In a time before our known history, there was a class of powerful and valorous warriors called kshatriyas. The best among them would typically fight on chariots. These were the ancient equivalents of a tank, moving swiftly in the battlefield, shooting powerful arrows with remarkable accuracy. To put things in perspective, the modern armor- piercing rounds are basically high-velocity arrows. Among these powerful warriors some would achieve perfection in their military skills. They would become so expert in the usage of weapons, that they would be able to fight thousands of other warriors, even if surrounded. They were called “Maharatis” or “great rathis”. Arjuna, Bhisma, Karna, Drona, Bhima are examples of famous Maharatis that performed heroic deeds during the battle of Kurukshetra as described in Mahabharata. However, there is another Maharathi that is less known- Abhimanyu.

Abhimanyu was the son of Arjuna, the great hero of the Mahabharata, and Subhadra, Krishna’s sister. He was personally trained by Krishna and Balrama since a very early age in the military arts and proved to be extraordinarily talented. Even being just 16 years old, he already knew tricks that even his father could not master, like the art of wearing his armor in a loose fashion, so he could close the gaps between the plates in the event of incoming arrows just by subtle movements of his body, making thus his armor impenetrable. In the 13th day of the battle of Kurukshetra, the Kauravas organized their army in a Chakravyuha formation with the goal of capturing King Yudisthira and thus defeating the Pandavas. Part of the plot was to use Susharma to challenge Arjuna and thus lure him to a distant part of the battlefield, neutralizing thus the biggest threat to the plan. In the Chakravyuha, an army is organized as a gigantic moving circle that acts like a Chakra(a sharp circular weapon), penetrating the opposing force with the goal of capturing an specific individual. When properly organized, the movement of the Chakravyuha is considered unstoppable. Using this formation, the Kaurava army was gradually penetrating the Pandavas formation and was about to capture King Yudhisthira who didn’t have the knowledge of how to stop it. If the Kauravas could capture King Yudhisthira, it would mean the end of the war in their favor, just like in a game of chess that ends with the capture of the king.

Abhimanyu volunteered to attack the formation and break it open, opening a path so others could also enter and destroy it from inside. The plan was that Abhimanyu would be followed by Bhima and the other Pandava generals, who would exploit the gap created by him. How to enter the formation was a secret that very few knew. It involved using specific types of weapons at a very complicated timing to exploit the weaknesses of the formation. It was extremely dangerous mission, if the others could not exploit the gap the formation would close and Abhimanyu would be trapped inside.

Abhimanyu advanced, firing different types of arrows, volley after volley. He was firing his arrows at such speed that the Kauravas had the impression of fighting hundreds of Abhimanyus. Using celestial weapons, he was slaying the Kauravas by the thousands, including many powerful generals. In fact, the attack of Abhimanyu was so fierce that he turned the tables, injuring Karna and threatening the life of Duryodhana, forcing the Kaurava warriors to go on the defensive and protect their king.

Categories: Culture and History

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