Abhimanyu – The Hero of MahaBharat

abhimanyu chakravyuh battle mahabharat

Duriyodhan: “Teri mrithyu nischit hai, kyonki teri baahar jane ka dwar bandh ho chuka hai.” (Your death is sure, because your way to outside {of the chakravyuh} is closed now)

Abhimanyu: “Jo Veer hote hai woh bhaagne ki marg kholte bhi nahi Taushree!” (Brave people don’t run even if the way was open – implied)

Abhimanyu is a mythical character in the Indian Epic – MahaBharat. There are very few characters who, even in their death can bring pride and inspiration to many people. Abhimanyu was surely one of them.

I don’t want to get in to the full story (which will run in to pages), so I will give a short Gist. There are two sides – Pandavas and Kauravas. Kauravas cheat the Pandavas and claim their kingdom. So, Pandavas fight back for their kingdom in the Kurukshetra War. Abhimanyu is the son of one of the Pandavas – Arjuna, and both are skilled archers.

On the thirteenth day of the war, Kauravas challenged the Pandavas in a war formation called ‘Chakravyuh’ (In which, all the warriors enter a spiral kind of a defensive formation and with each layer, one had to face more skilled warriors, as they moved inside). This was done by Dhronacharya – Commander in chief of the Kaurava army, in order to trap four of the Pandava brothers and with their defeat, end the war. The other Pandava brother – Arjuna and their aide Krishna (who knew how to break in to the Chakravyuh and break out of it) were purposefully drawn in to a separate battle with the Samsaptakas. It goes that, Abhimanyu knew how to enter the Chakravyuh but he did not know how to exit from the formation. And Dhronacharya did not know that.

From here, there are two versions – Either 1. Abhimanyu voluntarily enters the Chakravyuh in order to save the other Pandava brothers, (who would have been otherwise trapped by the Kauravas and the battle would have ended) (or) 2. Pandavas plan to send Abhimanyu inside (as he knew how to break the formation and go inside) and keep the exit path open.

Either way, Abhimanyu enters the Chakravyuh by defeating all the increasingly skilled warriors on his path, but the Pandavas are not able to keep the exit path open as Jayadratha on the Kauravas side prevents them from doing so (due to a boon that he obtained earlier from Lord Shiva).

After moving right to the center of the Chakravyuh, he now faces the main heads of Kauravas – Dhuriyodhan, Karan, Dhronacharya and others. It is in this situation that the dialogue mentioned during the beginning of this post is uttered.

According to Dharmayuddha (rules of the war, which were generally followed by both sides in a war in ancient Bharat), one man fights only one man at a given point of time. So, the Kauravas, each fight Abhimanyu in turns and Abhimanyu puts up a brave front by defeating each of them in the battle. Now Dhuriyodhan, who is the head of Kauravas, orders the six main Kaurava warriors to attack Abhimanyu in unison, against the rules of Dharmayuddha. So, they all attack him together at the same time and Abhimanyu is finally killed. Even during the last moments, when he loses all his weapons, he tries to defend himself using the “Chakra” or the Wheel of the Chariot, but in the end dies after a brave fight.

I still remember the scenes from this particular episode on Abhimanyu’s war, which played out in TV when I was very young! I was glad to watch it again in this youtube video (about 9 minutes). Do watch those heart wrenching scenes.

Whether he lived for real or not, his bravery is an example for one and all to follow. There are many neethis (Morals) that Mahabharat teaches us, and from this particular story it teaches us that we should not break the rules of the war, even if we are at a perilous situation (As Kauravas broke the war rules, Pandavas also break the rules afterwards which leads to the ultimate defeat of Kauravas). You can read an elaborate version of this story from this Wikipedia Link.

Destination Infinity

This article was inspired by an article written on Karna (another mythical character in MahaBharat) by my fellow blogger AK.

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24 thoughts on “Abhimanyu – The Hero of MahaBharat

  1. Ah. .you just made me nostalgic.. i still remember waiting on sunday mornings for the

    MAhabharat.. ..

    Definitely one of the few shows that changed the course of indian television..

    and regarding the topic well, I think abhimanyu is definitely an inspirational character .

    I think Ashwathama was one interesting character too.. remember him ??

    btw Thanks for the video 🙂

    I thought Ashwathama was a sage, and in the video was surprised to see a young Ashwathama fighting Abhimanyu!! No, I don't remember much about him!! We probably should see that Mahabharat episode once again to refresh our memory!

    1. Check my reply at the end for this.. Nice post DI… loved it.. This is exactly why I love Mahabharata.. Good always conquers evil 🙂

      P.S: This captcha thing is irritating.. I had to click thrice to enter comment, which then came at the end, instead of here as a reply 😛

      I thought that captcha was simple, but since you are the second person to complain I have now put clickcha. Tell me if this is better

      1. Ashwathama was the name of Drona’s son and also an elephant’s name. Yudhishthir, the one who never lied, announced that Ashwathama had died and added rather inaudibly ‘elephant’ after Ashwathama. This was done to demoralize Drona.

