It is the description of medieval Mahabharata. Many of the devotees must be knowing that the eldest among the five Pandava brothers was Yudhishthir, also known as Dharamaraj, and oldest Kaurava sibling was Duryodhan, who was the mirror image of unrighteousness and untruth. A cold war had always been raging between the Pandavas and the Kauravas right from their childhood to their youth. Yudhishthir couldn’t leave the path of righteousness whereas Duryodhan wouldn’t leave the path of sin.
Duryodhan, at every step, swindled the Pandavas and the limit of cheating was crossed when the Pandavas were compelled to stay in the lakshagraha or the house made of lakh. It was because of blessing of the Lord that the five Pandavas came out safely from lakshagraha along with their mother Kunti. Knowing Duryodhan to be their prime enemy, they did not return to Hastinapur. They started living in the forest. During the same period when, on one night, in a dense forest, mother Kunti, Yudhishthir, Arjun, Nakul and Sahdev were in deep sleep, the club bearer Bhim, symbol of strength, ‘son of the wind’ was guarding them alertly.
In the same forest, there lived a demon called Hidimb along with his younger sister Hidimba.He could smell the presence of some human being from a distance and he told Hidimba that today is a very happy day, as he smelled the presence of some human being in the forest. You go, hunt him, and bring the killed person to me and then both of us will eat human flesh happily.
As the God would have it, when Hidimba reached there, she lost her heart to Bhim, who was in the guise of an alert guard. Now she had only one wish which gained strength with the passage of time. She thought, “Why should not I accept this lion in human form as my husband. There could not be better blessing for me than this.” Since it was getting late, Hidimb himself reached the place. First, he scolded his sister because of seeing Bhim; she had forgotten her demonical nature and had adorned an attractive form. From this, Hidimb could realise that his younger sister had developed a soft feeling in her heart for Bhim. There was no limit to Hidimb’s anger and he told his sister that he would kill immediately all the Pandavas and also teach her a good lesson. But the righteous Bhim said that this woman has come to my refuge and I won’t even allow you to harm her.
Hidimb was intoxicated with his pride and so began a fierce battle between Bhim and Hidimb. They used trees and boulders as weapons as they grappled one another. The Pandavas were aware and they believed that Bhim would defeat the demon and so it happened. When Hidimb was killed,
Hidimba went to Mother Kunti with bowed head, folded hands, and humbly said, “Oh Mother, I have accepted your son Bhim as my husband in the heart of my hearts. You are a woman, and you know my feelings. Have pity on me and permit me to marry your son named Bhim.” Dharamraj Yudhishthir and mother Kunti both tried to convince her that they were passing through bad times and were wandering from jungle to jungle. In the circumstances, they asked her “what happiness would you get by marrying Bhim? ”
But who can prevent God’s will from happening. Hidimba’s repeated humble requests melted Kunti’s heart. Bhim and Hidimba got married and the Pandavas and Kunti left Bhim there on the condition that either on the completion of one year or when Hidimba would bear a son, then Bhim would leave Hidimba and return to them. Time passed by quickly. Hidimba gave birth to a son. At the time of his birth, the baby did not have any hair on his head and so he was named Ghatotkachch. Being the son of a demoness, he looked quite tall at time of his birth itself. Hidimba once again reached the Pandava brothers, took the blessings of mother Kunti, and went back taking Ghatotkachch with her. But before leaving, Ghatotkachch bowed to his father and uncles and they blessed him.
The boy promised them that whenever the Pandavas would require his services, he would definitely come to them. And same things happened. After some time, the Pandava brothers were called back to Hastinapur By Bhishm Pitamah and Vidhur and were handed over the kingdom of Indraprastha to rule. Indraprastha was a lonely, rocky place, and the Pandavas had to convert it into a beautiful town. Realising his duty as a son, Ghatotkachch reached to his father. All the Pandava brothers blessed him. The righteous Yudhishthir said, “Oh Vasudev, Oh Krishna, Oh Madhava, Bhim’s son has already grown up that he must get married now. Then with his heart-winning smile, Krishna Kanhaiya said, “yes, oh king of the righteous, the time for the marriage of Ghatotkachch has indeed come.” He then turned to Ghatotkachch and told, “Son, there was a powerful demon named Mur in Pragjyotishpur.
He has a daughter named Kamkantakata (Morwi), who is very wise. She subjects anyone who comes with a marriage proposal to her to some very difficult questions. You go there with the blessings of all your elders and with the grace of God; you will answer all her questions, but don’t perform the wedding rituals there. You come here along with her. Lord Krishna’s words can never be false.
