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 grandson of Shini of the Vrishni clan, and son of Satyaka. A valiant warrior, Satyaki was devoted to Krishna and was a student of Arjuna.
Satyaki strongly and passionately favored the cause of the Pandavas over the Kauravas in the Kurukshetra War, despite the fact that the Vrishini army 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.
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 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.
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 chakravyuha, 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. Bhurisrava wails out that by striking him without warning, 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.
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 (sushrut Uttartantra) and by Chakrapani in Netraroga (Charak).
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. She then approached Krishna and sat on his lap greatly increasing his anger towards Kritavarma. 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.
- Pargiter, F.E. (1972) . Ancient Indian Historical Tradition, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, p.107.
- Pargiter, F.E. (1972) . Ancient Indian Historical Tradition, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, p.284.