The foundation of his warrior career was shaped by his guru Drona Acharya when he was very young. His ability to handle the bow was destined to give him an unsuspected utility. It won him the hand of Draupadi, his first wife, daughter of Drupada, king of Panchala.
The five Pandavas were forced to go to the forest for thirteen years together with Draupadi after a lost game of dice against their adversaries, Kauravas, the sons of Dhritarashtra. Arjuna presents himself as a eunuch, lives in women's dress, has his hair braided and carries arm and foot ring from sea shells. He teaches the women at the court to dance, sing and play musical instruments.
Although the Pandavas fulfill their thirteen-year exile, the Kauravas were unwilling to return half the kingdom to their cousins, contrary to the agreements. After long negotiations, the decisive battle of Kurukshetra comes about. Arjuna was ready to fulfill his warrior duties. But when, on the other hand, he saw his numerous relatives, teachers, and other persons whom he had esteemed, he despaired and did not want to fight.
At this moment, it was his cousin Krishna, who shows him the way to the action. Krishna was the son of Vasudeva, the brother of Kunti. The dialogue between the two on the issues involved in the war, the duty of the warrior, the nature of human life and the soul make up the arguments of Bhagavad Gita. Arjuna also had the support of the ancient anthropoid Hanuman.
The incident that led to this was an earlier encounter between Hanuman and Arjuna. Hanuman appeared to Arjuna under the figure of a little chattering monkey at Rameshwaram, where Rama had built a large bridge to cross Lanka Island to rescue his wife Sita. Vishnu helped in forming the friendship between Arjuna and Hanuman.
Arjuna played a central role in the struggle between the Pandavas and the Kauravas. The Pandavas get the victory in the battle and the older brother of Arjuna, Yudhisthira becomes the king of the country. Arjuna also plays the leading role in the murder of Karna, his half-brother who fought on the side of the Kauravas.
While Arjuna was in the palace of Indra, the apsara Urvashi proposed to him to have sexual relations. He considered Urvashi as a mother as Urvashi was one of the courtesans of the court.
Arjuna married four times. In addition to Draupadi, Arjuna married Chitrangada, Ulupi, and Subhadra. His wanderings took him to ancient Manipur in the eastern Himalayas. There he met Chitrangada, daughter of the king of Manipur, and was motivated to seek his hand in marriage.
Her father objected to the proposition given that, according to the matrilineal customs of the land, the son born of Chitrangada would be the heir to the throne of Manipur. He could not allow his heir to leave Manipur. Arjuna accepted the condition of not being able to take Chitrangada or a child born of her outside of Manipur. He married with the princess on this premise. A son called Babruvahana was born of the couple.
When Arjuna was in Manipur, Ulupi, a Naga princess fell madly in love with him. She managed to kidnap him after drugging him with a potent brew. There he induced Arjuna to take her as his wife. Later the generous Ulupi restored Arjuna to the mournful Chitrangada. Ulupi later did much for the welfare and happiness not only of Arjuna but also of Chitrangada and the young Babruvahana. She played a very important role in the character development of Babruvahana.
Arjuna decided to spend the last part of his exile in Dwaraka, where lived his cousins Balarama, Krishna, and Subhadra. Here, he and his cousin fell in love with each other. Knowing that the entire society would not welcome the prospect of seeing Subhadra become the fourth wife of his cousin Arjuna, Krishna facilitated the escape of the couple and their escape to Indraprastha.
A single son, Abhimanyu, was procreated by Arjuna and Subhadra. Parikshit, the son of Abhimanyu and Uttara, born after the death of Abhimanyu on the battlefield was destined to be the sole surviving heir of the entire Kuru clan and successor to Yudhishthira as emperor of the Kuru Kingdom.
Some sources claim that the legend of Arash, the archer in Persian mythology, bears some resemblance to that of Arjuna which may be because of the shared Indo-Iranian heritage. However, Arjuna being the fundamental part of the Mahabharata and one of the main personages, the rest of the relevant personages are not mentioned in the history of Arash.