When Ghatotkachch reached Pragjyotishpur, he had battle of wits with Kamkantakata and became victorious. Thereafter he reached Indraprastha with Kamkantakata. There both of them got married in the presence of Lord Krishna. Then after seeking his elders’ permission, Ghatotkachch proceeded towards east. Time waits for none. It just flows uninterrupted and just passes by and then, finally the auspicious time came when all the planets were so powerful that Kamkantakata birth an illustrious, strong, wise, kind hearted and religious son named Barbareek.
There is a reason behind the name Barbareek. At the time of his birth, he had hair like a lion’s mane. And as you know, a lion is very ferocious and hence the name “Barbareek” was given to him. As has been said earlier, some of demonesses grow up as soon as they are born. Now there arose a doubt in Ghatotkachch’s mind as to what his son would become. But he was fortunate enough to have the proximity of Shri Krishna. He took Barbareek to Dwarka and placed him at the feet of lord Shri Krishna.
Then Barbareek bowed his head with folded hands, touched Shri Krishna’s feet, and said, “Oh my Lord! How can a creature in this world be blessed? Some say religion brings blessings, some advocated philanthropy, some prefer meditation, some flavor riches, some like pleasure and enjoyment, but many argue that only salvation brings blessing. Oh Lord, out of all these options, please direct me along one path, grant me one option, which may prove to be auspicious for my dynasty and for all others. Please preach to me and advise me about that.”
Lord Shri Krishna was very happy to know his feelings, his inner determination, and faith. Therefore, with his sweet attractive smile, he said, “Oh son’. All the four castes in society have their pre-destined paths of invoking blessings according to their position in society.
Since you are a ‘Kshatriya’ or a “warrior’, you should use your strength, that is you should use your might which you can get by seeking the blessings of ‘Sureshwari Bhavani Bhagvati.’ Therefore you should first worship the goddess.”
Barbareek again asked the Lord to which place he should go to meditate upon the goddess and seek her blessings. Then the Bhaktvatsal Lord Krishna told Barbareek to go to the meeting place of the oceans (“Mahisaagar Tat, i.e Gupt Kshetra ) the meditate upon the ‘Durgas’ brought by Narada.
Then heeding the venerable command of Shri Krishna, Barbareek proceeded. Reaching the meeting place of the oceans, he gained his perception and began to meditate upon the goddess. The goddess saw his intense meditation and determination and were so pleased that they granted him a boon that could not be accessed by anyone else in all the three worlds. The goddess said, “Son, we grant you unparalleled strength. Nobody will be able to defeat you in this world. But you stay here for a few more years because a Brahmin named Vijay will come here and you will receive even more blessings as a result of his company. Barbareek stayed there following the goddess’ command. The Brahmin named Vijay came there from Megadha and worshipping seven Shivlings, he became immersed in the meditation of the same goddess. The goddess came in the Brahmin’s dream and blessed him and also asked him to meditate before the Sidha Mother to practice all his skills and learning. They told him that
my devotee Barbareek would help him. Then that Brahmin named Vijay said to Barbareek, “Oh Brother! Please take care that my meditation is not disturbed till I practice all my skills.”
Therefore, Barbareek killed Replindu demon, and Dhruv-Dhruva demoness etc., who were obstructing in the Brahmin’s meditation. He also killed the demons called Palasi who had been troubling Nagas from the Patal lok. On the killing of those demons, the king of the Nags, Vasuki came there and told Barbareek to ask for a boon. Barbareek humbly asked for a boon that the Brahmin Vijay’s meditation may be completed uninterrupted.
At that time many Nag maidens seeing Barbareek’s looks and bravery, were eager to marry him. But Barbareek told all of them that he had taken the vow of bachelorhood. Those Nag maidens were very pleased with his bahaviour and gave him the boon of being ever victorious.
Thereafter the goddess granted Brahmin Vijay the boon of wealth and fortune and gave Barbareek three infallible arrows and blessing him, said that by using these arrows he would always be victorious in the three worlds.
Devotees! These are the same three arrows which we worship as Lord Shyam’s weapons. These are kept in every Shri Shyam’s temple and are worshipped with great devoutness.
