Thursday, 29 March 2018

The Arjuna-Uttaraa Equation

Arjuna is one of the most complex characters in the Mahabharatha, and is without doubt, my most favorite character in this epic. One of the Parvas that gives us some very good insight regarding his personality is Virata Parva, which describes his one year in incognito exile (in Matsya Desh). When he first enters Matsya Desh during this period, he approaches King Virata in the guise of an eunuch. However, his lustre, manly, enormous body and gait betray his disguise to some extent, causing King Virata and some courtiers to doubt whether he was really one of the neuter sex:
"Vaisampayana said, 'Next appeared at the gate of the ramparts another person of enormous size and exquisite beauty decked in the ornaments of women, and wearing large ear-rings and beautiful conch-bracelets overlaid with gold. And that mighty-armed individual with long and abundant hair floating about his neck, resembled an elephant in gait. And shaking the very earth with his tread, he approached Virata and stood in his court. And beholding the son of the great Indra, shining with exquisite lustre and having the gait of a mighty elephant,--that grinder of foes having his true form concealed in disguise, entering the council-hall and advancing towards the monarch, the king addressed all his courtiers, saying, 'Whence doth this person come? I have never heard of him before.' And when the men present spoke of the newcomer as one unknown to them, the king wonderingly said, 'Possessed of great strength, thou art like unto a celestial, and young and of darkish hue, thou resemblest the leader of a herd of elephants. Wearing conch-bracelets overlaid with gold, a braid, and ear-rings, thou shinest yet like one amongst those that riding on chariots wander about equipped with mail and bow and arrows and decked with garlands and fine hair. I am old and desirous of relinquishing my burden. Be thou like my son, or rule thou like myself all the Matsyas. It seemeth to me that such a person as thou can never be of the neuter sex.'
http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m04/m04011.htm
Of course, Arjuna persuaded them that he was really an eunuch and then said that since he is proficient in dance and skilled in singing, he should be given the task of teaching princess Uttaraa dance. Virata, however, was still in awe of Arjuna's personality and refused to completely and unequivocally believe that Arjuna was really an eunuch. As a result, he told Arjuna that if he wants to instruct Uttaraa dance he can do so, but such a job is not worthy of him as he ought to be the ruler of the entire world...
"Arjuna said, 'I sing, dance, and play on instruments. I am proficient in dance and skilled in song. O lord of men, assign me unto (the princess) Uttara. I shall be dancing-master to the royal maiden. As to how I have come by this form, what will it avail thee to hear the account which will only augment my pain? Know me, O king of men, to be Vrihannala, a son or daughter without father or mother.'

"Virata said, 'O Vrihannala, I give thee what thou desirest. Instruct my daughter, and those like her, in dancing. To me, however, this office seemeth unworthy of thee. Thou deserves! (the dominion of) the entire earth girt round by the ocean.'
http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m04/m04011.htm
The fact that Arjuna was able to impress Virata to such an extent, within a single meeting, attests to his magnetic personality. Just like Arjuna was able to impress Virata, he was also able to greatly impress Virata's daughter, Uttaraa, as I will show later on in this article,... However, before I go about doing that, I would like to demonstrate that unlike what is shown in TV show-depictions of the Mahabharatha, Arjuna was not a father-like figure to Uttaraa. Rather, he was more like a good, close friend, belonging to the same generation as Uttaraa. In the first passage of this post, King Virata tells Arjun "I am old and desirous of relinquishing my burden. Be thou like my son, or rule thou like myself all the Matsyas". Such speech does attest to Arjuna's masculine body structure and his behavior betraying his disguise to some extent. However, it also suggests that Arjuna was around the age of Virata's children and hence, was like a son to Virata. This would put King Virata's children (Uttara, Sankha, Uttaraa) at the same generation as Arjuna. Furthermore, in Draupadi's Swayamvara, when Dhristadyumna names all the Kshatriyas that came to win Draupadi's hand, he lists both of King Virata's sons:
And when that vast amphitheatre, O monarch, became perfectly still, Dhrishtadyumna possessed of a voice deep as the sound of the kettledrum or the clouds, taking hold of his sister's arm, stood in the midst of that concourse, and said, with a voice loud and deep as the roar of the clouds, these charming words of excellent import, 'Hear ye assembled kings, this is the bow, that is the mark, and these are the arrows. Shoot the mark through the orifice of the machine with these five sharpened arrows. Truly do I say that, possessed of lineage, beauty of persons, and strength whoever achieveth this great feat shall obtain today this my sister, Krishna for his wife.' Having thus spoken unto the assembled monarchs Drupada's son then addressed his sister, reciting unto her the names and lineages and achievements of those assembled lords of the earth.'"

http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m01/m01188.htm

"Dhrishtadyumna said, 'Duryodhana, Durvisaha, Durmukha and Dushpradharshana, Vivinsati, Vikarna, Saha, and Duhsasana; Yuyutsu and Vayuvega and Bhimavegarava; Ugrayudha, Valaki, Kanakayu, and Virochana, Sukundala, Chitrasena, Suvarcha, and Kanakadhwaja; Nandaka, and Vahusali, and Tuhunda, and Vikata; these, O sister, and many other mighty sons of Dhritarashtra--all heroes--accompanied by Karna, have come for thy hand. Innumerable other illustrious monarchs all bulls among Kshatriyas--have also come for thee. Sakuni, Sauvala, Vrisaka, and Vrihadvala,--these sons of the king Gandhara--have also come. Foremost of all wielders of weapons--the illustrious Aswatthaman and Bhoja, adorned with every ornament have also come for thee. Vrihanta, Manimana, Dandadhara, Sahadeva, Jayatsena, Meghasandhi, Virata with his two sons Sankha and Uttara, Vardhakshemi, Susarma, Senavindu, Suketu with his two sons Sunama and Suvarcha, Suchitra, Sukumara, Vrika, Satyadhriti, Suryadhwaja, Rochamana, Nila, Chitrayudha, Agsuman, Chekitana, the mighty Sreniman, Chandrasena the mighty son of Samudrasena, Jarasandha, Vidanda, and Danda--the father and son, Paundraka, Vasudeva, Bhagadatta endued with great energy, Kalinga, Tamralipta, the king of Pattana, the mighty car-warrior Salya, the king of Madra, with his son, the heroic Rukmangada, Rukmaratha, Somadatta of the Kuru race with his three sons, all mighty chariot-fighters and heroes, viz., Bhuri, Bhurisrava, and Sala, Sudakshina, Kamvoja of the Puru race, Vrihadvala, Sushena, Sivi, the son of Usinara, Patcharanihanta, the king of Karusha, Sankarshana (Valadeva), Vasudeva (Krishna) the mighty son of Rukmini, Samva, Charudeshna, the son of Pradyumna with Gada, Akrura, Satyaki, the high-souled Uddhava, Kritavarman, the son of Hridika, Prithu, Viprithu, Viduratha, Kanka, Sanku with Gaveshana, Asavaha, Aniruddha, Samika, Sarimejaya, the heroic Vatapi Jhilli Pindaraka, the powerful Usinara, all these of the Vrishni race, Bhagiratha, Vrihatkshatra, Jayadratha the son of Sindhu, Vrihadratha, Valhika, the mighty charioteer Srutayu, Uluka, Kaitava, Chitrangada and Suvangada, the highly intelligent Vatsaraja, the king of Kosala, Sisupala and the powerful Jarasandha, these and many other great kings--all Kshatriyas celebrated throughout the world--have come, O blessed one, for thee. Endued with prowess, these will shoot the mark. And thou shalt choose him for thy husband who amongst these will shoot the mark.'"

http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m01/m01189.htm
The minimum age at which males would generally marry back then was around 16 years. When Rama was exiled, he was just 17 years old. Prior to that, he had spent a couple of seasons enjoying his honeymoon with Seetha, as I have shown in a previous article, putting the age at which he married Seetha around 16 years. Hence, Uttara and Sankha were a minimum of 16 years when they went to Draupadi's Swayamvara to win her hand. Arjuna, at that time, had just recently finished his gurukul education, and was a warrior in the truest sense. In those days, a warrior with his full education completed would be around 16 years old. For example, Mareecha tells Ravana (Critical Edition, Aranya Kanda Section 36, translation by Bibek Debroy):
‘With my great valour, I was once travelling around this earth. I possessed the strength of thousands of elephants and was like a mountain. I was like a dark blue cloud and wore golden earrings. Wearing a crown and with a club as a weapon, I generated fear in the worlds. I wandered around Dandakaranya, devouring the flesh of rishis. The great sage, Vishvamitra, with dharma in his soul, was terrified of me. He himself went to King Dasharatha and spoke these words. “The right time has come and let this Rama protect me. O lord of men! A terrible fear has arisen on account of Maricha.” Thus addressed, King Dasharatha, with dharma in his soul, replied to the immensely fortunate and great sage, Vishvamitra. “Raghava is less than sixteen years old and is unskilled in the use of weapons. If you wish, I and all my soldiers will go with you. O best among sages! As you wish, I will slay your enemy.”
It is noteworthy that Dasharatha was hesitant to send Rama to the forest because he was less than 16 years old and therefore not a full fledged warrior. This implies that the age of completion of gurukul education and transformation into a full fledged warrior in those days was 16 years. That being said, it logically follows that when Arjuna finished his gurukul education and invaded Panchala as part of his Gurudakshina, his youngest brothers (Nakula/Sahadeva) would have been 16 years old, making him 17 years old as he was just one year older than them.  Shortly after the Gurudakshina war, the Pandavas were sent to Varnavata, where they lived for one year prior to escaping from there (Critical Edition, Adi Parva Section 136, translation by Bibek Debroy):
Vaishampayana said, ‘Having seen them live there for an entire year, happy and unsuspecting, Purochana was extremely delighted. Witnessing Purochana’s delight, Yudhishthira, Kunti’s virtuous son, spoke to Bhimasena, Arjuna and the twins. “The cruelhearted and evil Purochana thinks us to be trusting and has been deceived well. I think the time has come for our escape. Let us escape, unobserved by anyone, after setting fire to the armoury, burning Purochana to death and leaving six bodies here.”
After escaping from there, the Pandavas swiftly went to the Kamyaka forest (where Bhima killed Hidimba) and then stayed in the village Ekachakra for a short while, till the death of Vakasura. The text clearly emphasizes that the time stayed there was short (Critical Edition, Adi Parva Section 145, translation by Bibek Debroy):
Vaishampayana said, ‘After going to Ekachakra, the maharatha Pandavas, the sons of Kunti, lived in a Brahmana’s house for a short while. O king of the world! They then begged for alms.
Shortly after departing from Ekachakra, the Pandavas encountered Chitraratha (whom Arjuna defeated in battle, single handedly, using just a torch), and then Arjuna taught him the science of the Agneya weapon. After this, the Pandavas proceeded to Draupadi's Swayamvara...

