Barbarik or Barbarika or Barbaric – The strongest warrior in Mahabharata – Warrior who could finish Kurukshetra war in 1 minute | Barbarik Story Mahabharat | Khatushyamji | Baliyadev | God Kamrunag | King Yalamber
Barbarik is probably the strongest warrior in Mahabharata who can finish the war in 1 minute. That’s why Krishna asks for his head in charity so that he is not able to participate in the war.
Let’s see how he becomes so powerful and why Krishna don’t want him to contest in the Mahabharata war in Kurukshetra.
Who was Barbarik
Barbarik or Barbarika or Barbaric is an important character in Mahabharat. However, it is not mentioned in Vyasa’s Mahabharat. This character might be there in other versions of Mahabharat or comes from a folklore.
Different names of Barbarik are Baliyadev, Belarsen, Khatushyamji, King Yalamber, Akash Bhairav etc.
Barbarika is the son of Ghatotkacha (father) and Ahilawati alias Mauravi(mother) and the grandson of Bhima (or Bheema). He was a very warrior from his childhood.
He was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. Ahilawati apart from being his mother, she was his teacher also. She taught Barbarika, the art of warfare.
Lord Shiva, pleased with him, gave him three infallible arrows (Teen Baan). In some stories, it is written that Lord Shiva gave him these three arrows, while in other stories, it is written that Ashtadeva (Eight Gods) gave him these three infallible arrows.
Since he is the bearer of these three powerful arrows, he came to be known as “Teen Baandhaari”, the Bearer of three arrows. Also, Agni (God of Fire) gave him the bow that makes him invincible in the three worlds.
Barbarik and the Mahabharata War in Kurukshetra
When Barbarik learns about the Kurukshetra war between Pandavas and Kauravas, he wanted to witness the war.
Before leaving for Kurukshetra, he promised his mother that if he finds it necessary to fight in the war, he would support and fight along with the side which is losing in the war at that point.
Now before the Mahabharata war proceeds, Krishna asked all the powerful warriors among Pandavas and Kauravas that in how many days they can finish the war alone.
Among Kauravas, Bhishma answered that he can finish the war in 20 days. Dronacharya said he can destroy all the opponents in 25 days. Karna replied that he would take 24 days.
Among Pandavas, Arjuna said that it would take him 28 days to finish the war alone.
Dialogue between Krishna and Barbarik
When Barbarik arrived Kurukshetra, Krishna learned about him. In order to test his strength, he disguised himself as a Brahmin and appeared before him.
Krishna asked the same question which he has asked all the warriors that how much time it will take him to finish the battle alone. Barbarik replied, one minute.
This surprises Krishna. He asked him that how he can end the battle in 1 minute. Barbarika replied that he is the bearer of three infallible arrows. And his single arrow is sufficient enough to destroy all the opponents.
He continued that he uses the first arrow to mark all the things (or opponents) that he wants to destroy. Then, using the second arrow, he marks all the things, he wanted to save. Now the third arrow will destroy everyone that is not marked and then return to his quiver.
Krishna challenges Barbarik
To test Barbarika’s power and to verify that whatever he is saying is true, he challenged him to tie all the leaves of the Peepal tree under which he was standing, using his arrows.
Barbarik closed his eyes and starts meditating to release his first arrow for marking the leaves. In that moment, Krishna plucks one leaf from the tree and hides it under his foot.
Now the arrow marks all the leaves of the tree but starts hovering over Krishna’s leg. Krishna surprised by this behaviour of the arrow asked Barbarika that why is this happening.
He replied that there must be a leaf beneath your foot and advises him to lift his foot, otherwise, the arrow will pierce it to mark the leaf.
Is Barbarik with Pandavas or Kauravas, Krishna asked
After this incident, Krishna realises that his arrows are in fact infallible.
He thinks of a condition that what if Barbarika fight alongside Kauravas, against the Pandavas. Then there is no way Pandavas can hide from these arrows and their defeat is certain.
