Khatu shyam

Trip Start Jan 05, 2000
Trip End Jan 11, 2000

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

In Hinduism, Khatushyamji is a name and manifestation of Barbarika, son of Ghatotkacha. This manifestation is especially popular in the Indian state of Rajasthan. The original Sanskrit name Barbarīka is often replaced in Rajasthan by the Hindi version, Barbarīk, often written as Barbareek.
Barbarika had obtained a boon from Krishna to the effect that he would be known by Krishna's own name (Shyam) in the Kaliyuga era (presently ongoing) and worshipped. Krishna had declared that Barbarika's devotees would be blessed just by pronouncing his name from the bottom of their hearts. Their wishes would be granted and troubles removed if they worship Shyamji (Barbarika) with a true piety.
The saga of Barbarika
The saga of Shyam Baba begins with the Mahābhārata. Barbarika was a grandson of Bhima, Second of the Pandava brothers. He was the son of Ghatotkacha, son of Bhima, by his wife Nagakanya Ahilawati. Even in his childhood, Barbarika was very brave warrior. He learnt the art of warfare from his mother. { Matha Siddambika gave the three arrows to Barbarika } Shiva, pleased with him, gave him the three infallible arrows (Teen Baan). Hence, Barbarika came to be known by the appellation Teen Baandhaari, the 'Bearer of Three Arrows.' Later, Agni (the God of Fire) gave him the Bow that would make him victorious in the three worlds.
When Barbarika learnt that battle between the Pandavas and the Kauravas had become inevitable, he wanted to witness what was to be the Mahābhārata War. He promised his mother that if he felt the urge to participate in the battle, he would join the side which would be losing. He rode to the field on his Blue Horse (Neela Ghoda) equipped with his three arrows and bow.
Krishna tests Barbarika
The omnipresent Krishna, disguised as a Brahmin, stopped Barbarika to examine his strength. He baited Barbarika by mocking him for going to the great battle with only three arrows. On this, Barbarika replied that a single arrow was enough to destroy all his opponents in the war, and it would then return to his quiver. He stated that, the first arrow is used to mark all the things that he wants to destroy. On releasing the third arrow, it would destroy all the things that are marked and will then return to his quiver. If he uses the second arrow, then the second arrow will mark all the things that he wants to save. On using the third arrow, it will destroy all the things that are not marked. Hence, he had such a phenomenal power that with first (second) arrow, he can mark all the things that he wants to destroy (save) and with the third arrow, he can destroy all that are marked (unmarked) in a fraction of a second.
Krishna then challenges him to tie all the leaves of the peepal tree under which he was standing, with these arrows. Barbarika accepts the challenge and meditates to release his arrow by closing his eyes. Then, Krishna without the knowledge of Barbarik, plucks one of the leaf of the tree and puts it under his foot. When, Barbarik releases his first arrow, it marks all the leaves of the tree and finally starts revolving around the leg of Krishna. For this Krishna asks Barbarik, "why is your arrow revolving around my foot?" For this Barbareek replies that there must be a leaf under his foot and the arrow was targetting his foot to mark the leaf that is hidden under him. Barbareek advises Krishna to lift his leg, since, otherwise the arrow will mark the leaf by pricking Krishna's leg. Thus, Krishna lifts his foot and to his surprise, finds that the first arrow also marks the leaf that was hidden under his foot. Of course, the 3rd arrow does collect all the leaves (including the one under Krishna's foot) and ties them together. By this Krishna concludes that the arrows are so infallible (never miss their target), that even if Barbarik is not aware of his targets, the arrows have such an intrinsic magical power that they can still navigate and trace all his intended targets. The moral of this incident is that, in a real battle field, if Krishna wants to isolate some one, to avoid them from being Barbareek's victim, then Krishna will not be successful as the arrows can still trace the target and destroy them. Thus Krishna gets a deeper insight about Barbarik's phenomenal power.
