When you are born, you must die. Don’t die while living. Live after you are dead. – Chinmaya
All must die. There is no choice. But how to live life – we have a choice. (i) Dead while living OR (ii) Living after death.
(i) Dead while living – They are the ones who live for themselves. A life of selfishness is a dead life. Their life benefits none. Such a life is a waste since it doesn’t help them in their spiritual evolution.
(ii) Living after death – They are the ones who live for the welfare of all. Even after their death, they live in the hearts of others, in the loving memories of others. The lives of such people, filled with sacrifice and service, become an inspiration for generations to follow.
The Mahabharatha war was in progress. Pandavas were waging a righteous war. Dronacharya had arranged Chakra Vyuha – a circular array of the army.
Addressing Abhimanyu, the 16-year-old son of Arjuna, Yudhishthira said, “Son! As Arjuna is not in station, you are the only one amongst us who know how to pierce that array.”
Abhimanyu said, “O King! Soon shall I in battle penetrate into that array, as taught by my father. I shall not be able, however, to come out if any kind of danger overtakes me.”
Yudhishthira said, “There is nothing to worry. Break this array once, O foremost of warriors, and make a passage for us. Once you enter, we shall follow you protecting you from all sides.”
Hearing these words, Abhimanyu ordered his charioteer Sumitra to steed the chariot towards Drona’s army. Like a lion-cub charging against a herd of elephants, Abhimanyu attacked Drona’s army, and breaking the Chakra Vyuha he penetrated into it.
Meanwhile, Jayadratha, due to the boon received from Lord Shiva, was able to prevent the Pandava army from entering into the Chakra Vyuha. Thus Abhimanyu was totally trapped inside the Vyuha all alone.
In the next few hours, the world saw one of the greatest wars fought between a 16-years-old boy all alone on one side and the mightiest of Kaurava warriors fighting on the other.
The brave Abhimanyu cruised through the Kaurava forces like Lord Death. Amongst the famous warriors, the son of Asmaka attacked Abhimanyu. Abhimanyu, in return, chopped down his horses, the charioteer and the flag. Cutting his bow, he chopped off his two arms and his severed head went rolling down the ground. Duryodhana, who came to take revenge, was defeated miserably. He could return alive, thanks to Drona and others who came to his rescue.
With three other shafts of great sharpness, the mighty son of Arjuna, slew three warriors – Sushena, Drighalochana, and Kundavedhin.
Abhimanyu then attacked mighty Salya with thick showers of arrows. Salya, with straight shafts penetrating into his very vitals, sat down on his car and fainted away. Seeing this, the younger brother of Salya, filled with wrath, advanced against him. Abhimanyu cut off his head and charioteer, his triple bamboo-pole, his car-wheels, his yoke, his shafts and quiver, his flag and every other implements of battle with which his car was equipped.
Dushasana, filled with rage, and uttering a loud roar, rushed against the son of Subhadra and covered him with showers of arrows. Abhimanyu aimed a shaft which fell upon his shoulder-joint and penetrated into his body, like a snake into an ant-hill. Deeply pierced with twenty-five arrows and greatly pained, Dushasana, sat down on the car swooning. He was speedily borne away from the midst of the fight by his charioteer.
Karna, seeing this, boiled with rage and showered arrows on Abhimanyu. In return, the fearless lad cut off the umbrella, the flag, the charioteer, the steeds and the bow of Karna.
Beholding Karna in such distress, his younger brother, drawing the bow with great force, speedily proceeded against the son of Subhadra. Abhimanyu cut off his head. Karna, pained by the death of his brother and afflicted by Abhimanyu with countless shafts, fled from the battlefield.
Vrishasena, who stepped in next had his charioteer killed and the bow snapped. The mighty Abhimanyu then pierced Vrishasena’s steeds with his straight shafts, upon which those horses, with the speed of the wind, bore Vrishasena away from the battle.
Vasaati, a mighty king, with great roar pounced on Abhimanyu. The son of Subhadra pierced him in the chest with a powerful shaft. Vasaati fell down on the earth, dead.
The mighty Rukmaratha, son of the ruler of the Madra (Salya), challenged Abhimanyu and charged at him. Phalguni’s son, however, chopped off his bow, his right and left arms and his head. Beholding Rukmaratha slain by Abhimanyu, many princely friends of Salya’s son rushed in for revenge. In no time, he cut their bodies into pieces.
Duryodhana was filled with fear, seeing his car-warriors, elephants, steeds and foot-soldiers being crushed. He quickly proceeded in wrath against Abhimanyu. But afflicted with Abhimanyu’s arrows, he had to flee. Seeing this, Lakshmana, Duryodhana’s son, came charging against Abhimanyu. With one arrow, he cut off the head of Lakshmana.
