12:15 am - Tuesday June 18, 2024

Historical Personality

Personalities of India


The matchless youth who won immortality by his shining heroism in the great Mahabharatha war. Pitted against the mightiest of the mighty in the enemies' ranks, this warrior barely sixteen became sheet anchor of the Pandavas.


"It is as though a herd of elephants humbled a lion's cub; as if several snakes together killed the young one of a Garuda' (Golden eagle) - so wailed the gods in Heaven."

This is a description by the famous Kannada poet Kumaravyasa in his long poetical narration of the Mahabharata. (His real name was Naranappa of Gadugu).

You have heared the story of Mahabharata-haven't you? Maharshi Vedavysa first narrated this story of the Pandavas and the Kauravas.

What brave men fought in the Mahabharata war! Bheema, Arjuna, Duryodhana, Dusshassana, Bheeshma, Drona, Karna, Kripa, Ashwatthama, Shalya . . . . . It is a long, long list. It seems the gods themselves crowded in the sky to witness the valour of these heroes. These gods had already witnessed the amazing valour of the mighty heroes. But when they saw a great warrior attacked by several foes and saw him killed, they praised him and wept for his death, says Kumaravyasa.

Who - among mighty men like Bheeshma, Drona, Bheema, Arjuna, Karna, Ashwatthama, Duryodhana and Dusshasana - was this great hero who won such praise?

He was yet a boy. Such was his prowess that the entire army of the Kauravas trembled.

Mighty heroes among the Kauravas, who were deemed unequalled, had to flee, To defeat and kill that young boy, all of them had to join together and encircle him.

That human thunderbolt was the heroic Abhimanyu.

Subhadra's Child

Abhimanyu was Shri Krishna's nephew, his younger sister's son. Krishna's sister was Subhadra. She had married one of the Pandavas- the world-famous hero Arjuna. Abhimanyu was the son of Arjuna and Subhadra.

Arjuna lived in the city of Indraprastha. This city was famous in the olden days. It was the capital of the Pandavas who were good and just. They were the sons of King Pandu. Pandu had five sons. The first son was Yudhishthira, the next Bheema; the third one was Arjuna, the fourth son was Nakula and the youngest was Sahadeva.

Yudhishthira was the eldest, and the four younger brothers always obeyed him. He was the king. The younger brothers helped him in his work as the king and in the defence of the country. People were happy in the reign of Yudhishthira.

Abhimanyu was the only son of Subhadra. A few months before he was born, Krishna cam to Indraprastha to take his sister to his city of Dwarka. Subhadra bowed to all the elders seeking their blessings, and started with her brother.

They travelled from Indraprastha to Dwarka in a chariot drawn by horses. Shri Krishna himself drove the chariot. He was careful not to tire his sister, who was with child.

It was a long journey. Subhadra first asked him about Dwarka, the people there and her sister-in-law. Krishna told her all the news. He did not want his sister to be bored with the journey. So he asked her,"Shall I tell you a story?"

"I do not want a story. But if you could tell me about the fighting skill of my husband..."

"Are you also going to fight in a battle?" - Krishna laughed.

"Brother, would it be wrong if I fought to help my husband?" asked Subhadra.

"Certainly not," said Krishna. "But there will not be any need."

"He is indeed brave, Krishna. He does not know what fear is. I am told his whole life was spent in training for fighting and war."

Listening to his sister, Krishna felt that he should fulfil any wish of her, as she was pregnant. "She is now interested in war. Her son will have to fight for the Right later. That is her wish," so reflected Krishna. He described in detail the art of warfare, which Arjuna had learnt, from his Guru Dronacharya. He described the several skills and secrets of war. Various formations like the Makaravyooha and the Chakravyooha, the use of different types of missiles and weapons, and the ways of crushing the enemy and advancing all these he described. He narrated the stories of Arjuna's prowess.

"I am very happy to hear all this, brother," said Subhadra. I am fortunate to be the wife of such a hero. Brother, help my son also to become brave like him.

Krishna felt very happy on hearing his sister's words. He himself was an unequalled hero. When he was just a boy, Krishna had slain king Kamsa who used to torment his subjects. Kings likeJarasandha and Shishupala were great heroes but were very wicked. They were a constant source of trouble to the Yadavas. Krishna protected the Yadavas with the help of his brother Balarama. He felt happy that his sister Subhadra, the wife of the brave Arjuna, wanted her son also to be a hero. He blessed her saying, "May your son be brave and famous."

