In particular, Arjuna was the best friend and disciple of Sri Krishna. Arjuna respected Sri Krishna as his chosen ideal and guide. On the other hand, princess Draupadi had accepted Sri Krishna as her brother and guide. Therefore, Sri Krishna was interested in the marriage of Draupadi.with Arjuna.
Draupadi was very brave and beautiful. She was equally intelligent. She put a condition for her marriage. She would wed the prince who would pierce the eye of the rotating wooden fish by looking at its reflection.
Accordingly, a pole was erected in the courtyard at the tip of which a rotating device was fixed. On the top this device was mounted a wooden fish and at the bottom was kept a tub of water where reflection of the fish could be seen. The competing prince had to look at this reflection and hit the eye of the fish above with an arrow. Only one chance would be given to each desirous prince.
Many princes from all over India had come to try their luck in getting her as bride. Duryodhana, Karna, Arjuna and other Pandavas were a few amongst these. But as was obvious, the difficult test could allow only the best archer to succeed. Arjuna, in the disguise of a Brahmin, was one such fellow! Draupadi was waiting for Arjuna to succeed. Sri Krishna present as an observer also felt likewise.
Soon the competition began. One after another, great archers tried their skills, but in vain. Then arose Karna, the expert. Saluting the king and others present in the court, he approached to undertake the difficult but possible test that would give him Draupadi as his bride. Sri Krishna, always alert to rescue his devotees from the difficult situations, pointed Draupadi to object as it was likely that this great archer could win.
Draupadi got up and raised the objection saying, "O noble one, please let me know your credentials. Of what state you are the prince or the king? who are your parents? As far I know you a lowly sut-putra, and such I have no desire to marry you. You do not qualify to take this test."
The insult made Karna red with anger, but he could do nothing. What Draupadi said was true and everyone in the hall agreed. Duryodhana got up and protested saying, "O proud princess, you have insulted my friend who is the king of Anga province. I command you to apologize." But Draupadi was not be intimidated. She replied, "O prince of Hastinapur, I agree with what you say, but that still does not alter the status of your friend Karna. Out of charity and your mercy he had become the king, and not of his own. I cannot marry him."
The duo of Duryodhana and Karna left the court of king Drupad, father of Draupadi, and vowed to avenge the insult at some later time.
Next it was the turn of Arjuna to try his skills to win over the hand of his prospective bride. He saluted Sri Krishna and in one go pierced the eye of the fish. Draupadi was pleased and put the garland in the neck of Arjuna. Thus they were married.
Half of the court shouted 'victory to the Brahmin, but the other half objected to the participation of a Brahmin in the marriage meant for warrior caste only.
Draupadi becomes Wife to all five brothers
Taking advantage of the confusion and chaos, Sri Krishna made quick arrangements to send the newly married couple off to the city of Ekchakra! Reaching their small hut, Pandavas announced their arrival and told the mother Kunti to guess what they have brought that day. Innocently, Kunti, thinking that her children must be talking about the food they had received, said, "O my dear sons, I know you bring wonderful things; as usual divide the gift amongst yourself and enjoy."
This terrible command applied to Draupadi now. As the custom went they had to obey every word of their mother as final order. Kunti also became worried about the difficult predicament. Can a wife ever divided amongst five brothers!
Sri Krishna came to know all about and he advised the Pandavas to accept Draupadi as common wife of all the five brothers. Thus Draupadi, also known as Panchali, became wife of five brothers.
Sage Narada advised the Pandavas to honour the privacy of Draupadi when she was alone with any other brother. Whosoever entered the room of Draupadi when she was with other brother would be forced to self exile as the punishment. All the brothers agreed. Thus the problem of one wife and five husbands was solved!
Arjuna marries Subhadra, sister of Sri Krishna
As it happened, once there was an attack on some local Brahmins and robbers were forcibly taking away their cows. They asked Arjuna's help. Therefore, to bring his bow and arrow he had to enter and pass through the room of Draupadi when she was alone with Yudhisthira. Arjuna saved the lives of Brahmins and the sacred cows but had to leave for exile all alone.
Arjuna visited many places of pilgrimage and princely states from North to South and East to West. At last he reached the kingdom of Dwaraka which was ruled by his friend and mentor Sri Krishna. The two friends had very nice time, but there was a problem. Elder brother of Sri Krishna, Balarama (who was the Teacher of Duryodhana in his war skills), had decided to give the hand of their sister Subhadra to Duryodhana in the marriage. Sri Krishna did not approve of this marriage and wanted Subhadra to wed Arjuna. Therefore, he asked Arjuna to secretly run away with his sister and marry her. Subhadra had also decided to marry Arjuna and therefore, with the consent of Sri Krishna she eloped with Arjuna and they were married. Balarama later relented.
The couple is then blessed with a son - Abhimanyu -- who becomes very handsome, energetic and expert in war games. He was endowed with a special gift to penetrate any format of enemy line. He later plays very important role in the war of Kurukshetra -- the war of Mahabharata.