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


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

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] Drona 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.

Inside the Chakravyuha, the trapped Abhimanyu went on a killing rampage. He killed tens of thousands of Kaurava soldiers and attempted to break through the Kaurava formation from the inside. He defeated great warriors like Drona, Kripa, Aswatthama, 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 Vrihadvala and many others. Karna was the only warrior who was able to match the young warrior in battle.[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. Abhimanyu then took up a chariot-wheel and threw it at Drona but Karna and Aswatthama saved Drona by cutting the wheel. Abhimanyu then took up a mace and smashed Aswatthama's chariot. Turning Abhimanyu killed one of Sakuni's brothers and many soldiers and elephants.[5] Then he smashed the chariot of Dussasana's son, who took a mace and confronted Abhimanyu. 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.[6]

It is also stated the boon of Abhimanyu, that he will annihilate all the big warriors inside the Chakravyuha and then only when all the mighty warriors joined together to attack, he will be perished eventually at the end of the day.[7]

Merciless killing of Abhimanyu


Arjuna Kills Jaydhratha with his heavenly arrow

The news of Abhimanyu's death reached his father Arjuna at the end of the day. Arjuna vowed to kill Jayadratha the very next day by sunset, and failing to do so, would commit suicide by self-immolation immediately. On the fourteenth day of battle, Arjuna ravaged the Kaurava army, decapitated Jayadratha in the end of the day.[8]

Abhimanyu's son, Parikshit, became the sole heir to the Pandava empire and succeeded Yudhishthira to the throne. His son, Parikshit, born after his death, remained the sole survivor of the Kuru clan at the conclusion of the Mahabharata war and carried on the Pandava lineage. 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.[9]