Krishna and Subhadra reached Dwarka. Their parents and relatives welcomed them warmly. They performed 'Arati' to Subhadra before she stepped into the palace.

A few days later Subhadra gave birth to a baby boy. The child was named Abhimanyu, meaning 'one who remains in the midst of wisdom', a very intelligent person. It also means a person who always defends his honour.

The queens of the palace, Shri Krishna, Balarama and all others were overjoyed at the birth of a bonny baby to Subhadra. In Indraprastha the Pandavas also greatly rejoiced on hearing about the birth of the child. They distributed sweets among the people. They fed poor people and gave them new clothes.

To Indraprastha and Back

After a few months, Krishna took Subhadra and Abhimanyu back to Indraprastha with great pomp. The boy grew up as everybody's darling in the palace.

Abhimanyu's education began as soon as he grew up into a little lad. The art of warfare, so necessary for a prince, was also taught. His father Arjuna was the world-famous archer; his uncle Bheemasena was such a fighter with the mace that the enemies trembled with great fear. So Abhimanyu's military education was perfect and complete.

But suffering came when he still a young boy, Dhritarashtra was the uncle of the Pandavas. He was blind. He had a hundred sons. Duryodhana was the eldest. Dusshasana was one of his younger brothers. The brothers were called the Kauravas. They hated the Pandavas. They were trying somehow to seize the kingdom of the Pandavas and get rid of them. Duryodhana invited Yudhishthira to a game of dice and won by deceit. According to the conditions of the contest, Yudhishthira had to give up his 'Kingdom for thirteen years. He and his brothers had to live for twelve years in the forest and live incognito (that is, unknown to anybody and unrecognized) during the thirteenth year. If anybody recognized them during that last year, they had again to spend twelve years in the forest and live incognito for one year.

The Pandavas, who had lived in splendor as kings, now started for the forest. Draupadi was their wife. She and her children went with them. So did Subhadra and young Abhimanyu.

Shri Krishna went to see them when they were in the forest. They had lost their kingdom and suffered dishonor and were in great sorrow. Krishna consoled them and took Subhadra and Abhimanyu with him to Dwarka.

Abhimanyu's training as a warrior continued in Dwarka. If one of his uncles was Shri Krishna himself, the other uncle was Balarama, the teacher of the mighty Bheema; Balarama made Bheema the master of the mace. What more was needed? Krishna taught Abhimanyu the use of many different types of weapons. In battles, soldiers were arranged in various formations to halt the advance of the enemies. Such an arrangement was called a 'Vyooha'. Among them were different types like the Makaravyooha and the Chakravyooha. It was very difficult to break these and get inside, or to come out of them. Krishna taught Abhimanyu the art of entering them. Balarama taught him Gadayuddha.

Several years passed. The Pandavas still lived in the forest. Subhadra was spending her days in sorrow, waiting for the end of Arjuna's exile. She had only one consolation: Abhimanyu was growing up as a brave boy, a feast to the eyes of all who saw him.

Fight With Ghatotkacha

Shashirekha was the daughter of Balarama, Subhadra's elder brother. She was a very sweet and lovely girl. Even when she was still a young girl, Subhadra wished her to become Abhimanyu's wife and her daughter-in-law. Subhadra had once gone to Dwarka before the Pandavas left for the f o rest. She had even then expressed her wish before her brother. Balarama had agreed, thinking that the Pandavas, being the kings of Indraprastha, would live in great grandeur, and that Abhimanyu was the son of the world famous hero Arjuna.

But after the Pandavas went to the forest Balarama's mind began to change little by little. The Pandavas had no place to live in. They lived in the forest, here today and somewhere else tomorrow. They had to spend twelve years in the forest and another year incognito. If recognized, they had to repeat the cycle. Should his daughter enter such a home?

On the other hand, Duryodhana was Balarama's disciple; Balarama liked him very much. Duryodhana's son was Lakshanakumara. Duryodhana who was already a king, had also taken away the kingdom of the Pandavas.

Duryodhana asked Balarama to give Shashirekha in marriage to Lakshanakumara. Balarama agreed.

