Story of Abhimanyu

  Abhimanyu: The Valiant Warrior of Mahabharata

 Background and Birth

Abhimanyu, one of the most illustrious and valorous characters in the Mahabharata, was born to Arjuna, the third Pandava, and Subhadra, the sister of Lord Krishna. His lineage combined the might of the Pandavas with the divine influence of Krishna's Yadava clan. According to the epic, even before his birth, Abhimanyu was privy to the secrets of warfare.

While still in his mother’s womb, Abhimanyu heard Arjuna discussing the intricacies of the Chakravyuha formation, a complex military strategy, with Subhadra. Unfortunately, Subhadra fell asleep midway, and thus Abhimanyu learned only how to enter the formation but not how to exit it. This partial knowledge would later play a crucial role in his life and untimely death.

 Early Life and Training

Abhimanyu grew up under the tutelage of the Pandavas and Krishna, receiving training in various aspects of warfare. He was taught archery, sword fighting, and other martial skills, making him a formidable warrior even at a young age. His education also included lessons in dharma (righteousness) and leadership, preparing him for the responsibilities that lay ahead.

Abhimanyu was known for his courage, strength, and sense of duty. His abilities and virtues made him a favorite among the Pandavas and their allies. He married Uttara, the daughter of King Virata, further strengthening the alliance between the Pandavas and the Matsya kingdom.

Abhimanyu's legend in the Mahabharata extends beyond his tragic demise within the Chakravyuha. His life was marked by numerous episodes of valor and duty that contributed significantly to the epic narrative. Here are some key stories and events involving Abhimanyu, excluding the Chakravyuha episode:

 1. Marriage to Uttara

Abhimanyu's marriage to Uttara, the daughter of King Virata, is a significant event that fortified the alliance between the Pandavas and the Matsya kingdom. The Pandavas, during their year of incognito exile, were living in the kingdom of Matsya. When their identity was revealed, King Virata, grateful for their service, offered his daughter Uttara's hand in marriage to Arjuna. However, Arjuna suggested that Uttara be married to his son, Abhimanyu, to solidify their bonds further.

The marriage ceremony was a grand event, attended by many kings and princes. Abhimanyu’s marriage to Uttara was not just a political alliance but also a union that brought happiness and joy to the Pandava family. This event also highlighted Abhimanyu’s standing and importance within the broader political landscape of the time.

 2. Abhimanyu’s Role in Protecting Virata’s Cattle

During the Pandavas' exile, the Kauravas, suspecting the Pandavas were hiding in King Virata's kingdom, planned an attack to steal Virata's cattle, hoping to draw out the Pandavas. On the day of the attack, the Matsya army was engaged elsewhere, and only the young Abhimanyu and a few others remained to defend the kingdom.

Abhimanyu, displaying remarkable bravery and leadership, led the defense against the Kauravas. He fought valiantly alongside Virata's son, Uttar. Under his command, they managed to hold off the Kaurava forces until the rest of the Pandavas, disguised as court servants, joined the battle. This episode showcased Abhimanyu's strategic acumen and valor in protecting his allies.

 3. Abhimanyu’s Training and Early Exploits

Abhimanyu was trained by some of the greatest warriors of the time, including his father Arjuna, and his maternal uncles, Krishna and Balarama. His training encompassed various aspects of warfare, including archery, mace fighting, swordsmanship, and military strategy.

Even as a young warrior, Abhimanyu demonstrated his prowess in several minor battles and skirmishes. His skills in archery were said to be second only to his father Arjuna, and he quickly gained a reputation as a fearless and formidable warrior. These early exploits established him as a key player in the Pandava camp, respected and admired by both allies and adversaries.

 4. Abhimanyu’s Participation in the Rajasuya Yagna

The Rajasuya Yagna was a grand ritual performed by Yudhishthira to declare his sovereignty as an emperor. During this event, the Pandavas sought to establish their dominance and forge alliances with various kingdoms. Abhimanyu, though young, played a significant role in this endeavor.

He accompanied the Pandavas in their conquests and diplomatic missions, assisting them in subjugating or allying with different kingdoms. His valor and combat skills were instrumental in several battles that ensured the success of the Rajasuya Yagna. Abhimanyu’s participation in this event underscored his importance within the Pandava strategy and his contribution to their imperial ambitions.

 5. Defending the Pandavas’ Honor

Abhimanyu's sense of duty and loyalty to his family were evident in various episodes where he defended the Pandavas' honor. One such instance occurred during a confrontation with the Kauravas when Duryodhana and his brothers insulted the Pandavas. Abhimanyu, unable to tolerate the disrespect towards his elders, challenged the Kauravas and defended his family’s honor with fierce words and actions.

This incident not only highlighted Abhimanyu’s courage but also his unwavering dedication to his family and their principles. His readiness to confront powerful adversaries for the sake of his family's dignity showcased his strong sense of righteousness and loyalty.

 6. Abhimanyu’s Role in the Bhishma Parva

During the Bhishma Parva, the early phase of the Kurukshetra War, Abhimanyu fought bravely alongside the Pandavas. His contributions on the battlefield were significant, and he played a crucial role in several encounters with the Kaurava forces.

One notable incident was his confrontation with Bhishma, the grand patriarch of the Kauravas, who was leading their army. Although Bhishma was nearly invincible, Abhimanyu engaged him in combat, showcasing his fearlessness and exceptional skill. His ability to hold his ground against a warrior of Bhishma’s caliber earned him great respect from both sides.

