Abhimanyu (Sanskrit: अिभमन्यु, "abhimanyu") (lit." Excessive Anger")is a tragic hero in the Hindu epic, the "Mahābhārata". He is the son of Arjuna and Subhadra, the half-sister of Lord Krishna. He is an unparalleled archer and is considered to equal his father in prowess with the bow and arrow.

Birth, Education and War

. The epic explains that he overheard Arjuna talking about this with his mother from the womb. Arjuna spoke about entering Chakravyuha and later Subhadra dozed to sleep. Arjuna stopped explaining Chakravyuha escape when he saw Subhadra slept while listening. As an effect, the baby Abhimanyu in womb didn't get a chance to know of coming out of it.Fact|date=February 2007

Abhimanyu spent his childhood in Dwaraka, his mother's city. He was trained by Pradyumna, the son of Sri Krishna and his great warrior father Arjuna and brought up under the guidance of Lord Krishna. His father arranged his marriage to Uttara, daughter of king Virata to seal an alliance between the Pandavas and the royal family of Virata, in lieu of the forthcoming Kurukshetra War. The Pandavas had been hiding "in cognito" to live through the final year of their exile without being discovered, in Virata's kingdom of Matsya.

Being the grandson of Lord Indra, god of mystical weapons and wars responsible for killing thousands of enemy heroes and hundreds of thousands of warriors, Abhimanyu was a courageous and dashing warrior. Considered equal to his father's level owing his prodigious feats, Abhimanyu was able to hold at bay, great heroes like Drona, Karna, Duryodhana and Dushasana. He was praised for his audacious bravery and absolute loyalty to his father, his uncles and to their cause.

Abhimanyu's death

Abhimanyu has taken part in the war of Mahabharat and killed important personalities such as Kumara Lakshmana, the son of Duryodhana and Brihadbala, the king of Kosala belonging to Ikshwaku dynasty. On the 13th day of battle, the Kauravas challenge the Pandavas to break a circular battle formation known as the Chakravyuha (see Wars of Hindu Mythology).

The Pandavas accept the challenge since they know that the knowledge of how to defeat such a formation is known to Krishna and Arjuna.

However, on that day, Krishna and Arjuna are dragged into fighting a war on another front with the Samsaptakas. Since the Pandavas have accepted the challenge already, they have no choice but to attempt to use young lad Abhimanyu, who has knowledge on how to break into the formation but none whatsoever regarding how to break out of it. To make sure that Abhimanyu does not get trapped in this endeavour, the remaining Pandava brothers decide that they and their allies will also break into the formation along with Abhimanyu and assist the boy in breaking out of it. It is important to note that the plan is hatched well after Arjuna and Krishna have been distracted away by the Samsaptaka army led by Susarma.

On the fateful day, Abhimanyu uses his skills to successfully break into the formation. The Pandava brothers and allies attempt to follow him inside the formation, but they are effectively cut off by Jayadratha, the Sindhu king, who makes use of a boon from Shiva to hold off all Pandavas except Arjuna for one day only. Abhimanyu is left to fend for himself against the entire Kaurava army.

When Abhimanyu commands his charioteer to lead his chariot towards Drona, the man is not happy to do so and raises objections. He requests the sixteen-year-old to take time to think about it before he begins the battle. He points out that Abhimanyu has grown up amidst great love and comforts and he is not a master of the battle arts as Drona is. Laughing aloud, Abhimanyu tells his charioteer: “What is this Drona or even the entire world of kshatriyas to me? I can fight Indra himself, mounted on his Airavata, along with all the gods! Why, I can fight in a battle even Lord Rudra himself, to whom the entire world of beings pays homage! This battle that I am going wage today does not bewilder me in the least. This entire army of enemies is not equal to one sixteenth of my power. Why, even if I find in front of me in the battlefield my father Arjuna or my uncle himself, the mighty Vishnu who has conquered the whole universe, that wouldn’t frighten me.”