In short, not much time passed since the escape of the Pandavas from Varnavat to their arrival at Draupadi's Swayamvara. A maximum of 1 year may have passed between these two events... This would put Arjuna at (17+1+1 =) 19 years of age when he went to Draupadi's Swayamvara. Hence, Arjuna was a maximum of just 3 years older than Uttara and Sankha. It logically follows that he was a maximum of 3 years older than princess Uttaraa as well, since prince Uttara and princess Uttaraa were twins. Keeping in mind that Arjuna and Uttaraa were of the same age group, let us proceed to analyze the relationship between the two, as described in Virata Parva...

I have already provided the verses of the Arjuna-Virata conversation when Arjuna first entered Matsya Desh. Once it was agreed that Arjuna would teach Uttaraa dancing and singing, Vaisampayana speaks a few verses on how Arjuna entered the apartments of Uttaraa and his relationship with her, her friends, and her waiting maids (my translation):
11 [vai] bṛhannaḍāṃ tām abhivīkṣya matsyarāṭ; kalāsu nṛtte ca tathaiva vādite apuṃstvam apy asya niśamya ca sthiraṃ; tataḥ kumārī puram utsasarja tam 
12 sa śikṣayām āsa ca gītavāditaṃ; sutāṃ virāṭasya dhanaṃjayaḥ prabhuḥ sakhīś ca tasyāḥ paricārikās tathā; priyaś ca tāsāṃ sa babhūva pāṇḍavaḥ 
13 tathā sa satreṇa dhanaṃjayo 'vasat; priyāṇi kurvan saha tābhir ātmavān tathāgataṃ tatra na jajñire janā; bahiścarā vāpy atha vāntare carāḥ 
http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/mbs/mbs04010.htm
"Vaisampayana continued, 'The king of the Matsyas then tested Vrihannala in dancing, music, and other fine arts, and having heard that his impotency was of a permanent nature, he joyfully sent him to the maiden's apartments. And there the Lord Dhananjaya began giving lessons in singing and instrumental music to the daughter of Virata, her friends, and her waiting-maids, and that Pandava became their beloved. And in this manner, high-souled Dhananjaya lived together with them, fulfilling their pleasures, unknown to the people within or without the palace.'" 
http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m04/m04011.htm
From the above text, there are numerous points that can be noted...

First of all, it is evident that King Virata did not test Vrihinnala's impotency. Rather, he only tested Vrihinnala in dancing, music, and other fine arts. We are then told that he believed in the rumors of Vrihinnala's impotency being of a permanent nature, and subsequently, without doing a proper check on Vrihinnala's impotency, he joyfully sent Vrihinnala to his daughter's apartments. Such behavior from King Virata should definitely raise an eyebrow. Why would he let a stranger who claims to be an eunuch, but looks like a handsome male, enter the inner apartments of his daughter, without a thorough check of his impotency? Wouldn't he be putting his daughter at a risk of potential sexual assault by this stranger?

Or perhaps, did King Virata deliberately send this handsome male to his daughter's inner apartments without a proper check of his claimed impotency... and just to silence the voices of his well-wishers (who would have been questioning Virata's decision of not thoroughly checking Vrihinnala's impotency), did he say that he believed the rumors that Vrihinnala was truly and permanently impotent?

Well, let us take a closer look at the sanskrit to gain some further insight regarding the matter...  The sanskrit phrase used here is tataḥ kumārī puram utsasarja tam which literally means "he joyfully sent him into the virgin's (kumārī) apartments" The use of the word kumārī (which means virgin) here alludes that King Virata's purpose in sending Vrihinnala to his daughter's apartments was of a sexual nature, that is, he realized Vrihinnala was just putting up the pretense of being an eunuch (remember King Virata's constant doubt on Arjuna being of a neuter sex when the latter first approached the former?) and wanted this handsome, powerful person as a sexual partner (i.e. husband) for his daughter, so that Matsya Desh would be fully protected. One of the first things King Virata says upon seeing Vrihinnala is "I am old and desirous of relinquishing my burden. Be thou like my son, or rule thou like myself all the Matsyas". Such a statement by King Virata alludes to his constant worry of Matsya Desh's security and his desire of a powerful person, like Vrihinnala, to protect the Matsyas. Such a desire would be fulfilled if he married his daughter off to this powerful man who was bearing the guise of Vrihinnala... and hence, King Virata was taking steps in that direction, by allowing that man (Vrihannala) easy access to Uttaraa's apartments, without a thorough check of his claimed impotency...

King Virata's desire of having this male as a sexual partner of Uttaraa can be understood by looking at princess Uttaraa's age. She was a minimum of 16 years old at the time of Draupadi's Swayamvara, and would therefore be around 31 years of age (3 years in Indraprastha after Draupadi's marriage + 12 years of exile completed) by the time Vrihinnala came to Matsya Desh. In those days, females were married as soon as they hit puberty. We see this in the story of Nala and Damayanti. When Damayanti's father, Bhima, found out that Damayanti hit puberty, he arranged for her Swayamvara right away:
"Vrihadaswa said, 'O Bharata, hearing those words of the swan, Damayanti thenceforth lost all peace of mind on account of Nala. And heaving frequent sighs she was filled with anxiety, and became melancholy and pale-faced and lean. And with her heart possessed by the god of love, she soon lost colour, and with her upturned gaze and modes of abstraction, looked like one demented. And she lost all inclination for beds and seats and object of enjoyment. And she ceased to lie down by day or night, always weeping with exclamation of Oh! and Alas! And beholding her uneasy and fallen into that condition, her hand-maids represented, O king, the matter of her illness unto the ruler of Vidarbha by indirect hints. And king Bhima, hearing of this from the handmaids of Damayanti, regarded the affair of his daughter to be serious. And he asked himself, 'Why is it that my daughter seemeth to be so ill now?' And the king, reflecting by himself that his daughter had attained to puberty, concluded that Damayanti's Swayamvara should take place. And the monarch, O exalted one, (invited) all the rulers of the earth, saying, Ye heroes, know that Damayanti's Swayamvara is at hand, And all the kings, hearing of Damayanti's Swayamvara, came unto Bhima, agreeable to his message, filling the earth with the clatter of their cars, the roar of their elephants, and the neighing of their horses, and accompanied with their fine-looking battalions decked in ornaments and graceful garlands. And the mighty-armed Bhima paid due reverence unto those illustrious monarchs. And duly honoured by him they took up their quarters there.'
http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m03/m03054.htm
Likewise, in the Valmiki Ramayana, when Seetha narrates the tale of her marriage to Anusuya, she said that her father was very sorrowful when he discovered that she had passed puberty and attained an age where she could have sexual union with a husband (पतिसंयोगसुलभं), yet was still unmarried:
पतिसंयोगसुलभं वयो दृष्ट्वा तु मे पिता।चिन्तामभ्यगमद्धीनो वित्तनाशादिवाधनः।।2.118.34।।
When my father saw I obtained the age fit for sexual union with a husband, he was immersed in sorrow like an indigent man who had lost all his wealth.
सदृशाच्चापकृष्टाच्च लोके कन्यापिता जनात्।प्रधर्षणामवाप्नोति शक्रेणापि समो भुवि।।2.118.35।।
Even though he was an Indra on earth, as a father of an unmarried girl he would be humiliated by men who are his equal or inferior in this world.
तां धर्षणामदूरस्थां दृष्ट्वा चात्मनि पार्थिवः।चिन्तार्णवगतः पारं नाससादाप्लवो यथा।।2.118.36।।
Having perceived that the humiliation is not very far, king Janaka was plunged in a sea of sorrow like one who cannot reach the shore without a float.
अयोनिजां हि मां ज्ञात्वा नाध्यगच्छद्विचिन्तयन्।सदृशं चानुरूपं च महीपालः पतिं मम।।2.118.37।।
The ruler of the earth knew that I was not born from a woman's womb, and could not find a suitable husband for me after deep reflection.
तस्य बुद्धिरियं जाता चिन्तयानस्य सन्ततम्।स्वयंवरं तनूजायाः करिष्यामीति धीमतः।।2.118.38।।
After constantly pondering over the matter, the wise king arrived at the decision to perform a swayamvara for his daughter.
Take note of verse 2.118.35, which says "even though he was an Indra on earth, as a father of an unmarried girl he would be humiliated by men who are his equal or inferior in this world". This shows the attitude people back then had towards keeping a female, who had already hit puberty, in an unmarried state. Well, this attitude still persists today, to a great extent... King Virata, being a product of such a society, ought to have had similar apprehensions regarding keeping his daughter unmarried for such a long period of time... In his case, his daughter remained unmarried till the age of 32, passing roughly 20 years after she hit puberty in an unmarried state. Hence, King Virata was bound to be extremely worried that his daughter remained unmarried for so long, and hence he would try his level best to find a groom for his daughter Uttaraa.

