Barbarika was originally a yaksha, and was reborn as a man
Among whom his paternal grandfather Bhima was the second one. However, he was bound by his principle of always fighting on the losing side, which led him to stand witness to the battle without taking part.
In Rajasthan, he is worshipped as Khatushyamji, and is believed to have been sacrificed before the Mahabharata war to ensure the victory of his grandfathers, the Pandavas. In return for his sacrifice, he was deified by a boon given by Krishna.
Barbarika (Belarsen) and his dialog with Krishna
The legend begins with the Mahābhārata. Barbarika alias Khatushyamji alias Shyam was a grandson of Bhima, Second of the Pandava brothers. He was the son of Ghatotkacha (who in turn was son of Bhima) and Maurvi. Even in his childhood, Barbarika was a very brave warrior. He learnt the art of warfare from his mother. God Shiva, pleased with him, gave him the three infallible arrows (Teen Baan). Hence, Barbarika came to be known by the appellation Teen Baandhaari, the "Bearer of Three Arrows". Later, Agni (the god of Fire) gave him the bow that would make him victorious in the three worlds.
When Barbarika learnt that battle between the Pandavas and the Kauravas had become inevitable, he wanted to witness what was to be the Mahābhārata War. He promised his mother that if he felt the urge to participate in the battle, he would join the side which would be losing. He rode to the field on his Blue Horse equipped with his three arrows and bow.
Before the Mahabharata war began, Lord Krishna asked all the Pandavas how many days he would take to finish Mahabharata war alone. Bhishma answered that he would take 20 days to finish the war. Dronacharya replied that it would take him 25 days. When Karna was asked, he said he would take 24 days. Arjuna told Krishna it would take 28 days for him to complete the battle by himself. In this manner, Lord Krishna asked each warrior and received an answer.
Krishna disguised as a Brahmin stopped Barbarika to examine his strength. When asked how many days he would take to finish the war alone, Barbarika answered that he could finish it in one minute. Krishna baited Barbarika by mocking him for going to the great battle with only three arrows. On this, Barbarika replied that a single arrow was enough to destroy all his opponents in the war, and it would then return to his quiver. He stated that, the first arrow is used to mark all the things that he wants to destroy. On releasing the third arrow, it would destroy all the things that are marked and will then return to his quiver. If he uses the second arrow, then the second arrow will mark all the things that he wants to save. On using the third arrow, it will destroy all the things that are not marked. In other words, with one arrow he can fix all his targets and with the other he can destroy them. Krishna then challenges him to tie all the leaves of the peepal tree under which he was standing, with those arrows. Barbarika accepts the challenge and starts meditating to release his arrow by closing his eyes. Then, Krishna without the knowledge of Barbarika, plucks one of the leaf of the tree and puts it under his foot. When Barbarik releases his first arrow, it marks all the leaves of the tree and finally starts revolving around the leg of Krishna. Then Krishna asks Barbarika why was the arrow revolving around his foot. For this, Barbarika replies that there must be a leaf under his foot and the arrow was targeting his foot to mark the leaf that is hidden under him. Barbarika advises Krishna to lift his leg, since, otherwise the arrow will mark the leaf by pricking Krishna's leg. Thus, Krishna lifts his foot and to his surprise, finds that the first arrow also marks the leaf that was hidden under his foot. Of course, the third arrow does collect all the leaves (including the one under Krishna's foot) and ties them together. By this Krishna concludes that the arrows are so infallible, that even if Barbarika is not aware of his targets, the arrows are so powerful that they can still navigate and trace all his intended targets. The moral of this incident is that, in a real battle field, if Krishna wants to isolate someone (for example: the 5 Pandava brothers) and hides them elsewhere in order to avoid them from being Barbarika's victim, then Krishna will not be successful as the arrows can still trace the target and destroy them. So, nobody will be able to escape from these arrows. Thus Krishna gets a deeper insight about Barbarika's phenomenal power.
