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Barbarik tells you who the Real Killer is!
The Mahabharata is full of interesting characters. Barbarik is one of them. He is the son of Ghatotkach and Ahilawati. Ghatotkatch is the son of Bheem and Hidimbi. Barbarik was a great warrior as he was taught martial arts by none other than Ahilawati, who has been the daughter of Vasuki—the snake which garlands Lord Shiva. Vasuki is the same snake which was used as a rope to churn the sea. The sea was churned by the asuras and the suras. Barbarik was granted three great arrows by Lord Shiva. With these arrows, he went to join the battle of the Mahabharata. He promised his mother that he would fight from the weaker side and the Pandavas seemed weaker as they had less army men than the Kauravas. But, as soon as the other side would grow weaker, he would join from that side. Krishna knows that if Barbarik joins the battle, the war will be over soon and there will be no winner and loser as such. Therefore, he questions him as to how he can win the battle with only three arrows and asks for a demonstration to prove his claim. Barbarik says he will finish the battle in one go, whereas Dronacharya, Arjuna and Karna give their estimates of 24 to 28 days. Krishna asks for a demonstration. Barbarik says with one arrow he will mark all the targets he wishes to kill, with the second he will mark all those to be saved and with the third he will finish all those marked to be killed. He also says that only one arrow is required to finish the battle.  Krishna asks him to pierce  all the leaves on a nearby peepal tree with one shot and He hides one under his foot. Barbarik meditates and shoots the arrow, which pierces all the leaves and hovers over Krishna’s foot. Krishna quickly removes his foot and the arrow returns to Barbarik after piercing that leaf too. This amazes all. Krishna praises Barbarik as the greatest warrior and says now that a great battle is about to begin, there is need to sacrifice one great hero according to the then tradition. Barbarik agrees to it, but pleads Krishna to allow his head to witness the whole battle as a judge. The boon is granted. At the end of the battle, Barbarik says he saw only Krishna killing all with His chakra and Mother Kali gobbling all up with Her tongue. Barbarik is worshipped as Khatushyamji in Rajasthan. His temple is situated in Sikar district.


The real import

But, this is all history. Barbarik comes from the Sanskrit word barbar, which means ruthlessly impartial killer. Barbarik is a great warrior yet he is not allowed to join the battle. He wants to favour the weak in the battle with his three arrows. But, his head is cut and through it he is allowed to witness and judge the battle as an impartial and unseen entity. The Kauravas lose and the Pandavas win. However, what Barbarik tells in the end is that he saw only Krishna (according to one version) on a killing spree and Mother Kali licking all up in great rage. He identified no Pandavas and Kauravas, but only Krishna all the way in the battlefield. What is this ruthlessly objective witness of all? It is Mrityu (death). How? Death has three arrows—one marks all those to be targeted, the other marks all those to be saved and the third kills all those marked to be killed. Barbarik tells his mother Ahilawati that he will join the battle from the weaker army’s side. That means he will fight against the strong.  In fact, this is the nature of death. It targets the strong and favours the weaker, who were once stronger! That means the favour of death is death. That is how death’s three arrows work—target, weaken (save) and kill. But, here Krishna turned death into a witness. That means death has no existence but it is an event one witnesses while leaving one's body. Therefore, life is one continuity through the changing scenario. The change is death which is present as a witness but not involved in the life process (the battle) by Krishna. In chapter 2, shloka 13, He makes it clear that  देहान्तरप्राप्तिर्धीरस्तत्र न मुह्यति, that means the patient ones are not hypnotised by the body changing event. Because they know that death is just a witness and it cannot kill life. by the grace of God. 

