Why was Barbarika sacrificed?

056 Mahabharata Warriors at Angkor Wat

Barbarika was one of the heroes of Mahabharata who never got his due in the history of time. The people, who know this character, know that he could have been the best warrior in the great war of Mahabharata. Unfortunately, he did not get the chance to prove this point.

Barbarika, who earned an exceptional skill to destroy the complete army in just one shot of an arrow, once demonstrated the same to Krishna. Krishna asked him to pierce all the leaves of a ‘Peepal’ tree. While Barbarika was chanting the mantra just before releasing the arrow, Krishna took one leaf of the tree and hid it under his foot. Barbarika released the arrow and it did what it meant, after piercing all the leaves it started revolving around Krishna’s feet. The demonstration of this skill surprised everyone who witnessed. Barbarika claimed that he could finish the war in just a few hours. The interesting part of the story was Barbarika’s pledge to fight always from losing side. Krishna knew that this warrior has the capacity to diminish any side, and so the other side will always be the losing one; and if Barbarika changes sides, he would kill everyone on both sides of the war. Krishna foresaw the consequences of using Barbarika in the war and decided that Barbarika should be sacrificed. He asked Barbarika, to whom he considers his guru. He replied that all the skills he earned keeping only lord Krishna in his mind, so he, lord Krishna, is the prime guru. Then Krishna asked for gurudakshina (fee or gift asked by teachers for their teachings). He asked the head of Barbarika in the gurudakshina. Barbarika took no time to cut his head and gave it to Krishna on his own and in return, Krishna granted him a wish to live till the battle of Mahabharata ends and watch the same from a nearby mountain.

Now I have two points to discuss. One, why was Barbarika sacrificed? Was that the only option left to Krishna? Two, if the consequences were different, could Barbarika have proved to be the greatest warrior of time?

Arjuna emerged as the hero of the Great war of Mahabharata. If I my assumptions are right, most of the heroes are made. On the way of their making, lots of Barbarika are sacrificed. The heroes we know need to be judged whether they are an Arjuna, a Barbarika or a Krishna. And if you want to be an Arjuna, you need a Krishna. This conclusion seems a little political and conflicting to the religious belief we hold. So I am leaving this topic open for a debate till my, opposite and concluding argument in next paragraph.

The other side of the argument is the indecisiveness of Barbarika. He made a pledge which could not make him loyal to anyone. If Krishna allowed Barbarika to participate in Great War of Mahabharata, he could finish the war only by killing himself because any side represented by Barbarika were the winning one. In this conclusion, lord Krishna took a call, in the interest of Dharma, and scheduled the destiny of Barbarika a little before. If I argue with religious belief in lord Krishna, there is a message in this story. Whenever there is indecisiveness in your mind, remember you are killed. Our skills and knowledge do not count when we are not on one side of a decision. You can only fight from one side.

Recently, this story is adopted in ‘theory of indecisiveness’ section of my book ‘The Gita Way’ which is due for release in May 2016. To know more about the book please visit.http://www.amazon.in/dp/9380914873

(Source of the image used in the post: 056 Mahabharata Warriors at Angkor Wat Photograph from Angkor Wat in Cambodia taken by Anandajoti, downloaded from Wikimedia Commons)


19 thoughts on “Why was Barbarika sacrificed?

  1. A good note rarely heard off..
    A good thought though…Lot of the people get in an indecisive state of mind by reason or by destiny’s choice..

  2. Mahabharat was totaly a dharam youdh.right vs wrong.Barbarika with his promice, has no place to take part in mahabharat war.As because, all maharati warriors has to be killed by different maharati warriors as per their deed in the past.This was design accordingly by Sri Krishna.If Barbarika take part,importance of mahabharat war will not be establish as today.So Sri Krishna decided to kill him before war.

  3. Your blog was really good. Not many people will know about barbarika or even ghattotkach for that matter. But let me tell you about the Mahabharata. It took place in the dwaapar yuga…kalyug and dwaapar yuga personified were friends because they were the time when unrighteousness had greatly exceeded the previous yuga eg. The events of the Mahabharata like draupadi vastra haran were inimaginable in the previous yuga … Hence in kalyuga and dwaapar yug , the side on which were you on I.e – right or wrong mattered and by whatever means you ensure the victory if righteousness doesn’t matter …if it’s for the victory of righteousness then even if you follow the wrong path , that will be forgiven , and hence we get to see such unfair events like that of killing of barbarika or for that matter bhishma ,drona,karna ,duryodhana etc . So to ensure victory of dharma lord Krishna had to do this though this was unjust.

  4. A nice story depicting the Lord Krishna’s policy (Niti) to protect the Pandavas from the ultimate and awarding Moksha to Barbarika

  5. very nice your description of barabrika,as per the boom given by lord krishna he (barbarika)saw the kurukshethra bharath yudh,after war finished arjuna was full of proud for his contribution as a warier in the war,krishna took him(arjuna)to the top of the hill and asked barbarika , who is real worier of dharma yudh then barbarika replied ek budha ek balak they are bheeshma and abhimanyu

  6. Good one, even i read that he is one of the four who heard bhagawat gita from krishna and saw vishvarupa.

  7. So Arjuna asked Krishna if he should use the sword of truth since all around him were only family and friends, and Krishna said yes.

  8. very nice your description of Karabrika,as per the boom given by lord Krishna he (Barbarika)saw the kurukshethra bharath yudh,after war finished arjuna was full of proud for his contribution as a warier in the war,krishna took him(Arjuna)to the top of the hill and asked Barbarika , who is real worrier of dharma yudh then Barbarika replied that Krishna is the real hero of war others were just taking part in it.

  9. Yes, Barbarika replied that he saw only two person in the battle field. One with ‘sudharshan’ chakra killing every one and other ‘Kali’ searching blood in the battle field

  10. Thank you Madan for such a though provoking comment.

    It was possible as Arjuna had most powerful weapon ‘Bramhastra’ which was capable enough to encounter any attack.

    However, before the war it was decided that no one would use ‘Bramhastra’ from either side to ensure a fair war. In case Arjuna used this to kill Barbarika, Kauravas would had a chance to break the rule and use Bramhastra on Pandavas. In Kaurava side Bhishma, Dronacharya and Ashwatthama knew how to release Bramhastra. In such situation defeat for Pandavas was certain.

    Krishna’s decision to kill Barbarika was relevent in this context as well.

  11. But what my point of argument is would Barbarika have been still the greatest warrior if he haven’t possessed those 3 arrows? were his normal fighting skills were as good as Arjuna, Bhishma, Salya, Drona or Karna?

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