What are some facts about Mahabharata?

What are some facts about Mahabharata? by Ananya R B

Answer by Ananya R B:

This story is about Jayadhratha’s part and his demise on the 14th day of the battle of Mahabharata

Jayadratha was the husband of Duryodhana’s only sister called Dushala. Thus he was also a brother-in-law to the Pandavas. He was the crowned prince and later King of the Sindhu Kingdom. His Kingdom stretched along the banks of river Sindhu / Indus in the ancient era in modern Pakistan.


One day, during the time the Pandavas were in exile, the Pandavas needed to gather grass and flowers for some rituals. They left Draupadi alone at the ashram and requested Sage Trunabindu to watch over her. On that day Jayadratha saw Panchali filling water from a pond. The King of Sindh was mesmerized by her beauty and out of lust sent his minister Kotikasya and asked him to inquire as to who she was.

Kotikasya went over to her and after learning about her identity, informed Jayadratha that she was Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas. Jayadratha in spite of learning her identity, went to the Yagyasaini Draupadi and proposed to marry her. Initially welcoming him as her brother-in-law, Draupadi vehemently refused the proposal. Infuriated, Jayadratha abducted Draupadi and started moving towards his kingdom.

The Pandavas returned to their ashram to find Draupadi missing. They learnt about the events that took place in their absence by the account of Draupadi's friend Dhaatreyika, who had witnessed Jayadratha forcefully carrying Panchali away. Dharmaraj Yudhishthira then ordered Arjuna and Bhima to rescue Draupadi. Both of them defeated Jayadratha and brought him before Yudhishthira. The Yagyasaini asked for Jayadratha to be pardoned and not be killed, in order to prevent Dushala from becoming a widow. She suggested that he be treated like a slave. So, Vrikodar Bhīma shaved Jayadratha's head leaving him with just five spots of hair on his head, before setting him free.


Jayadratha’s Boons

Years before abdicating his throne, Jayadratha's father, Vridhakshtra, heard a prophecy from the Sage Ved Vyas, that his son will be be killed by being beheaded in a war. Scared for his lineage, Vridhakshtra left for the forest and became a sage. Through penance, he attempted to gain enough spiritual power to grant his son immortality or the equivalent of boon given to the son of Ganga, Bhishma. However, he only managed enough to curse that who so ever would cause Jayadratha's head to fall to the ground will turn to ash.

After the Draupadi incident, Jayadratha desired to avenge his humiliation from the Pandavas by defeating them in the battle field. So, Jayadratha performed a rigorous tapasya in order to please Lord Shiva. When Mahadev appeared before him, Jayadratha asked for the ability to defeat the Pandavas in war. Lord Shiva replied that such a boon was impossible. However, he gave Jayadratha the boon to check the advance of the Pandavas and their forces for one whole day. But Lord Shiva also warned Jayadratha that Arjun was an exception to this boon.


13th Day of Battle – Abhimanyu Vadh

Naturally, Jayadratha fought beside Duryodhana in the Kurukshetra War. On the 13th day of the Mahabharata war, when the Chakra vyuha  was employed by Dronacharya, Jayadratha made use of Lord Shiva's boon.

As part of Duryodhana's strategy, Arjun and Krishna were busy battling Susharma and the Trigata Army elsewhere on the battlefield.

Arjun’s teenage son Abhimanyu managed to enter the formation; The brave soul intended for the Pandava forces to follow after him and destroy the formation from the inside.

Jayadratha moved in to close the gap as soon as Abhimanyu entered, and was able to hold all the Pandava brothers and their forces at bay.

Subhadra putra Abhimanyu faught alone midst the Chakravyuha. He was very well trained at military combats by the wonder, Madhav himself. But that day his fate was going to be different.

Abhimanyu, who did not know how to exit from the chakra Vyuha was trapped and brutally killed by the Kaurava Warriors in a combined and unethical attack.

The Sons of Pandu were startled after finding that Jayadratha was able to hold the world's most powerful warriors at bay. In particular, Draupadi, Yudhishthira, and the mighty Bhīma felt very guilty for not killing Sindhu Naresh when they did have the chance. Arjun blamed Jayadratha to be the cause for Abhimanyu's death. He vowed to kill him the very next day before sunset, failing which Arjun would kill himself by jumping in a pyre of fire. This vow sent everyone in the Pandavas camp to a shock.

At the end of the day, what the vow meant was – If Arjun killed Jayadratha, then the boon given by Jayadaratha's father would turn Arjun to Ashes. And if Arjun did not kill Jayadratha then he would have to immolate himself by the end of the day.

Shakuni, the master of cunning strategies, was very happy at the way the events had unfolded. Jayadratha was a brave warrior, but he feared Arjuna like everyone else. He feared for his life and hence wished to leave the battle field and not fight. So Shakuni asked Acharaya Drona, the lead commander of the Kaurava Army to ensure Jayadratha that he will be safe. So Drona ensured Jayadratha that he will employ a strategy which had never been beaten till that day. A strategy that will ensure Jayadratha's safety as well as the demise of Pandavas. This strategy was taught to the brahmin Parshuram-shishya as a reward by Lord Parshuram himself and could be broken only by Lord Vishnu himself. Drona had not taught this strategy to anyone of his disciples too. Jayadarath was relieved and agreed to fight the next day. Shakuni's new master stroke was falling into place. The Kauravas would essentially win the war very easily if Arjun would not fight.

This set the stage for the epic 14th day of battle.


14th Day of Battle – Jayadratha Vadh

Then on the 14th day of the great battle, the sons of Pandu were in need of help because they knew that prime warrior Arjun would not be able to protect Yudhishthira that day as he had to go kill Jayadratha.