Ahilawati vs Barbarik
Ahih in Sanskrit means a cobra, which represents the power of nature in Hindu mythology. wati is a suffix which means holder of this characteristic. Therefore, Ahilawati means possessor of nature’s power. Prakriti is called nature in Sanskrit. Prakriti means pre-formed—which is already made. Therefore, nature is the pre-formed dimension of existence. What is that? Everything is created, maintained and destroyed. Why nature is compared to a cobra? A cobra has three major characteristics. It has a hood, poison and no limbs. The hood symbolises the power of protection, the poison symbolises the power of destruction and the limbless wriggling movement symbolises its wave-like infinite progression. Nature has all the three powers.  That is Ahilawati. Her son is Barbarik —death. Barbarik’s last sentence reveals that he saw only Krishna killing all around—no Pandavas, no Kauravas were there. This is a very important revelation from Barbarik which proves that death is not a killer but Krishna Himself is. Krishna gives his name to the deadly witness Barbarik for witnessing the reality. This is the reason Barbarik is worshipped as Krishna in the form of Khatushyam ji in Rajasthan. Barbarik's existence alone proves the deadly side of Krishna.  In Chapter 10, shlok 34, Krishna reveals,  मृत्यु: सर्वहरश्चाहम उद्भवश्च भविष्यताम् । "I am all-robbing death, which is the cause of all future creation. That cause of life (death)  I am." Here, Krishna glorifies death as His very Self. This is the unique feature of Sanatan dharm where all, from the most sublime to the most barbaric, are God. In fact, the term barbaric has been derived from the Sanskrit word Barbarik. Two of the synonyms of Barbarik are Mahakal and tulsi plant. But, how these two apparently diverse terms came to take the word Barbarik. Tulsi comes from the root word tul, which relates to an intrinsic process of balance. Death also keeps a natural balance and hence it takes the word Barbarik. Mahakal   means Greater Death--that is Shiva, who winds all up at the end of creation to trigger a new creation. Mahakal or Kal are actually a state of being which has been associated with deities to convey the principle to the common man. Krishna says in Chapter 11, Shlok 32, " कालोस्मि लोकक्षयकृत्प्रवृद्धो लोकान्समाहर्तुमिह प्रवृत्त:।  "I am Magnified Death, here to destroy all spheres of creation. I am engaged in the act to strike a balance through destruction." The death and destruction too are God's job. They are meant to reorder and re-balance the creation.
Krishna is the killer
One question does arise as to what is the need of Barbarik when Krishna is the killer? It is good that Krishna assigned Barbarik the role of a witness and judge and kept him off the battle. When death strikes, it kills all in one go (as was claimed by Barbarik), no standard is set. Nobody then survives to claim victory or defeat. However, Krishna wanted  the Pandavas to win and the world to see that how the Kaurava mindset is defeated in the battle of principles. Killing all is simple. But, killing to convey a stronger message is greater than killing. That is why Krishna made death into a witness of His act. Why Barbarik was curious to witness the battle even after his death through his cut-off head ? Because, a ruthless witness only uses the power of observation and doesn’t side with any. This is how Krishna was able to stretch the battle to 18 days--proving all Barbarik, Arjuna and even Dronacharya in their assessment of the time of battle conclusion they respectively estimated one minute to 28 days. However, Krishna intervened and wound up the battle in 18 days with a message. He brought home all the points—truth wins, even the great souls when side with the wrong meet the fate of the wrong.


Why Barbarik a witness?
There is an interesting story about Barbarik. He was a yaksha in his previous birth. Once Brahma and all deities prayed to Lord Vishnu to reincarnate on earth and defeat the evil.Yaksha (Barbarik) intervened and said there was no need for the Lord to go as he himself could do it without any effort. Brahma cursed him to be born as Barbarik  and witness the glory of the Lord. This is the reason, Krishna made him into a witness of meaningful killing. And that is how the Yaksha (a divine being) became Pratyaksha (physical witness) of Lord’s glory and evolved into Lord Himself.
Takeaway: Never fear death, it is just a witness of Lord’s balancing act. Thank God! He hasn’t allowed death to join the battle. Had it been allowed, we would all be instantly dead without learning our lessons! It is because of Krishna that we never die. He sidelined death as witness. That's good for us.
Next: Who is Ghatotkach?

Vivek Sharma




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How simple you make even complex things. Thanks...

;very nice and praisworthy

Jai ho!

Very true

Very true