After a long time of his leaving that area, the Pandava brothers also reached the Sindh pilgrimage after losing everything in gambling. All the Pandavas worshipped the goddess and then sat a little away to take some rest. Then according to God’s will, Bhim stood up and without washing his hand and feet, entered the sacred pond and began rinsing and gargling his mouth. Barbareek became very angry on seeing this. He went to Bhim and asked him what kind of a pilgrim he was. He said, “You know the water from this pond is used for the worship of the goddess and you have entered the pond without even washing your hands and feet and you are also gargling and rinsing your mouth.” At this, the strong Bhim also got very angry and both started fighting. Bhim was very proud of his might and even after applying all his strength he couldn’t defeat Barbareek. Seeing this, Bhim became very depressed and at the same time, Lord Shiva appeared at that place with all the goddess.
Lord Shiva told Bhim not to feel depressed as Barbareek was from his own family and was indeed his descendent. He is Barbareek, the son of your son Ghatotkachch. Now Barbareek was very sad at what he had done. He felt sad at having fought with his grandfather. He felt disdain for his life and he went ahead to end his life. Then the goddess, who had granted Barbareek the might and Lord Bholenath, advised Barbareek that this is not the time for him to end his life. On everybody’s advice, Barbareek calmed down and reunited with his family. Even after meeting the Pandavas, the flame of devoutness and meditation was there in Barbareek’s mind. The Pandavas also after completing their one-year of hidden identity stay in the forest began demanding their kingdom back. But then Duryodhan refused them even five villages, what to say of their Kingdom and finally the destructive war of Mahabharata was decided on. The battle of truth and the falsehood was sure to take place.
Barbareek also completed his meditation at the meeting place of the oceans ( Mahisaagar Tat, i.e. Gupt Kshetra ), returned to his Mother Morwi, and touched her feet. When Barbareek got the news of the battle of Mahabharata, he also wished to see the same and told his mother about his desire. Then his Mother Morwi told him, “If you want to see the battle, then go. But you are so brave and courageous that if you feel the urge to participate in the war, what will you do?
Then Barbareek said, “O Mother, I will first watch the battle and then afterwards I will join the side of the party which is losing.” Then taking his mother’s permission and blessing, the strong and mighty, courageous, friend of the loser, Barbareek rode a blue horse at the speed of wind and proceeded towards the battlefield of Mahabharata, Kurukshetra. There, the hero of the Mahabharata, the omnipresent Lord Krishna saw through his divine foresight that a brave man astride on a blue horse was proceeding towards the battlefield with the speed of wind. Shri Krishna thought in his mind. “Let me examine this brave youth.” And the playful God disguising himself as a Brahmin sat under a peepal tree, a little distance away from the battlefield. When Barbareek reached there, he saw the Brahmin sitting under the peepal tree and alighting from the horse; he bowed humbly to the Brahmin and stopped there.
Then the Lord, in the guise of a Brahmin, asked him who he was and where he was going? Barbareek replied, “Oh Brahmin! My name is Barbareek and I am going towards the battlefield of Mahabharata.” on this, the Lord said, “brave man, you are going towards a battlefield and that too with only three arrows.”Barbareek replied, “Oh Brahmin! Let alone three arrows, of these only one arrow is enough to destroy the entire armies taking part in this war in one second and then it will return back to my quiver. If I use all the three arrows then there will be havoc in the three worlds.Everything will be destroyed and after completing their task, the arrows will return to my quiver.” Then the Brahmin said, “Oh brave youth, why are you so arrogant about your courage and your arrows?” Barbareek answered,” Oh Brahmin! This is not arrogance; this is the strength of my meditation, my worship. That is why I am proud of them.
The Lord in the guise of the Brahmin said, “If you are so proud of your bravery, then tie all the leaves of the peepal tree under which I am sitting, with one arrow.”
The brave Barbareek agreed to fulfill his wish. He removed one arrow from his quiver and concentrating on his meditation, he released the arrow after bringing it near him. Within moments, the arrow tied all the leaves of the peepal tree together. But Lord Krishna had one leaf under his foot. After tying the leaves on the tree the arrow started revolving around the Brahmin’s foot. At this the Brahmin asked, “Oh Brave man, why is this arrow revolving around my foot.” Barbareek told him that there must be a leaf under his foot and the arrow was revolving to tie the leaf. Then the Brahmin said, “If there is a leaf why is the arrow not
tying it?” Barbareek told him that the arrow had been released to tide the leaves and not his foot. Hearing this, the Brahmin removed his foot and the arrow tied that leaf too and then returned to Barbareek’s quiver.