Krishna then asks the boy, "whom will you favour in the war?" Barbarika reveals that he intends to fight for the side whichever is weak. As Pandavas have only 7 Akshouni army, when compared to Kauravas 11, he considers that Pandavas are weak and hence wants to support them so that Pandavas will become victrious. But Krishna asks him, "Did you seriously think of the consequence before giving such a word to your mother?". Barbarik guesses that his support to the weaker side will make them victorious. Then, Krishna reveals the actual consequence of his word to his mother: Krishna tells that whichever side he supports will only make the other side weak due to his phenomenal power. Noboday will be able to defeat him. Hence, he is forced to change the side that has become weaker due to his word to his mother. Thus, in an actual war, he will keep oscillating between the two sides, there by destroying the entire army of both sides and eventually only he remains. Subsequently, none of the side is victrious as he is the only lone survivor. Further the arrows don't even spare Krishna himself. Hence, Krishna avoids his participation from the war by seeking his head as Gurudakshina (See below).
Recurrence relation
Barbareek's word to support the weak side with his enormous power actually leads to what is called Recurrence_relation in Mathematics. The fact that this leads to destruction of the entire army of both sides in an oscillatory way is called iteration in mathematics. Hence, Krishna who discovers the serious flaw in Barbareek's word is simply a genius.
 Barbarika's act of charity
The Brahmin (Krishna) then sought charity from the warrior. Barbarika promised him anything he wished. Krishna asked him to give his head in charity. Barbarika was shocked. Perceiving that all was not as it appeared, he requested the Brahmin to disclose his real identity. Krishna showed Barbarika a vision of His Divine Form and Barbarika was thus graced. Krishna then explained to him that before a battle, the head of the bravest Kshatriya needs to be sacrificed, in order to worship/sanctify the battlefield. Krishna said that he considered Barbarika to be the bravest among Kshatriyas, and was hence asking for his head in charity. In fulfilment of his promise, and in compliance with the Lord's command, Barbarika gave his head to Krishna in charity. This happened on the 12th day of the Shukla Paksha (bright half) of the month of Phalguna.
Krishna, pleased with Barbarika's great sacrifice, granted him the boon that when Kaliyuga descends, he would be worshipped by the name of Shyam in his form. His devotees would be blessed just by pronouncing his name from the bottom of their hearts.
This act of donating his head to Krishna was similar to Karna giving his Kavacha kundal to Lord Indira; It is similar to Ekalavya giving his right hand thumb to Dronacharya. Krishna seeks this from Barbarik as guru dakshina, as it was Krishna who first guided him to a guru named Vijay sindh from whom he attained this phenomenal power.
Bearing witness to the war
Before decapitating himself, Barbarika told Krishna of his great desire to view the forthcoming battle, and requested him to facilitate it. Krishna agreed, and placed the head atop a hill overlooking the battlefield. From the hill, the head of Barbarika watched the whole battle.
At the end of the battle, the victorious Pandava brothers argued amongst themselves as to who was responsible for the victory. Krishna suggested that Barbarika's head, which had watched the whole battle, should be allowed to judge. Barbarika's head suggested that it was Krishna alone who was responsible for the victory: his advice, his presence, his gameplan had been crucial. Barbarika's head said that he had seen the Sudarshana Chakra revolving around the battlefield, hacking the Kaurava army to pieces; and Draupadi, assuming the fearful form of Mahakali Durga, drinking bowl after bowl of blood without allowing even one drop of blood to fall on the earth.
Barbareek and Bhishma
Barbareek and Bhishma are the two interesting personalities with the following parallels:
Barbareek without thinking about the consequence, gives a word to his mother (or guru vijay sindh) to support the side that is weak. This gives an ambiguity of whether to support good or bad. Similarly, Bhishma without thinking makes a vow (pratigna) that he will serve anyone who sits on his father's throne. This means he will continue to be loyal even if a bad guy sits on his father's throne. Thus in the end of Mahabharath war, Krishna points to Barbareek and Bhishma and states that without thinking about the consequence one should not give a word to someone; without thinking one should not make a vow.
