Bhagadatta: The unspoken warrior who made Krishna break his vow in the war of Kurukshetra

Updated: Jul 10

Just a while back Bheemsen created havoc in the Sanshaptak battalion of the Kaurava army. He looked no less than Yamraj, the god of death. He single-handedly made the war elephants, the huge trained-for- war elephants that had swords tied to their trunks and a separate armour of their own, run for their life. Having seen the otherwise killer war elephants run in many directions, Duryodhan angrily challenged Kuntinandan Bheem for a duel. Bheem, with his eyes filled with rage, accepted the challenge and attacked Duryodhan with his finely sharpened arrows. The bejewelled flag of Duryodhan’s chariot broke and his bow was cut into two by the very sharp spears thrown by Bheem. Soon Gandhari Putra, Duryodhan had to run for his life. Today Bheemsen looked unstoppable.

But this was different. This elephant could not be controlled by Bheem. It seemed it would crush the mighty Bheem under the weight of his heavy knees. It even tried to do so and Bheem just saved himself, somehow. This was Suprateek, the elephant from the same clan as that of Aeravat, on whom the king of the gods Indra killed many demons and danavas in the past. It had to be great. It had the power of ten thousand elephants. And the mightier than the mightiest of elephants had Bhagadata, the king of Pragyajyotishpur (a kingdom towards the north-east) on him.

Bheem ran under the huge belly of that great elephant. Bheem was a warrior who was not only super strong but was also quite a skilful fighter. He knew the art of ‘Anjalikavedh’ – the art of caressing an elephant by touching its belly in a particular manner than calms it down. He started doing so. Suprateek started to move in all directions as if to stop Bheem from calming it down. Bheem was waiting for another elephant to come for him. The Pandava army went clueless and started running away shouting that Bheemsen, Pandukumar Bheemsen would be killed by that beast.

Yudhishthir, the eldest of the Pandavas, along with other warriors, having heard of this rumour attacked Bhagadata and his elephant from all sides. Arrows started hurling towards Suprateek and he ran in all directions. For once the king of Pragyjyotishpur seemed to have lost control of his elephant but soon Bhagadatta, the great old Bhagdatta gained control over that animal and started attacking the Pandava army again. He killed Darshanraj. He killed Ruchiparva. He made Yuyudhan, the great charioteer of Shri Krishna and a very able warrior himself, who saved Devatas once, move aside. He made Suprateek roll Yuyudhan’s chariot in his strong trunk and throw it up in the air. He killed many of the warriors of the Panchaldesh army. Bhagadatta became fiercer with each barrier in his way. Bhagadatta seemed just like how Indra would have looked sitting on his Aeravat while fighting the danavas.

Bheem who just escaped death just a while back could not tolerate the crushing of his army by Bhagadata and his elephant and so he came back in the war again, this time on his chariot. But, it could be so that Suprateek sensed the entry of Bheem again and this time it started trumpeting on the horses that were driving Bheemsen. The trumpeting was like the sound of thunder and it made the horses run in a different direction carrying Bheem too with them.

Seeing Bheem has been taken away by his horses, other warriors in the Pandava army - Arjun Putra Abhimanyu, Chekitan, Dhrishketu and Yuyutsu started showering arrows on Bagadata. But this time the focus was not the Parvataraj but his four-legged mighty warrior, Suprateek. They all managed to wound the elephant so much so that the blood started oozing out of the armour. But this could not stop that great elephant that was from a great clan and of a great master. Rather it fueled Suprateek with rage. Now it was attacking the Pandava warriors with even more force. His rumbling made the distant soldiers feel as if not one but an entire fleet, the entire herd of elephants was parading Kurukshetra finding and killing each Pandava soldier.

Arjun, the possessor of the great bow Gandeev, the son of Indra, the friend of Krishna, the one who once made Bheeshma, Karna, Kripacharya, Duryodhan and his own guru Drona all together accept defeat single-handedly, now fighting on the other side of Kurukshetra heard of the great rumbling, the great trumpeting. He turned to Krishna and asked him to take the chariot towards the sand storm caused by Bhagadata and his elephant.

The valour of Bahgadata brought a new lease of life to the otherwise clueless Sanshaptak Army. Having seen Arjun marching towards Bhagadata, a strong battalion of fourteen thousand soldiers attacked Arjun. This was the time to see the beauty of this greatest of the great warriors Arjun. He looked majestic while showering hundreds of arrows towards the enemies. The focus he had in the battlefield at that time was no less than that of Shiv while he is meditating. He resembled Indra. Krishna, the one who is the cause and the result of every action and reaction in this universe, could not stop himself from praising the skill his Partha showed in the war of Kurukshetra today. Having pierced the Sanshaptak Army, Gandeev Dhari Arjun, while praising his own enemy said: “Hey Keshav, take me to the one who is fighting like the king of gods, the one who is the greatest Elephant warrior on this earth, the one who is the master of the magnificent yet beastly Suprateek, the king of Pragyajyotishpur- Bhagadata”.

