Barbarika: The Forgotten Warrior Who Could Have Ended Mahabharata With One Arrow

Last Updated on November 16, 2022

Do you know who is Barbarika? He is said to be the warrior who could have ended Mahabharata with his single arrow.

There is a story about Krishna asking the greatest warriors before the Mahabharata war began. The story goes like this, Krishna posed a question to each of the most powerful warriors how long do they think the Mahabharata War would last? Answering his question Bhishma said 20 days, Dronacharya said 25 Karna said 24 days, and Arjuna said 28 days.

But do you know what everyone was shocked about is when Barbarika most popularly known as Khatu Shyam Ji, one of the warriors present there, said it would only take a moment for him to end the war?

It has been said that he was so powerful that the war might have lasted for a few minutes if he stepped on the battleground. When people ask who is that one warrior who could have stopped the war, I believe Barbarika is the answer.

But not many people know about this unsung mighty warrior. So, in this article, you will learn about who is Barbarika, and how he was the strongest warrior of all.

Who is Barbarika In Mahabharata?

Barbarika was the son of Ghatotkach (son of Bhima) and Maurvi, daughter of Daitya Moor, a Baniyo king. He was a fearless warrior and learned to fight from his mother, who was a talented warrior herself.

The story goes that Barbarika became so powerful after he received the boon from Lord Shiva. It is said that he got three arrows from the ashtadeva or eight gods. Therefore he is called “Teen Baan Dhaari” which means “Bearer of three arrows.”

The three arrows of Barbarika were the most lethal weapon any warrior ever possessed. The first arrow was capable of marking all the targets, the second arrow was capable of marking those that Barbarika wanted to save, and the third one could destroy everything unmarked.

Why Did Barbarika Not Fight In The Mahabharata Battle?

Most people ask why Barbarika (Khatu Shyam Ji) did not take part in the battle, and what was the reason behind it. Well, the reason is Barbarika was rooted in the principle of always fighting on the weaker side and so he couldn’t participate in the great battle between Pandavas and Kauravas.

Here’s the famous story of Krishna’s discourse with Barbarika before the Mahabharata battle.

In order to examine the strength of Barbarika, Krishna disguised himself as a Brahmin. He then asked Barbarika how much it would take for him to end the war to which he replied one minute. Hearing this Krishna disguised as Brahmin asked Barbarika to one of his arrows and mark all the leaves in the forest. As soon as Barbarika closed his eyes to release his arrow, Krishna hid one leaf under his feet.

When Barbarika released the arrow started hovering around the leg of Krishna. And when Krishna asked Barbarika, “Why is this arrow hovering around my feet?” Barbarika replied, “You must have a leaf underneath your foot, and the arrow is aiming for your foot so that it can mark the leaf.” He further says, “You must lift your leg otherwise the arrow would mark the leaf by piercing your foot.”

Seeing this, Krishna was assured that Barbarika could really end the battle in a moment as his arrows can navigate and trace his supposed targets even if he is unaware of their location.

Don’t Miss This: Why Should We Not Keep Mahabharata at Home?

Krishna in his curiosity asked Barbarika about which side he will choose to fight in the battle. Barbarika said that he has promised his mother to always use his powers only for the weaker side, so he says that he would fight against the Kauravas as Pandavas are weak.

But Krishna pointed out that as soon as he fought on the side of the Pandavas, the Kauravas would become the weaker side, as Barbarika was the mightiest. This would lead him to switch sides and fight against both the Kauravas and the Pandavas. This means that no one would be alive in the battle except Barbarika himself.

Therefore, Krishna used his cleverness to avoid Barbarika from participating in the war by asking his head for charity.

But before Barbarika offered his head, he told Krishna of his wish to witness the Kurukshetra battle. Accepting his desire, Krishna placed his head on a hilltop from where he witnessed the entire Kurukshetra war.

Barbarika Witnessed The Mahabharata War

It is said that when the battle ended Pandavas brothers argued among themselves about who led the battle toward victory. Hearing this, Krishna suggested asking Barbarika as he was the entire war from the top of the hill.

When asked, Barbarika replied:

“All I could witness were two things. One, a divine chakra spinning all around the battlefield, slaughtering anyone who had not aligned themselves with Dharma. The other was, Draupadi in her original form of Goddess Mahakali spread out her tongue on the battlefield and consumed all the sinners as her sacrifice. The reason why you won the war is because of Krishna and Goddess Parvati who eradicated Adharma. Krishna’s advise and strategy was crucial for your triumph”

Barbarika (Lord Kathu Shyam)

Barbarika Is Worshipped As Shyam

After the discourse about the main reason why Pandavas won the war, Krishna drowned Barbarika’s head in the river Rupavati. It is believed that when the Kaliyuga began, his head was found buried in the Khatu, present-day Rajasthan. One day the King of Khatu Roopsingh Chauhan saw a dream and decided to build a temple to keep Barbarika’s head in it.

The other story goes like after the war Krishna joined Barbarika’s head to his body and Barbarika then decided to spread the message of peace in the world.

But no matter what may be the true story, what matters is that he was one of the mightiest yet most unknown warriors in Mahabharata who could have ended the war in 60 seconds.


Why Did Krishna Stop Barbarika?

While pretending to be a Brahmin, Krishna tested Barbarika’s strength. After being asked how many days it would take him to end the war on his own, Barbarika claimed it would take him just one minute. Which is why Krishna stopped Barbarika.

Where Is Barbarik Head Now?

Lord Krishna supposedly sacrificed Barbarik’s head in the river Rupawati. The severed head was discovered in a grave in the Khatu hamlet of the Sikar region of Rajasthan.

Who Gave Barbarik 3 Arrows?

Lord Valmiki, pleased with the results of his penance, bestowed upon him three arrows with the ability to never miss his target.

Other Resources To Know More About Barbarika

What do you think?

Written by Mukund Kapoor & Team

Mukund Kapoor is a spiritual enthusiast and self-improvement expert with a passion for helping others find inner peace and fulfillment. With a deep understanding of various spiritual practices and philosophies, Mukund has dedicated his life to sharing his knowledge and wisdom with others through his website, Our team is comprised of individuals who are passionate about exploring the depths of the human spirit and helping others on their own personal journeys towards self-discovery and fulfillment. On the site, you'll find a wealth of valuable information and resources on topics such as mindfulness, meditation, personal growth, and more.

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