With no great joy in his mind, the charioteer takes his master forward.Abhimanyu breaks into the chakravyuha. In the mighty battle that follows with relentless ferocity for hours on end, he slaughters ordinary enemy warriors and mighty heroes alike, even as a whirlwind pulls up by their roots tiny bushes as well as mighty trees on its path

Abhimanyu fights valiantly single-handedly slaying several warriors who come his way including Duryodhana's son Laxman.Among the others who were killed are Ashmaka’s son, Shalya’s younger brother, Shalya’s son Rukmaratha, Drighalochana, Kundavedhi, Sushena, Vasatiya, Kratha and numerous other great warriors. He wounds Karna and makes him flee, makes Dushshasana faint in the battlefield so that he has to be carried off by others. Upon witnessing the death of his beloved son, Duryodhana is incensed and orders the entire Kaurava force to attack Abhimanyu. Continually frustrated in attempts to pierce Abhimanyu's armor, Karna on Dronacharya's advice shatters Abhimanyu's bow firing arrows from behind him. Thus disabled, his chariot breaks down shortly later, the charioteer and horses are killed, and all his weapons are laid to waste. He attempts then to fight off the bow wielding warriors sitting on horses, elephants at the same time with a sword and a chariot wheel as a shield. Dushasana's son engages in fierce hand to hand combat with Abhimanyu. Ignoring all codes of war, the Kauravas all fight simultaneously with him. He holds his own until his sword breaks and the remaining chariot wheel shatters into pieces. Abhimanyu gets killed shortly thereafter when Dushasana's son crushes his skull with a mace.

It is said that it is Abhimanyu's death that marks the end of the adherence to the rules of war. Krishna cites the despicable manner in which Abhimanyu was killed to incite Arjuna to kill Karna. This is cited as a reason to kill Duryodhana. Some say that this does not only apply to the particular war but marks the end of fair and nobly conducted wars.

Arjuna's Great Revenge

News of the despicable acts committed on Abhimanyu reached his father Arjuna at the end of the day, who vows to kill Jayadratha the very next day by sunset, and failing to do so, commit suicide by self-immolation immediately.

The Kaurava army the next day places Jayadratha furthest away from Arjuna, and every warrior including the Samshaptakas (mercenaries to vow only to return from battle fields only upon victory else death) attempts to prevent Arjuna from reaching anywhere close to Jayadratha. Arjuna literally hacks through the Kaurava army and kills more than a hundred thousand soldiers and warriors in a single day. However, almost by sundown, Arjuna's chariot is still nowhere near Jayadratha's. Arjuna becomes despondent because he realizes that failure is imminent, and starts getting mentally prepared to self-immolate. Krishna being the almighty god uses his powers to temporarily to create an eclipse. The Kauravas and Pandavas alike believe that indeed the sun has set and the war stops according to the rules. Both sides come to watch Arjuna self-immolate. In his haste to see Arjuna's death, Jayadratha also comes to the front. Krishna sees the opportunity that he has effectively created, and the sun comes out again. Before the Kauravas can take corrective action, Krishna points out to Arjuna and asks him to pick up his Gandiva and behead Jayadratha. Arjuna's unerring arrows decapitate Jayadratha, and his vow to kill Jayadratha by sunset that day and avenge Abhimanyu's death is fulfilled. The reason for creating eclipse is also suggested at many places as a plot to save Arjuna from death, because Jayadratha had got a boon from his father that whoever would cause Jayadratha's head to fall onto earth would also die immediately. So Lord Krishna wanted everything to happen in this way so that Jayadratha would be on an easy aim. When Arjuna beheads Jayadratha, he does it so skillfully that the head falls straight into the lap of his father who was sitting under a tree. His father is shocked and stands up, causing Jayadratha's head to fall to earth. Thus his father is killed immediately.

Explanation of his Death

Abhimanyu is the reincarnation of Varchas, the son of the moon god. When the moon god was asked to let his son incarnate himself on earth by the other devas, he made a pact that his son will only remain on earth for 16 years as he could not bear to be separated from him. Abhimanyu was 16 years old when he died in the war.

His son, Parikshita, born after his death, remains the sole survivor of the Kuru clan at the conclusion of the Mahābhārata war, and carries on the Pandava lineage. Abhimanyu is often thought of as a very brave warrior on the Pandava side, willingly giving up his life in war at a very young age.