Then Krishna asked him that from which side he will fight the battle, Kauravas or Pandavas.
Barbarika replied that he has promised his mother that he would support and fight along with the side which is losing in the war at that point. So as per the numbers, Pandavas have a comparatively smaller army than that of Kauravas, so he will fight from Pandavas side as they are relatively weaker.
Krishna explains the complexity of Barbarik’s promise to his mother
Krishna after hearing this realises that Barbarika does not understand the complexity of his own his principle of always fighting on the losing side. In order to make him understand, Krishna told him:
Whichever side you are going to support will win the battle. But the problem is that if you fights on the side of Pandavas, then Kauravas will becomes weak.
And if you fights on the side of Kauravas, then Pandavas side becomes weak. Therefore you have to constantly switch sides to support the other side that has become weaker because of the promise you made to your mother.
In this way, you will keep oscillating between Pandavas and Kauravas & ends up destroying armies on both sides. Thus none of the sides became victorious and you would be the lone survivor of the war.
Krishna demands Barbarik’s head in the charity
The disguised Krishna sought charity from Barbarika. Barbarika promised to give anything he wants. Then Krishna asked for the head of Barbarik.
Barbarik was shocked hearing this and finds something strange. He asked the Brahmin (Krishna) to reveal his true identity. Then Krishna showed Barbarika his divine form of Lord Vishnu.
It is believed he was one of the only two warriors who has seen the divine form of Lord Krishna. The other being Arjuna during the war itself.
After seeing the divine form he agreed to give his head to Lord Krishna. But before sacrificing his head, he asks Krishna to fulfil his desire of watching the entire battle since he is not able to participate in the battle.
Krishna agreed to this. Barbarika cuts his head off and gave it to Krishna. Lord Krishna placed his head on top of a hill from where he could witness the entire battle.
After the battle ended, Pandavas starts arguing that who is the greatest warrior among themselves. And who is responsible for their victory against Kauravas.
Krishna suggested Pandavas to ask Barbarik’s head that who is responsible for their victory. Barbarik is the best person to judge since he has witnessed the complete war.
When Pandavas asked him about the same, he said that it was Krishna alone who is responsible for their victory: his advice, his presence, his game-plan had been very crucial.
All I could see were two things. One, a divine chakra spinning all around the battlefield, killing all those who were not on the side of Dharma. The other was Goddess Mahakali, who spread out her tongue on the battlefield and consumed all the sinners as her sacrifice.
Pandavas then realised that they are just mere instruments to carry out the task of cleaning up the world from Adharma. It was Lord Vishnu and Goddess Mahamaya who are actually responsible for their victory.
Previous Birth of Barbarik
Barbarik or Barbarika who was born as a human being was a Yaksha in his previous birth.
The story goes like this.
Once Lord Brahma and all the devas visited Vaikuntha to seek help from Lord Vishnu against the increasing Adharma on earth. They wanted Lord Vishnu to eliminate all the evil forces present on earth, as he is the preserver of the world.
Lord Vishnu told them that soon he will incarnate as a human being on Earth and eliminate all the evil forces.
Then a Yaksha told the devas that there is no need for Lord Vishnu to descend to earth. As he is himself capable of eliminating all the evil elements on the Earth alone.
This hurts Lord Brahma very much and he cursed him that when the time comes to eliminate all the evil forces from earth, then Lord Vishnu will first kill him.
Basically, he means that Yaksha will not get a chance to kill evil elements. As he will get killed by the incarnation of Lord Vishnu first.
This is what happened when Yaksha takes birth as Barbarika. Lord Vishnu in the form of Krishna seeks his head in charity as a result of the curse.
Another version of the story
As we have seen above that Krishna challenges Barbarik to tie all the leaves of the Peepal tree under which he was standing, using his arrows. And one arrow starts hovering over his foot but does not pierce it.