Arjun-Bhagadatta Battle

This is the battle that made even the gods come of their abode and witness the history in the making. Arjun and Bhagadata both were shooting arrows of different calibre at each other. They both possessed arrows of celestial powers and were not shying away from using them. At one moment Krishna and Arjun would seem to be surrounded in great trouble and on the other Bhagadata would appear to be escaping the razor-sharp arrows of Arjun. Then Bhagadata in a fierce mood hurled fiery hot arrows with the beautiful feathered rear at Krishna, which to no astonishment pierced through his body leaving him unharmed and poked the earth. Arjun in the same ferocious mood attacked Suprateek and broke down its armour. Now the already wounded elephant was vulnerable. Arjun took great advantage of this opportunity and started bursting the elephant with arrows which caused the mighty beast unbearable pain.

Seeing his elephant getting harrowed Bhagadata now used the most powerful arrow, the one which could not be stopped even by the gods – The Vaishavastra. Krishna knew of the history; he knew the power of the weapon and its ancestry. Not waiting for even the minutest span of time Krishna stood from his seat of the chariot. He presented his chest to the ultra-powerful weapon.

Bhagadatta: The grandson of Vishnu

Vaishnavastra was rushing with immense speed towards the lord not knowing that it is he who is the true and original bearer of this force. It is he who created the weapon. It is he who gave this weapon to Narakasura (Bhaumasura), the son of Bhumi (Mother Earth) and the Varaha Avatar of Vishnu. It is he who had asked for a boon for her son, Vishnu accepted the request of Prithvi and gave Vaishanavastra to Narakasura and also the boon of longevity after which Narakasura having gained immense power became ruthless and attacked the devatas. He even stole the celestial weapons and jewels from different gods and had imprisoned all the beautiful princesses of all the kings on earth. It is he who, to protect the sanctity of those women and the powers of the gods, killed Narakasura. It is he who provided all those freed Sixteen Thousand One Hundred Princesses the celestial bliss by accepting to be their husband.

Vaishanavastra was just a weapon, had it known the truth it would have become a garland of flowers adorning the creator himself. None the less, the same happened, it had to happen. The same happens to all, the ones with consciousness and without it. We all are born of him and we all would eventually submerge in him. And so did the Vaishnavastra. The moment it touched the chest of the lord, it turned into Vaijantimala, the one which has flowers from all the seasons, stringed together only for the creator of seasons.

Arjun felt embarrassed and a bit irritated. He asked Krishna as to why has he been breaking his vow to not participate in the battle and yet he did it again. Earlier it was against Bheeshma and now Bhagadatta. To which Krishna politely narrated the entire story of how this weapon has been passed down from Naraksura to his son Bhagadata and how it is only he and not even Indra or Rudra, who could have stopped the unstoppable weapon.

The end of the One Hundred and Fifty-year-old Bhagadatta

Arjun angrily turned towards Bhagadatta. He took out Narachastra which was also used by Devatas and shot it towards Suprateek. There was no coming back from this now. The weapon pierced right through the forehead of that great warrior and made it tremble on its feet. That was the end of one who was from the clan of the celestial Aeravata.

Even while Bhagadata was trying to understand the condition, Arjun was finding it difficult to take over the king of Pragyjyotishpur. He asked Krishna for help. That is when Krishna told Arjun to aim for the cloth Bhagadata had tied on his forehead for this was the cloth that had kept the drooling eyelashes from falling over this One Hundred and Fifty-year-old awesomely ferocious warrior’s eyes. Having realized that Bhagadata was this old that he had to take care of his drooling wrinkles, Arjun, the one who was given the bejewelled crown Kireet from Indra himself thus getting the name Kireetdhari, took no time to shoot an arrow that opened the knot of the cloth Bhagadata had tied on his forehead. This blinded Bhagadatta. While he was trying to gain control of what had happened Arjun used a crescent-shaped arrow and shot it at Bhagadatta.

The arrow pierced the chest of the king of north-eastern mountains, the friend of Indra, the grandson of Vishnu, the One Hundred and Fifty-year-old Pragyajyotishpur Naresh Bhagadata, thus bringing an end to his valour.

This was Day 12 of the great war of Mahabharat. This was the time after Bheeshma and when Drona was the commander of Kauravas. This was the day when Abhimanyu was still alive. This was the day when Krishna again broke his vow. This was the day when Krishna again made us understand that we have to believe in God and his acts, we need to have trust on the one who is the creator, we need to also trust that he is the one who is our charioteer, and when required he himself would break all his vows of the circle of this life to save us for we are his own creation.


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