Demonic qualities of Abhimanyu

The demonic element in Abhimanyu is understood and highlighted in the Draupadi cult popular in northern Tamil Nadu and its neighboring areas in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Speaking of this, Alf Hiltebeitel in The Cult of Draupadi speaks of how in South Indian folklore Abhimanyu is an incarnate demon and Krishna, who knows this, schemes the death of his own sister’s son by seeing that he is left alone to protect Yudhishthira while Drona attacks him with the chakravyuha. According to one South Indian folk tradition, it is a curse from Durvasa that makes Abhimanyu a Rakshasa in his current birth. In a former life he was a gatekeeper at Rama’s palace and Durvasa curses him to be born as a Rakshasa in his future life because he refused entry to the sage into Rama’s court. The reason for Krishna desiring Abhimanyu’s death is not exactly because he is a Rakshasa though, but because Abhimanyu is capable of killing the entire Kauravas all alone and that would make it impossible for the Pandava brothers who have taken vows of killing individual Kauravas. According to yet another tale mentioned in the Glossary to Michael Madhusudan Dutt’s Meghanadavadha Kavya, Abhimanyu’s birth again is a result of a curse, though a different curse. According to this tale, the moon failed to pay due deference to the sage Garga, and sage cursed him to be born as a human being on the earth and Abhimanyu is this accursed moon god. He dies at the young age of sixteen because the sage, moved by the moon’s begging for forgiveness, reduced the severity of the curse by saying that he would be killed in battle at the age of sixteen and could then go back to heaven.

Abhimanyu and Ashwatama

Abhimanyu is often quoted as an example for his partial knowledge about Chakravyooh. Since, he knew how to penetrate the Chakravyooh, but did not know how to exit from it during the time of danger contributed to his death. Similarly, Ashwatama too had a partial knowledge in the context of Brahmastra. He only knew how to invoke it. But did not know how to withdraw it. This contributes for him to get cursed by Krishna during the end of Mahabharatha war. It was only Arjuna who had complete knowledge of both Chakravyooh (to break and exit from it) and Brahmastra (to invoke and withdraw it).

Abhimanyu was actually an incarnation of Kamsa and was capable of killing Krishna at a later point. The thing was, he has now taken birth in a very good family. Hence, Krishna who was aware of this and being the guru of Abhimanyu (via Pradyumna) in Dwaraka, sees to it that Abhimanyu is ignorant about "how to exit from Chakravyooh". Hence, even though Abhimanyu was curious to know the way to exit from a Chakravyooh, Krishna does not tell this secret, but instead insists him to seek that knowledge from Arjuna. It so happens that Abhimanyu never gets a chance from his father as he was in excile. Further, Abhimanyu is such a hero that none from the Kaurava side (except Bhisma) can kill him in a one on one combat (dwandva yudda). Hence, on the 13th day of the battle field, when the Chakravyooha is launched by Dronacharya, he defeats all the Maharatis on a one on one battle. And Abhimanyu really proves very expensive for the entire Kaurva forces on that particlular day. Hence, sensing the danger by his presence, the Kaurava Maharatis merge together to kill him after making him weaponless. This was the only way by which Abhimanyu can attain Moksha. Hence, he plays a very great role on the 13th day of Mahabharata war.

In case of Ashwatama, Dronacharya does not trust Ashwatama the manner in which he trusts Arjuna. Hence, he teaches Ashwatama only to invoke Brahmastra, but does not teach him how to withdraw it. If an archer is aware of both the invoking and withdrawal of Brahmastra, then he can invoke it as many times he wants. Hence, to avoid Ashwatama from invoking Brahmastra multiple times, Dronacharya only gives a partial knowledge about it.

Abhimanyu's wedding with Sasirekha

Sasirekha was a daughter of Balarama. Balarama has soft corner towards Duryodana. Before the birth of Abhimanyu, he wants his sister Subadra to marry Duryodana instead of Arjuna. Hence, Krishna who is aware of this sees to it that Arjuna abducts Subadra and they get married. The same scenario repeats one generation below.

Lakshmana is the son of Duryodana. Now, Balarama wants his daughter Sairekha to marry Lakshmana instead of Abhimanyu. Hence, Krishna advises Subadra and Abhimanyu to seek help from Gatothkach to solve this problem. Gatothkach abducts Sasirekha and sees to it that Abhimanyu weds Sasirekha. The moral of this story is "history repeats itself".

ee also

*Mahābhārata, Arjuna, Krishna, Hinduism
*Hindu mythology, Wars of Hindu Mythology

External links

* [http://moralstories.wordpress.com/2006/08/09/veera-abhimanyu/ Small story showing Abhimanyu's Valour]
* [http://www.mahabharataonline.com/ Mahabharata Online]

Other "Abimanyu"s

Other beings called Abhimanyu:
# Radha's husband. Also called Ayanaghosha. Son of Jatila, a woman of Vraja (Braj)or Chandra gosha. Ref.: Sri Sri Camatkara Candrika - by Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura
# A serpent living in Kashmira, as mentioned in Nilamata Purana
# One of the seven Great Sages during the tenure of the Tenth Manu(Dharmasavarni). The other six sages are Havishmana, Sukirti. Atri, Apamurti, Pratipa and Nabhaga (cf Vayu Purana)

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