Barbarik was the strongest warrior in Mahabharatha, it is said that he could finish Kurukshetra war in just 1 minute.
Barbarik was the grandson of Bhima and son of Ghatothkacha and Mauravi. He was a warrior from his childhood and was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. His mother Mauravi taught him the art of warfare.
Lord Shiva, pleased with him, gave him three infallible arrows. But there are different versions of this story as in a few books, it is written that Lord Shiva gave him these three arrows, while in others, it is written that Ashtadeva (Eight Gods) gave him these three infallible arrows.
Since he is the bearer of these three powerful arrows, he came to be known as “Teen Baandhaari”, the Bearer of three arrows. Also, Agni gave him the bow that makes him invincible in the three worlds.
Story of Barbarik:
Before the war started, Lord Krishna asked everyone how long would it take for them to finish the war alone. Bhisma replied it would take 20 days. Dronacharya said it would take 25 days. Karna said it would take 24 days whereas Arjuna said it would take him 28 days.
On the other hand,Barbarik expressed his desire to watch the war to his mother and she let him go watch it.But she asked him before leaving as to which side would he join if he felt the urge to take part in the war. Barbarik promised his mother that he would join the side that was weaker.
Krishna having heard of Barbarik wanted to examine his strength and disguised himself as a Brahmin to meet Barbarik. Krishna asked him the same question, how many days would it take to finish the war if he were to fight it alone. Barbarik replied it would take him only 1 minute to finish the battle if he was to fight it alone. Krishna was surprised at this answer of Barbarik considering the fact that Barbarik was walking towards the battlefield with just 3 arrows and a bow. To this Barbarik explained the power of the 3 arrows. The first arrow was supposed to mark all the objects that Barbarik wanted to be destroyed. The second arrow was supposed to mark all the objects that Barbarik wanted to be saved. The third arrow was supposed to destroy all the objects marked by the first arrow OR destroy all the objects not marked by the second arrow.
Krishna eager to test this out asked Barbarik to tie all the leaves of the tree that he was standing under. 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 releases the first arrow, the arrow marks all the leaves from the tree and eventually starts revolving around Lord Krishna’s feet. Krishna asks Barbarik as to why the arrow is doing this. To this Barbarik replies that there must be a leaf under your feet and asks Krishna to lift his leg. As soon as Krishna lifts his leg, the arrow goes ahead and marks the remaining leaf too.
This incident scares Lord Krishna and he concludes that the arrows are truly infallible. Krishna also realizes that in the real battlefield in case Krishna wants to isolate someone from Barbarik’s attack, then he would not be able to do so, since even without the knowledge of Barbarik, the arrow would go ahead and destroy the target if Barbarik intended so.
To this Krishna asks Barbarik about which side he was planning to fight for in the war of Mahabharata. Barbarik explains that since the Kaurava Army is bigger than the Pandava Army and because of the condition he had agreed to with his mother, he would fight for the Pandavas. But to this Lord Krishna explains complexity of the condition he had agreed with his mother. Krishna explains that since he was the greatest warrior on the battlefield, whichever 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.
Krishna demands Barbarik’s head:
Later, Krishna sought charity from Barbarik. Barbarik promised to give anything he wants. Then Krishna asked for the head of Barbarik.
Barbarik was shocked hearing this and finds something strange. He asked the Brahmin (Krishna) to reveal his true identity. Then Krishna showed Barbarik his divine form of Lord Vishnu.
It is believed he was one of the only two warriors who have seen the divine form of Lord Krishna.Krishna asks for Barbarik’s head in charity to avoid his involvement in the war.
After seeing the divine form he agreed to give his head to Lord Krishna. But before sacrificing his head, he asks Krishna to fulfill his desire of watching the entire battle since he is not able to participate in the battle.
Krishna agreed to this. Barbarik’s cuts his head off and gave it to Krishna. Lord Krishna placed his head on top of a hill from where he could witness the entire battle.
After the battle ended, Pandavas starts arguing that who is the greatest warrior among themselves.Krishna suggested Pandavas to ask Barbarik’s head as he is the best person to judge since he has witnessed the complete war.
When Pandavas asked him about the same, he said that it was Krishna alone who is responsible for their victory stating that his advice, his presence, his game-plan had been very crucial.
Pandavas then realised that they are just mere instruments to carry out the task of cleaning up the world from Adharma. It was Lord Vishnu and Goddess Mahamaya who are actually responsible for their victory.
Barbarik is worshipped even today:
In Rajasthan, he is worshipped as Khatushyamji. His temple is located in Khatu village in Sikar District, Rajasthan.
He is worshipped as God Kamrunag in Himachal Pradesh. His temple is situated in Kamru hill in Sundernagar, in Mandi District, Himachal Pradesh. There he is known as Ratan Yaksha.
Barbarik is worshipped as Baliyadev (meaning ‘God with superpower’) in Gujarat. His temple is situated in Lambha village in Ahmedabad district in Gujarat.