Subhadra was miserable. Just because her husband was in trouble, her own brother looked down on him; so she wept in sorrow. She confided her sorrow to Krishna. Krishna advised Balarama that a sister should not be painted liked this; he told him that the Pandavas, though in difficulty, then, would again be emperors. Balarama did not pay heed to these words. Subhadra was in great distress.

Abhimanyu came to know of his mother's grief. He was very angry at the insult to his mother, father and to himself. Mother and son decided not to stay in a place where they were not honored; they thought that it was only proper for them to go to the place where the Pandavas lived.

In the course of their journey, they reached a place called Hidimbavana. Ghatotkacha, the king of Hidimbavana was very strong. His mother was Hidimbe. She was Bheema's wife and Ghatotkacha was Bheema's son. Subhadra and Abhimanyu did not know this. They set foot in Hidimbavana. Ghatotkacha was angry because they had come there without his permission. He stopped them.

But Abhimanyu was Arjuna's son. There could be only one outcome. H e became furious and shot a hundred arrows at Ghatotkacha, At first Ghatotkacha did not take Abhimanyu seriously; he thought that he was after all a young boy. He himself was huge as a mountain, and he had tremendous strength. It was not easy to fight with him. Subhadra shivered with fear on seeing him.

Abhimanyu, of course, did not care and was not afraid. Ghatotkacha fell on him like a mountain. But Abhimanyu calmly shot his arrows. Ghatotkacha stopped the arrows, threw them away, and again pounced on Abhimanyu. Abhimanyu again rained arrows on his opponent, all of which entered Ghatotkacha body. Unable to bear the pain, Ghatotkacha cried aloud and fell down.

Hearing his cry of pain Hidimbe came there. She was much grieved at the sad condition of her brave son. She took his head on her lap. "Oh that this should happen to Bheemasena's son!" she wept.'

"Bheema- sena's Son!"

Subhadra and Abhimanyu were shocked. Was he Bheemasena's son? Alas! What had happened? They were puzzled and distressed. Subhadra said to Hidimbe, "Sister, I do not know who you are. How is it you say he is Bheemasena's son?"

With tears in her eyes, Hidimbe narrated her story. Several years before when Bheemasena was in Hidimbavana, she had fallen in love with him; her brother was angry and had fought with Bheemasena, and had been killed; she had married Bheemasena.

So Abhimanyu had fought with Bheema's son and wounded him. Subhadra and Abhimanyu were full of grief. Abhimanyu brought water and tried to revive Ghatotkacha. Subhadra said to Hidimbe, "You are then my elder sister. I am Arjunadeva's wife and Krishna's sister. This boy is my son Abhimanyu."

By this time Ghatotkacha regained consciousness. His mother told him everything. At first Ghatotkacha was furious that he had been defeated; but now he was delighted - after all, the great hero has his own younger brother! He took home Subhadra and Abhimanyu and looked after them with great affection. He learnt the reason for they're leaving Dwarka.

Ghatotkacha was wild with anger when he learnt that Balarama had not kept his word. He said, "Duryodhana sent the Pandavas to the forest and Balarama wants his daughter to marry Duryodhana's son!" He decided that come what might, Abhimanyu should wed her. He took Subhadra and Abhimanyu to Dwarka. He brought Shashirekha and left her with them. Shashirekha also wished to marry Abhimanyu. Both of them were very happy. Duryodhana and Lakshana had to go away because of Ghatotkacha's tricks. Balarama also finally agreed to Shashirekha's marriage with Abhimanyu. It was a grand wedding.

Thus, even as a young boy, Abhimanyu fought with Ghatotkacha, and showed his prowess.

Marriage With Uttara

Twelve years passed and the forest-life of the Pandavas ended. They had to spend one more year somewhere without being recognized by anybody. They went to the court of a king called Virata. They disguised themselves in different ways and found employment. The brave Pandavas had lived in splendor; their wife Draupadi was the daughter of King Drupada and herself the Queen of Indraprastha; they all had now to spend a year as other people's servants! What sorrow and insult had they to bear! Arjuna disguised himself as a dance teacher and taught Uttara, King Virata's daughter. At the end of the year, the Pandavas revealed their identity. One morning they appeared in the king's court in their true forms. Virata was surprised, happy, and also sad that such great persons had worked as servants in his palace. He implored Arjuna to marry Uttara.

Arjuna said that he was quite aged, and, moreover, Uttara was his disciple. He suggested that she should marry his son Abhimanyu. King Virata agreed.