Here, the scapegoat was poor Arjuna!

King Virata sent Arjuna, who was bearing the guise of Vrihinnala, to his daughter Uttaraa in hopes that he would become her sexual partner cum husband, and that such an alliance would confer immense security on Matsya Desh... From the passage above, we know that once Arjuna entered Uttaraa's apartments, he became the beloved (priyaś) of not only Uttaraa, but also her friends and her waiting-maids... and that he lived together with them, fulfilling their pleasures in a manner, unknown to the people inside and outside of the palace. Of course, we already know that Arjuna was a master in seducing women (i.e. the apsara Urvashi serves as a great example of this). But what was this pleasure that he was conferring on these females? Considering Arjuna's womanizing tendencies, it is most likely sexual pleasure that we are talking about here. This is further corroborated by the fact that in the passage, when Arjuna enters the apartments of Uttaraa and becomes her beloved, he is addressed as "Lord Dhananjaya" (dhanaṃjayaḥ prabhuḥ). In the context of females, Lord is almost always used to refer to their husband/sexual master. Hence, by using the epithet of Lord (prabhuḥ) for Dhananjaya, we are very subtly told that Arjuna was fulfilling the sexual pleasures of Uttaraa, her friends, and her waiting-maids (just as a Lord would do), in this year of incognito exile.

With this, Vaisampayana moves away from the Arjuna-Uttaraa equation, and proceeds to say "living in such disguise, those mighty warriors, the sons of Pritha, passed ten months in Matsya's city" (Virata Parva Section 14), and then drifts to the conflict between Kichaka and Draupadi that unfolds the rest of the events in Virata Parva. We are only, from then onwards, restricted to bits and pieces of the behavior of Arjuna and Uttaraa with regards to one another. The next time we get to hear about the duo is when princess Uttaraa receives from her brother, prince Uttara, the news of the nearly invincible Kuru army dashing towards Matsya Desh, with its King, Virata, unable to repulse the assault, already engaged as he was in war with the Trigarta army...

Once prince Uttara gets to know that the Kuru army has come to invade Matsya Desh, he boasts to all the females in the inner apartments that he alone is capable of defeating the Kuru army, and that all he needs is a new charioteer as his old charioteer died in a previous battle that he (Uttara) fought in:

"Uttara said, 'Firm as I am in the use of the bow, I would set out this very day in the track of the kine if only some one skilled in the management of horses becomes my charioteer. I do not, however, know the man who may be my charioteer. Look ye, therefore, without delay, for a charioteer for me that am prepared for starting. My own charioteer was slain in the great battle that was fought from day to day for a whole month or at least for eight and twenty nights. As soon as I get another person conversant with the management of the steeds. I will immediately set out, hoisting high my own standard. Penetrating into the midst of the hostile army abounding with elephants and horses and chariots, I will bring back the kine, having vanquished the Kurus who are feeble in strength and weak in weapons. Like a second wielder of the thunderbolt terrifying the Danavas, I will bring back the kine this very moment, affrighting in battle Duryodhana and Bhishma and Karna and Kripa and Drona with his son, and other mighty bowmen assembled for fight. Finding none (to oppose), the Kurus are taking away the kine. What can I do when I am not there? The assembled Kurus shall witness my prowess today. And they shall say unto one another, 'Is it Arjuna himself who is opposing us?' 
http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m04/m04036.htm
Take note of how prince Uttara boasts of his prowess to the females in the inner apartments, throughout his entire speech... He starts off by telling the females that he needs a charioteer, and then, in his vain boasting of his own prowess, adds on that "my own charioteer was slain in the great battle that was fought from day to day for a whole month or at least for eight and twenty nights". Note the emphasis prince Uttara places on the fact that this previous war was a "great battle" and that it extended for a very lengthy period of time... Such speech, by prince Uttara, reeks of vain boasting that even after taking part in such a tough battle, he returned alive due to his extreme prowess as a warrior. He then continues on with his boasting, in the aforementioned speech, belittling the Kuru warriors and essentially saying that defeating them would be like a walk in the park for him.

Prince Uttara ends his speech by saying "And they shall say unto one another, 'Is it Arjuna himself who is opposing us?" Upon hearing prince Uttara compare himself to Arjuna at the end of his above speech, Draupadi could not bear it any more and spoke to prince Uttara the following words (Critical Edition, Virata Parva Section 34, translation by Bibek Debroy):
Vaishampayana said, ‘He repeatedly spoke these words in the presence of the women and Panchali could not tolerate his reference to Bibhatsu. In the midst of the women, the ascetic one approached him. With a bashful expression, she softly spoke these words. “This extremely handsome youth is known by the name of Brihannada and resembles a gigantic elephant. He has been Partha’s charioteer. He was the great-souled one’s disciple and was not inferior to him in the use of the bow. O brave one! I have seen him earlier, when I dwelt with the Pandavas. When the conflagration of the fire burnt down the great Khandava, it is he who drove Arjuna’s supreme steeds. With him as charioteer, Partha conquered all the beings in Khandavaprastha. There is no other charioteer like him. O brave one! Your maiden sister has beautiful hips and there is no doubt that he will follow her orders. If he becomes your charioteer, there is no doubt that you will vanquish all the Kurus and return swiftly with the cattle.”
Draupadi tells prince Uttara "your maiden sister has beautiful hips and there is no doubt that he will follow her orders", thereby implying that according to Draupadi, Vrihinnala would obey princess Uttaraa due to her physical state of having beautiful hips (the sanskrit word used is susroni, which also is a reference to princess Uttaraa's loins and buttocks). Such speech by Draupadi, further confirms at the bare minimum, Arjuna's sexual attraction (if not a full fledged sexual relationship) towards princess Uttaraa. Moreover, such speech hints to the reader that even Draupadi knew of the sexual escapade between Arjuna and princess Uttaraa. Since prince Uttara was in a state of worry about who was going to be his new charioteer for the war with the Kurus, he did not dig deeper into Draupadi's words. Rather, in a state of hurry, he just asked his sister Uttaraa to bring Vrihinnala to him (Critical Edition, Virata Parva Section 34, translation by Bibek Debroy):
On being thus addressed by Sairandhri, he spoke to his sister. “O one with the unblemished limbs! Go and bring Brihannada here.” Thus sent by her brother, she quickly went to the dancing hall where the mighty-armed Pandava lived, hidden in his disguise.’
What is interesting is the way princess Uttaraa approaches Vrihinnala to ask for his help. Below is the narrative of her approaching Vrihinnala:
"Vaisampayana said, 'Thus despatched by her elder brother, the far-famed daughter of king Matsya, adorned with a golden necklace, ever obedient to her brother and possessed of a waist slender as that of the wasp, endued with the splendour of Lakshmi herself, decked with the plumes of the peacock of slender make and graceful limbs, her hips encircled by a zone of pearls, her eye-lashes slightly curved, and her form endued with every grace, hastily repaired to the dancing-hall like a flash of lightning rushing towards a mass of dark clouds. And the faultless and auspicious daughter of Virata, of fine teeth and slender-waist, of thighs close unto each other and each like the trunk of an elephant, her person embellished with an excellent garland, sought the son of Pritha like a she-elephant seeking her mate. And like unto a precious gem or the very embodiment of prosperity of Indra, of exceeding beauty and large eyes, that charming and adored and celebrated damsel saluted Arjuna.
http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m04/m04037.htm
This entire passage of Uttaraa approaching Vrihinnala evokes a great deal of sexual imagery. The beauty of her waist is praised and fantasized, through its comparison to a wasp, an insect known to have a thin waist, and then intricate details of the waist are given. For example, this waist is said to be decked with the plumes of the peacock. Uttaraa is then described to have graceful limbs, with the emphasis being made on her hips, which were encircled in a zone of pearls, and her thighs. Her thighs were sexualized and fantasized to a great extent by the poet. The thighs were described as being close to each other, with each thigh being likened to the trunk of an elephant, thereby demonstrating a level of fantasization due to their large girth. She was also described as possessing "fine teeth". Such a meticulous description of her teeth would only be possible if she was transmitting a large smile that allowed her teeth to be visible to the observer. Moreover, emphasis was also placed on her "large eyes" and "slightly curved eyelashes", that enhanced her overall beauty and splendor such that it was fantasized to be equal to Lakshmi herself...

This large emphasis placed by the poet on various aspects of Uttaraa's sexuality serves as a prelude for the way Uttaraa approaches Vrihinnala. That is, the emphasis on her sexuality shows that she was approaching Vrihinnala, just like a female seeks her sexual partner, attempting to flaunt her charms to evoke passion in her partner so that he does her bidding. As a result, after such emphasis on the way Uttaraa was sexually approaching Vrihinnala, the poet says that she "sought the son of Pritha like a she-elephant seeking her mate". Such behavior on the part of princess Uttaraa tells us volumes of the relationship between her and Arjuna. She considered Arjuna no less than her sexual partner, and hence approached him in a sexual manner, so that he agrees to do her bidding...

I see a parallel in this behavior of Uttaraa and how Draupadi gave the sleeping Bhima (who was bearing the guise of Vallabha in Matsya Desh) a sexual embrace and thereby charged his passion so that he would agree to do her bidding and slay Kichaka.

