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Warning! This page contains spoilers for Aru Shah and the City of Gold.
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Arundhati (means “morningstar” in Hindi) "Aru" Krithika Shah is a character and main protagonist that features in the novel Pandava Quintet written by Roshani Chokshi and edited by Rick Riordan. She's the modern-day reincarnation of the Pandava Arjuna and lives in Atlanta, Georgia, where she attends the private middle school Augustus Day.
- 1 History
- 2 Rick Riordan Presents
- 3 Personality
- 4 Appearance
- 5 Friends
- 6 Abilities and Tools
- 7 Trivia
- 8 References
On February 15th, presumably 2004, Aru Shah was born to Krithika P. Shah and Suyodhana, who would eventually be the Sleeper, in an unnamed hospital in the Otherworld. When she was born, her father Suyodhana had decided to buy a gift for his daughter, which was the book Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, but he never managed to gift her the book, because he was in some kind of hurry. However, as a tribute to him, Aru's mother always read that book to her when she was little.
Life in the Museum
Aru Shah was raised in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture in Atlanta, Georgia, and had lived there for as long as she could remember. Growing up, the museum never kept any secrets from her. She used to do her homework under the giant stone elephant at the entrance, whom she would later name Greg. Often, she used to fall asleep in the theater and wake up just before crackling self-guided tour announced that India became free from the British rule in 1947. Aru even regularly hid a stash of candy in the mouth of the four-hundred-year old sea dragon whom she had named Steve. Once when she was 10, while swinging from the trunk of Greg the elephant, Aru accidentally fell and cracked her arm.
Her Lonely Childhood
Even though she whole-heartedly loved the Museum and her mother, while growing up, Aru couldn't help but feel lonely. Because of the promise Krithika made to Suyodhana, her mother always traveled around the world in search of ancient artifacts, sites and treatises, trying to find something, anything, to help her husband and keep her daughter Aru safe. This led to the fact that Aru didn't exactly have a jolly time growing up.
She only had Sherrilyn, the Head of Museum Security, as her babysitter, who always watched The Real Housewives of Atlanta, and A Boy Called Sue ,but also took Aru out for ice cream.
Another factor that lead to her having a lonely childhood was because of the obvious absence of her father, who was, in fact, trapped in a lamp the whole time. Every year on Father's Day, Aru made a card for her absent father, but the card always ended up in the trash can because she had no one to give the card to.
Another incident that happened was one time during a school dance at her school. Aru had been really excited to go to the dance, such that her mother gave her one of her real gold bangles. But on reaching her school, Aru realized that the dance would start with a Father-Daughter duo dance. In fear and anxiety because she didn't actually have a father, Aru pretended to sprain her ankle, and a teacher had to drive her home. Aru remembered crying all the way back home.
A month prior to the events taking place in Aru Shah and the End of Time, Aru had joined a new school: Augustus Day School. When she had started the school, she had been positive that she would manage to fit in.
Unfortunately, that wasn't true. Unlike the other rich, and spoiled kids at that school, Aru didn't get driven from and to school in a 'sleek black car' and neither did she have a home 'offshore'. As to fit in with the other kids, Aru started her habit of making up things which often stretched truth to a far extent.
After being called a liar by her classmates, Aru Shah lights the lamp of Bharata to convince them that she isn't. Lighting the lamp releases a monster known as the Sleeper. Once the Sleeper leaves, Aru finds that everyone around her has been frozen in time and that only she can move. She runs to find her mother, only to find that she's been frozen as well. She goes back to the lobby of the museum, where the stone statue of an elephant starts to move and 'speak', a voice booming from inside. The stone elephant's mouth opens, and Boo flies out, revealing himself as the source of the noise. Boo asks where is the Pandava brother, since only one of Pandava brothers could light the lamp. And when Aru says it was her who lit the lamp, Boo stated they might as well let the world end. She then finds her soul sister and soul father and embarks on an extraordinary journey through Hindu Mythology.