The Kauravas knew this too. Therefore, as Acharya Drona had stated, they formed the deadly military formation and strategy. This formation included 3 different formations of their soldiers side by side in the form of a lotus. The combination of these 3 Vyuhas was called the Kamal Vyuha / Padma Vyuha. It was as good at offense as it was in defense. If Arjun, attacked one vyuha, then Jayadratha would swap his place and move into the second one and protect himself, while the third vyuha would attack Yudhishthira.

So when he was asked for help in formulating that day's war strategy, being the great counselor that he was, Vasudev Krishna taught the Pandavas the innovative and secretive vyuha which he had also used before when he defeated Jarasandh before abandoning Mathura, the Sarp-khadag vyuha, which was like a sword.

At the tip of the sword stood the ferocious, deeply immersed in anger, the deadly ace archer, clinching the Gandiv tightly in his hand, Arjun.

The Sarp-khadag vyuha could work only and only if

  • The army’s primary warrior had to be unbeatable and stood at the tip of the vyuha. And no kidding, Paarth was absolutely that on this day.
  • Two grand slayers who needed to be very good at offense had to stay and fight at the edges of the sword. The mighty mace carrier, Bhīma and the swift archer Satyaki played this role.

Yudhishthira stood in the pivot of the sword which would move only forward and not sideways. He was protected at 4 sides around him by 4 different sub-armies which were led by his never betraying part of his family, Nakul, Sehdeva, Dhrishtadyumna and the last by all Upa-Panadavas ( The sons of Pandavas ).

The plan was for dhananjya Arjun to move in a Zig Zag way (That is why ‘Sarp’). And the whole sword formation to follow him. Think of it like the wiper of car’s windshield, but also moving forward, sweeping off the dust on a windshield ( in effect – killing / injuring all the soldiers in their way).

So therefore, moving forward, and in a zig zag way, the savyasachi Arjun was able to attack all the formations. This is the reason why Arjun had to fight and defeat each and every big warrior before reaching the end of the Kaurava Army.

And we know what happened next. Bhīma, Satyaki and Arjun tear through the Kaurava army.

In brief, Arjun was able to shy away from Drona once and moved forward. Then he fought Karna and Ashwathama twice and was able to injure as well as exhaust them. He also broke the chakra vyuha three times during the day. Arjuna then went on to beat the army of 1000 elephants which Dushasana was leading. He then killed Srutayudha & Sudakshina, the king and prince of Khambhojas.

Bheema broke Drona's chariot thrice. Bheem also killed 20 Kaurava Princes that day. Bheema also kept Duryodhana away from Arjuna at all times. This was important because Krishna had realized that Shakuni had told Duryodhana to ask Arjuna the question "Would you really make your sister a widow? What is the valour or Dharma in that?". Such a question would weaken Arjuna's desire to kill Jayadaratha and hence the Gandivdhari would fight half-heartedly and in affect, mot be able to complete his vow.

Satyaki defeated King Shalya and exhausted the great Dronacharaya. Satyaki then faced Karna and was beaten. He was then replaced by Nakul for the day. Of course, Karna did not fight with his full strength to kill Nakul.

At a climactic moment, the sun was nearly set and thousands of warriors were still standing between Arjun and Jayadratha, the charming and intellectual Krishna played one last trick and sent his Sudarshana Chakra to mask the sun and create an illusion of sunset. The Kaurava warriors seeing the sun set, rejoiced over Arjun’s defeat and looked forward for his imminent suicide. Jayadratha came before Arjun and taunted him. Krishna then revealed his trick and let the sun shine again. Krishna then ordered Arjuna to kill Jayadratha.

With unflinching belief in his friend, Arjun then put on a show of archery and beheaded Jayadratha following the act with shooting a volley of arrows to move the head further and further away till the head fell into the lap of Vridhakshtra, Jayadratha’s father, who got up in shock. The head of his son fell on the ground, and Vridhakshtra's head turned into ashes.

Thus, Vridhakshtra became the victim of his own boon granted to his son.

PS: Addressing Disclaimers / Memorandums to the following:

  • The information compiled here is from the "The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa (Ved Vyasa), Volume 1 by Kisari Mohan Ganguli". You can read for yourself here – http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/…
  • There is of course a different version of the Mahabharata which says that it was not Krishna who hid the sun, instead there was an eclipse which occurred that evening. Based on this fact, a lot of historians have tried to date the Mahabharata. This article can help you in discovering such details – Two Eclipses in Thirteen Days by Dr. S. Balakrishna
  • There is a different version of the Mahabharata which says that Arjuna beheads Jayadratha with the Aindrastra which carries the head to Jayadratha's father.
  • The credit to all the images goes to its various creators and not me. I have made only the image showing the Sarp-khadag vyuha.

Edit : For those who do not get the Sanskrit words or Alternate references.

  • Tapasya – penance
  • Panchali / Yagyasaini – Alternate names for Draupadi
  • Dharmaraj – A title given to Yudhishthira
  • Vrikodar – A title given to Bheema
  • Paarth – Alternate name for Arjuna given by Krishna
  • Dhananjya / Gandivdhari / Savyasachi – Titles given to Arjuna.
  • Subhadra – Second wife of Arjuna / Abhimanyu’s mother
  • Madhav – Another name for Lord Krishna
  • Acharaya – Teacher
  • Brahmin Parshuram-Shishya – Drona
  • Vyuha – Strategic Military formations
  • Sarp -Snake
  • khadag –Sword
  • Gandiv – Arjuna’s bow

What are some facts about Mahabharata?


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