Thursday 31 January 2013

The head that watched the Kurukshetra war

In Kaliyuga, he is known as the other Krishna. He watched the entire Kurukshetra war from a hillock. Since he had been killed, only his head could watch the entire war, including the final destruction of the mammoth Kaurava army.
A grandson of the redoubtable Bheema, this man could easily swing the Kurukshetra war either in favour of the Pandavas or the Kauravas. Krishna, who was a witness to his heroic feat, realises that the only way he can save the Pandavas from certain death is to ask for the head of Bheema’s grandson.
A chivalrous man, Bheema’s grandson readily obliges. But he has a condition. “I have come here to watch the war and I must do so”, he says. Krishna agrees and after getting his head, places it on a hillock where the head watched the entire battle.
This is Khatu Shyam or the other Krishna. He is the son of Kamkantaka and Ghatotkacha, the son of Bheema.
Khatu Shyam’s real name is Barbarika. He is also called Barbarik  or Barbareeka.
Barbarika was a redoubtable warrior even in his childhood. He had learnt the art of warfare from Shiva. This not only made him redoubtable but also fearless. Please with his devotion and dedication, Shiva had given Barbarika three arrows which were invincible (teen bhan). This earned Barbarika the name Teen Bana Dhaari.
Subsequently, Agni, the God of Fire, gave hum a bow that would ensure that he remained undefeated in all the three worlds.     
When the preparations for the Kurukshetra War was beginning, Barbarika decided to see the battle for himself. He also promised his mother that if he felt an urge to join the battle, he would take the side of the losing party.
He then rode towards Kurukshetra with his three arrows on a blue coloured horse. When Krishna learnt of Barbarika’s intention, he became concerned about the safety of the Pandavas. He disguised himself as a Brahmin and came face to face with Babrika.
Krishna asked Barbarika how he could go to such a battle with only three arrows. Barbarika retorted that the arrows were more than enough.
He said the first arrow he would shoot would mark or identify the things that were to be destroyed. The third arrow would destroy all the identified objects, while the second arrow would mark the things he wanted to save. All the three arrows would return to the quiver once they completed the task, he said.
Krishna was not convinced and wanted to test Barbarika. He challenges Barbarika to tie up all the leaves of a peepal tree under which he was standing. Barbarika accepts the challenge and starts meditating to release his arrow by closing his eyes. Then, Krishna without the knowledge of Barbarika, removes one of the leaf  and places it under his feet.
When Barbarik releases his first arrow, it marks all the leaves of the tree and then starts going around one of the legs of Krishna. When Krishna asks why the arrow is going around his foot,  Barbarika replies that there must be a leaf under his foot and the arrow was targeting his foot to mark it.
Barbarika then advises Krishna to lift his leg, since, otherwise the arrow will mark the leaf by piercing Krishna’s leg. Krishna lifts his foot and to his surprise finds that the first arrow had marked the leaf that was hidden under his foot. Then the arrow collects all the leaves and ties them together.
Krishna now realises that Barbarika’s arrows are so infallible, that even if Barbarika is not aware of his target, they can easily trace all their targets. Krishna realises that even if he manages to hide the Pandavas, they can still come to harm when Barbarika shoots his arrows.
Krishna then asks Barbarika with whom he would join hands in the war. Barbarika says he will fight whichever side is weak. As Pandavas have only seven Akshounis compared to the eleven of Kauravas, he considers that the Pandavas are weak Therefore, I will fight the Kauravas, he says.
Krishna then makes Barbarika aware of the danger of the oath he had taken before his mother.
Krishna then tells Barbarika about the strategy of Kauravas. He says the Kauravas will not use all the eleven Akshounis on the first day. Hence, the part of Kaurava's army that comes before Pandavas on the first day, will be completely destroyed by Barbarika. But, that part of Kaurava's army that does not come before Pandavas on the first day will become weak. This will force Barbarika to support Kauravas and fight the Pandavas. Now, Barbarika will destroy the Pandava army that comes before the Kauravas. The remaining part of Pandava army that does not come before Barbareek will have become very weak. Thus, whichever side he supports will only make the other side weak due to his phenomenal power and nobody will be able to defeat him.
Thus, in an actual war, Barbarika will keep on oscillating between the two sides, thereby destroying the army of both sides and eventually only he will remain.
Krishna then decided to preempt this catastrophe by asking for Barbarika’s head. Barbarika then obtains a boon from Krishna that he would be known by Krishna's own name (Shyam) in the Kaliyuga.
Krishna also declares that Barbarika's devotees would be blessed just by pronouncing his name. The wishes of devotees would be granted if they worship Barbarika with sincerity and dedication.
Barbarika then cuts off his own head. But he wants to watch the battle. Krishna then places the head on top of a hill overlooking the battlefield. From the hill, the head of Barbarika watched the entire battle.
When the battle ends, the victorious Pandava brothers argue among themselves as to who was responsible for their victory. Krishna intervenes and says that Barbarika’s head should be allowed to answer.
Barbarika’s head then reveals that it was Krishna alone who was responsible for the victory.
The head is then immersed in Rupamati river by Krishna himself.  Thousands of years later, the head was found buried in the village of Khatu in Rajasthan.  Roopsingh Chauhan, the King of Khatu, builds a temple in 1027 and instals the idol of Khatushyam.
The temple was later renovated by Diwan Abhay Singh in 1720.

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