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The Chakravyūha or Padmavyūha, is a multi-tier defensive formation that looks like a blooming lotus (padma, पद्म) or disc (chakra, चक्र) when viewed from above. The warriors at each interleaving position would be in an increasingly tough position to fight. The formation was used in the battle of Kurukshetra by Dronacharya, who became commander-in-chief of the Kaurava army after the fall of Bhishma Pitamaha.
The various vyūhas (military formations) were studied by the Kauravas and Pandavas alike. Most of them can be beaten using a counter-measure targeted specifically against that formation. It is important to observe that in the form of battle described in Mahabharata, it was important to place the powerful fighters in those positions where they could inflict the maximum damage to the opposing force, or defend their own side.As per this military strategy, a specific stationery object or a moving object or person can be captured and surrounded and rendered fully secured during time of military conflict. The pattern is of two soldiers on both sides with other soldiers following them at a distance of three hands, drawing up seven circles and culminating in the end which is the place where the captured person or object is to be kept. In order to make Chakravyuh, the Commander has to identify soldiers who will form this formation. The number of soldiers to be deployed and the size of the Chakravyuh is calculated as per the resistance estimated. Once drawn, the foremost soldiers come on either side of the component to be captured, engage briefly and then move ahead. Their place is taken up by the next soldiers on either side, who again engage the component briefly and then move ahead. In this fashion, a number of soldiers keep on passing the component and keep on moving in a circular pattern. By the time the last bit of soldiers arrive, the component, oblivious of the design is captured within seven tiers of soldier formation surrounding him from all sides. The last soldiers of the formation give the signal of completing the Chakravyuh. On the signal, every soldier who so far has been facing outwards, turn inwards to face the component. It is only then that the captured component realizes his captivity. The Chakravyuh keeps on moving in a spherical order and can easily lead the component away in captivity as well.
Formation of Chakravyuh is never visible from the ground. But anyone from above can easily decipher the movement. It is a hopeless no escape situation for the captive. This is correct on formation of Chakravyuh. This strategy was applied during prehistoric days. The component even if heavily guarded, cannot escape the web of a Chakravyuh.
The Chakravyūha or Padmavyūha was a very special formation (Vyuha), and knowledge of how to penetrate it was limited to only a handful of warriors on the Pandavas' side: namely Abhimanyu, Arjuna, Krishna and Pradyumna, of which only Abhimanyu was present when Kauravas used it in the battlefield. In Mahabharata it is mentioned that Abhimanyu learnt about the Chakravyūha while in his mother's womb but he was not able to listen, how to escape the formation. After Abhimanyu had penetrated the sixth tier of the formation, all the Kauravas' commanders attacked him simultaneously, which was against the righteous rules of warfare Dharmayuddha, and gradually exhausted and killed him.
- Gopal, Madan (1990). K.S. Gautam, ed. India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 81.
- "The Mahabharata, Book 7: Drona Parva: Abhimanyu-badha Parva: Section XXXI". www.sacred-texts.com. Retrieved 2016-10-16.