Barbarik was the son of Ghatotkach, and the
grandson of Bheem. It is said that he was
so powerful, that according to him, the war
of Mahabharat could end in 1 minute, if he
alone was to fight it. Having learnt the art
of warfare from his mother, he was awarded
with 3 powerful arrows by Lord Shiva who
was pleased with his tapasya.
The first arrow was supposed to mark all the
objects that he wanted to be destroyed. The
second arrow was supposed to mark all the
objects that he wanted to be saved. The third
arrow was supposed to destroy all the objects
marked by the first arrow, or destroy the
ones, not marked by the second arrow. At the
end, all the arrows would return to the quiver.
He was bound by the promise he made to his
mother, to always fight for the weaker side.
Having heard of Barbarik and wanting to examine
his powers, Lord Krishna went on to meet him,
and requested a demonstration of his arrows.
Krishna asked him to display his powers on
a tree. He asked him to treat each leaf of
the tree as an enemy, and make a hole through
As Barbarik started meditating to perform
the task, Krishna took one leaf from the tree,
and placed it under his foot, without Barbarik’s
knowledge. When Barbarik released the first
arrow, the arrow marks all the leaves of that
tree, and eventually starts revolving around
Lord Krishna’s feet. Krishna asks Barbarik,
as to why the arrow was doing that. To this,
Barbarik replied that there must be a leaf
under his feet, and asks him to lift his leg.
As soon as Lord Krishna lifts his leg, the
arrow goes ahead, and marks the remaining
This incident scares Lord Krishna, about the
phenomenal power of Barbarik. He concludes
that the arrows were truly infallible. Krishna
also realizes that in the real battlefield,
in case he wants to isolate someone from Barbarik’s
attack, then he would not be able to do so,
because even without Barbarik’s knowledge,
the arrow would go ahead, and destroy the
target if he intended so.
Krishna asks Barbarik, about which side he
was planning to fight for, in the war of Mahabharat.
Barbarik explains, that since the Kaurav Army
was bigger than that of Pandavas, and because
of the promise he made to his mother, that
he would fight for weaker side, he would fight
for the Pandavas.
To this, Lord Krishna explains him, the paradox
of the condition he had agreed with his mother.
Krishna explains that since he was the greatest
warrior on the battlefield, which ever side
he joins would make the other side weaker.
So eventually, he would end up oscillating
between the two sides, and destroy everyone
except himself. Thus, Krishna reveals the
actual consequence of the word that he had
given to his mother. To avoid his involvement
in the war, Krishna asks him for his head
Before actually giving his head, Barbarik
expresses his desire to view the forthcoming
battle. To this, Krishna agrees to place Barbarik’s
head on top of a mountain, that overlooked
the battlefield. At the end of the war, the
Pandavas argued amongst themselves that whose
was the greatest contribution to their victory.
To this, Krishna suggests that Barbarik’s
head should be allowed to judge this, since
it watched the entire war. Barbarik’s head
suggests that it was Krishna alone, who was
responsible for the victory in the war. His
advice, his strategy and his presence, all
were crucial in the victory.
Barbarik’s sacrifice before the Mahabharata
war to ensured the victory of his grandfathers,
the Pandavas. In return for his sacrifice,
Barbarik was deified by a boon given by Krishna.
Today, Barbarik is worshipped in Rajasthan
as Khatushyamji, and in Gujarat, he is worshipped