Virata's representatives went to Dwarka taking with them jewellery and other auspicious things. Yudhishthira and Arjuna also sent their representatives to Krishna and Balarama, requesting them to give consent to the wedding and to come and bless the couple. The palace at Dwarka was filled with joy and enthusiasm. Subhadra was overwhelmed with happiness--her husband's exile was over and her son was getting married! Uttara became the wife of brave Abhimanyu on an auspicious day.

Brave Abhimanyu

Duryodhana had defeated Yudhishthira in a game of dice and sent the Pandavas to the forest. He had to give back their kingdom after they had completed twelve years of life in the forest and one year incognito.

But he refused.

Yudhishthira did not want to fight with his cousins. He was worried that millions of people would die, and thousands of families would be ruined, if a war were fought. So he said he would be content if Duryodhana gave them just five towns; Krishna himself carried the message to Duryodhana.

Duryodhana did not agree. "I will not give them even land enough to fix a needle. Let them fight and take it, if they want to," he said.

The two armies met in a vast field called Kurukshetra. Both the Pandavas and the Kauravas had the support of many kings. The Pandavas had an army of seven Akshouhinies, the Kauravas had eleven Akshouhinies. (An Akshouhini was an army consisting of 21,870 elephants, 21,870 chariots, 65,610 horses and 1,09,350 foot soldiers.) On both - sides were warriors who were the very embodiment of bravery. The chief of the Kaurava army was Bheeshmacharya, the grandfather of the Kauravas and the Pandavas, and the son of the divine Ganga. He was like Yama, the God of Death, to the enemies in the battle, Dronacharya who had taught the skill of archery to the Kauravas and the Pandavas, was another elder in the Kaurava army. His son Ashwatthama was another great hero. Duryodhana's friend Karna was an archer who commanded many fearful missiles. Duryodhana and Dusshasana were themselves warriors who could make enemies tremble. Shalya, an uncle of the Pandavas and the Kauravas, was another great warrior.

Among the Pandavas, Bheema's mace made the enemies tremble; the enemies were terrified even in their dreams at the mention of the Gandiva, Arjuna's bow, and his arrows. Krishna himself was the charioteer for Arjuna. Dhrishtadyumna was the chief of the Pandava army. Bheema's son Ghatotkacha was an expert in magic, Mayavidya. Such mighty heroes gathered at Kurukshetra.

The war began. There were streams of blood. Dead horses and elephants piled up. Kurukshetra was filled with the dead bodies of warriors. The injured elephants trumpeting in pain, the dying soldiers screaming and weeping and the clash of chariots and the weapons clanging--all these filled the air with deafening sounds. Countless crowns of kings rolled in the mud slushy with blood.

It was a fierce war; it was war in which very great heroes like Bheeshma, Drona, Karna, Ashwatthama, Shalya, Bheema, Arjuna, Dhrishtadyumna, Ghatotkacha fought; hundreds of other kings who had already taken part in many battles also fought here; and it was in such a war that the very young Abhimanyu fought. He fought so well that even among all those great heroes, it is impossible to forget him. And he justified his name 'Abhimanyu' � one who always defended his honor.

It was the ninth day of the war. Abhimanyu's arrows threatened the enemies like the darts of death. Wherever he set foot, Kaurava soldiers sank to the earth. Kings, who at first thought he was just a boy and lightly tried to stop him, had all to kiss the ground. Brave men like Kripa, Ashwatthama and Saindhava faced him, but even they could not stop his darts. Dronacharya himself, who had taught archery to Abhimanyu's father then stopped him. Even he was amazed at Abhimanyu's skill. The enemies could never make out when his fingers moved, when he took out arrows from his quiver, when he set them to the bow, or when he shot those darts at the target. They could only realize that arrow after arrow pierced their bodies. Sometimes we see a halo around the orb of the sun; the quick revolving bow made a similar halo around Abhimanyu's head. The Kaurava soldiers were amazed; they wondered whether there was one Arjuna or two of them in Kurukshetra. They perspired in fear. Men like Drona, Ashwatthama and Kripa also shuddered.