        Not very ethical at all.

    2. Ashwathama was a Bharadwaj, He was the son of Drona. So technically He’s a Sage but when the Kauravas and the Pandavas Defeated Drupad to pay Gurudakshina to Drona, He made Drupad divide the Panchal Empire in two equal Parts, One of which will be Drupad’s and another will be Drona’s so that they can be equals (Drupad had previously said Drona that ‘a penniless Bramhin Cannot be the friend of a King since, friendship happens between equals’ when Drona went to his court asking for one cow so that Ashwathama could have some milk.) Once the Empire was divided Ashwathama was the prince of the part ruled by Drona. So although he was a Brahmin by caste, he did spend a part of his life as a prince and fought the war of mahabharata as the prince of a country in aid of the Kauravas.

      1. yes you are right …but he returned all the kingdom to Drupad to maintain his friendship……but unfortunately they died as enemies …….you can also find some more interesting facts about Drona in my blog

  2. While reading this post my head was singing the tune of Mahabharat. The good old days. Abhimanyu is one of my favorite characters. There is not a single day that I feel bad for him. He dint deserve that :(.

    Yeah, that tune was nice wasn't it? Some people, irrespective of whether they get what they deserve or not, put up a brave front. And Abhimanyu was one of them!

    1. I agree with you. I’m extremely moved by the plight of the brave Abhimanyu! Shame on Dronacharaya and Kripacharya–the elderly whose faces deserved to be blackened; at least they could have stopped that gang of warriors from killing Abhimanyu mercilessly. Abhimanyu fought all alone with each of them simultaneously.

      Dronacharya was completely devoid of kindness. He had Eklavya cut off his thumb as part of Guru Dakshina. Shame on a warrior who’s not kind. Bravery and cruelty don’t go together!

      Jai Abhimanyu!!!!!!

      1. Everything is fair in love and war. A War is not the place where you play the good guy, religious guy stuff, it’s where you choose between kill or death. And with the chips down Everybody chooses kill.
        When Krishna and Arjun tricks Jayadratha to Death How fair is that either?
        Or even the part where Arjun kills a helpless Karna trying to unearth his chariot wheel?
        Or even when Bhim breaks the thighs of Duryadhana breaking the rules of the club fight?

        1. yes you are right i totally agree with you ….everything is fair in love and war………
          you can also mention the unfair killing of guru Dronacharya by sending him fake news that his son was killed while they have killed an elephant named aswathama

  3. Undoubtedly, I was transported back many years to those Sunday mornings!

    Having read C. Rajagopalachari's Mahabarata a few months ago; I relived those mornings! I'm sure there are many lessons that can be learnt from this epic, truth, courage and valiance to name just a few!

    Wow, you read the full Mahabharata recently? Thats nice….

  4. Ashwathama was son of Dronacharya, teacher of Pandavas and Kauravas.. Ashwathama was very good at archery since his father is unbeatable at it.. Just to weaken Dronacharya, Krishna devises a plan and makes Yudishtra shout "Ashwathama died, which is an elephant". Just when the word "elephant" is said, Krishna blows his horn. Thinking that his son died, Dronacharya lowers his weapons and Arjuna immediately fires arrows at him and kills him.

    Looks like many Kauravas were killed only by Krishna's tricks!! No wonder Shakuni trashes Duriyodhan when he leaves Krishna to the Pandavas in exchange for his army!

    1. ahhh mahabharat is my fave mythological epic. have u read the palace of illusions? do read it!

      I remember faintly about the palace of illusions, but not very sure – will read about it soon…

  5. heard a lot about him DI.. but never read his story.. thanks for giving a brief introduction of him 🙂 🙂 some fictional characters are immortals and they teach values like any other…

    Even if these characters were fictional, they should have been written based on the true characters that lived back then, that that's what's encouraging 😉

    1. Absolutely. Both were absolute icons and exceptional people. We should take inspiration from them, rather than taking inspiration from Arjun’s character.

      Destination Infinity

  6. and do you know why Abhimanyu was not able to come out of the chakravyuh?

    well while he was in his monther’s womb and she was listening to the teachings of a saint who while telling her the story of the chakravyuh slept in the middle of class and the saint only reached that part of story where he told how to enter into the chakravyuh and not the complete part…so Abhimanyu indirectly listened just the half part thanks to her mother’s falling asleep….


  7. First of all Mr. Writer
    Abhimanyu is not mythical character, if he is mythical then mahabharat is also.
    You should edit your article again.

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