by the etymology of his name, he should be fair-skinned:

Proto-IE: *arg'-/*e- Meaning: white, brilliant Hittite: harki- weiss, hell' (Tischler 177) Tokharian: A ārki, B arkwi weiss (PT *ārkw(ä)i) (Adams 49-50) Old Indian: árjuna-white, clear' Avestan: arǝzah- n. Nachmitteg und Abend' (Bed. fraglich) Old Greek: argó-weissglänzend'; argi- in compounds; árgemo-n n., á́rgemo-s m. weisser Fleck im Auge, albugo' Germanic: *irk-n-a- adj. Latin: arguō, -uī, -ūtum, -eremache klar, weise nach, überführe', argūtus, -a `helltönend'


this book:

says Krishna,Arjuna,Draupadi and Vyasa were dark-skinned.

2 Answers 2


His being "Arjuna" seems metaphorical (brilliant, rather than white) and in actuality he was dark-skinned:


"Arjuna said, 'I am Arjuna, called also Partha. Thy father's courtier is Yudhishthira and thy father's cook Vallava is Bhimasena, the groom of horses is Nakula, and Sahadeva is in the cow-pen. And know thou that the Sairindhri is Draupadi, for whose sake the Kichakas have been slain.'

"Uttara said, 'I would believe all this if thou canst enumerate the ten names of Partha, previously heard by me!'

"Arjuna said, 'I will, O son of Virata, tell thee my ten names. Listen thou and compare them with what thou hadst heard before. Listen to them with close attention and concentrated mind. They are Arjuna, Falguna, Jishnu, Kiritin, Swetavahana, Vibhatsu, Vijaya, Krishna, Savyasachin and Dhananjaya."

"Uttara said, 'Tell me truly why art thou called Vijaya, and why Swetavahana. Why art thou named Krishna and why Arjuna and Falguna and Jishnu and Kiritin and Vibhatsu, and for what art thou Dhananjaya and Savyasachin? I have heard before about the origin of the several names of that hero, and can put faith in thy words if thou canst tell me all about them.'

"Arjuna said, 'They called me Dhananjaya because I lived in the midst of wealth, having subjugated all the countries and taking away their treasures. They called me Vijaya because when I go out to battle with invincible kings, I never return (from the field) without vanquishing them. I am called Swetavahana because when battling with the foe, white horses decked in golden armour are always yoked unto my car. They call me Falguna because I was born on the breast of the Himavat on a day when the constellation Uttara Falguna was on the ascendent. I am named Kiritin from a diadem, resplendent like the sun, having been placed of old on my head by Indra during my encounter with the powerful Danavas. I am known as Vibhatsu among gods and men, for my never having committed a detestable deed on the battle-field. And since both of my hands are capable of drawing the Gandiva, I am known as Savyasachin among gods and men. They call me Arjuna because my complexion is very rare within the four boundaries of the earth and because also my acts are always stainless. I am known among human beings and celestials by the name of Jishnu, because I am unapproachable and incapable of being kept down, and a tamer of adversaries and son of the slayer of Paka. And Krishna, my tenth appellation, was given to me by my father out of affection towards his black-skinned boy of great purity.'

EDIT: added material:

the Karna Parva confirms Arjuna was dark-complexioned.


And the earth, welkin, heaven, and the waters, when agitated by a tempest, roar aloud, O Bharata, even such was the roar that arose in all the worlds at that time. Hearing that tremendous noise, people, notwithstanding their efforts to be calm, became extremely agitated and reeled as they stood. Reft of diadem, the dark complexioned and youthful Partha looked beautiful like a blue mountain of lofty summit.


Mahabharata gives the following description of the Pandava brothers. It does not say if Arjuna was fair or dark.

Thus addressed, Draupadi replied, ‘Having done this violent deed to shorten thy life, what will it avail thee now, O fool, to know the names of these great warriors, for, now, that my heroic husbands are come, not one of ye will be left alive in battle. However as thou art on the point of death and hast asked me, I will tell thee everything, this being consistent with the ordinance. Beholding King Yudhishthira the just with his younger brothers, I have not the slightest anxiety or fear from thee! That warrior at the top of whose flagstaff two handsome and sonorous tabours called Nanda and Upananda are constantly played upon, - he, O Sauvira chief, hath a correct knowledge of the morality of his own acts. Men that have attained success always walk in his train. With a complexion like that of pure gold, possessed of a prominent nose and large eyes, and endued with a slender make, that husband of mine is known among people, by the name of Yudhishthira, the son of Dharma, and the foremost of the Kuru race. That virtuous prince of men granteth life to even a foe that yields. Therefore, O fool, throwing down thy arms and joining thy hands, run to him for thy good, to seek his protection. And the other man whom thou seest with long arms, and tall as the full-grown Sala tree, seated on his chariot, biting his lips, and contracting his forehead so as to bring the two eye-brows together, is he, - my husband Vrikodara! Steeds of the noblest breed, plump and strong, well-trained and endued with great might, draw the cars of that warrior! His achievements are superhuman. He is known, therefore, by the name of Bhima on earth. They that offend him are never suffered to live. He never forgetteth a foe. On some pretext or other he wrecketh his vengeance. Nor is he pacified even after he has wrecked a signal vengeance. And there, that foremost of bowmen, endued with intelligence and renown, with senses under complete control and reverence for the old - that brother and disciple of Yudhishthira - is my husband Dhananjaya! Virtue he never forsaketh, from lust or fear or anger! Nor doth he ever commit a deed that is cruel. Endued with the energy of fire and capable of withstanding every foe, that grinder of enemies is the son of Kunti. And that other youth, versed in every question of morality and profit, who ever dispelleth the fears of the affrighted, who is endued with high wisdom, who is considered as the handsomest person in the whole world and who is protected by all the sons of Pandu, being regarded by them as dearer to them as their own lives for his unflinching devotion to them, is my husband Nakula possessed of great prowess. Endued with high wisdom and having Sahadeva for his second, possessed of exceeding lightness of hand, he fighteth with the sword, making dexterous passes there with. Thou, foolish man, shall witness today his performances on the field of battle, like unto those of Indra amid the ranks of Daityas! And that hero skilled in weapons and possessed of intelligence and wisdom, and intent on doing what is agreeable to the son of Dharma, that favorite and youngest born of the Pandavas, is my husband Sahadeva! Heroic, intelligent, wise and ever wrathful there is not another man equal unto him in intelligence or in eloquence amid assemblies of the wise.

Mahabharata, Vana Parva, Section CCLXVIII

Mahabharata says the following about Draupadi.

Yudhisthira answered the chief of the deities once more, saying, - ‘O conqueror of Daityas, I venture not to dwell anywhere, separated from them. I desire to go there where my brothers have gone. I wish to go there where that foremost of women, Draupadi, of ample proportions and darkish complexion and endued with great intelligence and righteous of conduct, has gone.’

Mahabharata Mahaprasthanika Parva Section III

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