Abhimanyu – The Warrior Son of Arjuna and Subhadra


Abhimanyu is one of the greatest warriors of the Mahabharata and a son of Arjuna and Subhadra, the famous couple in the epic. He married Princess Uttara, daughter of King Virata of Matsya kingdom.

Abhimanyu was killed on the 13th day of the Kurukshetra war. Abhimanyu was the reincarnation of Varchas, the son of Chandra Dev (Lord Soma). When Chandra Deva agreed for his son to be incarnated on earth by the devas, he put a condition that Abhimanyu would remain on earth for 16 years. His son Parikshit was born after his death in the Mahabharata war.

Abhimanyu inherited courage and fighting ability from his father Arjuna and his maternal uncle Sri Krishna. As an unborn child in his mother’s womb, Abhimanyu learned to enter the deadly defense formation called Chakravyuha from Arjuna. The Mahabharata epic explains that Abhimanyu overheard the conversation between his mother and father from the mother’s womb.

Arjuna explained the detailed technique of cracking Chakravyuha and entering it. But, when he was about to explain how to exit from the Chakravyuha, he realizes that Subhadra had fallen asleep and stopped explaining further. Unfortunately, Abhimanyu could not listen to how to emerge out of it successfully.

Abhimanyu’s Training

Abhimanyu gained knowledge while he was still in Subhadra’s womb. He heard Arjuna telling Subhadra the secrets of entering, exiting, and destroying various battle formations like Chakravyuha. Abhimanyu spent his childhood in Dwaraka, his mother city. He was trained by Pradyumna, the son of Sri Krishna and his great warrior father Arjuna, and brought up under the guidance of Lord Krishna.


Arjuna arranged Abhimanyu’s marriage to Uttara, the daughter of King Virata, to seal an alliance between the Pandavas and the royal family of Virata in the light of the forthcoming Kurukshetra War. The Pandavas hid incognito in the Matsya kingdom during their final year of exile. During that time, Arjuna played the role of dance teacher to Uttara.

At the end of the period of exile, upon finding out who the Pandavas were, the king offered to marry Uttara to Arjuna. However, Arjuna had come to think of her as his daughter, so he asked to marry Abhimanyu instead.

A Great Warrior

Being a grandson of Lord Indra, Abhimanyu was a courageous and dashing warrior. He was considered an equal to his father owing to his prodigious feats. He held at bay great heroes like Dorna, Karna, Duryodhana, and Dushsana. He was praised for his audacious bravery and loyalty to his father, uncle, and cause.

Abhimanyu participated in the Mahabharata war when he was 16 years old and killed important personalities such as Lakshma, son of Duryodhana, and Brihadbala, king of Kosala.

Abhimanyu’s Death

Abhimanyu is well known for his participation in the Kurukshetra war. On the 13th day of battle, the Kauravas challenge the Pandavas to break a circular battle formation known as the Chakravyuha. The Pandavas accepted the challenge.

Lord Krishna and Arjuna only know the way of defeating such battle formation. They were engaged in a war with the Samsaptaka forces led by Susharma.

Abhimanyu came to rescue the Pandavas and entered Chakravyuha all alone. But he did not know how to destroy the formation once he was inside, as Krishna had stopped the conversation and taken away Arjuna when he was in his mother’s womb. Due to which Kaurava was trapping him.

Even though Abhimanyu went on killing thousands of Kaurava soldiers inside the Chakravyuha. He defeated great warriors like Drona, Kripa, Ashwatthama, Duryodhana, Salya, Dussasana, Bhurisrava and killed many prominent heroes.

Karna was the last great warrior who could over-power Abhimanyu. But since Abhimanyu was just a 16-year-old teenager, Karna did not use his full might against him and fight in an equal challenge. Finally, a strategy was made, and a joint attack on Abhimanyu followed. He was surrounded from all sides and broke his bow by shooting arrows from behind. But before dying, Abhimanyu managed to kill Dusshasana’s son.

Revenge by Arjuna

Arjuna took revenge the very next day of Abhimanyu’s death by killing Jayadratha, the king of Sindh. Jayadratha was solely accountable for not giving a chance to Abhimanyu to go out of Chakravyuha, resulting in his death in the hands of many warriors like KarnaDuryodhana, etc. when he was weapon-less.

Abhimanyu, the great warrior life story, has inspired many in art, creativity, and storytelling. So, we can learn the following lesson from Abhimanyu Stories.

  • The thought of revenge only brings Destruction
  • Life is a Chakravyuha
  • Always Gain Complete Knowledge of anything
  • Incomplete knowledge is too dangerous
  • Always Respect your Parents and Elders
  • Don’t lose your Strength During Tough Time

King Parikshit

When Abhimanyu died in the battle of Kurukshetra, His son Parikshit was in the womb of Uttara. Lord Krishna entered within the womb of Uttara to save her embryo from the attack of Asvatthama’s Brahmastra. Hence he was named Parikshit. Parikshit’s name came from the Sanskrit verb root परि-क्षि pari-kṣi = “around-possess” (or, less likely here, “around-destroy”).

The chief priest Dhaumya predicted to King Yudhishthira that Prakshit would be a great devotee of the Supreme Lord Vishnu, and since Krishna saved him, he will be known as Vishnurata (“One who is always protected by the Lord”). Dhaumya Rishi predicts that Parikshit would be ever-devoted to virtue, religious principles, and the truth and a wise monarch, exactly as Ikshvaku and Lord Rama of Ayodhya.

(Read – The Kuru Lineage – What happened after the Mahabharata War? )