Duryodhana saw this and sent a mighty giant called Alambusa to kill Abhimanyu. Alambusa showered thousands of arrows on the enemy. Fear spread in the Pandavas army and soldiers began to run away. Draupadi's sons, the Upapandavas, rushed to fight with the giant. He killed their charioteers and their horses. Abhimanyu went to their rescue. A terrible battle followed between Alambusa and Abhimanyu. Abhimanyu's pointed darts made the giant reel. But Alambusa created darkness with his magical power. Abhimanyu swept off the darkness with his dazzling Suryastra, the sun-missile. Alambusa ran away, Abhimanyu moved freely in Kurukshetra and wiped out the enemies like an excited elephant roaming about in a lotus lake trampling upon all the flowers. Then Bheeshmacharya himself faced Abhimanyu, to protect the Kaurava army. He showered arrows all around Abhimanyu. But Abhimanyu cut all his arrows. Arjuna rushed there to help his son. As the battle raged on, it grew dark and both the armies retired to their camps. The Kaurava army was shuddering at the very mention of Abhimanyu.

On the eleventh day of the Mahabharata war, Abhimanyu again shook the Kaurava army. There was a very brave king Paurava by name. He faced Abhimanyu. When Abhimanyu shot an arrow to kill him, Paurava cut his bow and arrows with his darts. Abhimanyu threw away his bow and fell on him with his sword. He caught hold of his hair and threw him on the ground. At that moment, another famous hero Jayadratha rushed to the spot. He was also called Saindhava since he was the king of the country called Sindhu. He hated Abhimanyu very much. Abhimanyu and Jayadratha fought with their swords. Their skill and their flashing swords dazzled the onlookers. The bodies of both were dripping with blood. Jayadratha's sword struck Abhimanyu's shield and pierced it. When he pulled it back, it broke down. Jayadratha retreated six paces, climbed into his chariot, and went away. Shalya used an arrow, which emitted fire over Abhimanyu. Abhimanyu caught that arrow like a Garuda, which catches a snake falling from above, and threw it back. It hit Shalya's chariot and the Charioteer fell dead. Shalya jumped down from his chariot and fell on Abhimanyu with his heavy Mace. Abhimanyu also took his mace. By then, Bheema himself came to help him. Abhimanyu insisted on fighting with Shalya alone. But at the end he yielded to his uncle and moved away. Bheema then fought Shalya.

It was the Twelvth Day of the Mahabharata war. By then Bheeshma had given up his bow and lay on a bed of arrows, renouncing war. Dronacharya was in command of the Kaurava forces. Grieved that his army was being defeated, Duryodhana went to Drona, told him of his sorrow, and also reproached him. Drona was much pained, and said: "Arjuna defeats us. If he is drawn elsewhere on the battlefield, I shall defeat the Pandavas." There were in Duryodhana's army five picked soldiers, the Samshaptakas, who had sworn either to win or die in the battle. They now invited Arjuna to fight- with them.

The next day, which was the thirteenth day, Arjuna went in his chariot to fight with those sworn soldiers. Krishna himself was the charioteer.

Dronacharya arranged the Kaurava army in a particular pattern known as the Padmavyooha or the Chakravyooha. To pierce this and go inside and fight was very difficult. Only Shri Krishna, his son Pradyumna and Arjuna knew how to enter and come out of the Padmavyooha. Abhimanyu knew only how to get in. Yudhishthira, Bheema, Nakula, Sahadeva, Dhrishtadyumna, his father Drupada - all of them tried to break the formation of the Kaurava army, but in vein.

The Pandavas army was in distress. What could they do if they could not go near the enemy's army? The brave Samshaptakas had engaged Arjuna and detained him. Yudhishthira did not know what to do. It was a shame to the Pandavas. Bheema, Nakula and Sahadeva -- all of them bent their heads in shame and sorrow. The Pandavas army was full of confusion and anxiety.

The brave Abhimanyu saw his uncle's plight. He went to him and said, "I will find my way into the Chakravyooha. Do not worry."

Yudhishthira wondered very much at the courage of young Abhimanyu. But his heart would not consent to send the boy on such a dangerous task. He said, "My boy, you are very brave and possess strength and courage beyond your age. But there are experienced warriors in the Kaurava army. Can you face them? This adventure is not for you."

"Uncle, I am not afraid of anybody in the battle. I will defeat them all," replied Abhimanyu.

Yudhishthira tried to pacify him and said, "Only Krishna, Pradyumna and Arjuna can enter the Chakravyooha and come out of it safely. You can only go inside."