Needless to say, Vrihinnala reciprocated princess Uttaraa's behavior, and instead of showing shock or dismay at the way she approached him, he said the following:
And saluted by her, Partha asked that maiden of close thighs and golden complexion, saying 'What brings thee hither, a damsel decked in a necklace of gold? Why art thou in such a hurry, O gazelle-eyed maiden? Why is thy face, O beauteous lady, so cheerless? Tell me all this without delay!'
http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m04/m04037.htm
Note how Vrihinnala does not rebuke Uttaraa for approaching him in a sexual manner. Rather, the poet uses epithets like "that maiden of close thighs and golden complexion" to address princess Uttaraa, thereby alluding that Vrihinnala's attention was affixed on her beauty and her sexual aspect when addressing her. Vrihinnala also addresses her as "O gazelle-eyed maiden" and "O beauteous lady", thereby attesting that he was comfortable, nay delighted, to see princess Uttaraa approach him in such a sexual manner.

That being said, Vrihinnala then asked princess Uttaraa to quickly tell him the reason for her worry, which she replies to, by saying (Critical Edition, Virata Parva Section 35, translation by Bibek Debroy):
“O Brihannada! The kingdom’s cattle are being robbed by the Kurus. My archer brother is leaving to defeat them. But not long ago, the charioteer of his chariot was slain in battle. There is no other charioteer who is equal to him as a charioteer. O Brihannada! While he was looking for a charioteer, Sairandhri spoke to him about your skill in handling horses. O Brihannada! Be good enough to act as a charioteer for my brother, before the Kurus drive our cattle too far away. If you do not act in accordance with the request I am affectionately making to you, I will give up my life today.”
What is noteworthy in the above passage is the kind of authority and influence that princess Uttaraa had over Vrihinnala. She goes on to say "dya niyuktā na kariṣyasi praṇayād ucyamānā tvaṃ parityakṣyāmi jīvitam" (meaning "if you do not act in accordance with the request I am affectionately making to you, I will give up my life today"). As a side note, word praṇayā used in this verse is translated as "affection" by Kisari Mohan Ganguly and Bibek Debroy, but actually extends beyond the realms of mere affection and points towards "romantic love". That being said, the point I am making is that princess Uttaraa had enough authority on Vrihinnala that she could ask him, on account of the (romantic) love between them, to act in accordance with her request and even threaten to end her life if he refused to do her bidding...

Needless to say, upon hearing these words of princess Uttaraa, Vrihinnala dashed towards prince Uttara to assist him. Seeing him arrive, prince Uttara asked Vrihinnala to drive his horses (Critical Edition, Virata Parva Section 35, translation by Bibek Debroy):

‘On seeing him from a distance, the prince spoke to him. “With you as a charioteer, Partha satisfied the fire god in Khandava. Dhananjaya, Kunti’s son, conquered the entire earth. Sairandhri knows the Pandavas and spoke to me about you. O Brihannada! Drive my horses too, when I fight with the Kurus and recover our riches of cattle. In earlier times, you were Arjuna’s favourite charioteer. It is with your aid that the bull among Pandavas conquered the earth.”

Having been thus addressed by the prince, Brihannada replied, “What capacity do I possess to be a charioteer in a field of battle? Singing, dancing, or the playing of a musical instrument would have been different. I can do that. O fortunate one! How can I drive a chariot?” Uttara said, “O Brihannada! You will become a singer or a dancer again. Swiftly ascend the chariot and control these supreme horses.” Pandava, the scorcher of enemies, knew everything. But before Uttara, he committed mistakes in jest. He donned the armour upside down on his body. The large-eyed maidens laughed when they saw this. On seeing him thus confused, Uttara himself fastened the expensive armour on Brihannada. He himself donned superb armour that was as dazzling as the sun. Having raised a pennant with a lion, he instructed him to be the charioteer. The brave one had Brihannada as his charioteer and rode out, with expensive bows and many beautiful arrows.
The fact that even in this stressful situation of war, Arjuna was sarcastically replying to prince Uttara, and later jested around to entertain his damsel friends, tells us volumes about Arjuna's bubbly, optimistic nature and his belief in living life to its fullest. Which person would not be attracted to such a character, who manages to find purpose and enjoyment in such bleak situations, where he is forced to live as practically a servant for an entire year? Even Draupadi and Bhima were tired and frustrated with their lives in Matsya Desh (as we know from various narratives in Virata Parva), but not Arjuna, who managed to find and enjoy small happiness' in the rather bleak present that he was thrusted into by his elder brother, Yuddhistira...

Just prior to Uttara and Vrihinnala departing to fight the war, princess Uttaraa and her maiden-friends asked Vrihinnala to bring back beautiful dresses for their dolls (Critical Edition, Virata Parva Section 35, translation by Bibek Debroy):

‘Uttara and the other maidens who were her friends told him, “O Brihannada! When you have defeated the Kurus, led by Bhishma and Drona, in battle, you must bring back many beautiful dresses for our dolls, colourful and fine.” Partha, descendant of the Pandu lineage, smilingly replied in words that were like the rumbling of the clouds, “If Uttara vanquishes those maharathas in battle, I will bring back divine and beautiful garments for you.” Having spoken these words, brave Bibhatsu drove the chariot towards the Kurus, who had many kinds of flags and pennants.’
There are a few points in the above passage that I find quite noteworthy. First of all, any young lady and her friends would naturally appeal to her brother to bring her such gifts of beautiful dresses. It is not very normal for one to make such a request from their dance instructor instead of their brother, when the latter is clearly present to fulfill their desires. The fact that these females appeal to their dance instructor, Vrihinnala for such wishes, in the presence of everyone, speaks to how emotionally close they were to him, and how much authority and influence they wielded over him, as a result of this emotional bond. Another point that must be made is Vrihinnala's response to Uttaraa and her friends. In response to their request, Vrihinnala speaks in a very masculine voice, akin to the rumbling of clouds, that he will get those beautiful garments if prince Uttara wins the war. The emphasis placed on this masculine voice of Arjuna is very important to take note of, and gives a general feel of Arjuna trying to woo/impress these feminine creatures with his tough, masculine voice.

The masculine voice used by Vrihinnala is also another good piece of evidence, suggesting that the females knew he was not an eunuch, but rather a man in disguise as an eunuch. Why would Vrihinnala attempt to employ such a masculine voice to woo/impress the females had these females thought that he was an eunuch. Wouldn't that work to blow away his disguise? Wouldn't it raise an eyebrow and suggest to these ladies that whom they were believing was an eunuch was actually a man and an imposter? These are all points to ponder upon...

After replying in this manner to Uttaraa and her friends, Vrihinnala departed with prince Uttara for the war with the Kuru army. In the meanwhile, King Virata returned to his palace, having defeated the Trigarta army in war. He soon came to hear that his son, accompanied by Vrihinnala, was successful in defeating the Kuru army. As a result, he then said the following (Critical Edition, Virata Parva Section 63, translation by Bibek Debroy):

On hearing about the victory of his infinitely energetic son, King Virata was extremely delighted and his body hair stood up. He rewarded the messengers with garments and instructed his ministers, “Let the royal roads be decorated with flags. Let all the gods be honoured with offerings of flowers. Let princes, foremost warriors, well-ornamented harlots and all the musicians go out to receive my son. Let a man with a bell quickly mount an intoxicated elephant. Let him go to the crossroads and proclaim my victory. Let Uttara go to receive Brihannada, surrounded by many maidens who bear the garments and ornaments of love.”
Normally, a king would send women and musicians to greet his son upon being victorious in war. However, it is definitely not normal for a king to send women specifically directed to greet the charioteer, even if the charioteer was a teacher of dance and music to the king's daughter. It is much less common for the king to send his own daughter to greet this charioteer. The fact that King Virata, however does that, makes his behavior worthy of examination. He asks his own daughter and other maidens to bear the ornaments of love (shringara) and personally go and greet Vrihinnala, speaking of them in the same set of breaths he spoke of harlots going to greet his son. The fact that he sends such women, decked with adornments, to greet Vrihinnala very clearly suggests that he knew Vrihinnala was not an eunuch. Had King Virata truly thought that Vrihinnala was an eunuch, he would not have sent sexually attractive women to greet him, as sexual pleasure/feelings towards women would generally not have a place in the heart of an eunuch (at least from the perspective of King Virata et al...). Furthermore, the fact that King Virata sends his own daughter, decked with garments and ornaments of love (sringara) to Vrihinnala is quite odd, unless we interpret it in the context of what I earlier said about King Virata. That is, King Virata was eager to have Vrihinnala, whom he knew was a powerful male, married to his daughter Uttaraa, and hence the reason at the forefront of his mind behind sending Uttaraa to receive Vrihinnala was that this would allow for greater bonding between the two, and would thereby increase the chances of the two wanting to marry one another...

After Vrihinnala and prince Uttara entered the royal palace, Vrihinnala was eager to give to Uttaraa the garments she desired, with his own hands. Hence, he took permission from King Virata to do so. Once again, King Virata allowed such interaction between his daughter and Vrihinnala, likely because he was eager to accelerate their bonding with one another so that they would eventually desire to marry one another (Critical Edition, Virata Parva Section 64, my translation):
34 tataḥ pārtho 'bhyanujñāto virāṭena mahātmanā pradadau tānivāsāṃsi virāṭa duhituḥ svayam35 uttarā tu mahārhāṇi vividhāni tanūni ca pratigṛhyābhavat prītā tani vāsāṃsi bhāminī
http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/mbs/mbs04064.htm
Having obtained the great-souled Virata’s permission, Partha himself gave those garments to Virata’s daughter. They were extremely expensive and fine and the passionate Uttara accepted those garments with delight.
Vrihinnala presents these garments to princess Uttaraa with his own hands. His stubbornness to present the garments with his own hands to her, even if it means having to take permission from King Virata, is worthy of being noted, as it sheds some light on the emotional bond between Vrihinnala and Uttaraa. After Vrihinnala presented these garments, Uttaraa, described as a passionate/beautiful woman (bhāminī) in the above verses, accepted the gifts with delight/pleasure/love (prītā)...

