Draupadi Swayamvara – Arjuna shooting at the fish revolving in the Matsya Yantra
This painting depicts a scene from the Draupadi Swayamvara episode narrated in the Hindu epic Mahabharata. According to the story, King Drupada of Panchala arranges a swayamvara for the princes who seek his daughter Draupadi’s hand in marriage. Note: Swayamvara is an ancient Indian practice in which the girl herself chooses her husband. Swayam means self and vara means groom. As part of this swayamvara, his sons devised a competition where the suitor must shoot a mechanical fish revolving above in the Matsya Yantra (Fish Machine) by looking only at its image in the water pond below.
As you can see from the image, Arjuna, one of the Pandavas, is looking down into the water pond to see the reflection of the mechanical fish revolving above while he is aiming the metallic bow up to shoot that fish. Draupadi, whose hand Arjuna is seeking, is standing on the right, anxiously watching Arjuna.
Draupadi Swayamvara is part of the murals painted more than 500-years ago on the ceiling of the Ranga Mantapa, a covered hall in front of the garbhagriha (inner sanctum) of the Virupaksha Temple, located in Hampi, Karnataka, India.
Check the Hampi Virupaksha Temple Murals for a detailed explanation of the murals.
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