Uttaraa pleads to Abhimanyu as he leaves for the war
Abhimanyu was a character of the ancient Indian epic Mahabharata.
Abhimanyu was the reincarnation of son of 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. Abhimanyu was most loved of all sons of Pandavas. Draupadi used to love him more than her own sons. Draupadi once said that if Pandavas are not willing to wage war, then her sons led by Abhimanyu will attack and get justice for her. After the Virata war, King Virat offered Arjuna to marry the princess Uttara. But Arjuna replied Virat that he taught dance to Uttara. A teacher could treat his/her student as a child but not as a spouse. Arjuna accepted the offer by recommending Virat king that he could accept Uttara as daughter-in-law by marrying her with his son Abhimanyu. Virat king became very happy and agreed with Arjuna because the greatness of Abhimanyu was already spread over entire Earth at that time.[better source needed]
Etymology and other names
- Arjuna Putra (अर्जुन पुत्र) - true successor of Arjuna. Abhimanyu was one of the greatest archers in the world like his father Arjuna
- Subhadranandan (सुभद्र नंदन) - son of Subhadra.
- Soubhadri (सौभद्रि) - son of Subhadra.
- Chandra Putra (चंद्र पुत्र) - son of Moon god Chandra.
- Krishna Shishya (कृष्ण शिष्य) - the disciple of Lord Krishna.
- Sarvsresht yodha (सर्वश्रेष्ठ योद्धा) - one who defeated all maharathis of Kaurava army in chakravyuha without having any celestial missile weapon .
- Raudra dhari (रौद्रधारी) - one who possessed the mighty bow named Raudra which was given by Lord Krishna.
In some folktales, versions of stories and Telugu dramas; it is said that Abhimanyu has a major role in Virat Parva. Abhimanyu and Uttara were already in love as Abhimanyu already met Uttara while he was in search of his parents who were in exile. This was noticed by Draupadi and Yudhishtira. Convinced by them, Abhimanyu planned to leave Matsya kingdom. Because if Abhimanyu had identified his parents, their exile would have become waste and they would have supposed to go in exile for another 13 years. Just before this incident, Kichaka was killed by Bhima. Hearing about the death of Kichaka, Duryodhana surmises that the Pandavas were hiding in Matsya. A host of Kaurava warriors attacked Virata, presumably to steal their cattle, but in reality, desiring to pierce the Pandavas' veil of anonymity. Taking this as advantage, Susharma attacked Matsya kingdom. Full of bravado, Virata's son Uttar attempts to take on the army by himself while the rest of the Matsya army has been lured away to fight Susharma and the Trigartas. At the same time Draupadi was kidnapped by Kichaka's 100 brothers. Bhima, Nakula & Sahadeva went in search of her. Yudhishtira suggested King Virat to stay in palace and defend the kingdom by sending soldiers of Matsya kingdom to battlefield. While Abhimanyu was leaving to Dwaraka, Uttara asked Abhimanyu to help. Abhimanyu led the Matsya army and defeated Susharma. After defeating Susharma, Abhimanyu promised Uttara that one day he would definitely visit Matsya kingdom after completion of their parents' exile. As suggested by Draupadi, Uttar takes Brihannala with him, as his charioteer. When he sees the Kaurava army, Uttar loses his nerve and attempts to flee. There, Arjuna reveals his identity and those of his brothers'. Switching places with Uttar, Arjuna takes up the Gandiva and Devadatta. Eager to defend the land that had given him refuge, Arjuna engaged the legion of Kaurava warriors. All the warriors including Bhishma, Drona, Karna, Kripa and Ashwatthama together attacked Arjuna to kill him but Arjuna defeated all of them multiple times. During the battle Arjuna also killed Sangramjit the foster brother of Karna and instead of taking the revenge of his brother, Karna took heroic flight in order to save his life from Arjuna.
On the very first day, Abhimanyu faced legendary Bhishma and involved in archery-duel with him. The battle was so intense that both of them were almost equal. Bhishma didn't want to kill his great grandson, so he didn't use celestial weapons. When Abhimanyu's arrows injured Bhishma, Bhishma asked Abhimanyu to get-out from his site. Abhimanyu replied that he was son of Arjuna & the student of Krishna. If he would have escaped due to fear; it would become insult to both of them. Bhishma feels proud on hearing this. Abhimanyu breaks Bhishma’s bow. Then they involve in sword-duel just before the sun-set. Bhishma appreciated Abhimanyu since Bhishma failed to defeat Abhimanyu. The very next day; Abhimanyu attacked Ashwatthama and drew Drona's attention. Drona and Arjuna were involved in fight. When Drona heard that his son was attacked by Abhimanyu, he immediately left that place & went to save his son despite. Drona-Abhimanyu soon engaged in intense battle which made a clear way to Arjuna in assisting Bhima to reach Duryodhana and kill him. But their plans of killing Duryodhana and ending the war failed due to some reasons. Even Drona failed to defeat Abhimanyu.