Three days after this, the Pandavas bathed themselves and donned white garments, having completed the year of incognito exile. They then seated themselves on thrones in King Virata's assembly... Seeing this, King Virata got angry and asked Yuddhistira the following (Critical Edition, Virata Parva Section 65, translation by Bibek Debroy):
On seeing the handsome Pandavas, blazing like fires, with Kanka seated there in the form of a god, like the lord of the thirty gods attended by the Maruts, Matsya told him, “I put you in charge of the dice and appointed you the official gamester. Why are you ornamented and why are you seated on the royal throne?”
Arjuna, who was ever devoted to Yuddhistira, intercepted King Virata's speech and replied to him in a semi-sarcastic manner, telling Virata that this Kanka is actually Yuddhistira, extolling his praises and then asking Virata "does such a king not deserve a seat that is meant for a lord of the earth?"(Critical Edition, Virata Parva Section 65, translation by Bibek Debroy):
‘O king! On hearing Virata’s words, Arjuna laughed and spoke the following words. “O king! This one deserves to be seated on Indra’s throne. He has the qualities of a brahmana. He is learned in the sacred texts. He is generous. He is the performer of sacrifices. He is rigid in his vows. He is a bull among the Kurus. He is Kunti’s son, Yudhishthira. His deeds are established on this earth, like the rays of the rising sun. O king! When he dwelt in the land of the Kurus, ten thousand powerful elephants used to follow him at the back. Thirty thousand chariots and well-trained and handsome horses, with golden harnesses, always used to follow him from behind. There were eight hundred bards, with earrings studded with polished gems, together with minstrels chanting his praises, like rishis praising Shakra earlier. O king! Like the immortals wait on the lord of riches, the Kurus, and all the kings, waited on him, like servants. O great king! All the lords of the earth offered him tribute then, like ordinary vaishyas. The king was excellent in his vows and eighty-eight thousand great-souled snatakas earned their living off him. O lord! In accordance with dharma, he protected his subjects like sons, the aged, the unprotected, the disabled and the crippled. Such was his dharma, his self-control over anger and his carefulness in observing vows. He was extremely generous. He had the qualities of a brahmana. The lord of the earth was always truthful. The lord Suyodhana was tormented because of his prosperity and his power, together with his followers, Karna, Soubala and the others. O lord of men! It is impossible to recount all his qualities. These are vested in the great king Pandava, bull among the lords of the earth. Does such a king not deserve a seat that is meant for a lord of the earth?”’
Hearing this, King Virata's curiosity was aroused and he wanted to know that if Kanka was actually Yuddhistira, then where could the other Pandavas and Draupadi possibly be. So he asked Arjuna about that (Critical Edition, Virata Parva Section 66, translation by Bibek Debroy):
‘Virata said, “If this is King Kouravya Yudhishthira, the son of Kunti, where is his brother Arjuna? Where is the powerful Bhima? Where are Nakula, Sahadeva and the famous Droupadi? From the time they were defeated in the gambling match, no one has got to know about the Parthas.”
Arjuna replied, telling King Virata where the remaining four Pandavas and Draupadi were (Critical Edition, Virata Parva Section 66, translation by Bibek Debroy):
‘Arjuna replied, “O lord of men! This cook of yours, known by the name of Ballava, is the mighty-armed Bhima, whose speed and valour are terrible. To fetch divine sougandhika flowers for Krishna, it is he who killed the demons on Mount Gandhamadana. He is the gandharva who slew the evil-souled Kichaka. It was he who slew tigers, bears and boars in your women’s quarters. The one who tends to your horses is Nakula, the scorcher of enemies. The one who looks after your cattle is Sahadeva, the other one of Madri’s maharatha sons. These two bulls among men are capable of withstanding thousands of warriors and are handsome and famous. They now wear the garments and ornaments of love. O king! This lotus-eyed, slender-waisted and sweet-smiling sairandhri is Droupadi. It is because of her that the Kichakas were killed. O great king! I am Arjuna and you have no doubt heard about me. I am Partha, the younger brother of Bhima and elder to the two twins. O great king! We have happily spent our period of concealment in your abode, like beings inside a womb.”’
After Arjuna spoke in that manner, prince Uttara recounted the valor of Arjuna, and upon hearing that, King Virata decided to offer princess Uttaraa to Arjuna as a wife, along with his kingdom to the Pandavas (Critical Edition, Virata Parva Section 66, translation by Bibek Debroy):
Vaishampayana said, ‘When Arjuna had revealed the five brave Pandavas, Virata’s son recounted Arjuna’s valour. “This is the one who was like a lion among deer in the midst of the enemies. He ranged among the mass of charioteers and killed the best of them. With a single arrow, he pierced and killed a giant elephant in the battle. Adorned with a golden harness, it fell down, embedding its tusks on the ground. It is he who won back the cattle and defeated the Kurus in battle. It is the sound of his conch shell that deafened my ears.” On hearing these words, the powerful king of Matsya, who had insulted Yudhishthira, told Uttara, “I think the time has come to seek the favour of the Pandavas. If you so think, I will bestow Uttara on Partha.” Uttara replied, “They deserve worship, homage and honour and I think that the time has come. Let the immensely fortunate Pandavas, who are deserving of honour, be honoured.” 
Virata said, “When I myself came under the power of enemies in the field of battle, it was Bhimasena who rescued me and won back the cattle. It is through the valour of their arms that we have been victorious in battle. With all our advisers, let us seek the favours of Kunti’s son, Yudhishthira, bull among the Pandavas, and his younger brothers. Let the fortunate lord among men forgive everything that we have said in ignorance. Pandava has dharma in his soul.” Virata was extremely delighted and he made an alliance with the king. He offered the great-souled one his entire kingdom, together with the royal staff, the treasury and the capital. ‘Then addressing all the Pandavas, with Dhananjaya at the forefront, the powerful king of the Matsyas repeatedly kept on saying that he was fortunate. He repeatedly embraced and inhaled the fragrance of the heads of Yudhishthira, Bhima, Madri’s two sons and Pandava. Virata, lord of an army, was not satisfied from looking at them. He happily told King Yudhishthira, “It is through good fortune that all of you have returned safely from the forest. It is through good fortune that you have spent the period of concealment, undetected by those evil-souled ones. I am offering this kingdom, and whatever else I possess, to the Parthas. May the Kounteyas accept everything, without any hesitation. Let Savyasachi Dhananjaya accept Uttara. That supreme among men is the right husband for her.”
Note King Virata's words: "Let Savyasachi Dhananjaya accept Uttara. That supreme among men is the right husband for her". Such speech, especially the last sentence, should not be surprising, since, as I have shown earlier in this post, King Virata had seen through Arjuna's disguise the day he entered Matsya Desh, and had taken steps to ensure that the powerful, mighty man one day becomes his daughter's husband... Hearing such a proposal from King Virata, Yuddhistira glanced towards Arjuna, as if not happy with Arjuna's ways (wink wink) and demanding an explanation from Arjuna for why King Virata thought of putting forth this proposal (after all, Yuddhistira also knew that Arjuna lived with Uttaraa for an entire year, and could probably gauge from where King Virata got the idea of marrying his daughter to Arjuna). Seeing Yuddhistira put him on the spot with that glance, Arjuna evaded the alliance by thrusting Uttaraa on his son (Critical Edition, Virata Parva Section 66, translation by Bibek Debroy):
Thus addressed, Dharmaraja glanced towards Partha Dhananjaya. When his brother looked at him, Arjuna spoke these words to Matsya. “O king! I will accept your daughter as my daughter-inlaw. Such an alliance between supreme Matsyas and Bharatas will be proper.”’
King Virata was taken aback by Arjuna's words as he had always felt that Arjuna loved his daughter Uttaraa... and hence, he told Arjuna to not feel shy or back down, as he (King Virata) himself is offering Uttaraa to him (Arjuna):
‘Virata asked, “O best of the Pandavas! Why do you refuse to accept my daughter as your wife? Accept her. I am offering her to you.”
King Virata's pressurization on Arjuna to accept princess Uttaraa as a wife can be understood by the fact that this marriage was what King Virata had desired from day 1, when Arjuna had first entered Matsya Desh, disguised as Vrihinnala. However, once again Arjuna refused to accept Uttaraa as his wife, giving the following reasons (Critical Edition, Virata Parva Section 67, translation by Bibek Debroy):
‘Arjuna replied, ‘Dwelling in your inner quarters, I always observed your daughter. Whether in private or in public, she always trusted me as her father. I was loved by her and respected because of my skills in dancing and singing. Your daughter has always thought of me as her teacher. O king! I lived for a year with a woman who is nubile. O lord! Suspicion on your part, or that of your subjects, is not misplaced. O lord of the earth! Therefore, I am asking for your daughter. I have been pure and have been in control of my senses. Because of my self-control, she has been kept pure. There is no difference between a daughter and a daughter-in-law, nor that between a son and one’s own self. I do not see any misdemeanour in this and purity will be preserved. O scorcher of enemies! I am terrified of curses and false accusations. O king! That is the reason I will accept your daughter Uttara as my daughter-in-law. O lord of the earth! My mighty-armed son Abhimanyu is Vasudeva’s nephew. He is just like a child of the gods. He is learned in all weapons and is loved by the one who wields the chakra. He is the right son-in-law for you and a husband for your daughter.”
Arjuna's speech would make it seem, when analyzed at a superficial level, that he truly considered Uttaraa his daughter and had no sexual feelings for her. However, I have already provided some verses in this article, where Arjuna is called Uttaraa's lover cum sexual mate/partner, in addition to speech by Arjuna where he himself addresses Uttaraa in quite sexual terms. Hence, the theory (proposed by many so-called Arjuna fans) that Arjuna considered Uttaraa as his daughter, and that this was the reason for him refusing to marry her, needs to be re-examined. Critically analyzing the above speech of Arjuna is a good place to start, and there is much that can be discussed regarding that speech.

