Jayadratha, the wicked hero in Mahabharat

Chinmay Prasun Biswas

5 June, 2020 12:00 AM printer

In Mahabharat, an Indian epic, Jayadratha was the son of Vridhakshatra, king of Sindh. He was married to Dusshala, the only sister of 100 Kaurav brothers. Besides Dusshala, he had two other wives, one from Gandhar and another from Kamboj. His son was Surath. As a close relative of the Kauravs, as a devotee of Lord Shiv and as hero he is an important character in Mahabharat but by nature he was wicked.    

 Etymologically, the word Jayadratha is a combination of two Sanskrit words, jayat meaning victorious and ratha meaning chariot. So, Jayadratha means having victorious chariots. His other names are –Sindhuraj (king of Sindh) and  Saindhav (descendant of Sindh).

One day, during exile in the forest of Kamyak, leaving Draupadi alone at asram, the Pandavs went out for collecting food and requested Sage Trunabindu and Dhaumya to watch over her. On that day Jayadratha happened to see Draupadi and sent his attendant Kotikasya to inquire as to who she was. Coming back Kotikasya informed that she was Draupadi. Jayadratha went to Draupadi and proposed to marry her.  Initially Draupadi welcomed him as brother-in-law of the Pandavs but vehemently refused his proposal. Infuriated, Jayadratha abducted Draupadi and started moving towards his kingdom.       

Returning to asram the Pandavs found Draupadi missing and learnt everything from Draupadi's maid Dhaatreyika who had witnessed everything. Yudhistir ordered his younger brothers to rescue Draupadi. They rushed out with their chariots and being furious started slaying his soldiers. Observing his warriors being slain by Bhim, anxious and confused Jayadratha fled away to save his life leaving Draupadi there. Perceiving that Jayadratha had fled, Arjun requested Bhim to refrain from slaughtering the soldiers because they had no fault. Yudhistir returned with Draupadi ordering his brothers to pursue Jayadratha. Learning that the enemy was two miles ahead, they spurred their horses more speedily. Though two miles away Arjun killed Jayadratha’s horse using a divine weapon. Bhim seized Jayadratha by his hair, slammed him violently on the ground and started kicking him on head. Falgun dissuaded furious Bhim by reminding him of Yudhistir's words. Suppressing wrath Bhim shaved the hair of Jayadratha’s head leaving five tufts and thrusting him in chains they approached Yudhistir. Bhim wanted to kill him but Draupadi suggested that in that case Dusshala would be widow. She requested Yudhistir to let him free because he had already been treated like a slave. Draupadi said it out of sympathy for Dusshala but she and the Pandavs did not know another serious effect of killing Jayadratha. Fortunately for the Pandavs at that moment, bowing down to merciful Yudhistir, Jayadratha returned to his capital but never forgot the matter.    

Certainly Jayadratha was guilty of his behaviour but instead of being ashamed he took it for a humiliation from the Pandavs and started thinking of taking revenge. He handed over royal duties to his wife and started deep meditation of Lord Shiv. Being pleased Lord Shiv asked Jayadratha to pray for boon. Jayadratha prayed for the power to defeat Arjun but Shiv refused it because Arjun was invincible. He granted a boon that Jayadratha would be able to beat any warrior from the opposite side, except Arjun, for a single day. Returning to capital Jayadratha started performing his kingly duties and after two years, naturally he joined the side of Duryodhan, his brother-in-law, in the Kurukshetra War. 

On the very first day of the war he defeated King Drupad but spared him. On the 13th day Dronacharya formed a Chakrabyuha (wheel type arrangement of army) employing Jayadratha as gateman. As a part of Dronacharya's strategy, Arjun remained busy battling Susharma and the Trigata army elsewhere. Among the Pandavs only Abhimanyu (Arjun’s son) knew the technique to enter into Chakrabyuha but he did not know the way to exit.  Other heroes of the Pandavs assured him that any how they would enter into Chakrabyuha and rescue him. Abhimanyu entered into Chakrabyuha expecting that the Pandav forces would follow him and smash Chakrabyuha but all their efforts resulted in vain.     Jayadratha made the gap closer and utilising the boon of Lord Shiv held the four Pandav brothers and their forces outside. As teenage Abhimanyu was  unaware of the way to exit, he got trapped and against all acknowledged rules of war, unarmed Abhinamyu was brutally killed by Karna, Ashwatthama, Dron, Shakuni, Dusshasan, Kritavarma and Shalya. Duryodhan did not participate in the attack directly but he suggested others to kill Abhimanyu at any cost and others executed it.

The Pandavs were astonished that Jayadratha alone tackled the world’s most powerful warriors but helplessly they had to witness the sad death of Abhimanyu.  Draupadi, Yudhistir and Bhim felt very guilty that they did not kill Jayadratha though they got a golden opportunity. Arjun blamed Jayadratha to be the cause of Abhimanyu's death. He vowed to kill Jayadratha the very next day before sunset failing which he would commit suicide by jumping into fire.       

Dronachrya knew Arjun, his most favoutite student, very well and in order to protect Jayadratha the next (14th) day he arranged a combination of 3 byuhas. The first one was Shakatbyuha (cart type formation), the second one was Suchimukhabbyuha, (needle type) and the final one was Padmabyuha (lotus type). As the war proceeded Bhim, Satyaki and Arjun smashed all the three byuhas but it was evident that Arjun would not be able to accomplish his goal before sunset. At a climatic moment when the sun was nearly set, thousands of warriors were still between Arjun and Jayadratha. Realising the gravity of situation Sri Krishna sent his Sudarshan Chakra (circular weapon) in order to cover the sun and create an armosphere of sunset. The Kaurav warriors began to rejoice over Arjun's defeat and expected his promised suicide. Jayadratha, who was hiding behind Duryodhan, was relieved that he had been saved and came in front but.suddenly the sun was released.  Sri Krishna explained to Arjun that the sun had not set, it was simply an illusive eclipse and asked Arjun to behead Jayadratha but there was another problem. Sage Vridhakshatra (Jauadratha’s father) heard a divine message that Jayadratha would be killed in war and to prevent it  granted him a boon that whoever severed his son's head his own head would fall on the ground bursting into 100 pieces. Probably, remembering this boon Jayadratha felt confident and came out to witness sunset. Arjun, picking up his Gandiv instantly. Beheaded Jayadratha using Aindrastra and as suggested by Sri Krishna flew that head with another arrow on the lap of Jayadratha’s father who was in meditation far from the battlefield. Horrified Vridhakshatra stood up hurriedly and the severed head fell on the ground  and before realising anything he died within a moment. 

This episode of Mahabharat provides a message that to forgive is not always divine. Result of forgiveness may turn fatal. On 30th November, 1973 general amnesty was granted to all war criminals except those who were accused or convicted of definite offences like rape, murder, attempt to murder, arson etc. Allies of Pakistani army were termed as defeated force of 1971but just after 44 months of our victory they reappeared with their killer shape and the consequences are known to all. The nation had to sustain the stains for more than 40 years. So, before forgiving prudence should be applied and it is to be considered whether that criminal(s) deserves forgiveness or not. Moreover, negative effects of amnesty, root of power and connection of the pardoned must taken into count. 


 The writer is former

Commissioner of Taxes