 7. Abhimanyu’s Duel with Lakshmana

Lakshmana, the son of Duryodhana, was a young and ambitious warrior who sought to prove his mettle on the battlefield. During the Kurukshetra War, Lakshmana and Abhimanyu faced off in a fierce duel. Both warriors were highly skilled and fought with great intensity.

Despite Lakshmana's prowess, Abhimanyu’s superior skills and determination prevailed. He defeated Lakshmana, showcasing his combat abilities and reinforcing his reputation as one of the most formidable young warriors in the war. This duel was a testament to Abhimanyu’s strength and skill, as well as his role in diminishing the morale of the Kaurava camp.

Role in the Kurukshetra War

The Kurukshetra War, the central conflict of the Mahabharata, saw Abhimanyu play a significant role despite his young age. He fought bravely alongside his father and uncles, earning accolades for his valor and skill. However, his most notable and tragic contribution came on the thirteenth day of the war.

The Thirteenth Day and the Chakravyuha

On the thirteenth day of the Kurukshetra War, the Kaurava army, under Dronacharya’s command, formed the Chakravyuha, a formidable and nearly impenetrable circular military formation. The purpose of this strategy was to trap and decimate the Pandava forces. Arjuna, who knew how to counter the Chakravyuha, was lured away to a distant part of the battlefield by the Samsaptakas, a group of warriors sworn to fight him.

With Arjuna absent, the Pandavas were at a loss as to how to breach the Chakravyuha. Abhimanyu, despite his partial knowledge, volunteered to lead the charge, driven by his sense of duty and valor. He explained that he knew how to enter the formation and assured the Pandavas that if they could follow him closely, they might break through the Chakravyuha.

Entering the Chakravyuha

Abhimanyu’s entry into the Chakravyuha was nothing short of spectacular. He fought valiantly, cutting through the ranks of the Kaurava warriors with ease. His skill and bravery were on full display as he carved a path into the heart of the formation. However, the plan began to unravel as the other Pandava warriors, who were supposed to follow him, were intercepted and held back by Jayadratha, a Kaurava ally who had received a boon from Lord Shiva to hold the Pandavas at bay for a day.

The Battle Within

Once inside the Chakravyuha, Abhimanyu found himself isolated and surrounded by the Kaurava warriors. What ensued was one of the most intense and heroic battles of the Mahabharata. Abhimanyu faced some of the greatest warriors of the Kaurava army, including Dronacharya, Karna, Ashwatthama, Duryodhana, and others. Despite being heavily outnumbered, he fought with unparalleled courage and skill.

Abhimanyu displayed remarkable prowess, holding his own against multiple adversaries. He wielded his bow and other weapons with extraordinary dexterity, felling numerous opponents. His determination and fighting spirit were evident as he continued to battle against overwhelming odds. However, the sheer number of enemies and the lack of support took their toll.

The Fall of Abhimanyu

The Kauravas, realizing that they could not defeat Abhimanyu in a fair fight, resorted to deceitful tactics. They broke the code of honorable warfare, attacking him simultaneously from all sides. Abhimanyu’s weapons were systematically destroyed, and he was left defenseless. Even then, he continued to fight with whatever means he had, including a chariot wheel.

Ultimately, Abhimanyu was struck down by the combined efforts of the Kaurava warriors. His death was a significant and tragic event in the Mahabharata, highlighting both his heroism and the Kauravas' disregard for the principles of dharma. The young warrior's fall had a profound impact on both sides of the conflict.

Aftermath and Legacy

Abhimanyu’s death was a turning point in the Kurukshetra War. The Pandavas were devastated by the loss of such a promising and brave warrior. Arjuna, upon learning of his son’s death, was engulfed in grief and rage. He vowed to kill Jayadratha, who had played a key role in preventing the Pandavas from aiding Abhimanyu, by the end of the next day, or he would immolate himself.

True to his vow, Arjuna defeated Jayadratha in a fierce battle the following day, bringing a measure of retribution for his son’s death. Abhimanyu’s sacrifice became a symbol of youthful valor and the high cost of the war. His story is remembered for its poignancy and the stark depiction of the brutal realities of conflict.

Abhimanyu’s Posthumous Influence

The legacy of Abhimanyu endured long after the war. His son, Parikshit, who was born after the Kurukshetra War, became the sole surviving heir of the Kuru dynasty. Parikshit’s reign marked the continuation of the Pandava lineage and the eventual restoration of peace and prosperity to the kingdom. The stories of Abhimanyu’s valor and sacrifice were passed down through generations, inspiring countless individuals with their tale of courage and righteousness.

In various retellings of the Mahabharata, Abhimanyu’s character is often highlighted to underscore the ideals of duty, bravery, and the tragic consequences of war. His story serves as a powerful reminder of the fleeting nature of life and the importance of upholding one’s principles even in the face of insurmountable challenges.


Abhimanyu's story is a poignant blend of heroism, sacrifice, and the harsh realities of war. His life and death epitomize the virtues of courage and dedication to duty, even in the face of overwhelming adversity. The narrative of Abhimanyu in the Mahabharata continues to resonate with readers and listeners, offering profound insights into the nature of valor, the importance of ethical conduct, and the enduring impact of one's actions on future generations.