Some Facts about Mahabharat

1. Bhagadatha and his war elephant.

Bhagadatta was a warrior-king who ruled over the pragjyothisha kingdom (present day Assam).He was a very old man man when he fought in the side of Kauravas in Kurukshetra war.Like his father Narakasura, he too was a fiery warrior even as an old man, especially known for his prowess in elephant warfare.

His war elephant named Supradhika was considered the strongest in the then world.While most kings and elite warriors rode in chariots,Bhagadatta always fought mounted on a war elephant.Assam was historically known for its large population of elephants,and the warrior dynasties of later Assam such as Ahoms maintained a large number of elephant corps well into the late middle ages.

On the 12th day of Kuruskhetra war,Bhagadatta displayed utmost ferocity which shook the pandava army.Baghadatta led the ferocious war elephant directly into the pandava ranks, trampling them by foot and tore them apart by tusks,while Bhagadatta,wielding the bow and arrow picked up numerous targets. Even Arjuna and Lord Krishna were wonderstruck by his ferocity even at such an old age.

The pandava army soon began to flee.Seeing the plight of his soldiers Bhima,went below the beast and began to thrash his mace at its vital parts.But the elephant caught hold of bhima and raised him to the air.Bhima somehow set himself free from the elephant’s grasp and escaped to safety.Thus Bhima who was often praised as one with strength of a thousand elephants suffered a himiliating defeat from an elephant itself.

Pandavas tried to counter the elephant using another war elephant of king Dasarna,which was also known to be ferocious.But this elephant was quickly killed by the former.Bhagadatta and the elephant continued the carnage killing thousands of Pandava soldiers as the great warriors of Pandaya side such as Satyaki, Drishtadyumna,Bhima all stood helpless until Arjuna came to the rescue and slew both Bhagadatha and his elephant with Lord Krishana’s aid.

Although dead, Bhagadatta and his great elephant were the ‘men of the match’ that day.Both master and his companion ascended the heaven together after performing their ‘career best innings.’

2.Greeks and Chinese in Mahabharatha

Mlecha or foreign-barbarian tribes such as Yavanas and Chinas frequently appear in Mahabharata.They are foreign tribes who are said to dwell in the northernmost froneiers of Aryavarta..Chinas undoubtably refers to the Chinese people while Yavana or Yonaia thought to be a corruption of the term ‘Ionian’,which was an early sect of Greeks.

This suggests that either India may have had contacts with these people as early as 1500 BC or else these references could be later additions of the last years of BCEs when Indian contact with the Greeks reached its peak.

There is mention of a “China king” Dhautamulaka, who caused the destruction of his own race. The name “Dhautamulaka” translates to “clean root”, and might be a reference to the last Xie Emperor jie,who bought about the collapse of his dyansty (1728–1675 BC).Considering this knowledge,it could be assumed that the incidents related to the epic Mahabharatha may have occured sometime between 1500–1000BC.

3.Characters who appear in both Ramayana and Mahabharata

1.Vibhishana : The brother of Ravana; and the king of Lanka.In course of their Conquest of Bharata,Sahadeva the youngest Pandava conquered south Indian powers such as Cholas,Keralas,Pandyas and reaches the Southern tip of India,from where he sent a treaty of peace for the King of Lanka,which is happily welcomed by Vibhishana.

2.Hanuman

Hanuman meets Bhima during the Pandava’s 12 year exile.Bhima was always impressed by Hanuman and his power.Both of them acknowledges each other.Hanuman,who by now had attained centuries of maturity and sagely insight,assures Bhima victory in the upcoming war,which would also result in massive destruction.Hanuman also grants a boon to Bhima that he would watch over Arjuna and enhance his already superior strength by being present in his chariot flag.

3. Lord Parashuram

Parashuram was the Guru of Bhishma,Druna and Karna;and coincidentally all three ended up fighting in the same side and lost their lives.At a particular situation,Parashuram had to fight a duell with Bhishma,which lasted longer than Kurushetra war itself,and surprisingly Parashuram,the incarnation of lord Vishnu was defeated by Bhishma.One who had vanquished the Kshatriya race,tasted defeat from Kshatriya for the first time.

Karna,due to his desire to posses divine weapons,approaches Parashuram guised as a Brahmin and takes his discipleship.Karna succesfully the knwoledge of all divine weapons.But once Prashurama recognized the true identity of Karna,gave a curse that he would forget the usage of his celestial weapons when he needed them the most.This is why Karna could never kill Arjuna .

All three characters mentioned above are deemed to be immortals,who would live on earth until the end of time.Beisdes them,all deities such as Brahma,Vishnu,Shiva,Devi,Indra and sages such as Vashishta,Viswamitra ,Narada etc are mentioned throughout both the epic.

Ramayana in Mahabharata

Ramayana itself is narrated in summary by Sage Markhandeya to yudhishtira in the Vana parva of Mahabharata.Yudhistira breaks down infront of the sage, overwhelmed by his grief, thinking the hardships of his family,despite having always stood in the side of Dharma,and seeks him the reason.Markhandeya narrates Ramayana,and explains a desperate Yudhisthira that it is the truthful people who always suffer the harshest challenges.Even those righteous people such as Lord Ram who walked on earth long before Yudhishthira had to face a lot of challenges,but in the end,truth and perseverance and shall always triumph.

Author: Aditya Bhuyan

I am an IT Professional with close to two decades of experience. I mostly work in open source application development and cloud technologies. I have expertise in Java, Spring and Cloud Foundry.

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