Five thousand years ago an epic battle was fought between the forces
of evil and the righteous. The latter were outnumbered and outclassed.
In the eighteen-day Mahabharat war, the thirteenth day would be remembered
by all children till eternity. They would be proud that a noble sixteen
year old child pitted himself against mighty warriors. Despite his tender
age, his mastery in warfare and phenomenal valour wreaked such havoc
that the enemy leaders resorted to the most treacherous and cowardly
means to do away with him. His name was Abhimanyu, son of Arjun.
At dawn on the thirteenth day, the evil Duryodhan cunningly arranged
the Kauravs in a battle formation known as Chakravyuh. ‘Chakra’
means circular. At its centre Drona kept Duryodhan. To guard him he
arranged seven circular formations radiating outwards. In these he placed
formidable warriors known as Maharathis, such as Dushasan, Karna, Kripacharya,
Ashwatthama, Shakuni, Shalya, Bhurishrava and Jayadrath. When the Pandavs
and their leader Yuddhisthir saw the Chakravyuh their high spirits dropped
below zero! Nobody among them knew how to break the Chakravyuh. It was
impregnable. Only Arjun and his son Abhimanyu knew the secret. But Arjun
was tied up far away.
Therefore Yuddhisthir appointed the sixteen year old Abhimanyu to smash
the Chakravyuh. However Abhimanyu did not know how to come out.
They then formed a battle strategy. When Abhimanyu broke through, the
Pandavs would follow him to create a wider opening and protect him.
They would prevent the outer layer from closing in.
Abhimanyu then climbed his chariot. In an instant he was streaking like
a lightning bolt towards the Chakravyuh. The mighty warriors of the
Pandav army followed.
The handsome young Kshatriya clashed with the Kauravs at the outer ring.
He charged through. The Chakravyuh was busted! Like a mighty lion he
entered under the nose of Drona, his ‘grand guru’. A mere
sixteen year old had managed to outwit the seasoned and formidable Drona!
Abhimanyu shot off arrows like flashes of lightning. The arrows smashed
chariots and cut down soldiers. Arrows to the left, arrows to the right
and arrows to the front. A menacing rain of arrows. Those who dared
fight him, either died or beat a hasty retreat ! He was a tornado, whirling
through and churning up the Kaurav army. Unbelievably, the tornado reached
Duryodhan! The seventh layer had been busted. Like an earthquake, a
hue and cry reverberated through the Kaurav army. Maharathis rushed
to protect Duryodhan.
Meanwhile Yuddhisthir and the other Pandavs clashed with Jayadrath at
the outer layer, just after Abhimanyu crashed through. However, Jayadrath
effectively stopped their progress with a wall of elephants. The Pandavs
could not help Abhimanyu, who had sped in so fast. And he was crashing
through the ranks, deeper and deeper into the Chakravyuh. And he did
no know how to get out. So Abhimanyu was now on his own. All alone!
At the centre, a gruesome skirmish ensued. Abhimanyu fought valiantly.
He smashed and destroyed the hundreds of arrows fired at him by Kripacharya,
Ashwatthama, Duryodhan, Shalya and Bruhadbal. On several occasions,
all of them had to flee his tremendous volley of arrows. He cut down
many other Maharathis. When he felled Lakshman, Duryodhan’s son,
the Kauravs seethed with fury. Karna then asked Drona how Abhimanyu
could be defeated. Drona admired Abhimanyu’s unexcelled valour
and supreme archery. Yet he had no choice but to reveal the secret of
defeating Abhimanyu. As the master of warfare, only he knew how. He
said, “If you can, break his impenetrable armour, kill his two
charioteers and destroy his chariot. Then cut the string of his bow.
So long as he sits in his chariot with his bow, even the devas or demons
cannot defeat him !”
The six Kaurav Maharathis did just that. Mercilessly, treacherously,
they pounced like six angry tigers on a lone, wounded elephant. However
the gallant young Kshatriya fought right till the end. Arjun and Shri
Krishna would be proud of him. Despite his death, he had fought for
Dharma (righteousness). That is why the sixteen year old child was the
supreme hero of the thirteenth