Lord Shri Krishna said, “There is no doubt that you are brave, very brave. But tell me which side you will fight for in the battle.” Barbareek told him, “Brahmin, actually I have come to see the battle. But then whichever side loses, I will fight for that side.” Lord Krishna knew that Kauravas would definitely lose the battle. And if this brave man joins the losing side, then the scene of the whole battlefield would change. If this happened, then righteousness and religion would be destroyed and unrighteousness would emerge victorious.”
The Lord in the guise of the Brahmin said, “you are surely very brave. But just being brave or courageous doesn’t constitute the meaning of being of Kshatriya. A Kshatriya should be a philanthropist, as well. At this Barbareek said, “Today, anything you want from me. If it is under my control, I will surely fulfill your wish.” Then the playful Lord Krishna said. “First you promise me and then I will ask for a boon”, Barbareek promised and gave him his words and told him to ask for whatever he wants.Then the playful Krishna said, “Oh brave man! Give me your head in charity.”
Barbareek became speechless with astonishment. He said, “Oh Brahmin! I have given you my words and so I will surely give you my head. But first you tell me who you are and why do you want my head? Please disclose me your identity?
At this, Lord Krishna showed Barbareek his divine form and said, “Look Barbareek, before the battle in order to worship the battle field it is necessary to sacrifice a full, brave Kshatriya’s head that is the bravest on this earth and no one is braver than you in this world. That’s why I had asked for you head in charity.”
Barbareek said, “Oh Lord, I have been your devotee since my childhood. It is my good fortune that you have asked for my head. But Oh Lord! I too have a wish. I wish to see this battle till its end. If you fulfill this wish of mine then my life will be a success and will have a new meaning to it.” Lord Krishna said. “So be it! Oh brave Barbareek your wish will surely be fulfilled.”
“Shish Ke Dani Ki Jay”
At that moment, all the Pandava brothers arrived there and began telling Lord Krishna, “Lord! Why have you asked for this innocent brave man’s head? Then “Siddha Ambika, Tara, Kapali, Suvarna, Trikola, Chandika, Praneshwari, Bhutambika, Kodhmatru, Harisiddha, Charcha-cheeka, Yogeshwari & Tripura etc., goddesses appeared, and said “Oh brave Pandavas! Hear from us the reason for taking the sacrifice of Barbareek’s head. Once upon a time all the Gods prayed to Shri Vishnu that Lord! The unrighteousness on earth has increased greatly. Please lessen this burden from the earth. Then Lord Vishnu assured everyone and putting their minds of rest promised that he would take an incarnation and remove the burden from the earth. Then a Yaksha named Suryavarcha, who was present there, said that he alone could take an incarnation and he would remove earth’s burden. As soon as he said that, Lord Brahma became extremely furious and he cursed Suryavarcha saying that whenever the time comes for him to remove the world’s burden, he would die by the hands of Shri Krishna. Then Suryavarch asked what he could do to escape from Lord Brahma’s curse. Lord Vishnu said that whenever the burden of sin and unrighteousness will descend on the earth, Shri Krishna will release you from your curse and with his blessings you will become famous. He is the same brave man whose head Shri Krishna has taken as a sacrifice and behind this also lies the good for righteousness.
Thereafter Shri Krishna and the goddesses secured Barbareek’s head at the top of a high hill near the battlefield with the help of nectar vines so that he could watch the war till its end. Then after blessing the Pandavas and the head of Barbareek, the goddesses disappeared.
The most destructive, most desolate war of Mahabharata started. Lakhs of soldiers were killed from both sides on the battlefield and it was only after 18 days of fierce battle that with great difficulty the question of victory and defeat was decided. It was because of the artful Shri Krishna’s policies that the Pandavas could achieve victory. On achieving victory, all the five Pandavas began describing their own individual courage in glorious terms and began to show arrogance at their victory. Each of them was thinking himself to be the cause of this victory. While Arjuna was arrogant about his archery skills, Bhim was proud of his clubbing skills. Each of them thought himself to be the rightful recipient of victory.
Then Shri Krishna said, “Oh brave Pandavas! Don’t be so proud of yourselves. The correct decision regarding the real winner can only be taken by the brave Barbareek’s head. You all were fighting in the battle but that brave man’s head has seen all that happened on the battlefield from beginning to end from the top of the hill with rapt attention. Come, let’s go, and ask the brave Barbareek’s head.” All the Pandava brothers accompanied Shri Krishna to the peak of the hill where Barbareek’s head was secured with nectar vines. In front of Barbareek’s head, all the Pandavas began to say that they were each responsible for the victory and were so happy that they couldn’t contain their happiness within themselves.
