Regaining consciousness, the frail Arjuna drew clay around him and created a linga of the three eyed lord and started focusing his energies on pleasing him. Even as he offered the Linga flowers, he found them adorning the crown of the Kirata. Exalted, the son of Pandu flung himself on the Lord’s feet. Pleased, the Lord with a deep voice addresses Arjuna:
“I am pleased with you O phalguna. Your act has no parallel; there is no kshatriya who is your equal in courage and patience. You equal me in tejas and prowess; you were a rishi in your previous birth O phalguna; i give you the ability to see me in my true form. You will able to vanquish all your foes, and i will give you my own weapon to wield”
Arjuna saw Mahadeva in his true form — bedecked with ornaments, blazing in splendor, wielding the Shula, and accompanied by Uma.
Head bowed, Arjuna prayed to parameshwara
कपर्दिन् सर्वभूतेश भग नेत्रनिपातन
kapardin sarvabhūteśa bhaga netranipātana (1)
O Kapardina, Lord of all the senses (also Gods), the remover of Bhaga’s eyes..
O blue throated one, O thou of matted locks, I know you as the Cause of all causes. O thou of three eyes, O lord of all! You are the refuge of all the gods! This universe has sprung from you You cannot be vanquished by the three worlds of the celestials, the Asuras, and men. You are Siva in the form of Vishnu, and Vishnu in the form of Siva. You destroyed the sacrifice of Daksha. O Hari, O Rudra, I bow to thee. O three eyed one, O Sarva, Asuthoshi, Bearer of the trident, O wielder of the Pinaka, O Surya, O Auspicious one , O Creator of all, I bow to you. O lord of all created things, I worship you to obtain your grace. You are the lord of the Ganas, the source of universal blessing, the cause of the causes of the universe. You are the Purusha, the highest, the subtlest, O Hara! O illustrious Sankara, please pardon my fault. It was even to obtain a vision of you that I came to this great mountain. Let not my rashness be regarded as a fault-I engaged in this combat out of ignorance. O Lord forgive my faults.
Pleased, the God with the bull in his flag, clasped Arjuna’s hand and consoled him — You are forgiven Arjuna; and embracing him said:
नरस् तवं पूर्वदेहे वै नारायण सहायवान्
बदर्यां तप्तवान उग्रं तपॊ वर्षायुतान बहून्
naras tvaṃ pūrvadehe vai nārāyaṇa sahāyavān
badaryāṃ taptavān ugraṃ tapo varṣāyutān bahūn (2)
You were Nara in a previous form and the friend of Naaraayana
In Badri, the two of you did severe austerities for many eons
p(3) (f1)In might you are equal to Vishnu the purusha. The Gandiva , snatched by me through an illusion is yours again; these two quivers will become inexhaustible;
your body will be free of pain and disease. Ask me O unparalleled one, any boon that you desire.
Arjuna — “O supreme one with the bull in his flag, I desire desire the divya astras including the fierce pashupata (f2), and the weapon of rudra called Brahmasira that is capable of great deeds; …” and he prayed for victory in his conflict with Bhishma and Drona.
The Lord of lords, gives Arjuna the capable (see f2), knowledge of that weapon that neither Indra nor Yama nor Varuna nor Vayu knew to wield, use, hurl and withdraw; a weapon if not hurled with adequate cause can destroy the universe; a weapon that has no equal and one that can be hurled by the eye, the mind or the bow. From that moment, Arjuna beheld the fierce weapon wait on him as it did on Sankara.
Blessing him, and giving him back the Gandiva, Trayambaka directs Arjuna to go to heaven (f3) and departs with Uma at his side. Arjuna continues to stare amazed at his splendor with hands folded.
Nara and Narayana are considered to be the embodiment of the primeval spirit (Nara — Man); i believe a manifestation of the inseparability of man and God. Many of Vyaasa’s sections in the various puraana’s begin with an invocation to nara — narayana (naaraayana namaskrutyam naranchaiva narottamam). Legend has it that the inseparable forces perform penance for the benefit of humanity from time immemorial at Badrikaashrammam. In the Badri temple, Nara and Narayana are depicted in the sanctum sanctorum, to the far right side of the stone image of Badri-Vishala (or Badri-Narayana). Also, the two peaks that tower over Badrinatha are Nara and Narayana. Krishna says to Arjuna again in the vanaparva,“O invincible one, you are Nara and I am Hari Narayana, and we, the sages Nara-Narayana, have come to this world at proper time..”
f2 — It is believed that to demonstrate the greatness of nara-narayana, Shiva had hurled the pashupata at them and the weapon returned without even a hair on the rishis unsinged. Interestingly Arjuna the incarnation of nara asks for the same weapon
f3 — Arjuna goes to Indra loka and among other things learns dance and is cursed by Urvashi