Krishna then asks the boy whom he would favour in the war. Barbarika reveals that he intends to fight for the side whichever is weak. As Pandavas have only seven Akshouni army, when compared to Kauravas eleven, he considers that Pandavas are weak and hence wants to support them so that Pandavas will become victorious. But Krishna asks him, did he seriously gave a thought about the consequences before giving such a word to his mother (to support the weak side). Barbarika guesses that his support to the weaker side will make them victorious. Then, Krishna reveals the actual consequence of his word to his mother:
Krishna tells that whichever side he supports will only make the other side weak due to his power. Nobody will be able to defeat him. Hence, he is forced to support the other side that has become weaker due to his word to his mother. Thus, in an actual war, he will keep oscillating between the two sides, thereby destroying the entire army of both sides and eventually only he remains. Subsequently, none of the side is victorious as he will be the only lone survivor. Hence, Krishna avoids his participation from the war by seeking his head in Charity.
The other version of story tells that the first arrow indeed pricks Krishna's leg and mark the leaf that is hidden under Krishna's foot. This becomes a weak spot of Krishna. Prior to this event, lord Krishna also gets a boon from sage Durvasa that his entire body except his leg will be immune to all weapons. Hence, only his leg will be vulnerable. In the end of Kurukshetra war, when Krishna revives Abhimanyu's son Parkishit, he loses half of his strength, weakening him further. Later, in Mausala parva, a hunter by name Jara hits at Krishna's foot mistaking him for a deer leads to the death of Krishna. In other words, this weak spot on Krishna's foot was first created by Barbareek's arrow.
The other interpretation of three arrows
The three arrows are signs of three "taaps" that humans experience. These include the physical, mental and emotional conflicts and confusions that are found almost everywhere. These three "taaps" are cleared with chanting of name of Shri Krishna. Thus, giving Barabarika the name "Shyaam", the Lord intended to remove the three taaps of human like, symbolized with the three arrows
Act of charity
The guised Krishna then sought charity from Babarika. Barbarika promised him anything he wished. Krishna asked him to give his head in charity. Barbarika was shocked. Perceiving that all was not as it appeared, he requested the Brahmin to disclose his real identity. Krishna showed Barbarika a vision of His Divine Form and Barbarika was thus graced. Krishna then explained to him that before a battle, the head of the bravest Kshatriya needs to be sacrificed, in order to worship/sanctify the battlefield. Krishna said that he considered Barbarika to be the bravest among Kshatriyas, and was hence asking for his head in charity. In fulfilment of his promise, and in compliance with the Krishna's command, Barbarika gave his head to him in charity. This happened on the 12th day of the Shukla Paksha (bright half) of the month of phaagun on Tuesday. Barbarika was a Yaksha in his previous birth. Once Lord Brahma and several other Devas came to Vaikunta and complained to Lord Vishnu that the Adharma on Earth was increasing; it was not possible for them to bear the tortures causes by the wicked people. Hence they came to seek the help of Lord Vishnu to check them. Lord Vishnu told the Devas that he will soon incarnate on Earth as a human being and destroy all the evil forces. Then, a Yaksha told the Devas that he alone is enough to kill all evil elements on the Earth, and it was not necessary for Lord Vishnu to descend to Earth. This hurt Lord Brahma very much. Lord Brahma curses this Yaksha that whenever the time comes to eliminate all the evil forces on Earth, then Lord Vishnu will first kill him. Later, the Yaksha takes birth as Barbarika and Lord Krishna seeks his head in charity as a result of this curse.
Bearing witness to the war
Before decapitating himself, Barbarika told Krishna of his great desire to view the forthcoming battle and requested him to facilitate the same. Krishna agreed and placed the head on top of a hill overlooking the battlefield. From the hill, the head of Barbarika watched the entire battle.
At the end of the battle, the victorious Pandava brothers argued amongst themselves as to who was responsible for their victory. Krishna suggested that Barbarika's head, which had watched the whole battle should be allowed to judge. Barbarika's head suggested that it was Krishna alone who was responsible for the victory: his advice, his presence, his gameplan had been very crucial. His other name is God Kamrunaag and is treated as the Biggest and main god in District Mandi, in Himachal Pradesh. A pond and a temple are situated in Kamru hill in Sundernagar, District Mandi.He witnessed the entire battle of Mahabharat from the hill which is now known as Khatu Shyamji located in Rajasthan, Sikar District
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