Then Barbareek’s head smiled and said, “Oh brave Pandavas! You have achieved the victory in this war only because of Lord Krishna’s plans and policies. It was only because of this artful God’s delusions that you have emerged victorious. The actual winner of this war is only Lord Krishna. It’s only because of his wisdom and policies that you have won the great battle of Mahabharata.
Barbareek’s head continued, “Oh brave Pandavas, I could see only the Sudarshan Chakra revolving everywhere which was hacking the Kaurava army to pieces and Draupadi assuming the fearful form of Mahakali Durga, was drinking bowl after bowl of blood and was not allowing even one drop of blood to fall on the earth.” Saying this Barbareek’s head became silent and flowers were showered from heaven on his head.
Hearing all this, the Pandavas became ashamed of themselves and started begging for forgiveness. Lord Krishna said, “Barbareek, I am pleased with your great sacrifice and I grant you the boon that you will be greatly worshipped by the name of Shyam in my form only in the Kaliyug. Devotees will be blessed just by remembering you and by worshipping you with a true heart and piety, all the jobs of the devotee will be completed.”
The brave, philanthropic, generous, courageous Barbareek’s head was later buried in the land of Khatu and by Lord Krishna’s boon, and then the time came for the head to appear. A shepherd used to graze the cows of Khatu outside Khatu. One of the cows while returning home after grazing used to stop at a place some distance away from the village and milk used to start flowing from her teats into the earth. The cow’s owner was very worried and upset that his cow was not giving any milk daily. He admonished the shepherd and asked him whether he milked the cow every evening so that the cow was not giving any milk to him. Even after the shepherd denied, the cow’s owner did not believe him and followed the cow the whole day and what he saw was that at a particular distance from the village, milk starts flowing from the teats of the cow and enters the earth. Seeing this, he was dumbstruck with astonishment and began wondering who was inside the earth that drank the milk in such a fashion. He became eager to know more about this. He started getting the field dug up. When the digging was completed, a sound was heard beneath the earth. Then he gave orders for the digging operation to proceed slowly.
After passage of some time, the brave Barbareek’s head i.e. Shyamji’s head was found. The cow’s owner gave away the head to a Brahmin. That Brahmin worshipped the head continuously for many days in his house.
This place was the town of Khatu Khatank. In a dream, the king of this place saw Shyamji’s head, who told him “Oh King! You build a temple here and taking the head from the Brahmin, install it in the temple. You will also get a share in the fame for this.” Then a temple was built in that city and the head of Shyamji that is Barbareekji was installed there at an auspicious time according to rites and rituals on the 11th of the brighter half of the Kartik month. Even today those devotees who meditate and worship the sacrificer of the head- shyamji with a true heart, faith and deep devoutness, Shri Shyamji riding on a blue horse comes running to fulfill their prayers.The Shyamji of Khatu if known by various names.
In the midst of Khatu town, a beautiful temple of Makrana is build of Shri Shyam Baba.
Thereis a Shyam pond at a little distance from the temple where the head of Shri Shyamji had appeared. There is a special importance to bathing in that pond. Many devotees believe that by bathing in that pond, the afflictions of the body are cured. There is a Shyam garden a little distance away from the temple. The flowers for the decoration of Shri Shyam are chosen from here.
Aarati is done five times in Shyamji’s temple. All the times, devotees immersed in devoutness and joyful prayer, dance and sing. A big fair is held at Khatu on the twelfth of the Shukla Paksha of the Phalgun month. Lakhs of men and women sing devotional songs on the night of the eleventh and getting immersed in the joy of Krishna, they dance the whole night. And at dawn of the twelfth, people go to the temple and worship Shri Shyam. People take their children for mundan ceremony and newly wed couples offer prayers for their happy married life on the 12th of Shukla Paksha in the month of Phalgun.
In the fair, lakhs of devotees walk in procession of foot from Reengas to Khatu carrying religious symbols and offer those colorful symbols of Shri Shyam at Khatu temple. Though devotees throng Khatu daily, it is on Vijaydasahmi that Khatu is overcrowded with devotees. The sight of thousands of devotees offering unique symbols of their faith of Shri Shyam with songs and dances is a marvelous sight. On the 11th of the brighter half of the Kartik month also, Shri Shyam’s birthday is celebrated with gusto and fervor in Khatu.
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