"Please permit me, I will overcome Drona's Vyooha," said Abhimanyu.

Yudhishthira thought Abhimanyu was right. He felt that after defeating the Samshaptakas, Arjuna might come and reproach them if they all remained helpless. So he decided to permit Abhimanyu and said, "It will be enough if you just enter the Vyooha. Bheema, Satyaki, Dhrishtadyumna, the Panchalas, and I myself will be right behind you. As soon as you break it and make a way, we will all rush in."

Abhimanyu felt happy. He said, "I will bring honour to my parents," and bowed to Yudhishthira. He put on his armour, tied up his quiver, and took his sword. He put his bow inside the chariot and bowed to his mother Subhadra. His wife Uttara performed 'Arati', wishing him success. The brave young hero entered his chariot.

Abhimanyu's charioteer was full of sympathy for his daring. He said: "Think it over. You are taking on yourself a great responsibility. You are still a boy, grown up in comfort and not much experienced in warfare. Drona is a great master of missiles and has won many battles."

Abhimanyu laughed and said, "Does the wind sweat? Does a spreading fire fear the snow? Am I to be afraid of the Kaurava army? I do not fear anybody in a fight. Whether it is the Lord of the Universe or my own heroic father confronting me, I will not be afraid."

With a heavy heart, the charioteer drove forward. like a lion ounching on herds of elephants. Abhimanyu fell ont he armies of many brave men. Mighty warriors of the Kaurava army tried to stop him. But it was useless. It was like trees trying t stop advancing flames. Abhimanyu pierced the Chakravyooha and entered inside, right in front of the unequalled archer Dronacharya. Duryodhana and others were shocked and astonished at the prowess of this young hero. As the Kaurava soldiers watched him, their tongues went dry, their eyes grew unsteady and their hair stood up with fear. As Abhimanyu's arrows began to fell the soldiers, the Kaurava army stated to flee. Duryodhana saw this and himself came to fight with Abhimanyu.

The very word 'Duryodhana' means 'a fierce warrrior'. Even expert archers found it difficult to face him on the battleground. Seeing Duryodhana poised before Abhimanyu, eminent warriors like Drona, Kripa and Kama rushed in their chariots to help him. Jayadratha stopped Yudhishthira, Bheema and others who tried to penetrate the Chakravyooha behind Abhimanyu. Lord Shiva had granted Jayadratha a boon that for one day he could check all the Pandavas except Arjuna. Thus Abhimanyu had to remain alone inside the Chakravyooha surrounded by the enemies.

Hit by Abhimanyu's darts, Duryodhana tottered. Drona, Kripa, Ashwatthama and others came to his rescue and feel on Abhimanyu. Abhimanyu stopped all of them single-handed. With one arrow he pierced Karna's shield. With three more he killed Sushena, Deerghalochana and others. Shalya, known as the bravest of the brave, crumpled up in his Chariot when Abhimanyu's arrows hit him.

The Kaurava army ran helter-skelter because of the boy's arrows, right before Dronacharya who had taught archery to Arjuna and Duryodhana. He was amazed, and praised him saying that he had not seen such a brave lad till then. Duryodhana was angry that Drona praised an enemy. He called Dusshasana and other warriors and said, "Dronacharya has great affection for Arjuna. He will not kill Arjuna's son. You must yourselves defeat him and put him to flight."

Dusshasana said, "I will kill Abhimanyu. If Abhimanyu dies, Arjuna will die of grief. Krishna will not live after that. Nor will the Pandavas live thereafter."

After the game of dice between Yudhishthira and Duryodhana, Dusshasana had dishonored Draupadi in the open court. The Pandavas hated him intensely. But he was a very strong warrior. Abhimanyu, however, did not fear him. "I got you at last - you cruel, wicked, boastful fellow! Now you will get the punishment for your wickedness. Suffer it before the eyes of both the armies. If you don't run away, you will die today at my hands."

And he aimed his arrow. The dart struck Dusshasana's heart. Blood gushed out. Abhimanyu shot another arrow and Dusshasana fainted. His charioteer sped away the chariot.