Abhimanyu was then attacked by the son of Kratha. In a short span, the latter’s bow and shafts, bracelets and arms, head decked with diadem, umbrella and flag, charioteer and steeds, were all cut off and felled by Abhimanyu. The mighty Abhimanyu then slew the brave Vrindaraka. With another sharp arrow, he killed King Vrihadvala, the ruler of the Kosalas.
The son of Subhadra then slew six of Karna’s brave counsellors, along with their steeds and charioteers and cars. With six straight shafts, he then slew Ashwaketu, the son of the ruler of the Magadha, with his four steeds and charioteer. Bhoja prince of Martikavata was the next to attain the abode of Yama. Abhimanyu then slew five mighty warriors – Satrunjaya, Chandraketu, Mahamegha, Suvarchas and Suryabhasa.
Within a short time, the battlefield was covered with the mutilated bodies of the Kaurava army. Chopped off arms carrying bows, maces, swords and shafts were seen scattered. Countless crowned-heads without trunks rolled hither and thither. Smashed elephants, horses and chariots were seen everywhere. Pools of blood all over created a gruesome scene.
Seeing Abhimanyu unconquerable, all mighty warriors – Karna, Kripa, Drona, Ashwattama, the ruler of the Gandharas, Sala, Salya, Bhurisravas, Kritavarma, Somadatta, Vivinsati, Vrishasena, Pratardana, Lalithya, Pravahu, and Duryodhana – came together (against the law of war) and showered diverse kinds of arrows upon him. But Abhimanyu cut all of them in the mid-air before they could reach him. In return, he pierced Drona with fifty, Vrihadvala with twenty, Kritavarma with eighty, Aswatthama with ten and Kripa with sixty powerful arrows.
With no hopes seen, Karna said unto Drona, “Abhimanyu is grinding us all. His arrows are exceedingly fierce. We are unable to stand his prowess. Tell us the means by which we may slay him.” Drona addressing them all, said, “Behold this lion among men, this son of Arjuna. So quickly is he aiming his shafts and so quickly is he letting them off. Indeed, the son of Subhadra gratifies me although he afflicts my vital breath and stupefies me with shafts. Even the mightiest mahaarathis (car-warriors) are unable to match him. I don’t see any difference between him and Arjuna.”
The preceptor then, slowly and with a smile, said unto Karna, “Abhimanyu is young, his prowess is great. His armour is impenetrable. With his bow in hand, he is incapable of being vanquished by the very gods and the Asuras together. There is only one way to defeat him – cut off his bow, destroy his chariot and kill his charioteer. O Karna! If competent, do this. Strike him then.”
Hearing these words of the preceptor, Karna quickly cut off, by means of his shafts, the bow of Abhimanyu. Kritavarma then slew his steeds, and Kripa slew his charioteer. Bowless and carless, Abhimanyu, taking up a sword and a shield, continued to attack. Drona with a sharp arrow cut off Abhimanyu’s sword. Karna cut off his shield. Deprived of his sword and shield thus, he came down, and taking up a car-wheel, he rushed against Drona. The other kings cut that wheel off into pieces.
Abhimanyu, pierced all over with arrows, looked like a porcupine. He then took up a mighty mace and rushed towards Aswatthama. He slew Aswatthama’s steeds and charioteers with the mace. But Ashwatthama ran for his life and escaped. Abhimanyu then killed Suvala’s son, Kalikeya, along with his seventy-seven Gandhara followers. Next, he slew ten car-warriors of the Brahma-Vasatiya race, and then ten huge elephants.
Proceeding next towards the chariot of Dushasana’s son, he crushed the latter’s car and steeds. Both of them with upraised maces began to strike each other. Struck with the other’s mace, both fell down unconscious on the ground. Dushasana’s son, rising up first, struck Abhimanyu, with the mace on the crown of his head, as the latter was about to get up. Stupefied with that powerful stroke as also with the fatigue he had undergone, Abhimanyu fell on the earth, dead. The unrighteous Kauravas, with a great sigh of relief, celebrated his end.
Seeing the astonishing feet of this brave young boy- who fought till death single-handedly against the six mighty car-warriors (mahaarathis) – even the gods showered flowers from heaven. Abhimanyu’s life of courageous deeds will keep inspiring millions, generation after generation.
So says Kabeer,
कबीरा जब हम पैदा हुए ,जग हंसे हम रोये । ऐसी करनी कर चलो , हम हंसे जग रोये||
When we were born, the world laughed and we cried. Do such acts in life, that when we die, we smile and the world cries!
O M T A T S A T