Hence, the purpose of Barbareek's birth was to convey the message to the world that "too much of anything is too bad." He had such a power that he can single handedly defeat an army of any size. But the power he possesed was not helping the rules of nature. Hence, to protect the nature, he had to get rid of that power himself. Nevertheless, Barbareek and Bhishma both were great devotees of Lord Krishna and Dharma. Hence, to make Pandavas victorious, Barbareek gives up his head in charity; Bhishma openly declears to Duryodhana that he will not kill any of the Pandavas.
Other names of the deity

    Barbarika: Khatushyamji's childhood name was Barbarika. His mother and relatives used to call him by this name before the name Khatushyamji was given by Shri Krishna.
    Sheesh Ke Daani: Literally: "Donor of Head"; As per the legend related above.
    Haare Ka Sahara: Literally: "Support of the defeated"; Upon his mother's advise, Barbarika resolved to support whoever has less power and is losing. Hence he is known by this name.
    Teen BaaN Dhaari: Literally: "Bearer of three arrows"; Reference is to the three infallible arrows that he received as boon from God Shiva. These arrows were sufficient to destroy the whole world. The title written below these three arrows is Maam Sevyam Parajitah.
    Lakha-datari: Literally: "The Munificent Giver"; One who never hesitates to give his devotees whatever they need and ask for.
    Leela ke Aswaar: Literally: "Rider of Leela"; Being the name of his blue-coloured horse. Many call it Neela Ghoda or "blue horse."
    Khatu Naresh: Literally: "The King of Khatu"; One who rules Khatu and the whole universe.
    The temple
    After the Mahābhārata battle, Barbarika's head was buried in the village of Khatu in present-day Rajasthan. The location was obscured until well after the Kaliyuga period began. Then, on one occasion, milk started flowing spontaneously out of a cow's udder when she neared the burial spot. Amazed at this incident, the local villagers dug the place up and the buried head was revealed. The head was handed over to a Brahmin who worshipped it for many days, awaiting divine revelations as to what was to be done next. Roopsingh Chauhan, king of Khatu, then had a dream where he was inspired to build a temple and install the head therein. Subsequently, a temple was built and the idol was installed on the 11th day of the Shukla Paksha (bright half) of the month of Kartik.
    There is another, only slightly different version of this legend. Roopsingh Chauhan was the ruler of Khatu. His wife, Narmada Kanwar, once had a dream in which the deity instructed her to take his image out of the earth. The indicated place (now known as Shyam Kund) when then dug up. Sure enough, it yielded the idol, which was duly enshrined in the temple.
    The original temple was built in 1027 AD by Roopsingh Chauhan and his wife Narmada Kanwar. In 1720 AD, a nobleman known as Diwan Abhaisingh renovated the old temple, at the behest of the then ruler of Marwar. The temple took its present shape at this time and the idol was enshrined in the sanctum sanctorum. The idol is made of rare stone. Khatushyam is the family deity of a large number of families.
    Architectural features
    The temple is architecturally rich. Lime mortar, marble and tiles have been used in constructing the structure. The shutters of the sanctum sanctorum are beautifully covered with silver sheet. Outside is the prayer hall, named Jagmohan. The hall is large in size (measuring 12.3 m x 4.7 m) and its walls are elaborately painted, depicting mythological scenes. The entrance gate and exit gate are made of marble; their brackets are also of marble and feature ornamental floral designs.
    There is an open space in front of the entrance gate of the temple. The Shyam Bagicha is a garden near the temple from where flowers are picked to be offered to the deity. The Samadhi of Aloo Singh, a great devotee, is located within the garden.
    The Gopinath temple lies to the south-east of the main temple. The Gaurishankar temple also lies nearby. There is an interesting tale associated with the Gaurishankar temple. It is said that some soldiers of the mughal emperor Aurangzeb wanted to destroy this temple. They attacked the Shiva lingam enshrined within this temple with their spears. Immediately, fountains of blood appeared from the Shiva Linga. The soldiers ran away, terrified. One can still see the mark of the spear on the Lingam.
