We all have heard the name of lord Khatushyamji. Many of us worship him as the form of lord Krishna but do really know who lord Khatushyamji really is? Most of the people do not know it. To know it we would go back to the Mahabharata era for he (Khatushyamji) first appears in the Mahabharata. We all know about the five Pandava brothers of Mahabharata and many of us know about the son of the second Pandava, Bhima; known to us as Ghatotkach. But do we know who Ghatotkach was married to and who was his son? Ghatotkach was married to Maurvi or Ahilawati who was the daughter of Bashak snake who stays around the neck of lord Shiva. Ghatotkach and Maurvi had a son named Barbareek.
Now when the Mahabharata war was on the verge and about to happen then one day lord Krishna asked the greatest warriors of both the sides one by one that how many days would they take to finish the whole war. Bhishma said he would take 20 days to finish the war. Dronacharya replied that it would take him 26 days. When Karna was asked, he said he would take 27 days. Arjun said he would take 28 day to complete the battle by himself.
In this manner, Lord Krishna asked each warrior and received an answer. Krishna is lord and he knows everything that stays in the womb of future and he very well knew about Barbareek also. He knew it that Barbareek was very powerful and could affect the war and could cause hindrance in the installation of righteousness and justice in the society.
Barbareek was overwhelmed by the vision. He felt more blessed than ever. Krishna now explained him the reason behind his disguised identity and the consequence of his promise to his mother. He said that Kauravas had 11 Akshauhini army (an Akshauhini contains 21,870 elephants, 21,870 chariots, 65,610 Horses, and 109,350 foot soldiers) and Pandavas had only 7. In that case Barbareek would start the war against the Kauravas but after only few moments he will take the side of the Kauravas against the Pandavas due to the phenomenal power of his arrows. In this way he will be the only survivor at the end of the war. Also, the dharma or righteousness for which this war was being fought by the Pandavas would not be achieved and for the establishment of a society with righteousness, it is important for Pandavas to win this war and this is the reason Barbareek should not be participating in the war as his promise would not let anyone else live on the battlefield. Also, lord Krishna told him that to commence the war, the head of the bravest Kshatriya needs to be sacrificed and Barbareek, according to shree Krishna was bravest among whole Kshatriya clan. Barbareek, already extremely happy and blessed by shree Krishna’s divine form, agreed to give his head to shree Krishna. Barbareek eventually gave his head to shree Krishna.
At the end of the battle, the victorious Pandava brothers argued amongst themselves as to who was responsible for the victory. When they asked shree Krishna, he told them the story of Barbareek and suggested that Barbareek’s head, which had watched the whole battle, should be allowed to judge. When they ascended the hilltop and asked, Barbareek’s head said that it was shree Krishna alone who was responsible for the victory: his advice, his presence, his strategies had been the reason behind the victory. He also said that I never saw any Arjun or any Bhima or Bhishma or Dronacharya fighting; what I saw was shree Krishna in his warrior form beheading the evil armies with his sudarshan chakra and maa Kaali drinking all the blood of the wrongdoers who were being beheaded and killed by the lord himself. Shree Krishna, extremely happy with the devotion and the great sacrifice by Barbareek granted him a boon that he would be known by Krishna’s own name (Shyam) in the kaliyug (present era) and worshiped in his own form. Krishna had declared that Barbareek’s devotees would be blessed just by pronouncing his name from the bottom of their hearts. Their wishes would be granted and troubles removed if they worship Shyamji (Barbareek) with a true piety.
After the Mahabharata battle, Barbareek’s head was drowned in the river named Rupawati by Lord Krishna giving him lots of blessings. After many years when kaliyug started, the head was found buried in the village of Khatu (Rajasthan). The location was unseen until the kaliyug started. Then, on one occasion, milk started flowing spontaneously out of a cow’s udder when she reached neared the burial spot. Amazed at this incident, the local villagers dug the place up and the buried head was revealed.
The head was handed over to a Brahman who worshipped it for many days, awaiting divine revelations as to what was to be done next. Roopsingh Chauhan, king of Khatu, then had a dream where he was asked to build a temple and install the head inside it. Subsequently, a temple was built and the idol was installed on the 11th day of the Shukla Paksha (bright half) of the month of phagun( the same day on which Barbareek gave his head to shree krishna though some say it was the 12th day of Shukla paksha when Barbareek gave his head to shree krishna).
There is another, slightly different version of this story. Roopsingh Chauhan’s wife Narmada Kanwar, once had a dream in which the deity instructed her to take his image out of the earth. The indicated place (now known as Shyam Kund) was then inspected and the idol was dug out. Subsequently, it was duly installed in the temple.
Khatushyamji is the family deity of a large number of families especially in Rajasthan as the main temple of Khatushyamji is in Rajasthan. His another temple is located at Vasna, Ahmedabad, Gujarat where people come with their newly born child to have blessings of Khatushyamji. Here he is known as Baliya Dev.Khatushyamji is also known by names such as sheesh ka daani or haare ka sahara.
So this was the story of Khatushyamji, a great warrior who could change the fate of the Mahabharata war, who had the power of changing the consequence of the war if participated in it. Had he not been told of the result of his participation in the war by lord shree Krishna, he could have changed the system of the society. But due to his faith in lord and realization that his participation in the war is not as necessary as the victory of the Pandavas is; he made a sacrifice which gave him the form of god literally.
His sacrifice and devotion is lesser known than other warriors of the great Mahabharata war but it is true that for his selfless devotion, he will always be worshiped as a god by god’s own name.