Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Episode 70 - The death of Abhimanyu

Episode 70 - Drona has been in charge now for two days, and so far he has failed in his mission to capture Yuddistira.  This despite the fact that they have sacrificed a whole nation of warriors just to keep Arjun away long enough for them to grab his brother.  The Trigartas are nearly all dead so they need to come up with a new idea.  This time, Drona implements a fancy new formation, based on a wheel, which few know how to break.

It turns out that Abhimanyu is one of those who know its secrets.  But with Arjun busy, he is the only one.  Helpless to protect himself and his followers any other way, Yuddistira sends the boy wonder into the jaws of death.  Even then, they could have protected the boy, except they were stopped by old Jayadratha of Sindh.

Remember this guy?  He's actually related in marriage to Duryodhana-- he married Duryodhana's sister.  But one wife wasn't good enough for him, and he stupidly tried to run off with Draupadi, without first defeating the Pandavas.  He paid the price of humiliation for his impudence: he was beaten severely and had his head shaved by an arrow head by Bhimasena.  Too humiliated to return home, Jayadratha remained in the woods, praying to Shiva.  When he finally coaxed Shiva to grant him a wish, he asked for the ability to kill all five Pandavas!

This was a bit too much even for Shiva. The best he could do was grant him the ability to stop the Pandavas briefly, but not Arjun.  Obviously, now was a perfect moment to use this boon, so Jayadratha rode out to forstall the Pandavas, while Drona, Krpa, Karna & Ashvatthaman ganged up on young Abhimanyu and killed him in an ambush.  It was Dushasan's son, Daushasani, who dealt the death blow.

What is Arjun going to say when he finds out they let his son get killed?!?


  1. Hi Lawrence,

    Here is another one of those tales that my Mother told me when I was a kid. This story addresses the question of Abhimanyu's partial knowledge of breaking the Chakravyuha (wheel formation). He only knew how to break in to the formation, but did not know how to get out of it.

    Abhimanyu was still in his Mother Subhadra's womb. It so happened that Krishna was spending an afternoon with his sister. During their conversation, Krishna began to reveal to his sister the secret behind breaking the Chakravyuha. This was not a topic that terribly interested Subhadra, and she gradually dozed off into a deep sleep in the heat of the afternoon.

    However, Abhimanyu was listening to Krishna's narration from within his Mother's womb. Krishna did not realize that Subhadra had fallen asleep, so he continued with his rant. Krishna was also encouraged by Abhimanyu's "Mmm" and "aah" responses from within the womb, and he believed that Subhadra was actually paying attention. This is how Abhimanyu learned the secret to entering the formation.

    However, by then, Krishna noticed that his sister had fallen asleep and stopped there. And thus poor Abhimanyu never learned the rest of the secret, and he didn't know how to get out of the formation that eventually led to his death.

    Adarsh Bhat

  2. Thanks Adarsh. If you can remember any others, please be sure to let us know!

  3. My version slightly different. I would only add that as a result of mom (Subhadra) falling asleep, baby also went to sleep and therefore he did not learn how to get out. On a deeper level, Sree Krishna's Leela is beyond the confines of our limited human intellect.... So maybe breaking the Chakraview was all he was destined to know given the huge sacrifice he would make with his life in the final war. Otherwise, since he was instructed in the art of warfare under Shree Krishna's tutelage, why did he not have the opportunity to learn the complete formation? Other: Abhimanyu's death is a Central and pivotal point in the story. If you actually get into it, it broke my heart and the tears would not stop. It is unfortunate you glossed over the impact of his death on his wIfe Uttara who was newly married to A and pregnant with the heir of Hastinapur, Subadra and even aarjun- his ultimate decision to take aagni saamadhi is slightly different in my version... But I must run to my day job! More later. Amita (comments of AumSakti on your iTunes comment section).

  4. Sorry that I did not get into the drama of the womenfolk, but my versions of the epic only deal with the scene in which Krishna comforts Subhadra. Poor Uttara is basically unmentioned at this point. I don't think they have even said that she was pregnant yet! Uttara comes into focus later, at the end of the battle, so maybe we'll hear more about her feelings then?

    In case anyone is wondering, I basically try not to leave out any scenes from the story. Even if it is tangential or irrelevant, I will still mention that it took place. The only things I've been cutting out of the battle books are the countless battle scenes involving characters we've never heard of before, plus any redundant fight scenes-- how many "Bhima kills elephants" or "Satyaki kills thousands" stories do you really want to hear?!?


  5. Mr. Manzo,
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