Aru Shah hid under a table with Mini when the Night Bazaar was attacked by zombies. When they were found she launched Vajra, which she was having trouble using, at them and chased a thief, another one of her Pandava sisters. Boo saves the two girls after they got surrounded, but when they arrived at the arena, Aru found thief fighting over a bow and arrow with a girl that looked exactly like her. The thief, who turns out to be Brynne Rao, and Aru are accused of stealing the bow and arrow which belongs to Kamadeva. They are allowed to prove their innocence by retrieving Kamadeva's bow and arrow in ten days. So, Aru and Mini, along with Brynne and Aiden (Yes, the boy she accidentally word-vomited on and on whom she most definitely does not have a crush) must journey through the Naga Realm and retrieve the god of love's bow or be banished from the otherworld forever.
Fourteen-year-old Aru Shah and her friends are sent on a mission to rescue two "targets," one of whom is about to utter a prophecy that could mean the difference between victory and defeat. Turns out the targets, a pair of twins, are the newest Pandava sisters, though the prophecy says that one sister is not true. When the Pandavas fail to prevent the prophecy from reaching the Sleeper's ears, the heavenly attendants ask them to step aside. Aru believes that the only way to put the shine back on their brand is to find the Kalpavriksha, the wish-granting tree that came out of the Ocean of Milk when it was churned. If she can reach it before the Sleeper, perhaps she can turn everything around with one wish. The plot of the book is that, after a botched rescue mission of Nikita and Sheela Jagan (Reincarnations of Nakula and Sahadeva respectively), Aru, Mini, Brynne and Aiden, as well as Rudy, must find the real Kalpavriksha (a tree that can grant wishes) as according to Sheela's prophecy.
Throughout the Books, it is said numerous times that Aru is a very imaginative person. At first, it shows that she is lying, but instead of using it in a bad way, she uses her imagination to her advantage, like using it for strategy, empathizing, and breaking through illusions and magic.
Aru is also a really compassionate person and caring person. She puts her friends in front of the Devas and cares for their safety and well-being, far more than her own She even sympathizes with Meenakshi/Surpanakha, who is a villain in Aru Shah and the Song of Death. Aru is characterized by her sarcastic, smart and sassy sense of humor and playful demeanour. She is also shown to be a practical person, doing whatever it takes to save her friends. Aru also tends to be quite an awkward person as well.
Despite that, Aru is shown to have a more serious, sad and lonely side. In the Tree of Wishes, we see a particular memory of Aru at the 6th-grade dance. Aru is extremely excited about the dance, but when the Father-Daughter dance starts Aru freaks & fakes an injury. One of her teachers drives her home, & Aru cries the way home. Growing up, Aru has often been neglected by her mother and has no father, so she hates it when the rich students in her school brag about how their parents are. She even gets angry when Mini asks if her mother really never showed her the Otherworld, because Mini's parents did. In the face of danger, Aru easily takes on the role of the leader, implying that she is a serious person.
In all official art she’s shown to have a braid, but numerous times in the publications she’s referred to her “chin-length hair”, and later, when she’s 14, as having grown out her hair to shoulder-length.
She also mentions that her eyebrows are close together, almost forming a unibrow, and that she sucks in her nose when she smiles at her crush, Aiden Acharya, implying that it’s at least somewhat large. She refers to herself being skinny a few times, and mentions she has no muscles when comparing herself to a statue of Arjuna. Her mother is very beautiful, but Aru thinks that she doesn’t resemble her a lot. In general, Aru views herself as not particularly pretty.
Aru likely has black hair, as both her mother and her father are mentioned having black and dark hair, respectively. She likely has medium dark skin, as she describes it as "chestnut brown", and she's warned to not go outside or she could tan darker. Judging by her description of her parents as well as her official art, it is also probable her eyes are dark and round.
Aru wears her Spider-Man pajamas throughout the whole story of Aru Shah and the End of Time. Nikita gifts her magical yellow pants that are apparently very flattering on her in Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes. She prefers to walk around barefoot, but she can fit into her mom's shoes by Tree of Wishes.
