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Mahabharata: Abhimanyu and the Chakra-Vyuha

Mahabharata: Abhimanyu and the Chakra-Vyuha
The following story is about Abhimanyu, the courageous son of the great Arjuna. Arjuna was married to Krishna’s sister, Subhadra, and this story begins just before Abhimanyu was born. When Abhimanyu was in his mother’s womb, Sri Krishna used to take Subhadra on excursions. To humour her, Krishna used to relate many of his adventures to the pregnant Subhadra. On one such excursion Krishna was narrating his experience with the technique of Chakra-vyuha and how step-by-step the various circles could be penetrated. Chakra-vyuha was a military formation which was an effective form of defence. The army would be arranged in the form of a circular grid and would then challenge the enemy to break that grid. Nonetheless, it seems that Subhadra did not find this topic interesting and she soon fell asleep. However, someone else was interested in Sri Krishna’s narration – the yet to be born Abhimanyu.

While Subhadra dozed off, Abhimanyu continued to carefully follow Sri Krishna’s narrative of the Chakra-vyuha. But, after talking for some time and not receiving any response from Subhadra, Sri Krishna realised that she was savouring a sweet nap. Sri Krishna, who had at that time come up to the seventh step of the Chakra-vyuha, gave up his narration and returned with Subhadra to the palace. The unfortunate Abhimanyu could never obtain the technique of breaking all the circles in the chakra-vyuha, but whatever he had heard Sri Krishna say, he carefully preserved in his memory. He grew up to be a brave, handsome young man. Many years later, during the Mahabharata war at Kurukshetra, the Kauravas set up a Chakra-vyuha and challenged the Pandavas to come forward and break it. However, only Arjuna (who was fighting elsewhere) knew the technique of doing so. At that stage, to save the honour of the Pandavas, Abhimanyu came forward and offered his services for the task of breaking the chakra-vyuha. Despite his incomplete knowledge of the technique he entered the grid and overcame one circle after another until he come to the seventh one, the breaking of which he had no knowledge. Brave and ambitious as he was, he fought valiantly in the unequal struggle but in vain. His strength and bravery proved no match against the skillfully laid out maze of warriors, upon fighting whom, he met his end.


This story highlights the importance of the first 3 sanskaras and how the healthy mental growth of a child begins even before it is born, while still in its mother’s womb. Recent scientific findings have shown that babies can indeed hear from inside their mother.

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