By Swami Harshananda
In the epics and the purāṇas we often come across very difficult tests laid down for the contestants who wanted to win the hands of the best of kṣattriya maidens. The test to wed Sītā was lifting and stringing the Śivadhanuṣa. It was the matsyayantra in the case of Draupadi, the Pāñcāla princess, the only daughter of the king Drupada. The contrivance matsyayantra had a fish fixed near the roof of the big hall.
Just below it, on the ground was a big pond full of oil. Between the two, near the roof, was a revolving disc containing a hole, the contestant had to discharge five arrows through the hole, while looking at the reflection of revolving wheel in the pond of oil from the bow supplied, to hit the target fish. Only Arjuna succeeded in accomplishing this heroic and dexterous act.
- Śivadhanuṣa is the great bow of Lord Śiva.
- Sītā is the king Janaka’s daughter
- Mahābhārata, Ādiparva, chapter 184-188
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore