Other names: Abhimaanyu, Abimanyu
Abhimanyu was the son of Arjun (Kunti’s son) and Subhadra (Shri Krishna’s sister). He was the reincarnation of Varchas, the son of the moon god. When the moon god was asked to let his son incarnate himself on earth by the other devas, he made a pact that his son will remain on earth for 16 years only as he could not bear to be separated from him longer than that. Abhimanyu was 16 years old when he died in war.
During the incognito (disguise) period of the Pandavas, Arjun taught dance and music in disguise of Vrihannla to Uttara, daughter of Matsya King Viraat. That time the army of the Kauravas attacked the cow pen of King Viraat. Then, with the help of Vrihaanla, Uttar (son of king Viraat) defeated the Kauravas.
On knowing the reality of Vrihaanla, King Viraat asked Arjun to get married to his daughter Uttara. Arjun refused to get married to his student and got his son Abhimanyu married to Uttara. With this marriage, King Viraat and Pandavas became best friends.
Abhimanyu was a very intelligent and prudent person from birth. While Abhimanyu was still in Subhadra’s womb, Arjun explained to Subhadra the technique to penetrate the Chakravyuh (The word Chakravyuh is made up of Chakra meaning circle or ring and Vyuh meaning formation. The Chakravyuh is a formation consisting of 7 concentric circles of warriors rotating in unison. It was especially difficult to penetrate since the attacker is not able to focus on a still target in front as the targets keep changing with the rotation of the Chakras).
Intelligent Abhimanyu learnt this technique in the womb while listening to Arjun. Subhadra had fallen asleep midway, so Abhimanyu could only listen to the art of getting inside the Chakravyuh. He could not further listen to the story of the technique to get out of the Chakravyuh.
After losing to the Kauravas in gambling, Arjun handed over Abhimanyu to Krishna in order to take care of him while he went in to exile. Shri Krishna taught Abhimanyu, the art of military science, the use of weapons and made him an expert in the art of battle fight.
During the war of Mahabharata, sixteen year-old Abhimanyu exhibited great valor. When Guru Dronacharya became the commander of the army of the Kauravas, he created Chakravyuh and apart from Krishna and Arjun no one knew the art of penetrating the Chakravyuh.
Kauravas kept Arjun busy with war and sent him far away in the battlefield. So the Pandavas were worried about who would penetrate the Chakravyuh?
Yudhishthir was in tension. Abhimanyu asked for the permission to go to the battlefield and informed that he had heard half the story of penetrating the Chakravyuh while he was in his mother’s womb. So he knew the art of getting inside the Chakravyuh but did not know the way out. Knowing this, Bhima and other Pandavas prepared to support Abhimanyu and he penetrated the Chakravyuh on the battlefield and entered inside it. During the war, Abhimanyu showed great valor and defeated many soldiers of the Kauravas’ army. He defeated mighty warriors like Karna, Duryodhan, Kripacharya and Ashwathama – Here Bhima and other Pandavas tried to enter the Chakravyuh but Jaydrath did not let them enter.
Jaydrath had received a boon from Lord Shiva that during the war, one day he will be able to defeat all the Pandavas except Arjun. Due to this boon, Jaydrath was successful in stopping Bhima and Pandavas from entering the Chakravyuh.
Inside the Chakravyuh, the Kauravas were feeling helpless in front of Abhimanyu’s valour and war expertise. Then, Duryodhan along with the seven mighty Kauravas attacked Abhimanyu who was alone. Abhimanyu fought courageously. His weapons broke while fighting and the chariot too was destroyed.
On one side there was Abhimanyu alone and weaponless and on the other side there were seven mighty Kauravas loaded with weapons. When no weapon was left with Abhimanyu, he picked up the wheel of the chariot and used it as his weapon and faced the Kauravas. He held his own until his sword broke and the remaining chariot wheel shattered into pieces. Abhimanyu was killed shortly thereafter when Dushasan’s son crushed his skull with a mace. At his death, Kauravas blew the trumpet to declare their victory and Pandavas were very sad.
Jaydrath was the main cause of the death of Abhimanyu, so Arjun pledged to kill Jaydrath before the sunset, and if that does not happen, Arjun would ignite himself and die. The army of the Kauravas tightened the security of Jaydrath. In between, Krishna with his illusive trick, created an illusion of sunset.
Jaydrath came out of the security arrangements to see Arjun ablazing himself. Just then Krishna withdrew his illusive trick and the sun started shining again. Arjun killed Jaydrath immediately and took revenge of Abhimanyu’s death. The story of sixteen-year-old gallant warrior Abhimanyu inspires youth of today for valor and bravery.
After the war of Mahabharata, when Pandavas went to the Himalayas, Parikshit (son of Abhimanyu and Uttara) was crowned the King of Hastinapur.