Mahabharata is one of the best shastras in terms of what it teaches, both overtly and covertly. An attentive reader will be able to decipher a lot about the characters involved, their nature and what makes them say, behave and act in a particular manner. Many characters or rather warriors are lost in the melee of the famous names from the epic. However, each person, big or small, has played an important role and made a significant contribution to this clash within the clan. Just like Ghatotkacha, son of Bhima, sacrificed his life to save Arjuna from Indra Astra reserved by Karna for Arjuna. A number of such legends have been lost in the sands of time because we often focus on the bigger details rather than the small pieces that complete the puzzle. Barbarik Baliyadev was the son of Ghatotkacha and daughter of a Yadava king named Maurvi. The story of Barbarik is one of selfless sacrifice and one that needs to be told.
Barbarik was a Yaksha cursed by Shri Brahma to be reborn as a human and killed at the hands of Shri Krishna. He was a great warrior who was in possession of three arrows that made him invincible. The first arrow would identify all that had to be destroyed, the second would mark all that had to be safeguarded and the third would destroy all that had been identified/marked by the first one. Before the start of the Mahabharata war he gives word to his mother that he would fight on the weaker side. Pandavas had 7 Akshauhinis while the Kauravas had 11; hence Barbarik intended to side with the Pandavas. While he was on his way he met a Brahmin who asked him how much time would it take for him to finish the war. Barbarik replied that he would finish the war in a day with the help of his three arrows. The Brahmin asked him to prove the strength of his arrows by asking him to tie all the leaves of the Peepul tree beneath which he was standing. The Brahmin hid one leaf under his feet. When Barbarik released the first arrow it marked all the leaves and then began hovering near the Brahmin’s feet. The man asked Barbarik for an explanation when the latter replied that probably a leaf lay below the man’s feet.
The Brahmin was none other than Shri Krishna himself. Shri Krishna realised that He could not hide the Pandavas from the arrows of Barbarik. Realising the potential harm the three arrows and Barbarik could cause, Shri Krishna, disguised as a Brahmin asked for the former’s head as a sacrifice. Realising that the man was no ordinary Brahmin, Barbarik asked him to reveal his true form. Shri Krishna revealed His true form to Barbarik and asked his head as a sacrifice so that Dharma may win. In return Barbarik requested Krishna to bless him so that he
shna sort his sacrifice because he was the bravest of Kshatriyas and had the potential to finish the war in a jiffy. One of the reasons why he couldn’t participate in the war was because Lord Brahma had cursed him to be killed by Shri Vishnu before the war. It is said that he had been given such a curse because of his arrogance where he proclaimed that he alone could destroy those causing adharma on earth and Shri Vishnu need not incarnate himself for this purpose.
One of the most important things that our shastras teach us is – arrogance is bound to lead to failure no matter how talented you are.