Aru likes Boo a lot -- when he was revealed to be Shakhuni, she forgave him quickly, and is quick to jump to his defense. However, she’s not very respectful to him, especially when he forces her to do Pandava training.Later, in Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes, she feels betrayed by him. At the end of City of Gold, she shuns him when he returns and regrets her actions when it's too late.
Aru and Mini quickly became friends during their first quest together; although they have a few rough spots, like when Mini discovers Aru lit the lamp to impress a couple losers, but they apologize to each other soon after the fact, as they do for the rest of their arguments, and trust each other a lot. Aru thinks that while Mini might be weird, she’s wise, and Mini seems to hold Aru in high regard as well, although she’s somewhat oblivious to Aru’s feelings.
Aru and Brynne had an antagonistic start to their relationship, to say the least, due to a combination of circumstances, conflicting personalities, and jealousy. They truly become friends after Mini is captured, and they all share dreams with her where she tells them, among other things, to not blame each other, and after Aiden gives Aru a 100 Grand and a space to clear the air with Brynne. They commiserate about family and become closer; Brynne even shares the bar with Aru. So after that, they become pretty close friends, joking around together and teasing each other.
Aiden and Aru had a rocky start to their relationship. Aru, having a crush on him, bumped into him one day, and in their first mutual interaction she word vomits on him and runs away. When they met again in Aru Shah and the Song of Death, he seems somewhat embarrassed when Brynne lets on he talked about that encounter with her in front of Aru. Throughout the Book they become friends. A few times, Aiden says that he obviously doesn’t feel romantic feelings for Aru, and Aru, embarrassed, agrees, and she seems to be over her crush at the end of the Book, although there’s still a possibility they could fall in love. A significant step in their relationship occurs when Aru notices Aiden sulking in his lawn during her birthday party and he brings her along on his mission to Parent Trap his parents; however, Aru helps show him that what he really cares about is whether his mom is happy and loves herself. There is also a part in Aru Shah and the Song of Death, where Aiden, Brynne, and Aru are discussing what happened previously, with their fight against Takshaka. Brynne and Aru were filling Aiden in, as Aiden had been knocked out. After Aru is done explaining what happened, Brynne says "A boy asked for Aru's number." To which Aiden responds saying, "Why?" Aiden's comment really hurt Aru, but she says sarcastically, "Wow, thanks." Aiden blushes and starts to say something, but Aru cuts him off.
Several times in Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes, he hints that he might have a crush on her, whether he recognizes it as such or not, like when he stares at her after she gets her new outfit from Nikita, when he implies that she's beautiful when she says Sohail the chakora bird viewed her as hideous, or when after using the key, he openly stares at her for a full second, implying that the key has unlocked a feeling within him.
There is also a part of the beginning of the Book where Sheela tells the story of Princess Draupadi (who was reincarnated into Aiden) and the 5 Pandava brothers. She ends her story with; "The only sad thing was that she loved one brother more than the rest." After she finished her story, her eyes flashed silver, according to Aru, and then said, mostly to herself; "Even lifetimes later?" Aiden then responded and said, "What are you talking about?" Sheela could possibly be referring to Aru (reincarnated soul of Arjuna), but we will have to see in the coming Books. The reason why Sheela would be referring to Aru, and not Brynne, Mini, Nikita, or Sheela herself, is because Aiden only sees Brynne as his best friend, Mini as his sister, and the twins as his friends, leaving the only other person to be Aru. We don't really know how Aiden feels about Aru, but it is implied he has a crush on her.At Home Depot, Rudy tells Aru that she must hate the place, with Aru replying that she doesn't hate the place, as she and her mother had fun times there. Rudy invited Aru to his palace, in which she is originally excited about, as no boys have ever invited her anywhere. However, she saw Mini stop for a moment, then continue, and she immediately felt bad, as she knew Mini had a crush on Rudy. She