First of all, Arjuna says that he cannot accept Uttaraa as a wife because he truly considered her as his daughter and she considered him a father figure. This would be enough justification for refusing to marry Uttaraa as it makes no sense for a man to marry a female whom he considers his daughter. However, Arjuna does not stop his speech here. He speaks more after this, and this subsequent speech is where the issue arises. He then says that "O king! I lived for a year with a woman who is nubile. O lord! Suspicion on your part, or that of your subjects, is not misplaced. O lord of the earth! Therefore, I am asking for your daughter. I have been pure and have been in control of my senses. Because of my self-control, she has been kept pure.... I am terrified of curses and false accusations. O king! That is the reason I will accept your daughter Uttara as my daughter-in-law." Such speech by Arjuna contradicts what he earlier said. Earlier he said that the reason why he could not accept Uttaraa as a wife is that he considered her his daughter. Now he is saying that he could not accept Uttaraa as a wife because people would think he made her impure in the 1 year they lived together? The first reason would obviously encompass the second reason (i.e. if he considered her his daughter, then he would obviously not have sex with her and make her "impure"). So why did he find the need to specifically state the purity reason (second reason)? The fact that Arjuna not only states that he was worried about society's accusations regarding Uttaraa's purity, despite already touching on that point in the first reason he gave, in addition to the fact that he spends most of his speech justifying this second, purity reason suggests very strongly to the reader that when Arjuna said he considered Uttaraa as his daughter (the first reason he gave for rejecting her), he was simply making an excuse to avoid the marriage. Hence, it cannot be taken that Arjuna truly, genuinely, and unequivocally considered princess Uttaraa his daughter.

But how genuine was Arjuna's refusal to marry Uttaraa on the grounds that such a marriage would allow false accusations on Uttaraa's purity to spread? This must also be discussed...

In a conservative society where chastity would be greatly valued, a woman having sex with a man other than her husband would be frowned upon. In that same strain, a woman having pre-marital sex would also be frowned upon in such a society, as the partner of this pre-marital escapade would likely be a man other than the lady's future husband. If a woman would be found to engage in such a pre-marital affair, this society would then force her to marry this sexual partner, as doing so would ensure that she only had sex with the man that was her husband (i.e. her husband and the man whom she had a pre-marital affair with would be the same person). Hence, Arjuna could have silenced all these accusations that may have been raised at him by simply marrying Uttaraa. On the other hand, refusing to marry Uttaraa would allow such accusations and rumors to still float. Hence, Arjuna's reasoning in his above speech fails a simple test of logic, and it therefore seems that even this reason/justification was was simply Arjuna's excuse to avoid the marriage.

Arjuna ends his speech by giving Virata a cue that he would continue his sexual relationship with princess Uttaraa even after her marriage with Abhimanyu... He says "There is no difference between a daughter and a daughter-in-law, nor that between a son and one’s own self. I do not see any misdemeanour in this and purity will be preserved"... Through such speech, Arjuna very subtly tells King Virata that since a daughter and daughter-in-law are equal, he would preserve the purity that the society seeks with regards to Uttaraa by accepting her as his daughter-in-law, nay daughter. Likewise, he also says that since a son is equal to one's own self, his son marrying princess Uttaraa would be like he (Arjuna) himself marrying her. That is to say, Arjuna subtly says that after the Abhimanyu-Uttaraa marriage, both father and son would enjoy a conjugal relationship with Uttaraa.

Hearing these words of Arjuna, King Virata was satisfied that princess Uttaraa would get the man she really desired (Arjuna) and that a political alliance with Arjuna would be formed, thereby keeping the Matsyas protected (Critical Edition, Virata Parva Section 67, translation by Bibek Debroy):
‘Virata said, “This is indeed appropriate for Kunti’s son, Dhananjaya, the best of the Kurus. Pandava is learned and wise and always follows dharma. O Partha! What do you think should be done after this? If one has an alliance with Arjuna, all one’s desires are completely satisfied.”’
Once King Virata said these words, Yuddhistira gave his consent to the alliance and subsequently sent messengers to all friends as well as Krishna, inviting them for Abhimanyu's marriage with Uttaraa (Critical Edition, Virata Parva Section 67, translation by Bibek Debroy):
Vaishampayana said, ‘When the Indra among kings said this, Kunti’s son, Yudhishthira, gave his consent to the alliance between Matsya and Partha. O descendant of the Bharata lineage! Virata, lord of the earth, and Kounteya sent messengers to all their friends and Vasudeva. Thus, after the thirteen years were over, all the five Pandavas began to live in Virata’s Upaplavya. Bibhatsu Pandava went to bring Janardana, Abhimanyu and the other Dasharhas from the Anarta region. O lord of the earth! The kings of Kashi and Shaibya, who were affectionate towards Yudhishthira, arrived with two akshouhinis. The immenselystrong and powerful Yajnasena arrived with one akshouhini, and Droupadi’s brave sons and the unvanquished Shikhandi. There was the invincible Dhrishtadyumna, supreme among those who wield all weapons. There were others with many akshouhinis, those who sacrificed with a lot of donations. All of them were learned in the use of weapons and all of them were brave and were ready to give up their lives. Matsya, supreme among those who uphold dharma, was happy at seeing that they had come. He was happy that he had bestowed his daughter on Abhimanyu. After the lords of the earth had arrived from different directions, Vasudeva Vanamali arrived, and so did the wielder of the plough. Hardikya Kritavarma, Yuyudhana Satyaki, Anadhrishti, Akrura, Samba and Nishatha arrived. Those scorchers of enemies brought Abhimanyu and his mother with them. Indrasena and the others arrived there, taking good care of the chariots, having remained away for one entire year. Ten thousand elephants arrived and one million horses. There were a full one hundred million chariots and one billion foot soldiers. There were many supremely energetic Vrishnis, Andhakas and Bhojas. They followed that tiger among the Vrishnis, the greatly resplendent Vasudeva. Krishna separately gave each of the great-souled Pandavas a collection of women, gems and garments.
With this I originally intended to end this post. However, the rest of Section 67 of Udyoga Parva (Critical Edition) describes how the marriage of Abhimanyu and Uttaraa was conducted, and since it is quite rare to find a description, in the Mahabharatha text, of how marriage was conducted in those times, I feel that I should end this post with a description of how the Abhimanyu-Uttaraa marriage was conducted. I will start off by presenting the passage describing how this marriage was conducted  (Critical Edition, Virata Parva Section 67, translation by Bibek Debroy [verses 25c-31, 34-38] and Kisari Mohan Ganguly [verses 32-33]):
25c tato vivāho vidhivad vavṛte matsyapārthayoḥ 26 tataḥ śaṅkhāś ca bheryaś ca gomukhāḍambarās tathā pārthaiḥ saṃyujyamānasya nedur matsyasya veśmani
‘In accordance with the rites, the marriage between the Matsyas and the Parthas took place. Conch shells, kettle drums, trumpets and drums were assembled and played in Matysa’s palace, honoured by the Parthas.
27 uccāvacān mṛgāñ jaghnur medhyāṃś ca śataśaḥ paśūn surā maireya pānāni prabhūtāny abhyahārayan
Many hundreds of diverse deer and other animals were slain. Liquor and other celestial drinks were brought in large quantities.
28 gāyanākhyāna śīlāś ca naṭā vaitālikās tathā stuvantas tān upātiṣṭhan sūtāś ca saha māgadhaiḥ
There were many skilled singers and raconteurs, dancers and minstrels. The assembled bards, together with the minstrels, began to chant praises.
29 sudeṣṇāṃ ca puraskṛtya matsyānāṃ ca varastriyaḥ ājagmuś cārusarvāṅgyaḥ sumṛṣṭamaṇikuṇḍalāḥ
With Sudeshna leading the way, the supreme women from the Matsyas arrived. All of them were beautiful in their limbs and wore earrings that were studded with excellent gems.
30 varṇopapannās tā nāryo rūpavatyaḥ svalaṃ kṛtāḥ sarvāś cābhyabhavat kṛṣṇā rūpeṇa yaśasā śriyā
They were well complexioned, noble, beautiful and ornamented. But Krishna surpassed them in beauty, fame and prosperity.
31 parivāryottarāṃ tās tu rājaputrīm alaṃ kṛtām sutām iva mahendrasya puraskṛtyopatasthire
They surrounded the ornamented Princess Uttara and honoured her, as if she was a daughter of the great Indra.
32 tāṃ pratyagṛhṇāt kaunteyaḥ sutasyārthe dhanaṃjayaḥ saubhadrasyānavadyāṅgīṃ virāṭa tanayāṃ tadā
Dhananjaya accepted Virata’s daughter of faultless limbs on behalf of his son by Subhadra.
33 tatrātiṣṭhan mahārājo rūpam indrasya dhārayan snuṣāṃ tāṃ pratijagrāha kuntīputro yudhiṣṭhiraḥ
And that great king, Yudhistiraa, the son of Kunti, who stood there like Indra, also accepted her as his daughter-in-law.
34 pratigṛhya ca tāṃ pārthaḥ puraskṛtya janārdanam vivāhaṃ kārayām āsa saubhadrasya mahātmanaḥ
When Partha had accepted her and honoured Janardana, the wedding ceremony of Subhadra’s great-souled son was performed.
35 tasmai sapta sahasrāṇi hayānāṃ vātaraṃhasām dve ca nāgaśate mukhye prādād bahudhanaṃ tadā
He gave him seven thousand horses that possessed the speed of the wind, two hundred supreme elephants and a great deal of riches.
36 kṛte vivāhe tu tadā dharmaputro yudhiṣṭhiraḥ brāhmaṇebhyo dadau vittaṃ yad upāharad acyutaḥ 37 gosahasrāṇi ratnāni vastrāṇi vividhāni ca bhūṣaṇāni ca mukhyāni yānāni śayanāni ca
Once the marriage was over, Dharma’s son, Yudhishthira, gave the brahmanas the riches that Achyuta had brought—thousands of cows, gems, diverse kinds of garments, excellent ornaments, vehicles and beds.
38 tan mahotsava saṃkāśaṃ hṛṣṭapuṣṭa janāvṛtam nagaraṃ matsyarājasya śuśubhe bharatarṣabha
There were great festivities. O bull among the Bharata lineage! The city of the king of Matsyas was resplendent and crowded with people who were happy and well fed.’
Verse 25c begins by saying tato vivāho vidhivad vavṛte (meaning "in accordance with the rites, the marriage took place). Hence, this marriage serves as a model for how marriages were conducted back in those times... Following this verse, the poet spends the next 13 verses discussing these rites (vidhiin accordance with which, the marriage (vivāho) took place. In the palace of the bride (i.e. the Matsyas) conch shells, kettle drums, trumpets and drums were played to honor the groomsmen (i.e. the Parthas) that came for the marriage. For the wedding feast, an array of animals were slain and alot of liquor and celestial drinks were brought. In addition to this, many skilled singers along with minstrels began to chant praises, while dancers were displaying their art of dancing and providing entertainment to all the guests. As this was going on, the mother of the bride (Queen Sudeshna) accompanied by the best women from the bride's side (i.e. the Matsyas), all wearing ornaments and very beautiful, surrounded the bride (princess Uttaraa), who herself was wearing ornaments, and they collectively began to honor her as if she was the daughter of the great Indra.

