Who Was Khatu Shyam Ji In Mahabharat?

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. 

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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.

 Actually when Maurvi, Barbareek’s mother asked him who would he support in the Mahabharata war, he had promised her mother that he would help and support the party or side which would be losing and hence he would be just and honest by being on the weaker side. But he didn’t realize that by doing so he would be oscillating between both the sides as his power would make the weaker side more powerful and he will then go to the other side and again when the other side will become powerful he will again go back to the other side and in this way both the sides would be killed and Barbareek alone would survive the great war of Mahabharata. Krishna in this way to stop Barbareek from participating in the war went to him with a very tactful solution to this problem. He disguised as Brahman went to Barbareek and after some conversation asked him who he was and how prepared he was to participate in the war. Here comes the secret of the power of Barbareek. Barbareek had three very powerful arrows which he had received after diligent penance. Krishna, in order to test his power, laughed at him and asked how he would be able to fight with just three arrows when other warriors such as Bhishma, Dronacharya, Karna and Arjun have so many Divyastra (celestial weapons given by gods).
 Barbareek now told the Brahman that the first of these three arrows mark the aim (as many as he wants to) which is to be destroyed and the second arrow marks the people or objects which are to be saved and lastly the third arrow kills and totally vandalize the aim marked by the first arrow and after the task gets completed, all these three arrows come back to Barbareek. Krishna then asked him to show his prowess and asked to penetrate the leaves of the nearby peepal tree. Barbareek, to fulfill the wish of a Brahman agreed and meditated before launching the first arrow and Krishna at the same time plucked out one leaf from the tree and put it under his foot. Barbareek now opened his eyes and launched the first arrow and it marked all the arrows of the peepal tree and then started revolving around shree Krishna’s foot. Barbareek told him that he might have put his foot over a leaf and that’s the reason it is revolving around it. Krishna now realized the power of Barbareek’s arrows and contemplated that in the war, even if he will try to save the Pandavas and hide them from the fatal arrows of Barbareek, his arrows would find the Pandavas even if Barbareek doesn’t point the direction of arrows towards them. Lord Krishna thus removed his foot from the leaf and said that he was impressed to know the prowess of his arrows and he was indeed very powerful with only three arrows. Now the real reason behind the guise of a Brahman comes. Barbareek asked the Brahman what he wished for and the Brahman sought the kind of charity from Barbareek which stunned him. Krishna had asked him to give his head in charity. By now Barbareek had realized that the Brahman was not an ordinary one and joined his hands saying that his arrow despite of having such power could not penetrate the foot of him and it means he is not an ordinary being. Apart from that why a Brahman would ask him to cut off his head. He asked the Brahman to reveal his real identity and the reason behind disguised identity. Krishna gave him divine vision and revealed himself to Barbareek.
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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.

Before decapitating himself, Barbareek had expressed to shree Krishna his great desire to view the forthcoming battle and requested him to facilitate the same. Krishna had agreed and thus placed the head on top of a hill overlooking the battlefield. From the hill, the head of Barbareek watched the entire battle.

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.

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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.

 

By-Shekhar Srivastava

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