The Greatest Unknown Warrior of Mahabharata

Barbarik The Greatest Unknown Warrior of Mahabharata

Barbarik was the grandson of Bhima and the son of Ghatotkacha.

Having learned the art of warfare from his mother, Barbarik became one of the bravest warrior of his time.   Pleased with his talents, Lord Shiva granted him three special arrows and a special bow from Lord Agni. 

It is said that Barbarik was so powerful that according to him the war of Mahabharata could end in 1 minute if he alone were to fight it.

The story goes like this:

At the beginning of the great war, Lord Krishna asked everyone how long it would take them to finish the battle if they were to fight alone against the enemy.  

Bhisma said it would take him 20 days;  Dronacharya said 25 days; Karna asked for 24 days and Arjuna stated it would take him 28 days to finish the battle.  

Eager to watch the war, Barbarik asked his mother if he could go to the battlefield.  His mother agreed, but asked him whose side he would choose if he were to fight in the battle.  Barbarik promised his mother that he would join the side that was weaker. Saying this he set up on the journey to visit the battlefield.

Hearing of Barbarik’s interest in the war, Krishna decided to test his strength and appeared before him disguised as a Brahmin.  Krishna asked him the same question: if Barbarik were to fight in the battle alone against the enemy, how many days would it take him to finish the war.   

Barbarik’s answer was 1 minute. 

Surprised at his answer, especially when Barbarik only had 3 arrows and a bow in hand, Krishna questioned his response.  Barbaric explained the power of his weapons:

  • The first arrow would mark all the objects that Barbarik wanted to destroy.
  • The second arrow would mark all the objects that Barbarik wanted to be saved.
  • The third arrow would destroy all the objects marked by the first arrow OR destroy all the objects not marked by the second arrow.

And at the end of this all the arrows would return to the quiver. 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 released the first arrow, the arrow marked all the leaves from the tree and started revolving around Lord Krishna’s feet.

Krishna asks Barbarik as to why the arrow was doing this. To this Barbarik replied 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 marked the remaining leaf too.

This incident worried Lord Krishna about the phenomenal power of Barbarik as the arrows were truly infallible. Krishna also realized that in the real battlefield in case Krishna wanted to isolate someone (for eg the 5 Pandavas) 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.

Krishna asked Barbarik which side he was planning to fight for in the war. 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 the paradox of the condition he had agreed with his mother that since he was the greatest warrior on the battlefield, whichever side he joined would make the other side weaker. So eventually he would end up oscillating between the two sides and destroy everyone except himself.

The Greatest Unknown Warrior of MahabharataThus Krishna informed Barbarik the actual consequence of the word that he had given to his mother. Thus Krishna (still disguised as a Brahmin) asks for Barbarik’s head in charity to avoid his involvement in the war. After this Krishna explained that it was necessary to sacrifice the head of the greatest Kshatriya in order to worship the battlefield and that he regarded Barbarik as the greatest Kshatriya of that time.

Before giving his head, Barbarik expresses his desire to view the forthcoming battle to which Krishna agreed and placed Barbarik’s head on top of the mountain that overlooked the battlefield. At the end of the war, the Pandavas argued amongst themselves about whose was the greatest contribution to their victory. Krishna suggested that Barbarik’s head should be allowed to judge this since it has watched the entire war.

Barbarik’s head informs them that it was Krishna alone who was responsible for the victory in the war. It was Krishna’s advice, his strategy and his presence that were crucial in the victory.


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  • Actually Krishna had done everything. Nobody killed anybody. It was the Lord’s Sudarshana Chakra in the subtle world which was killing people. Barbarika was able to view the physical and the subtle world together. Therefore he knew the truth!

  • Excectly same legend as it was heard from my ancestors. ….truly right .appropriate

  • Is this the head that is worshipped as Khatu Shyam at Khatu in Rajasthan even today?

    • Yes. Krishna gave his name to Barbarik. Therefore he is worshiped as Shyam or Shyambaba or Khatu shyamji.

  • Really Informative Article. Thanks for Sharing! Its true that Arjuna, Karna and Beeshma are not the strongest fighter during the Mahabharata war. It is the prevailing belief currently! It was Barbarik, the son of Ghatokacha and the grandson of Bheema who was considered the strongest fighter in Mahabharata. He was blessed by God Shiva and was bestowed with powerful weapons given by God Agni.

    Barbarik had the power and strength to destroy the entire army, but had promised his mother that he will fight for the weaker side only. Since this may involve him in moving from side t o side which was pointed out to him by Lord Krishna, he gave his head as charity and decided to be a mere spectator.

    After the battle, Barbarik’s head was drowned in the river Rupawati by Lord Krishna. The head was found after many years buried in the village of Khatu in present-day Rajastan.

  • Krishna always cheated to make panda’s win… If the war was fair… Pandva’s could have never won ..
    Irony is still he is god.. Isn’t god supposed to be fair

    • I can’t agree with your statement. The greatest warrior who fought the war was Abhimanyu. He cracked the Padmavyuha and entered in it. He fought so vigorously that none of the Kourava warriors could hurt him even if he was alone inside Chakravyuha. It is then Drona told Karna to cut his bow from behind as he himself alone would destroy the entire Kourava army. Karna did the same. Till then the war was based on Dharma. It is quite sad that Karna put an end to it.