The Kaurava commander-in-chief Dronacharya planned to divert Arjuna and Krishna away to chase an army of the samsaptakhas whom Arjuna defeated that very day. The Kaurava army was grouped into the giant discus formation, which caused great loss for the Pandavas. If the formation continued till end of that day, the pandavas would have no army by sunset. The only two people on the Pandava army who completely knew about how to enter and break this formation were Arjuna and Krishna, who were away. Abhimanyu's story came to prominence when he entered the powerful Chakravyuha battle formation of the Kaurava army, Abhimanyu claimed that he could decimate the entire Kaurava and Pandava army
Abhimanyu was trained in all types of warfare by Lord Krishna and Balrama themselves, and later by Pradyumna (Sri Krishna's son). Abhimanyu learnt the art of breaking into the Chakravyuha when he was in Subhadra's womb. It was then Arjuna was narrating the art of breaking into Chakravyuha to Subhadra. But he did not know how to destroy the formation once he was inside, as Subhadra fell asleep while listening to the story and (Abhimanyu in her womb) could learn only half of the technique. This is the reason why he was only able to enter/ break and not come out of the Chakravyuha.
As soon as Abhimanyu entered the formation, Jayadrath, the ruler of Sindh blocked the other Pandavas, so that Abhimanyu was left alone. Drona gave some places to all the warriors with Duryodhana being at centre protected by Dushasana & Drona himself. Other warriors were arranged in subsequent forward rows. 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. Abhimanyu killed many prominent heroes including Duryodhana's son Lakshmana, Salya's son, younger brothers of Karna, and many advisers of Karna, Rukmaratha, Kritavarma's son Matrikavata, Salya's brother, Shrutanjaya, Ashavketu (From Magadha), Chandraketu, Mahavega, Suvarcha, Suryabhasa, Kalakeya (Shakuni's brother), Vasatiya, and rathas from the Brahma-Vasatiyas and Kekayas, King of Kosala - King Brihadbala, King of Amvashtas and his son. and many others. Abhimanyu defeated the mighty warriors of kauravas Side including the great Drona, Kripa and Karna. No Kaurava warrior could escape his arrows. Abhimanyu killed all the remaining foster brothers of Karna due to which Karna became angry and attacked Abhimanyu but Abhimanyu defeated Karna easily. Abhimanyu refused to kill Karna because he knew that his father had taken oath to kill Karna. Abhimanyu defeated Karna 4 times in the war. It is said that Karna flew away from Abhimanyu. In this way Abhimanyu defeated all the warriors. Duryodhana became so threatened that Abhimanyu could break Chakravyuha easily. Hence, a strategy was formed and a joint attack on Abhimanyu followed. On Duryodhana's advice, Karna broke Abhimanyu's bow from behind since it was impossible to face armed Abhimanyu. 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 Ashwatthama (though in other versions of the story, the perpetrators change while the acts remain the same). Abhimanyu then took up a chariot-wheel and started fighting with it, but Kripa cut the wheel. In this way, many warriors attacked the sixteen year old Abhimanyu when he was unarmed. Abhimanyu's body was pierced by dozens of arrows.But Abhimanyu faced all of the Kaurava warriors and still managed to kill many enemy soldiers. Abhimanyu attacked son of Dushasana with a mace. They fought on with son of Dushasan gaining upper hand in battle because Abhimanyu was already very injured and exhausted due to fighting with multiple opponents. Soon both of them lost their sense. Son of Dussasan regained his sense first and Abhimanyu who just regained his sense was hit by son of Dussasan under his mace which lead the liberation of soul of Abhimanyu. It is said that Abhimanyu was hit by son of Dushasan on head from behind, an area on which hitting in duel was prohibited. In this way, Abhimanyu was killed unfairly by many warriors including Karna, Duryodhana, Ashwatthama, Drona, Shakuni, Dushasana, Kritavarma, Shalya.
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.[better source needed]
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.[better source needed]
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Media related to Abhimanyu at Wikimedia Commons