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VEER ABHIMANYU

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.

I will bring honour to my parents said Abhimanyu, and bowed to Yudhistira
About Veer Abhimanyu
Introduction
Subhadra's Child
To Indraprastha and Back
Fight With Ghatotkacha
"Bheema- sena's Son!"
Marriage With Uttara
You are Here! Brave Abhimanyu
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