But in another version of the story, this arrow pierces his foot because of the leaf that Krishna hide beneath his foot.
This makes a weak spot on his leg. Before this event, Krishna got a boon from sage Durvasa that his entire body is immune to all the weapons except his leg.
Later in the Mausala Parva, a hunter named Sara, hits Krishna’s foot with arrows, mistaking it to be deer’s leg. This leads to the death of Krishna as his leg is his only weak spot and also not immune to weapons.
Thus Barbarik’s arrow plays an important role in the death of Lord Krishna.
MUST READ: How Krishna died in Mahabharata?
Worship of Barbarik
Barbarik is worshipped as Khatushyamji in Rajasthan
In Rajasthan, he is worshipped as Khatushyamji. His temple is located in Khatu village in Sikar District, Rajasthan.
He received a boon from Krishna that he would be known by Krishna’s own name (Shyam) in the Kaliyuga era (presently ongoing) and worshipped. As he sacrificed his head for the sake of the war.
The story goes something like this. After the war ended, Krishna drowned his head in the river name Rupawati.
Years after Kaliyug ended, on one occasion, milk started flowing spontaneously out of a cow’s udder when she neared the burial spot. Local villagers of Khatu village were amazed by this incident.
To find out the reason behind this event, they dug the place up. They found a head buried in that place.
That time King of Khatu, Roopsing Chauhan had a dream that he should build a temple for Barbarik’s head. Therefore he builds a temple in Khatu village and placed Barbarika’s head in there.
The place where his head was found buried is known as Shyam Kund.
Barbarik is worshipped as God Kamrunag in Himachal Pradesh
He is worshipped as God Kamrunag in Himachal Pradesh. His temple is situated in Kamru hill in Sundernagar, in Mandi District, Himachal Pradesh. There he is known as Ratan Yaksha.
The story goes something like this. Ratan Yaksha is a self-learned warrior. He considered Lord Vishnu as his guru (teacher) as practice in front of his idol.
When he got the news about Mahabharata war, he decided to take part in it with the commitment that he will join the army of the weaker side (i.e. of Kaurava’s). According to him, Kauravas were weaker in comparison to Pandavas.
Then Lord Krishna appeared before as a yogi in order to stop him from participating in the war as he will fight against Pandavas.
To test his strength, he gives him the challenge of piercing the leaves of an enormous peepal tree with his arrow (same we have discussed above).
In this version, Lord Krishna instead of hiding a leaf under his foot, he hides it in his fists. But surprisingly the arrow pierces the leaves in his fists also.
Then Krishna asked about his guru. Ratan replied that his guru is one and only the almighty Lord Vishnu.
Then Krishna appeared in front of him in his divine form (i.e. Lord Vishnu) and asked his head as Guru Dakshina.
He gave his head to Krishna. And asked Krishna to keep him alive till the war ends as he wanted to witness the entire battle.
Lord Krishna agreed to this and places his head at the top of a hill, today known as Kamru hill. His temple is also located there, known as Kamrunag Temple.
Barbarik is worshipped as King Yalamber and Akash Bhairav in Nepal
In Nepal culture, King Yalamber is portrayed as Barbarik. He was the first king of Kirat dynasty in Nepal.
Yalamber took power by defeating Bhuvan Singh, the last king of the Ahir dynasty (early Yadavas), thus establishing a period of Kirat rule in Nepal.
He also has a similar story as that of Barbarika which we have discussed above. The difference is that in this story, he is not depicted as the son of Ghatotkacha (father) and Ahilawati (mother).
King Yalamber (or Barbarik) is worshipped as Akash Bhairav by the natives of Kathmandu valley in Nepal. His temple is located in Indra Chowk, in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Barbarik is worshipped as Baliyadev in Gujrat
He is worshipped as Baliyadev (meaning ‘Dev with superpower’) in Gujrat. His temple is situated in Lambha village in Ahmedabad district in Gujrat.