A number of legends have been lost because we focus on the bigger details rather than the small pieces that complete the puzzle. One such warrior is Barbarik Baliyadev, the son of Ghatotkacha and daughter of a Yadava king named Maurvi. The story of Barbarik is one of selfless sacrifice and one that needs to be told.
Barbarik meets Shri Krishna
Barbarik was a Yaksha cursed by Shri Brahma to be reborn as a human and killed at the hands of Shri Krishna. He was a great warrior who was in possession of three arrows that made him invincible. The first arrow would identify all that had to be destroyed, the second would mark all that had to be safeguarded and the third would destroy all that had been identified/marked by the first one.
Before the start of the Mahabharata war, he gives word to his mother that he would fight on the weaker side. Pandavas had 7 Akshauhinis while the Kauravas had 11; hence Barbarik intended to side with the Pandavas. While he was on his way he met a Brahmin who asked him how much time would it take for him to finish the war. Barbarik replied that he would finish the war in a minute (some accounts say within a day) with the help of his three arrows.
The Brahmin asked him to prove the strength of his arrows by asking him to tie all the leaves of the Peepul tree beneath which he was standing. The Brahmin hid one leaf under his feet. When Barbarik released the first arrow it marked all the leaves and then began hovering near the Brahmin’s feet. The man asked Barbarik for an explanation when the latter replied that probably a leaf lay below the man’s feet.
Baliyadev’s sacrifice & Shri Krishna’s blessing
The Brahmin was none other than Shri Krishna himself. Shri Krishna realised that He could not hide the Pandavas from the arrows of Barbarik. Shri Krishna also explained to Baliyadev that the side he joined would automatically become powerful and hence, he would have to keep switching sides during the course of the war to keep the word he has given to his mother. Therefore, he would end up destroying both armies.
Realising the potential harm the three arrows and Barbarik could cause, Shri Krishna, disguised as a Brahmin asked for the former’s head as a sacrifice. When Barbarik realised that the man was no ordinary Brahmin, he asked Him to reveal His true form. Shri Krishna revealed His true form to Barbarik and asked for his head as a sacrifice so that Dharma may win.
In return, Barbarik requested Krishna to bless him so that he could witness the war. Shri Krishna granted this boon and placed Barbarik’s head atop a hill from where the latter witnessed the entire war. It is said that all he could see was Shri Krishna’s chakra killing the opponents and Devi Bhadrakali lapping up all the blood. In essence, this means that everyone on the battlefield, whether victorious or not, was merely an instrument to fulfil the divine plan.
Barbarik in folklore
Local folklore gives various accounts of Barbarik and he is known as Khatushyamji in Rajasthan and Baliyadev in Gujarat. In Nepal, he is equated with the Kirata King Yalamber while in Mandi, Himachal Pradesh he is deified as Kamrunaag. The hill from where he witnessed the Kurukshetra war lies in Khatu Village, Sikar District of Rajasthan.
By whatever name we may call him the fact remains that Shri Krishna sought his sacrifice because he was the bravest of Kshatriyas and had the potential to finish the war in a jiffy. One of the reasons why he couldn’t participate in the war was because Bhagwan Brahma had cursed him to be killed by Shri Vishnu before the war.
It is said that he had been given such a curse because of his arrogance where he proclaimed that he alone could destroy those causing adharma on earth and Shri Vishnu need not incarnate himself for this purpose. One of the most important things that our shastras teach us is – arrogance is bound to lead to failure no matter how talented you are.
Mahabharata is one of the best shastras in terms of what it teaches, both overtly and covertly. An attentive reader will be able to decipher a lot about the characters involved, their nature and what makes them say, behave and act in a particular manner. Many characters or rather warriors are lost in the melee of the famous names from the epic. However, each person, big or small, has played an important role and made a significant contribution to this clash within the clan.
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