Friday, December 28, 2012

a story of courage

Verse 1.6: There are the mighty Yudhāmanyu, the very powerful Uttamaujā, the son of Subhadrā and the sons of Draupadī. All these warriors are great chariot fighters.

Sometimes we need confirmation, even if it is only about something very minor. For the past few days, I've been putting the sanskrit up for each verse I've been writing about. Yesterday a friend commented, "Why not include the English translations?" They were actually reading my mind since I too had been considering the same thing. And so from now on, I'll be putting the English up.

Anyways, I digress. Today I get to speak about one of my favourite people in the entire world- the son of Subhadra. His name was Abhimanyu and his father was Arjuna. Why is he one of my favourite people? Because of his bravery, spirit and chivalrous nature.

Abhimanyu, like his father Arjuna was a great archer. In fact, many considered him to be equal in skill to his famous father. Once, Arjuna was explaining to his wife Subhadra how to enter and strategically destroy a specific battle formation called the chakravyuha. Literally, chakravyuha translates to mean battle formation of circles within circles. Unbeknownst to them both, Abhimanyu was listening attentively from inside his mother's womb.

However, Subhadra feeling tired, fell asleep and so Abhimanyu only heard of how to enter the formation but not how to get out.

During the great battle that took place after the Gita was spoken, on the twelfth day Arjuna was challenged by some warriors to fight them. In the meantime, under the helm of Drona, who was acting as the commander-in-chief, this chakravyuha was arranged on the side of the Kauravas. This was planned knowing full well only Arjuna and Krsna knew how to enter and get out of this deathtrap.

It was also created to capture the eldest brother of Arjuna, Yudhistra, who was the lawful and rightful king. Knowing that no one else could enter the chakravyuha, it fell upon Abhimanyu to get in with reassurances from his powerful uncles that they would be right behind him. And this is where my heart breaks. He was only sixteen, but he shouldered this great responsibility. Although he did not have the knowledge to get out, he successfully broke through the first circle.

However, as soon as he entered, the formation closed up just like a night blooming lotus closes up its petals when the sun starts to appear. His uncles, great warriors in their own right, could not defeat the warrior who was guarding the entrance of the chakravyuha and were baffled.

His name was Jayadratha and he had obtained a blessing that a time most crucial, he would be able to defeat four of the five Pandava brothers. That time had come on this twelfth day when Arjuna had been lured away. And so as his uncles looked on helplessly, Abhimanyu continued his way into the formation.

There this beautiful and courageous sixteen year old wreaked havoc on the army. His fighting was so graceful and deathly that all the great warriors on the opposing side looked on in awe and appreciation. That's how great of a warrior Abhimanyu was. He was so powerful that no one could defeat him.

And that's when one of the greatest injustices of the war took place. Unlike now, in Vedic times there were codes of conduct for warriors. For example, battles took place outside of cities where women, children and elders would not be in harms way. If a warrior challenged another, they had to accept a challenge, and most importantly of all the rules dictated that combat should occur one on one.

Being unable to defeat him, seven warriors on the Kauravas side attacked him at once and on all sides. Seven of the "supposed" greatest warriors, who knew the codes of conduct, broke it to slaughter this sixteen year old boy who was too much for them. And can imagine the outcome.

As I write this, my own eyes fill with tears. Such an incredible warrior. Not only was he the son of Arjuna but the nephew of Krsna himself. I write about this today simply to highlight the incredible attributes of Abhimanyu.

He was loyal, powerful, sweet, courageous and exemplary. Age is not a measure of character or power, only heart is.

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