Following this, before the actual wedding could be performed, the elected fathers of the groom had to accept the bride, on behalf of the groom. In this case, first Arjuna accepted the bride, Uttaraa, on behalf of his son by Subhadra. Then, Yuddhistira (who was also a father-like figure for Abhimanyu) accepted the bride Uttaraa, in a similar manner, as his daughter-in-law. Then this honor of accepting Uttaraa was given to Krishna (Janardana), who was also like a father to Abhimanyu, having lived with him in Dwarka for a large part of his (Abhimanyu's)  life. The manner in which these elected fathers accepted princess Uttaraa is somewhat controversial, and I will discuss it in some more detail later on in this post, but for the time being, I would like to say that the epithet anavadyāṅgīṃ (meaning "of faultless limbs") used by the poet for Uttaraa, when Arjuna (one of the elected fathers of the groom) accepts her on behalf of his son, Abhimanyu (in verse 32), gives a sexual tone to verses 32-34, where the rest of the elected fathers accept the bride, thereby suggesting that it was a marriage rite for the elected fathers of the groom (Arjuna, Yuddhistira, Krishna) to sexually accept the bride (Uttaraa) prior to her marriage with the groom. Once this rite was completed, the wedding ceremony of the bride would take place.

Following this, gifts and dower were given by the groom's side to the bride's side and the prominent brahmanas. After this happened, there were great festivities to celebrate the wedding, and the wedding feast was grandly held, with even the commoners crowding and being well fed by the king (i.e. father of the bride).

And that concludes the wedding rites...

Before concluding this post, however, I find it very necessary to clarify the point I made earlier about the elected fathers of the groom having sex with the bride and thereby accepting her sexually, prior to conducting the actual wedding ceremony of the bride and groom. To further elaborate on this point, I would like to direct readers to Rig Veda 10.85, which is a hymn about the wedding of Suryā, the daughter of Surya. This hymn sheds alot of light on how weddings took place back in the Vedic era (~1200 BCE). Since Mahabharatha took place around this era, it logically follows that the wedding rites mentioned in that Rig Vedic hymn would be relevant for the wedding of Abhimanyu and Uttaraa. Hence, without further delay, I will present the translation of Rig Veda 10.85 (Suryā's Wedding) by Stephanie Jamison and Joel Brereton:
1. By reality is the earth propped up; by the sun is heaven propped up.
By truth do the Ādityas stand, and Soma is fixed in heaven.
2. By Soma the Ādityas are strong; by truth is the earth great.
And in the lap of these heavenly bodies Soma is set.
3. A man thinks he has drunk the soma when they crush the plant.
But the Soma that the formulators know—no one at all consumes that.
4. Protected by those whose regulation is sheltering, guarded by those
belonging to heights, o Soma,
you just stay listening to the pressing stones. No earth-dweller
consumes you.
5. When they take their first drink of you, god, after that you swell
up again.
Vāyu is the guardian of Soma. The moon is the model of the years.
6. Raibhī was (the female attendant) to be given along (with the bride),
Nārāśaṃsī the in-dweller.
Sūryā’s auspicious garment goes adorned with a song.
 
7. Perception was the pillow, the eye was the adorning salve,
Heaven and Earth were the bucket (seat), when Sūryā drove to her
husband.
8. The praise songs were the crossbars, meter the veil and headdress.
The Aśvins were the wooers of Sūryā and Agni was the leader.
9. Soma was the bridegroom; the Aśvins were both wooers,
when Savitar gave Sūryā to her husband, as she pronounced (her vow)
with her (whole) mind.
10. Mind was her wagon, and heaven was her canopy.
The two glowing ones [=sun and moon] were the draft-oxen, when
Sūryā drove to her (new) home.
11. Your two oxen, harnessed by verse and tune [/r̥c and sāman], went of
one accord.
The ear was your two wheels. The path to heaven meandered back
and forth.
12. The two gleaming ones [=Heaven and Earth?] were your two wheels as
you drove. Breath was hammered in as the axle.
Sūryā mounted the wagon made of mind, as she went forth to her
husband.
13. Sūryā’s wedding proceeded, when Savitar set it going.
In the Aghā’s the cows are killed; in the two Arjunī’s she is conveyed (to
her new home).
14. When, o Aśvins, you two drove with a three-wheeled (chariot) to the
wedding of Sūryā to ask for her,
all the gods then gave assent to you two. The son Pūṣan chose you as
his two fathers.
15. When you drove, you two lords of beauty, to Sūryā to woo her,
where was your single wheel; where did you stand for the pointing out?
16. Your two wheels, o Sūryā—the brahmins know (them) according to
their season.
But the one wheel that is hidden—that just the experts know.
17. To Sūryā, to the gods, to Mitra and Varuṇa—
those who are forethoughtful of creation—to them I have made this
obeisance here.
18. First in front, then behind, these two roam by their magic power. As
two playful children, they travel around their ceremonial course.
The one [=Sun] watches over all creatures; the other [=Moon] is born
again (and again) as he portions out the seasons.
19. He becomes ever new as he is born; as beacon of the days he goes at the
forefront of the dawns.
He portions out their share to the gods as he comes here. The Moon
extends his lifetime long.
20. Lovely with kimśuka flowers, (made of) śalmali wood, having all forms,
of golden color, well-turning, well-wheeled—
mount, o Sūryā, the world of immortality. Make your wedding
procession a comfortable place for your husband.
21. “Rise up from here, for this woman has a husband.” I call on Viśvāvasu
with reverence, with hymns.
“Seek some other girl sitting in (the house of) her father, adorned (for
marriage) [/smeared (with menstrual blood)]. That is your share by
nature. Know this.”
22. “Rise up from here, Viśvāvasu.” With reverence we invoke you.
“Seek some other burgeoning maiden. Send the wife to join with her
husband.”
23. Let the paths be straight and harmless to men, by which the comrades
go to the wooing.
Aryaman and Bhaga should lead us all together. Let the united
household be easy to hold fast, o gods.
24. I release you from the fetter of Varuṇa, with which well-disposed
Savitar bound you.
In the womb of truth, in the world of the well-performed (sacrifice?)
I place you unharmed along with your husband.
25. I release (her) from here, not from yonder. I have made her well bound
yonder,
so that, o Indra the rewarder, this woman here will have good sons,
good fortune.
26. Let Pūṣan lead you from here, having taken you by the hand. Let the
Aśvins convey you forth in their chariot.
Go to the house, so that you will be mistress of the house. Exerting
your will you will announce the ceremonial distribution.
27. Here let your heart’s desire be realized through children; here in this
house be vigilant for the ruling of your household.
With this husband merge your body. Then (even) as an elderly couple
you two will announce the ceremonial distribution.
28. It [=bride’s garment] becomes dark red. [She=bride] becomes
witchcraft, a noose. She is smeared (with blood).
Her relatives are elated; her husband is bound in bonds.
29. Hand over the stained garment; to the brahmins parcel out the goods.
She herself has become walking witchcraft: the wife enters her
husband.
30. His body loses its splendor—glistening in that evil way—
when the husband is about to put on his own member the “garment” of
the bride.
31. The diseases from the people that follow after the glittering wedding
procession of the bride,
those let the gods worthy of the sacrifice lead back again whence
they came.
32. Let highwaymen who lie in wait not find the married couple.
Let them cross over the hard place by easy roads. Let hostilities
run away.
33. Of good omen is this bride here: together approach her, behold her.
Having given good luck to her, then scatter away home.
34. This is rough; this is sharp, barbed, poisonous: it is not for eating.
The brahmin who would know Sūryā, only he deserves this thing
associated with the bride(groom).
35. Carving up, carving open, and then cutting apart:
behold the forms of Sūryā! But the brahmin makes them clean.
36. I grasp your hand for good fortune, so that with me as your husband
you will reach old age.
Bhaga, Aryaman, Savitar, Plenitude—(all) the gods—have given you to
me for the ruling of the household.
37. Pūṣan, rouse her, most kindly disposed—(she) in whom humans scatter
their seed,
(she) who will willingly spread apart her thighs for us, (she) in whom we
can willingly thrust our penis.
38. To you at first they conveyed Sūryā along with her wedding procession.
Give the wife back to her husbands, Agni, along with progeny.
39. Agni has given the wife back, along with lifetime and luster, (to him)
who as her husband will live, long-lived, through a hundred autumns.
40. Soma acquired (you) first; the Gandharva acquired (you) next.
Agni was your third husband. The fourth was human-born.
41. Soma gave (her) to the Gandharva; the Gandharva gave (her) to Agni.
Agni has given both wealth and sons to me, and also this woman here.
42. Stay just here, (you two); don’t go apart. Attain your entire lifespan,
playing with your sons and grandsons, rejoicing in your own house.
43. Let Prajāpati generate progeny for us. Let Aryaman anoint (you?) till
old age.
Without ill-omen enter the world of your husband. Be weal for our
two-footed, weal for our four-footed.
44. Be free from the evil eye, not husband-smiting, kindly to the livestock,
of good mind and good luster,
hero-bearing, god-loving, comfortable. Be weal for our two-footed,
weal for our four-footed.
45. Make this woman here, o Indra the rewarder, possessed of good sons
and of good fortune.
Confer ten sons on her: make her husband the eleventh.
46. Become sovereign queen over your father-in-law; become sovereign
queen over your mother-in-law.
Become sovereign queen over your sister-in-law, sovereign queen over
your brothers-in-law.
47. Let all the gods jointly and jointly the waters anoint our two hearts.
Together Mātariśvan, together the Disposer, together the Director—let
them join us two together.
This description of Suryā's marriage is very lengthy, convoluted, and far from being straight forward, due to the kind of language employed by the poet. However, a close examination of some verses in the above hymn can shed some light on the marriage rites.

