Least Known Characters Of Mahabharata – Barbarika
Very few people know Barbarika. Barbarika was the son of Ghatotkach (son of Bhima) and Mauravi (daughter of Muru, a Yadava King). Barbarika was a Yaksha in previous Life. Once Lord Brahma asked Lord Vishnu to take birth on earth to destroy evil. Then a Yaksha boasted that he alone is capable of destroying all the evil on earth. Lord Brahma got angry and cursed Yaksha that, he will take birth on earth and he will be capable of destroying all the evil. But, at the time of war Lord Vishnu will kill you first.
Barbarika was a devotee of Lord Shiva. He learned the art of war from his mother. He was given three invincible arrows by Eight Gods (Ashta-Devata). The first arrow was capable of marking all those whom Barbarika wants to kill, the Second arrow was capable of marking all those whom Barbarika wants to save and the Third arrow was capable of killing all which were unmarked. In simple words, Barbarika was capable of killing everyone. And the arrows would come back into his quiver.
The story goes that, when Barbarika left his mother to participate in Kurukshetra war, he promised his mother that, he will always fight from the losing side. Krishna with his magical powers came to know about Barbarika. Krishna as a Brahmin meets him on the way. By that time Krishna had asked other warriors about how many days will those warriors take to finish the war single-handedly? Bhishma said 20 days, Dronacharya said 25 days, Karna said 24 days and Arjuna said 28 days. When Krishna as a Brahmin asked Barbarika, he said only a minute. He explained about his three arrows. He also told Krishna about his promise that, he will always take the side of losing the army.
Krishna wanted to test his claims. He asks Barbarika to collect and tie all the leaves of a Peepal tree. Krishna without getting noticed hides a leaf under his foot. Barbarika releases the first arrow. The arrow marks all the leaves on the tree and then starts hovering around Krishna’s foot. Barbarika asks Krishna that there is a leaf under Krishna’s foot. Krishna was amazed to see that, even though he did not know about the leaf the arrow still can mark the target. He lifts the foot and that leaf gets marked by the arrow. The third arrow then collects all the leaves. It collected all the leaves.
It is a common belief that the third arrow actually wounded Krishna’s foot. That wound made him weaker. According to scriptures, Duravasa rishi gave a boon to Krishna once that, his body will be able to tolerate any astra’s and shatras except his feet. If you remember Krishna died because of an arrow which pierced through his feet.
Krishna got scared that if he takes part in the war he will kill everyone except himself. Knowing this well, Krishna still disguised as a Brahmin asks Barbarika for something. He promises to give anything. Krishna asks him to cut off and give his head. Barbarika gets nervous and asked Brahmin who he really was? Krishna reveals himself. He agrees to sacrifice his life by cutting off his head but asks a boon in return. Barbarika asks Krishna that he should be able to watch the Mahabharata war. Krishna grants him this boon.
After the war, Pandava’s and Krishna asked Barbarika ‘who was the reason of victory of Pandava’s?’ As he played the role of only a witness he was a good candidate to ask that question. Barbarika said he could only see a Chakra destroying all the enemies and Mahakali with red tongue consuming all adharmi’s. So it was clear to Pandava’s that it was Narayana and Mahamaya (Goddess) who destroyed Adharma.
Such was the role of Barbarika in Mahabharata. People who know Barbarika still debate about what would have happened he was allowed to take part in Kurukshetra war? Wasn’t his story interesting?