Mahabharata is one of Hindu’s two great national epic poems, which contains nearly 100,000 verses, written in Sanskrit from about 300 BC. It tells about the great war in northern India between the Pandava and Kaurava families. There is a famous character in Mahabharata called Barbarik alias Khatushyamji Baliyadev alias Shyam. He was a grandson of Bhima (The second of the Pandava brothers) and the son of Ghatotkacha. Ghatotkacha, in turn, was the son of Bhima and his wife Hidimbi.
The story of Barbarika:
Barbarik, the son of Ghatotkacha was a very brave warrior. He learned the art of fighting a war from his mother, Himdimbi. Lord Shiva was pleased with Barbarika’s talent of a great warrior. He granted him three special arrows. He also received a special bow from Lord Agni (The God of Fire). It is believed that Barbarik was so extremely powerful that he could end the war of Mahabharata in 1 minute if he fought alone. His story goes as follows:
Barbarik and Lord Krishna:
Before the beginning of the war, Lord Krishna asked for everyone that how much long will it take for them to end the war alone. Bhishma said it would take about 20 days. Dronacharya replied it would take 25 days. Karna told it would take 24 days while Arjuna said it would take him 28 days. Barbarik expressed his wish to watch the war of Mahabharata taking permission from his mother. His mother agreed to let him go watch it. Before he left, she asked, “which side will you join if you feel like taking part in the war.?” Barbarik made a promise to his mother that he would join the weaker side. After saying this he set on his journey to visit the battlefield.
Krishna was aware of Barbarik and wanted to test his strength. So, Krishna took the form of a Brahmin and came in front of Barbarik. Lord Krishna asked the same question to him. That how many days would it take him to finish the war if he were to fight Alone? Barbarik replied, “It would take only 1 minute”. Krishna was shocked at this answer of Barbarik. Therefore, Barbarik walked towards the war area with just 3 arrows and a bow. To this Barbarik told him the power of the 3 arrows.
Powers the arrows had:
First, arrow-The first arrow marked that all the objects that Barbarik wanted to be destroyed were definitely destroyed.
The second arrow-The second arrow marked that all the objects that Barbarik wanted to be saved were definitely saved.
The third arrow-The third arrow marked that all the objects to be destroyed by the first arrow OR destroy all the objects unmarked by the arrow-2(second arrow).
At the end of this, all the three arrows would come back and return to his quiver. Krishna was very excited to test him out. So, he asked Barbarik to tie all the leaves of the tree together under which he was standing. Barbarik started to meditate to complete the given task. In the meantime, Krishna took a leaf from the tree and placed it under his foot without Barbarik’s knowledge. He then released his first arrow, the arrow marked all the leaves from the tree. Later all leaves started to move around Lord Krishna’s feet. Lord Krishna asked him that why the arrow is doing this. Barbarik replied that there must be a leaf under his feet. He asked Krishna to lift up his leg. As soon as Krishna lifted his leg, the arrow went ahead and marked the remaining leaf.
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This incident is said to scare Lord Krishna about the extraordinary powers of Barbarik. He said that the arrows will surely not fail. Krishna felt that in the real battlefield, in case Krishna wanted to separate someone (like the 5 Pandavas) from Barbarik’s attack. This way he would not be able to do so. Since without the knowledge of Barbarik, the arrow would not go ahead and destroy the target if Barbarik intended so.
Barbarik and the war of Mahabharata:
Therefore, Krishna asked Barbarik about which side he was willing to fight for in the war of Mahabharata. Barbarik explained to him as the Kauravas Army is larger than the Pandavas Army, he would be with the weaker. He also reminded him the promise he had made with his mother, so he would fight for the Pandavas. But to this Lord Krishna explained him the odd nature of the promise, he made to his mother. Krishna told him as he was the greatest warrior on the battlefield. Joining his desired side would automatically make the other side weaker. As a result, he would end up managing between the two sides. This way he would destroy everyone except for himself. Also, it will be an unjust in the war.
Thus, Krishna opened him the actual value of the word that he gave to his mother. Krishna who was still disguised in a Brahmin form asked for Barbarik’s head for charity to stop his participation in the war.After saying this Krishna explained that it was important to sacrifice the head of a great Kshatriya in order to worship the battlefield. He regarded Barbarik as the greatest of the Kshatriyas of that time. Before giving up his head, he expressed his desire to see the upcoming battle. Taking this, Krishna agreed to place his head on top of the mountain.
From where the whole of the battlefield could be seen. When the war ended, the Pandavas argued among themselves. They discussed the matter that who played the biggest role to their victory. For settling the argument Krishna suggested that Barbarik’s head should take the decision as it has watched the entire war.
Barbarik’s head answered it was Lord Krishna alone who was responsible for their victory in this war. As his advice has been the most valuable. His plan was very superior to anything and his mind played the major part. His presence was the centre of their victory.