Arjuna was on a pilgrimage to south india, and he visited rameshwaram where Lord Rama installed a shiv lingam. Arjuna was amazed to look at the remains of the bridge that was built to Sri Lanka. But he wondered why Lord Rama could not build the bridge himself and had to rely on the help of the monkeys!
A small monkey who had been following Arjuna, answered such “Don’t you realize the strength of the monkeys of those times adorned by Lord Hanuman? Do you think you can build a bridge with your arrows? Well, why don’t you try now – I bet your arrows will not be able to withstand my weight!”
Arjuna became furious and took up the challenge to build a bridge with his arrows that would bear the weight of the tiny monkey. He also declared that he will burn himself if it fails to bear the monkey’s weight. The monkey agreed.
Arjuna, taking the aid of his famed quiver of inexhaustible arrows, laid down a bridge across the ocean. The monkey jumped onto it and no sooner had he walked ten paces than the bridge collapsed.
Arjuna constructed another bridge, this time laying his arrows closer to each other, and asked the monkey to try again. The monkey set out on the bridge in the direction of the island of Lanka yet again but the bridge collapsed.
Arjuna was ashamed of himself. Not wasting any more time, he prepared a pyre and was about to step into it and give up his life, in accordance with the terms of the challenge when a boy held him back and stopped him.
Arjuna explained how he failed in this competition and that is why he wants to give up his life. The boy laughed and said “There is no competition without a judge, why don’t we start again. I will be the judge”. The monkey and Arjuna agreed.
Arjuna used all his strength and built another bridge with his arrows, the monkey walked on and the bridge was solid! The monkey tried jumping on the bridge but still it was strong! Then the monkey began to grow in size showing Arjuna his true form. Arjuna soon realized that the monkey was none other than Lord Hanuman himself. He knew that his bridge can never survive the strength of Lord Hanuman.
To everyone’s surprise – The bridge did not collapse even though Hanuman grew as big as a mountain. Hanuman and Arjuna looked at each other in awe and soon realized that this was the play of the little boy and ran to him. They fell at the boy’s feet knowing that the boy was none other than Lord Vishnu himself.
Lord Vishnu said to Arjuna – “May this teach you to be humble. Pride is your worst enemy. The minute you think you are great and forget the divine who bestowed everything on you, you are on your way towards self destruction” then the Lord turned towards Hanuman and said to him “Hanuman, is this wise of you to humiliate the best archer? What if he had jumped into the pyre? You would become a reason for his death. “
Lord Hanuman put his head down in shame and promised Lord Vishnu and Arjuna that as an act of remorse he would protect Arjuna’s chariot in the battlefield.
Lord Vishnu was pleased and said “So be it! Arjuna’s chariot will bear your flag and you will protect it throughout the war”