A Living Portrait of India
Kiratarjuniya by Bharavi is famous for its majesty of style as well as profundity of thought. The story is again a development of a certain story line in the Mahabharata. The Pandava brothers had lost their kingdom in a game of dice with Prince Duryodhana. Exiled, Yudhishttira, his brothers and his wife, rambles through the forest. Yudhishtthira wants to take steps to regain his kingdom and so sends a messenger to collect information about how the lost kingdom is doing under his rival Duryodhana. When the messenger comes back with his report, Droupadi makes a strong plea for Yudhishtthira to stir himself into action. Bhima, the second and most powerful of the Pandavas, speaks in support of her. The sage Vedavyasa then comes in and advises that the Pandavas should send Arjuna, the third brother and the most skilled archer of them, to go to Shiva , propitiate him and get his divine spear, the Pashupat , from him. So Arjuna journeyed to the Himalaya, faced jealousy from Indra, performed severe penance in spite of Indra's attempts to disturb him, and finally had to match his strength with Shiva disguised as a kirata or tribal hunter in tigerskin. Shiva as kirata was so pleased at Arjuna's show of valour that he granted Arjun the weapon he had gone all that way for. This explains the name of this grand epic composition.