Family of Shikhandi
Shikhandi is a character in the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata. He was born as a girl child named ‘Shikhandini’ to Drupada, the king of Panchala. Shikhandi fought in the Kurukshetra war on the side of the Pandavas, along with his father Drupada and brother Dhristadyumna.
Past life of Shikhandi
In the majority of the versions of the Mahabharat, there is the story of Shikhandi being Amba in his previous birth.
Shikhandini or Shikhandi had been born in a previous lifetime as a woman named Amba.
Vichitravirya married only her sisters, because Amba told Bhishma that she had fallen in love with Salwa, and was not ready to marry anyone else. Hearing this from her, Bhishma sent Amba with grandeur to Saubala. But Salwa rejected her as well, in shame of losing the combat against Bhishma. Amba then returned to Bhishma and demanded that he marry her according to Kshatriya dharma, but Bhishma declined due to his vow celibacy.
Her feeling of revenge
Enraged at her humiliation, she tried to persuade other kings to wage a war with Bhishma and compel him to wed her. None agreed for they were afraid of incurring the wrath of the great warrior. Amba managed to get Parashurama, Bhishma’s guru, to champion her cause. However, not even Parashurama could defeat Bhishma.
She resorted to penance and received a garland of blue lotuses from Lord Kartikeya and it was foretold that anyone wearing the garland would become the cause of Bhishma’s death. She went to the Panchal, as they were a mighty empire known for its military prowess. However, no one was willing to champion her cause, fearful of antagonizing Bhishma. Amba, in anger, hung the garland on the gates of King Drupada and left in agony.
Austerities performed by her
Amba did severe penance to Lord Shiva for a boon to cause Bhishma’s death. Eventually, her prayers were answered. But, being a woman with no military training, she asked Shiva how should would accomplish her task, and he responded that her future incarnation would be the one to actually bring about Bhishma’s demise. Eager to bring this about, Amba killed herself; in some versions of the story (to explain the time gap between the abduction at Kashi and the Kurukshetra war, Amba keeps on killing herself until she is incarnated into satisfactory situation.Amba was reborn as Shikhandini, the daughter of King Drupada
Her role in Mahabharata
In the battle of Kurukshetra, Bhishma recognised him as Amba reborn, and not wanting to fight a “woman” (or an actual woman, depending on the version), avoided battling Shikhandi. On the tenth day, Shikhandi rides in Arjuna’s chariot, and together, they face Bhishma, forcing him to lower his weapons. Knowing that this would happen, Arjuna hid behind Shikhandi and attacked Bhishma with a devastating volley of arrows. Thus, Shikhandi was instrumental in Bhishma’s death.
Shikhandi was finally killed by Ashwatthama on the 18th day of battle. Dazed and confused, Shikhandi is killed in a sword fight with Ashwatthama when Ashwatthama, Kripacharya, and Kritaverma attacked the Pandava camp on the night of the final day of battle. In some versions of the Mahabharat, Ashwatthama kills Shikhandi’s lover (male or female) in front of him; in other versions, it is Shikhandini’s partner (male/female) who is butchered
A story becomes a great epic only because of its characters and their peculiar traits, which leaves the footprints on the sand of time and stays eternal forever. The portrayal of niche thinking, complexities and determination of attaining fame; better explained through the phrase ‘Everything is fair in love and war’ and yea it was definitely ‘The War’. The great epic, Mahabharata marks the beginning of egocentric, shrewd and all other negative sides of human nature with a tint of humanity.
Though every character justified with their specific roles, yet the hero is only one and probably ‘Arjuna’, the middle one out of the five Pandavas warriors out shined as a true hero. I am not saying that ‘Arjuna’ was a perfect character but in spite of his own complexities or as per the plot of the story, he was usually in a win-win situation.
#A grand celebration was performed at Arjuna’s birth and Lord Indra was gratified by the success stories of his son and called himself a proud father of Arjuna.
#Arjuna was focussed and perspicuous about his goals and he earned his success by working hard. He practised to shoot an arrow in darkness as well as by hearing the minute audible sounds.
#Arjuna remained in the priority wish list of Bheeshma and Dronacharya forever. Both the talented warriors supported him and even opted for inappropriate actions to prove his excellence.
#Karan being an equally capable warrior as Arjuna, could never flourish because of his karmas and favouring the wrong doers i.e. Duryodhan; which indirectly lead Arjuna to excel.
#Arjuna’s feelings for his beloved Draupadi were true but sharing his wife with the other four was not his idea. Yet he abided his mother and accepted the truth.
#In spite of any complex situation, Arjuna bestowed full faith upon his soul mate- Lord Krishna and received his hearty blessings as a devotee and follower.
#At one point, Arjuna had to raise his sword to kill his dear brother Yudhistra, as per his oath. Yet Arjuna could not accept his own deed of disrespecting his brother and paid for his sin.
#The moral code and empathetic attitude of Arjuna, made him receive laurels and blessings from all his relations.
#Till the end, Arjuna had a soft corner towards Karan and respected him as a brave competitor. Only to abide by his master’s wish, Arjuna had to shoot an arrow on Karan.
#In spite of an opportunity of choosing the great army of 10,000 warriors, Arjuna remained firm with his decision of choosing Lord Krishna. The success of Arjuna was sure shot, since he preferred to sit near his master’s feet rather that near his head like Duryodhan.
The enlightening journey of Arjuna in holy Bhagvad Gita is an epitome of his successful and perfect character and proves my above statement judiciously.
Contributed By: Meenakshi Ahuja