    Observances and festivals
    Barbarika is worshipped as Shyam, being Krishna himself. Therefore, the flavour of the festivities reflects the playful and vibrant nature of Krishna. The festivals of Krishna Janmaashtami, Jhool Jhulani Ekadashi, Holi and Vasant Panchami are celebrated with gusto in the temple. The Phalguna Mela detailed below is the principal annual festival.
    Hundreds of devotees visit the temple everyday. Newly married couples come to pay homage and newly born babies are brought to the temple for their mundan (the first hair-shaving) ceremony. An elaborate Aarti is performed at the temple five times a day. These are:

      Mangala Aarti: performed in the early morning, when temple is open.
      Shringaar Aarti: performed at the time of make-up of Baba Shyam. The idol is grandly ornamented for this Aarti.
      Bhog Aarti: performed at noon when bhog (Prasadam) is served to the Lord.
      Sandhya Aarti: performed in the evening, at sunset.
      Sayana Aarti: performed in the night, when temple is closed.
      Two special hymns, the Shri Shyam Aarti and the Shri Shyam Vinati, are chanted on all these occasions. The Shri Shyam mantra is another litany of the Lord's names that is chanted by devotees.
      Shukla Ekadashi & Dwadashi: The 11th & 12th days of the bright half of every month in the Hindu calendar is of special significance to the temple. This is because Barbarika was born on the 11th day of the bright half of the month of Kartika, and he donated his head ("Sheesh") to Krishna on the 12th day of the bright half of the month of Phalguna. Darshan on these two days is therefore considered auspicious and devotees come in their thousands every month. The temple remains open throughout the night that falls between these days. Night-long Bhajan sessions are organised since devotees traditionally pass the night in singing the praises of the Lord. Devotees organise Bhajan programmes and invite Bhajan singers to sing devotional songs.
      Bathing in the Shyam Kund: This is the holy pond near the temple from which the idol was retrieved. It is believed that a dip in this pond cures a person from ailments and brings good health. Filled with devotional fervor, people take ritual dips in the Shyam Kund. They believe that this will relieve them of diseases and contagion. Bathing during the annual Falgun Mela festival is deemed specially salutary.
      Nishan Yatra: It is believed that your wishes are granted if you offer a Nishan at the temple. A Nishan is a triangular flag of a particular size, made of cloth, which is hoisted on a bamboo stick. It is carried in one's hands while covering the route from the town of Ringas to Khatu (17 km) on foot. Nishans are offered in their millions during the Phalgun Mela.
      Phalguna Mela: The most important festival associated with the temple is the Phalguna Mela which occurs just 3-4 days before from the festival of Holi. Barbarika's head appeared on Phalguna Shuddha Ekadashi, the 11th day of the bright half of the Hindu month of Phalguna. Therefore, the fair is held from the 9th to the 12th of that month.
      An estimated one million devotees visit the temple during these four days from all corners of the country. There is virtually no vacant space in the town during this period. There is celebration and festivity in the moods of the devotees who wait for hours in long serpentine queues for a moment's glance of the deity. The whole town, along with the temple, is illuminated. Singers across all over the country come here to perform Bhajans on this holy occasion. Special arrangements are made for feeding the devotees in almost all the Dharamshalas and rest-houses. Special trains & buses also ply during the mela. The government of Rajasthan takes care of the law and order during the fair.
      Administration and amenities
      The Public Trust that has charge of the temple is registered under registration No. 3/86. A 7-member committee oversees the management of the temple. A number of Dharmashalas (charity lodges) are available for their comfortable stay. The temple timings are as follows:

        In winter (Ashvin bahula 1st to Chaitra shuddha 15th): 5.30 am - 1.00 pm and 4.00 pm - 9.00 pm.
        In summer (Vaishakha bahula 1st to Bhadrapada shuddha 15th): 4.30 am - 12.30 pm and 4.00 pm - 10.00 pm.
        The temple is open 24 hours a day on every Shukla Paksha Ekadasi, ie., on the 11th day of the bright half of every month in the Hindu calendar. The temple is also open throughout the 3-day Phalgun Mela.
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