politely turns Rudy down, and tries to catch up with the other girls. As she is leaving, she overhears Rudy tell Aiden that he thought Aru would hate Home Depot. Aru imagines Aiden fiddling with his camera when he says "Then I guess you don't really know her." In the City of Gold, Aru repeatedly gets annoyed and frustrated when Aiden shows affection towards Kara, the Sleeper's other daughter. Aiden also recieves a prophecy that tells him that "The girl you love will be the death of you." causing Aiden to give Aru the cold shoulder. Near the end, however, Aru overhears Kara confessing to Aiden and Aiden tells her that he only thinks of Kara of a friend. Later, Aiden kisses Aru on her birthday, causing Aru to start to ignore him out of confusion. "Aiden lifted Shadowfax, but not before glancing at Aru. She pretended she didn’t see him looking at her. They hadn’t really spoken to each other since the kiss, and now Aru wasn’t sure what to do. It’s not like she could casually ask, So…WHAT WAS THAT? Could she?"(City of Gold)
Aru first saw Rudy in Aru Shah and the End of Time, when he winked at Mini causing her to walk into a pole. She officially met him in Aru Shah and the Song of Death, when he rescued her, Bynne and Aiden when his grandfather Takshaka was attacking them. She got flustered when he asked her for her number, and initially refused on principal, but gave it to him after some persuasian.Later in Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes, he joins Aru and her crew on their unofficial quest to find the tree of wishes, Kalpavriksha. During the Book, they become friends with each other, despite Aru initially being annoyed at him. During the Book, it might suggest that Rudy has a crush on her, like when he asked her to come to his father's palace, or when he said that she wouldn't like the store they visit.
Abilities and Tools
- Pandava Mind Link: She shares a telepathic mind link with her other Pandava siblings. Originally, she could only communicate with Mini, however, since meeting Brynne, Nikita and Sheela, she is now able to connect with them too.
- Underwater Breathing: Aru can breathe underwater.
- Zoolingualism (limited to Marine Life): She can understand and talk to marine animals like fish.
- Vajra: It is her main weapon, a lightning bolt from her spiritual father, Indra. She wields it in battle in a wide variety of ways, Vajra having the ability to transform into other lightning-based forms. When she is not using it, she turns it into a bracelet. The bolt always returns to her hand except through divine interference. Celestial weapons can’t fight other celestial weapons.
- Board: She can turn it into a long hover board that multiple people can stand on.
- Javelin: She can throw it like a javelin at her targets.
- Net: She can turn it into a meshing net and use it to capture enemies.
- Light Emission: She can use the ball form of Vajra to emit a bright light to help her see in the dark and stun her enemies.
- Rope: She can turn it into a lightning rope and bind and enemies hands and feet.
- Sword: She can turn it into a lightning sword and fight off enemies with it.
- Aru's name derives from the Sanskrit word aru (अरु), meaning sun. Her surname is derived from the Sanskrit word sadhu (साधु), meaning saint.
- This is ironic, considering the fact that Arjuna's - whose reincarnation is Aru - main rival in the Mahabharata was Karna, who was the son of the Sun God, Surya. Karna is the secret Pandava, the eldest of the Pandava brothers.
- According to an interview on ReadRiordan, Aru has called Mini "the strangest best friend and sister I definitely did not ask for."
- Aru is the first protagonist of a Rick Riordan Presents book.
- Her favorite color is green.
- Her favorite dessert is tiramisu.
- Her Hogwarts house is Slytherin.
- She got Dauntless when she did a test to find out which faction she belonged in.
- Her favorite superhero is Spider-Man, though starting with Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes she is more into Iron Man.
- Aru likes Swedish Fish
- According to Aru Shah and the Song of Death, her birthday is February 15.
- She also loves movies, quoting and referencing them many times, such as her telling the Sleeper to not say he's Inevitable, as that is Thanos' line. She also references movies such as LotR, Harry Potter, etc.
- Her name is the same as the sage Vashista's wife: Arundhati. Vashishta was the priest and preceptor of the Ikshvaku Clan, the clan of Lord Rama.
- It also sounds similar to Arjuna, the Pandava she is a reincarnation of.
- Aru would never wear denim on denim