Who is a better archer ? Srirama or Arjuna My friend asked me.
The question doesn't leave me. I worship Sriram.He is Maryada Purushottam.
I adore Arjun,since childhood. Infact I am obsessed about Arjun,
I never compared them both. While Rama is Vishnu incarnate,Arjun is Narottam.
So is it possible for me to judge them on the basis of their archery skills?
I tried my best. I don't know if I succeeded or not. But atleast I attempted.
I analysed them on the basis of their prominent achievements,since the begining.
I did not let any bias towards either of them hinder my analysis.
Srirama got educated by Vasishta in the begining.
Viswamithra polished his skills by instructing him Bala Atibala.and other Devine Astras.
Arjun 's first Guru is Kripacharya if we don't take into consideration the initiation done by Satasringa sages.
Then came Drona who is Arjun's preceptor in the real sense. Arjun mastered archery,learnt to shoot in darkness,and practiced shooting with both arms.
In a way Viswamitra asking Rama to kill the demons and protect his yaga can be considered as gurudakshina.Rama 's first battle and he came up with flying colours.He killed Taraka,Subahu and threw Maricha far away into the ocean.
Arjun's first battle is with King Drupada who was assisted by Satyajit another reputed warrior.Arjun displayed his exceptional skills and captured Drupada.
The Gurudakshina offered much to the delight of his preceptor.
Both of them proved their invincibility with the bow. One in Treta yug and another in Dwapar yug.
Surprisingly both of them got their brides by passing the test prescribed in the Swayamvar.
Sri Rama broke the Siva Dhanush that no one can even lift up.
Arjun hit the fish target He exhibited his perfect eyesight,and marvellous shooting skills.He achieved the feat with mathematical precision while others failed to even tie up the string.
Rama tackled Parasurama who challenged him by taking the Vishnu Dhanush from him.
Arjun defeated the kings who attacked him after he won using the same bow and arrows.
His arch rival Karna left the battle defeated,admitting the invincibility of his opponent.
Here Bala Kanda ends . Rama is established as the great archer with astounding skill with the bow.
Arjun in Adiparva still has the Khandava Dahan battle to prove his prowess in archery,
He gets Gandiva from Agnidev and along with Krishna fights the gods of quarters.
His opponent was none other than his father Indra .After a fierce battle Indra admits defeat and blesses Arjun.Even though Krishna is there fighting on one side Vyasa described Arjun as the one who prevented Indra from obstructing Agnideva to consume Khandav van.
Afterwards Arjun's northern conquest during Rajasuya proved him as the foremost warrior.He brought unlimited riches as tributes and got the name Dhananjay.
In Aranya Kanda Srirama fights singlehandedly with Khar,Dushan and their fourteen thousand demons standing on the ground.Within two hours he kills all of them .
The finest exhibition of archery skills without the aid of anyone.
In Aranya Parva Arjun goes to Indralok to get Astras.I am not describing his fight with Mahadev here though I know that is his greatest achievement as Devon Ka Dev tested his skills.
Arjun was asked by Indra to defeat sixty thousand Demons,nivata Kavachas Kalakeyas. He got no army but he drove in the chariot driven by Matali Indra's charioteer.The demons know so many illusions and Arjun tackled them and killed them singlehandedly.
In Aranya Kanda Rama punishes Jayanta who becomes a crow and troubles Sita.Jayanth did not get respite till he offers his eye as the target to Rama's Astra.That is the power of Rama's Astra. Once released it will never fail to hit.
In Kishkindha Kanda Rama befriended Sugriva and killed Vali.Before that Sugriv doubts Rama's skills but Rama proved himself with Saptatala prabhedan.Rama pierces seven palm trees with one arrow at the same place.Outstanding marksmanship
Then he kills Vali instantly standing behind a tree.The explanation given to Vali by Rama for doing so is so apt and true. He punished a vanar who is unrighteous.He has every right to do so.
Arjun in Aranya Parv got another chance to prove himself. The Ghosha Yatra.Arjun defeated Chitrasen Gandharv by breaking his illusion.He released Duryothan from him.
Jayathrath who abducted Draupadi has to submit before Pandavas because of Arjun who stopped him from moving further even though he had already gone so far.
Before the final battle Rama's face off with the Ocean God shows his awesome skills as an archer.
Rama gets angry on Samudra Dev and fixes the arrow on his bow.Samudradev begs pardon but Rama's arrow can not be taken back.So Samudra Dev asked Rama to kill the demons who dwell under the ocean.
In Virat Parv We see Arjun the archer par excellence who singlehandedly tackled and defeated the Maharadhis of Hastinapur with Uttar as his charioteer. It was an unparalleled feat as the whole Kaurava army with the Maharathis had to return to Hastinapur without the cattle.
The final battle .Rama assisted by Lakshman,Hanuman,Sugriva
The final battle Arjuna assisted by Bheema Satyaki Dhrisht.
The final battle Sivansh Hanuman stood by Rama every minute at every stage
The final battle Lord Krishna himself stood by Arjuna every minute at every stage,
When Rama and Lakshmana swooned due to Indrajit's Nagastr Garuda comes to revive them.
When Karna releases Nagastr Krishna presses the chariot downwards.
Hanuman brings Sanjivani to revive Lakshmana.
Krishna absorbs the Vaishnavastra from Bhagadutta and helps Arjun Otherwise Arjun has to counter it and universal destruction may happen with that collision .
The fourteenth day battle remains the most memorable as Arjun unleashed his fury caused due to Abhi's death by fighting with his full mettle.
We already found Rama battling the demons standing on the ground.
Now we see Arjun do the same inside the Sakata vyuha.
While Krishna tends the horses Arjun stands on the ground and fights the whole Kaurava army with their Maharadhis.He creates a lake for his horses to drink water and relax.
We see Rama throw Maricha so far away into the ocean
Arjun also throws the head of Jayathrath into the lap of Vriddhakshatra who is doing penance at Samanta Panchak away from Kurukshetr.
Rama 's expertise and superb skills were displayed in his battle with Ravan.
Such battle was never fought ever.That is why Alankarikas gave it as an example of
Ananvayalamkar where the subject will be compared with the subject itself.
Rama ravanayor yuddham Rama Ravana yoriva.
The battle between Rama and Ravana is like that of the battle between Rama and Ravana only.
On the otherhand the battle between Arjuna and Karna also can be termed unparalleled.
Both the Warriors fought with exceptional skills and made it unique.
No other battle of Kurukshetra was witnessed by all the gods,demons etc.
Arjun fought with full vigour and energy. It is the most crucial battle he ever fought.
Conclusion: I don't want to judge their superior skills by comparing them both.
Both belonged to different yugas. Both elevated archery to the highest level.
While Rama's arrow can never miss the target Arjun's arrow hits the target always.
Both are conversant of the most powerful Astras that only they know with Prayoga upasamhara.
Both are Siva devotees.
While Rama established Ramalingeswar Mahadev
Arjun got Mahadev's grace and Pasupat.
While Rama conquered Parasurama's energy,Arjun got applause from Parasuram.
While Pavan Putr Hanuman stood by Rama,Arjun was assisted by Pavan Putr Bheem.
Rama is Vishnu incarnate and Arjun's soulmate is Krishna,the Vishnu incarnate.
Finally I must say Vishnu tej reigned supreme in Tretayug as Rama and in Dwapar as Krishna and Arjuna.
In Bhagavadgita Krishna says.Ramah Sastrabhritamaham.I am Rama among weapon wielders.
But he also says Pandavanam Dhananjayah.I am Dhananjaya among Pandavas.
There lies the answer.