Seeing Dusshasana's plight, Karna rushed to confront Abhimanyu. Very few persons could equal Karna in an encounter with the bow and arrow. It was impossible for anyone's dart to make a dent in his coat of mail. He was the disciple of Parashurama who had made all kings tremble. He was a hero who could face Arjuna. He showered a hundred arrows on Abhimanyu. Abhimanyu easily cut his bow itself into two. His arrows brought the flag on Karna's chariot to the ground, and cut Karna's darts in midair. Karna's horses ran away. Seeing the chariot of the mighty Karna himself speeding away, the Kaurava army shivered with fear and the soldiers began to run away. They fell before Abhimanyu's arrows like straw burnt by fire.

With the Kaurava army thus shaken, Yudhishthira, Bheema, Satyaki and others again surged forward to help Abhimanyu. But they could not get into the Padmavyooha formed by Drona.

The Kaurava heroes saw the plight of their army and again surrounded Abhimanyu. Jayadratha, who had a boon from Lord Shiva, stopped all the brave warriors of the Pandavas army, so that Abhimanyu remained alone inside. Yet Abhimanyu killed the Kaurava soldiers like a whale killing the fish, Seeing his soldiers crumbling like withered leaves in the wind, Duryodhana was furious and again Opposed Abhimanyu. Drona Ashwatthama, Karna and others encircled Abhimanyu to help a master. Duryodhana's son Lakshana rained numberless arrows on Abhimanyu.

The fight again grew fierce. Abhimanyu faced the Kaurava hero like a lion's cub fighting with trumpeting elephants attacking him. He shot various missiles. Arrows struck one another in mid-air and fell down burning. Horses ran hither and thither, unable to bear the pain. At last unable to bear Abhimanyu's arrows, which struck him like fire, Duryodhana also took to his heels. Abhimanyu's arrows cut off Lakshana's head. Drona, Ashwatthama and Karna turned their chariots back. The Kaurava army was in utter panic.

Karna said to Drona, "Acharya, how are we to conquer this brave lad?" The Acharya said: "Karna, is it possible to face him and win? His fighting skill is flawless. This gifted son of Arjuna is a lion among men. Arjuna is really fortunate. See how nimble Abhimanyu's hands and fingers are and how he himself moves about like lightning. As his chariot moves, we can only see his bow in circular form and nothing else - we do not see him pull the string, we do not see him shoot the arrow. I am suffering pain all over my body because of his piercing arrows. This youngster humbles me. And yet the skill of his hands fills me with happiness."

"It is cowardice on the part of a warrior to run away from the battlefield and that is why I am still here," Karna confessed. "Wherever his arrows have struck me, it is like a ball of fire."

Drona: "Abhimanyu is still a boy, but he is a very great hero. It is impossible to rip his armour. We can win only if an expert can cut his bow. If you wish to do it, you must strike when he turns back, When he has his bow in his hands, no one can face him and, overcome him. Break his bow, and then, from behind, smash his chariot."

From behind Abhimanyu, Kama shot sharp arrows aimed at the lad's hand. Abhimanyu's bow was broken. Simultaneously Bhoja killed his horses. Abhimanyu's chariot could not move. Kripa slew the guards. Six mighty warriors - Drona, Karna, Kripa, Ashwatthama, Brihadbala and Kritavarma surrounded the young hero and attacked him. Abhimanyu had no chariot and no bow. And there was no one at all to help him.

But the brave Abhimanyu did not fear or despair. He jumped out of his chariot holding his sword and shield. Even as he jumped, Drona and Karna broke his shield. Abhimanyu jumped to the ground, pulled off his chariot wheel and with it attacked Dronacharya. The enemies all around him rained arrows on him. The wheel was broken into pieces and the fragments scattered around. Abhimanyu picked up his mace from the chariot and pounced upon the enemies. The brave boy was standing on the ground; and yet the warriors in the chariots had to retreat before his onslaught. Dusshasana's chariot and horses were crushed. Dusshasana's son took his mace and confronted Abhimanyu who was smashing the encircling enemies with his mace. Both were young, heroic and determined. The fight was terrible like the clash of two maddened elephants.

Both of them fell down, unable to bear each other's blows. Abhimanyu was already tired, having fought with many an enemy hero for along time all through the day. Dusshasana's son recovered earlier and got up quickly. Even as Abhimanyu was getting up, his enemy hit him with his mace. Unable to bear the blow,

Abhimanyu fell down. The soul that supreme hero left his lovely young body. Blood spilled all round and his strong body became covered with mud and dust. But his fame lives and Abhimanyu has become another word for boundless daring.



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