Yuyudhana (Sanskrit: युयुधान, Yuyudhāna), better known as Satyaki (Sanskrit: सात्यकि, Sātyaki), was a powerful warrior belonging to the Vrishni clan of the Yadavas, to which Krishna also belonged. According to the Puranas, he was the grandson of Shini of the Vrishni clan, and adopted son of Satyaka, after whom he was named. A valiant warrior, Satyaki was devoted to Krishna and was a student of Arjuna as well as a co-student of Dronachariya. Satyaki was a valiant warrior and on one particular occasion, Drona was stunned when Satyaki broke his bow for 101 times successively. He is also known as the unconquerable Satyaki.
In case of the apparent death of Pandavas at Lakshagraha, Satyaki does the last rites for the Pandavas as their closest living relation. He is also the one who does the last rites for his cousin Abhimanyu. Both of these rituals indicate his closeness to the Pandava main clan.
Satyaki strongly and passionately favored the cause of the Pandavas over the Kauravas in the Kurukshetra War, despite the fact that the Narayani Sena of Gopas had been promised to Duryodhana by Krishna. Satyaki accompanied Krishna to the Kuru capital, with Krishna as the emissary of peace which was ridiculed and turned down by Duryodhana. Satyaki lead the Sivi Akshauhini to Pandava camp. Satayaki and Chekitana are examples of top Yadava allies who joined Pandava camp with armies of Kingdom of Sivi and Kekaya. While Syenajita took Bhoja forces of Kunti kingdom to Pandava camp, Kritvarmma took Mrtikkavati Bhoja forces of Salwa kingdom to Kaurava camp.
During the war, Satyaki is the commander of one akshauhini of the Pandava army.
The fourteenth day of the conflict features Satyaki in a prominent role. With Arjuna (Dhananjaya) attempting to pierce Drona's formation, in order to fulfill his oath of killing Jayadratha, Satyaki defends Yudhishthira from Drona, who was attempting to capture the emperor in Arjuna's absence. Rescuing Dhristadyumna from Drona, Satyaki engages in a long fight with Drona, taking up the morning's fight. Drona gets so frustrated by Satyaki, that he even uses divine weapons, which Satyaki counters using his knowledge of divine weapons from his education under Arjuna. Eventually, Satyaki tires, and he is wounded by Drona's arrows. He is rescued by a new attack from the Upapandavas. Ultimately, Satyaki manages to stall Drona long enough that Duryodhana, frustrated with Drona's lack of progress, withdraws Drona to focus on the conflict with Arjuna (Dhananjaya).
Later in the day, Yudhishthira gets worried that he cannot hear the twang of Arjuna's Gandiva bow. Despite his protests that protecting the king was more important, Satyaki is ordered to find and aid Arjuna. At the entrance to the Padmavyuha, he meets Drona. Drona tells Satyaki how Arjuna avoided Drona by asking permission to leave; permission which Drona granted. Satyaki tells Drona that he also must leave then, as Arjuna is Satyaki's guru, and the disciple should follow the teacher's example.
Conflict with Bhurisrava
As Arjuna is being attacked from multiple sides, Satyaki appears, along with Bhima, to help Arjuna. Satayki fights an intense battle with archrival, Bhurisravas with whom he had a long-standing family feud, following from when Satyaki's grandfather defeated Bhurisravas's father in a duel. After a long and bloody battle, Satyaki, already exhausted from fighting Drona, begins to falter, and Bhurisravas pummels him and drags him across the battlefield. Raising his sword, Bhurisravas prepares to kill Satyaki, but he is rescued from death by Arjuna, who shoots an arrow cutting off Bhurisravas's arm. Arjuna had disgraced the honor between warriors. Arjuna rebukes him for attacking a defenseless Satyaki. Moreover, he criticizes Bhurisravas for his actions during the death of Abhimanyu. Recognizing his shame, Bhurisravas lays out his weapons and sits down in meditation. Satyaki then emerges from his swoon, and swiftly decapitates his enemy. He is condemned for this rash act, but Satyaki states that the moment Bhurisravas struck his semiconscious body, he had sworn that he would kill Bhurisravas. With the day's battle nearly over and Jayadratha still far away, the debate of the morality of Satyaki's actions is shelved. .
On the fifteenth day of battle, Satyaki killed Bhurisravas's father Somadatta, and helped Bhima to kill Somadatta's father, Bahlika.
In the Kurukshetra war, Satyaki and Kritavarma were two important Yadava heroes who fought on the opposing sides. Satyaki fought on the side of the Pandavas, whereas Kritavarma joined the Kauravas. Satyaki is also noted as an Ayurvedic physician who was an expert in Shalya (surgery) and Shalakya (Eye/ENT). He is mentioned by Dalhana in Timir and Annantvat (Sushruta Uttartantra) and by Chakrapani in Netraroga (Charak).
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After the Kurukshetra war, Gandhari had cursed Krishna that his clan will be destroyed 36 years later in a fratricidal massacre just like the battle between the Kuru clan he had caused. During the 36th year, the Yadavas retired to Prabhasa where they were allotted temporary residences, where the Vrishnis started revelling and drinking. Inebriated, Satyaki laughed at and insulted Kritavarma for killing the Pandava army in midst of their sleep. Pradyumna applauded Satyaki for this which highly incensed Kritavarma. Kritavarma then taunted Satyaki by saying that he had slain Bhurishravas in cold blood. Satyaki then narrated the incident when Kritavarma tried to kill Satrajit. Satyabhama upon hearing this became angry and started crying and ran to Krishna. Satyaki then rising up in anger said that he would kill Kritavarma for slaying the warriors of the Pandava army while they were asleep. Having said this he rushed towards Kritavarma and severed his head with a sword. He then started killing the warriors who were on Kritavarma's side. Krishna then ran to stop Satyaki. The Bhojas and the Andhakas incensed at Satyaki surrounded him. Krishna, knowing the character of the hour, stood there unmoved. The Bhojas and Andhakas started striking Satyaki with the pots in which they had been eating. Pradyumna upon seeing this became highly enraged and rushed forward for rescuing Satyaki who was being attacked by the Bhojas and the Andhakas. However the numbers of the warriors from both the clans overwhelmed the two warriors and they were slain in front of Krishna.
There are ten sons mentioned of Yuyudhana. In the Kurukshetra War, these are killed in fierce battle between them and Bhurishravas.
On Day Fourteen of the Mahabharata, his Nine sons perform great feats of valor and are part of the team led by Satyaki, Bhima and Yudhamanyu Uttmaujas who wreck eight Kaurava akshauhinis.
The latter day Yaudheyas claimed themselves as sons of Dharmaraja and nephews of Arjun and claimed descent either through son of Satyaki or through Yaudheya son of Prativindhya (mentioned in Matsaya Purana).
- Pargiter, F.E. (1972) . Ancient Indian Historical Tradition, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, p.107.
- "Defeat of Karna by hands of Satyaki".
- Pargiter, F.E. (1972) . Ancient Indian Historical Tradition, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, p.284.