Abhimanyu

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This article is about tragic hero of the Hindu epic. For other uses, see Abhimanyu (disambiguation).
Abhimanyu
Abhimanyu
Uttaraa pleads to Abhimanyu as he leaves for the war
Information
Spouse(s) Uttara
Children Parikshit

Abhimanyu (Sanskrit: अभिमन्यु) was the son of Arjuna and Subhadra. He was the nephew of Lord Krishna and was married to Uttara, the princess of Matsya Kingdom.[1] He was an incarnation of Varchas, son of Chandra. Abhimanyu was killed on the 13th day of the Kurukshetra War.

Abhimanyu possessed incomparable courage, valor and fighting ability. He was considered to be a warrior equal or perhaps superior to his father (Arjuna) owing to his prodigious feats.

Origin[edit]

Abhimanyu was the reincarnation of the Varchas, son of the moon-god (Chandra). When the moon-god was asked to let his son incarnate himself on earth, he made a pact that his son will only remain on earth for 16 years as he could not bear to be separated from him.[2]

Kurukshetra War[edit]

Abhimanyu killing the famous warriors of Kaurava army

On the first day of war, with the battle not going well for the Pandava forces, and with Bhishma tearing through their ranks, Abhimanyu steps up and checks Bhishma's advance. He manages to wound the ancient warrior and even bring down his battle flag. Bhishma praises and blesses the young warrior's valor, but withdraws from battle, saying he won't kill Abhimanyu, and Abhimanyu cannot kill him.[citation needed]

Thirteenth Day[edit]

Abhimanyu's story came to prominence on the 13th day of the war when he entered the powerful Chakravyuha battle formation of the Kaurava army.[3] Dronacharya had designed this configuration in order to capture Yudhishthira. On the side of the Pandavas, only Krishna and Arjuna were aware of the secret technique to break this seven-tier, defensive, spiral formation. Upon the behest of Yudhishthira, Abhimanyu attempts to break the formation, with the strategy being that the Pandava army will enter behind him and smash the formation from the inside. However, as soon as Abhimanyu breaks through the first tier, Jayadratha closes the gap, and the Pandava forces are unable to bypass him for the entire day's war.[citation needed]

Inside the Chakravyuha, the trapped Abhimanyu went on a killing rampage, intending on carrying out the original strategy by himself and killing tens of thousands of [[Kaurava soldiers. He defeated great warriors like Drona, Kripa, Karna, Ashwatthama, Duryodhana, Salya, Dussasana, Bhurisrava and killed many prominent heroes including Duryodhana's son Lakshmana, Salya's son Rukmaratha, Kritavarma's son Matrikavata, Salya's brother, King Brihadbala and many others. [4]

Finally, a strategy was formed and a joint attack on Abhimanyu followed. Karna cut off Abhimanyu's bow, Kripa killed his two chariot-drivers, and Kritavarma killed his horses; Abhimanyu took up a sword and a shield but these weapons were cut off by Drona and Karna (though in other versions of the story, the perpetrators change while the acts remain the same). Abhimanyu then took up a chariot-wheel and threw it at Drona but Karna and Aswatthama saved Drona by cutting the wheel. With variations depending on the version of the story, Abhimanyu continues to fight, picking up discarded weapons as he requires. In one prominent ending, Abhimanyu defends himself with a chariot-wheel in a final stand; he is killed when numerous warriors simultaneously attack him from all sides. In another version, a badly wounded and exhausted Abhimanyu was finally killed by Dussasana's son, who smashed the fallen Abhimanyu's head with his mace. Abhimanyu died at an early age of sixteen.[5]

In some versions of the story, the spectacular prowess Abhimanyu shows on this day is a result of a boon he received. His horrific death is explained as the payment for that boon.[6]

Merciless killing of Abhimanyu

Legacy[edit]

Arjuna Kills Jaydhratha with his heavenly arrow

After hearing the details of Abhimanyu's death, Arjuna vowed to kill Jayadratha the very next day by sunset, and failing to do so, promised to immediately commit suicide by self-immolation. On the fourteenth day of battle, Arjuna ravaged the Kaurava army, decapitating Jayadratha by the end of the day.[7]

Abhimanyu's son, Parikshit, became the sole heir to the Pandava empire and succeeded Yudhishthira to the throne. Parikshit, born after the war's conclusion, remained the sole survivor of the Kuru clan at the conclusion of the Mahabharata. Abhimanyu is often thought of as a very brave warrior on the Pandava side, willingly giving up his life in war at a very young age. Abhimanyu was praised for his audacious bravery and absolute loyalty to his father and his uncles.[8]

References[edit]