    • My friend according to me Krishna always stood by the side of Dharma and was always against Adharma , and at any cost he wanted the Dharma (truth) to win ..

  • Not Exactly as told above.
    1) By skills, endurance, and the knowledge of shastras, Arjun was the greatest warrior in that battlefield. Some argue that bheeshma,drona, karna were better than arjun. But It was Arjun’s oath of fighting with all priniciples didnt allow them to kill anybody. All of them were defeated by Arjun single handedly. But war of Mahabharat was about killing of above people, not just defeat, and Krishna new that arjun will never kill them.
    2) Lord Shiva’s blessing was with Arjun and he gave Arjun the mighty pashupatastra which was deadliest among all kind of weapons available that time. Even Better than Sudarshan chakra. Lord Shiva himself told to Arjun that this weapon can finish your war with blink of en eye.But use only it as the last resort. Lord Shiva knew that Arjun would never use it so he is the eligible for pashupatastra.
    3)It was Arjun’s love towards his relative made him not take life of respected people like Bheeshma, Drona,and others. Every time he fought with karna, Karna either lost his conciousness due to blow from Arjun or ran away. Being an honest warrior, arjun never killed Karan in this state. Krishna knew that Arjun will defeat karna in every battle and karna to save the battle will use Indra’s shakti. That’s why to make side, equal Krishan protected arjun.
    4) Barbarik’s guru vijay taught him skills along with those 3 sacred arrows. Even Lord Krishna couldnt save anyone from those arrows, but just holding some power doesnt make any one brave/great warrior.

    • I agree to your views on Arjuna. But in my opinion he was not the greatest warrior of the battle field. According to me it was Abhimanyu. Please remember the way how he crushed the Kourava army and entered inside the ‘Padmavyuha’. Though Kouravas were too glad to get him alone inside the ‘padmavyuha’, their happiness did not longer. Abhimanyu, even though alone, fought so fiercely and Kourava leaders could not even hurt him. Drona then told Karna that if Abhimanyu continued to fight like that the war would end soon. According to him the only way to defeat Abhimanyu was to break his bow string from back and he asked Karna to do so. Karna did so reluctantly as otherwise Abhimanyu would crash the entire ‘Padmavyuha’ and come out as victorious and distroying the Kourava army. Until this incident the battle was based on Dharma. This incident was the beginning of all evils in the battle field.

  • My version is different. Please refer to Veer Balak from Geets Press. That is looking more authentic. Barbarik said he could kill with in 2 gharis. He released a hollow baan filled with vermilion which fell on all the fellows except krishna, pandavas ,kripacharya and ashwaththama. He said to Krishna- I have inspected marmas of all. You withhold your arms. I will kill all these mortals. Since many fellows in both the armies had various boons from different devtas, to save the dhrma. Krishna beheaded Barbarik.

  • Does we put a head made up of clay on the south side of our home as the sign of Barbarik. If so then what is the reason behind it?

  • Is this where from the English word babaric originates?

  • Oh man, whenever I read the story of Mahabharata I get goosebumps even if I read the story no of times I still feel like reading again n again

  • My dear friends
    Before we speak or comment about an epic we need to check for PRAMAANA.
    More than all in we need to treat VEEDA Vyaasa Bharatam as pramaanam as he is the person who gave the real story of Maha Bharat to this word.

    In the mean while now a days every person is creating a new story and showing them as if it happened in MAHA BHAARAT.

    LET me give you some facts .
    1.Most of the people say that Karn is more power full than Arjun
    Can any of you people can show me atleast one incident in Mahabharat in which Karna defeated Arjun?
    I can give 4 incidents which in which Arjun made Karna run away from battle field by his incridible war.
    1. Draupadi swayam varam 2.Dakshin Gou Grahan 3.Dakshin Gou grahan again for second time 4. 15th day of kurukshetra yudh and 17th day. all these incidents are proofs which shows karn weaker than Arjun. He might be a great warrior but not as great as Arjun in any aspect except in DAAN GUN.

    As it was written in the post that Arjun can complete war in 28 days .please correct
    He has PASHU PATASTRA which no other warrior in the world has except LORD SHIVA.
    It can destroy the whole world in few seconds .

    When Krishna asked about his capability to complete war on kauravas.
    He replaid that he can kill each and every warrior in 1 day with his Pashu patastra. But he did’n used it un necessarily .

    More than all KRISHNA is not such kind of person to do such kind of useless things . So please read MAHA BHARAT if you havent read and then post relevantly according to VYAASA KRUTHA MAHAABHAARAT.

  • barbarik was the greatest warrior of his time as there is a saying that bhagwan s to sab mange bhagwan kis s kya mange so it was barbarik jis s bagwan n dan liya wo bhe sees ka to sab s bada dani hue barbarik

  • can somebody tell me , where it is mention in the MAHAHARAT Page nao, Adhya etc. please tell me