on the same day. The Moon passing through the paired Nakshatras on the same day happens sometimes. But, the Moon can pass through two Nakshatras and the next sunrise may be the third Nakshatra. The middle Nakshatra does not get its own day. This is quite rare. And since Arjuna makes special mention of it, it may indeed have been one of those special days that was ruled by both the Uttara and Purvaphalguni Nakshatras which form a pair of Nakshatras called the Phalgunis. So, having been born on a unique day with the Phalguni pair active, Arjuna is called Phalguna.
Arjuna was born when the Moon was in the Nakshatra of Purvaphalguni. It is the Nakshatra that is owned Ayyaman. Some scholars interchange the rulership of the Phalgunis between Bhaga and Aryaman. This Nakshatra signifies wisdom, good fortune, wealth, leadership, nobility and honour. This does match with the life of Arjuna. He was the middle brother of five brothers yet, he is one of the most well known. The stories of his exploits are still retold. He was also the head of the army when the Ashwamedha Yagna was performed. He stood out and made a name for himself.
The wisdom and good fortune of Arjuna are obvious by the great unparalleled blessing that he had in the support of Lord Krishna. Arjuna also earned many blessings from his elders and from his father Indra.
Purvaphalguni – Union And Sensuality
The Nakshatra of Purvaphalguni is ruled by Venus. It is strongly associated with unions, marriage and marriage bed. Sometimes it is even said that Purvaphalguni is very sensual and has a tendency to have many relationships. It is the stuff of legend that Arjuna was the one who won the hand of Draupadi in the Swayamvar. He was also married many times and was the Pandava who had the most number of wives.
Nakshatra Of Friendship
Aryaman and Bhaga are linked with friendship. The deep friendship between Arjuna and Lord Krishna is one of the focal points of the Mahabharata. Arjuna had Lord Vishnu’s Avatar as his friend. He was also Arjuna’s charioteer, guide and confidante. Lord Krishna gave his dear friend the wisdom and knowledge of the Bhagavad Gita that serves all of mankind even today.
Purvaphalguni – Arts
Purvaphalguni is also linked with the arts. This Nakshatra gives talent in art and creativity. We know that due to the curse of Urvashi Arjun was undercover as a dance teacher for one year. Despite the gender identity, he surely would have had to be a talented dancer to pull off the role. One might also say that martial arts also need fierceness as well as artistry.
Purvaphalguni – Fierce
This is a Nakshatra that is classified as fierce. Despite the softer side of Arjuna, he was a fearsome warrior. Despite his many misgivings before the battle, he stood up to the demands of the fratricidal war. Notwithstanding the many casualties and lives lost, he was still fierce and strong in battle.
The Direction Of Purvaphalguni
Purvaphalguni is a Nakshatra that is classified as downward-facing Nakshatra. This links to the incident when Arjuna shoots an overhead fish target simply by looking at its reflection in the water below.
The Symbol Of The Phalgunis
Purvaphalguni is represented by the former legs of the bed/cot and Purvaphalguni is the rear legs of the bed or cot. Some versions also state that the symbol of the Nakshatras is the hammock. This is not only the place of the marital union but also of sleep and rest. It is well known that Arjuna had conquered the need for sleep. This also gave him the name Gudakesh. The other popular names of Arjuna that he mentions are Partha, Kiriti, Svetavahana, Jishnu, Bhibatsu, Vijaya, Savyasachi as well as Dhananjaya.