The hymn describes the wedding of Suryā, followed by the various male-devas into whose hands she goes, prior to being united with her humanly husband. In verses 39-41, we are told that Soma first acquired Suryā as a wife, and then gave her to the Gandharva (Viśvāvasu), who in turn gave her to her third husband Agni. Agni, then gave her to her final and actual husband she was married to, a human-born individual. It must be understood from looking at the hymn as a whole that these three individuals that were addressed as the first three husbands of Suryā were not in reality married to her, but were addressed as her husbands (pati) because they were the ones that conveyed her to her humanly husband, and in the interim period behaved as her sexual partners. For example, in verse 38, we are told that for a certain period of time, Agni behaved as her transient sexual partner, giving her offspring. This Agni is then asked to deliver Suryā to her actual (humanly) husband.

Hence, despite Soma being addressed as a bridesgroom in verse 9, he cannot be taken to be Suryā's actual husband. Rather, he was one of the groomsmen that wooed Suryā (using the Aśvins) and conveyed her to Viśvāvasu, thereby starting the chain of divine husbands that Suryā passes through, prior to uniting with her actual, humanly husband. It is not clear exactly when Soma had delivered Suryā to Viśvāvasu, however, it must have happened before verses 22-23, because in verses 22-23, we are told that Viśvāvasu was asked to abandon Suryā and look for some other maiden. This next transient husband that Suryā is passed on to is Agni. Agni has sex with Suryā and gives her offspring before having to convey her to her final humanly husband (verses 38-39, 41). These devas, into whose hands Suryā passed, prior to being united with her humanly husband, were members from the groom's side that were given the responsibility of conveying the bride to the groom. For example, Agni was described as the leader of the marriage train/procession (verse 8).

These devas belonged to the groom's side and competed with one another, attempting to woo the bride Suryā (using the Aśvins) for the role of conveying her to her humanly husband. Although these devas were the ones that conveyed the bride to her humanly husband, they did not woo the bride themselves. Rather, they elected as their fathers, the Aśvins, to woo the bride on their behalf. This can be seen very clearly in verses 14-15. Pushan, one of the suitors competing for the role of conveying the bride Suryā to her husband, appoints the Aśvins as his two fathers. It is these Aśvins, that on the behalf of Pusan attempted to woo the bride, Suryā. The Aśvins also acted as the wooer of the bride on behalf of Agni in verse 8 and Soma in verse 9 (presumably acting as their elected fathers, given the context of verse 14).

That being said, we are given some evidence in verses 26-31 of the hymn above (Rig Veda 10.85) that the process of the elected fathers (the Aśvins) wooing the bride Suryā has a sexual component. That is to say, these elected fathers accept Suryā sexually prior to giving her to the transient husband on whose behalf they wooed her. Verses 26-31 read as follows:
26. Let Pūṣan lead you from here, having taken you by the hand. Let the
Aśvins convey you forth in their chariot.
Go to the house, so that you will be mistress of the house. Exerting
your will you will announce the ceremonial distribution.
27. Here let your heart’s desire be realized through children; here in this
house be vigilant for the ruling of your household.
With this husband merge your body. Then (even) as an elderly couple
you two will announce the ceremonial distribution.
28. It [=bride’s garment] becomes dark red. [She=bride] becomes
witchcraft, a noose. She is smeared (with blood).
Her relatives are elated; her husband is bound in bonds.
29. Hand over the stained garment; to the brahmins parcel out the goods.
She herself has become walking witchcraft: the wife enters her
husband.
 
30. His body loses its splendor—glistening in that evil way—
when the husband is about to put on his own member the “garment” of
the bride.
31. The diseases from the people that follow after the glittering wedding
procession of the bride,
those let the gods worthy of the sacrifice lead back again whence
they came.
In verse 26, we see that the wooing task of the elected fathers of Pusan, the Aśvins, involved asking the bride to ascend the chariot. This chariot symbolically represents the sexual union (of the Aśvins) with the bride, and that is evident in verses 27-28, where the Aśvins act as husbands of the bride (notwithstanding them also being her fathers-in-law) and have sexual intercourse with her to test whether she is a virgin or not (note the phrase "elderly couple" in verse 27, which alludes to sex between the elderly elected fathers [the Aśvins] and the bride, instead of that between the youthful son [Pusan] and the bride). If the bride is smeared with blood in this subsequent sex, it is confirmed that she is a virgin, and she then becomes like a noose on her husband, that is to say, the husband (in this case, Pusan) is stuck with her and is forced to keep her as his wife and have sex with her, now that she has passed the virginity test (verses 28-30). Following this, in verse 31, there is a prayer that the bride remains free from any (sexually-transmitted) diseases she may have obtained from this wedding procession (i.e. the elected fathers of the groom). Hence, it is evident from the above verses, that in the Rig Vedic wedding, an elected father was chosen to woo the bride for his son, and subsequently have the first sex with the bride to ensure that she is a virgin. Once that happened (and assuming that the bride passed this virginity test), the bride was given to the groom as a wife.

As a side note, Jamison provides some more evidence in her paper "THE RIGVEDIC SWAYMVARA? FORMULAIC EVIDENCE" that the ascending of the chariot symbolically represents sexual intercourse. She directs the reader to a Rig Vedic hymn of the Aśvins (7.69) that says in verse 3c "vi vāṃ ratho vadhvā yādamāno..." (meaning "your chariot, being united with the bride..."). This verse provides an intricate linkage between the bride (in that hymn, the bride is Suryā) ascending the chariot of the Aśvins and her having sexual intercourse with them. That is to say, ascending the chariot was of great significance as it implied ascending the owner of that chariot (in this case, the Aśvins) in sexual intercourse. Jamison provides one more Rig Vedic verse from a hymn of the Aśvins (1.118.5) that affirms what I explained above regarding 7.69.3c (translation of Rig Veda 1.118.5 by Griffith):
5 The youthful Daughter of the Sun, delighting in you, ascended there your chariot, Heroes.Borne on their swift wings let your beauteous horses, your birds of ruddy hue, convey you near us.
This verse also suggests that the daughter of the Surya ascending the chariot of the Aśvins implies her having taken sexual delight in them. These pieces of evidence suggest that in the wedding hymn of Suryā (10.85), when she is invited to mount the elected fathers' (the Aśvins) chariot, it is also an invitation for her to choose these fathers to have sex with to prove her virginity.

Hence, the marriage of Abhimanyu and Uttaraa must also be interpreted in this light. Prior to the wedding rites, the elected fathers (Arjuna, Yuddhistira, and Krishna) accept Uttaraa on behalf of the groom, Abhimanyu, and have sex with her to test her virginity. After this test is performed, and the bride, Uttaraa, passes with flying colors (of course due to match fixing by Arjuna, wink wink), her wedding rites can be performed. In Rig Veda 10.85, we see that the groom does not take part in the actual wedding. The wedding only involves the bride Suryā, who is then conveyed by Devas to her humanly husband's home. We can see a parallel in Uttaraa's marriage. It can be noticed that the wedding rites all revolve around Uttaraa alone, and that the groom, Abhimanyu, has no role in the wedding rites. His role is only to accept the bride (Uttaraa) as his wife once the wedding is over. Another similarity between the two weddings is that in both weddings, there is a ritual slaughter of animals for the wedding feast. In the wedding of Suryā (Rig Veda 10.85.13), there is a slaughter of cows, whereas in the wedding of Uttaraa (Mahabharatha Critical Edition 4.67.27), there is a slaughter of deer.

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