The Mahabharata is one of the most famous and ancient epics, and it is a treasure trove of powerful and complex characters. Among these characters are the five Pandavas brothers- Yudhishthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula, and Sahadeva, who are the protagonist of the story, and the Kauravas, the hundred sons of Dhritarashtra, who are the antagonists. The conflict between these two groups forms the crux of the story, and it is filled with action, politics, and moral dilemmas.
Among the many heroes in the epic, Yuyutsu stands out as a unique and compelling figure. Born as the son of Dhritarashtra and a Vaishya woman named Sukhada, Yuyutsu was as old as Duryodhana and the rest of the ninety-nine Kuru brothers and Dushala. Despite his birth in circumstances that predisposed him to evil, Yuyutsu chooses the path of righteousness and becomes an important informant among the Kauravas.
Early Life of Yuyutsu
In the Mahabharata, Yuyutsu is the son of Dhritarashtra, the king of Hastinapura. He was conceived with a woman named Sukhada, who was a vaishya because Dhritarashtra was worried that his wife Gandhari would not be able to have children. Yuyutsu was born on the same day as Duryodhana and was older than Dushasana and the other Kauravas.
Yuyutsu as Maharathi
The Maharathis were the greatest warriors on both sides of the Kurukshetra War in the Mahabharata. These warriors were considered capable of fighting 720,000 warriors simultaneously. They were the elite soldiers of the Kauravas and the Pandavas.
The list of the Maharathis on the Kaurava side includes Bhishma, Drona, Karna, Ashwatthama, Kripa, Shalya, and Jayadratha. On the Pandava side, the list includes Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula, and Sahadeva. Yuyutsu, a half-brother of the Kauravas, also joined the Pandava side during the war. These warriors were known for their immense strength, skill, and bravery and played a crucial role in the outcome of the war.
Yuyutsu and Vikarna against Duryodhana’s conspiracies
Vikarna and Yuyutsu were both sons of Dhritarashtra, the blind king, and ruler of the Kauravas. Both were prominent characters in the Mahabharata and were known for their valor and warrior skills. However, they had different loyalties when it came to the Kurukshetra war.
Both Vikarna and Yuyutsu abhorred Duryodhana’s conspiracies and evil schemes (disrobe Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas, in the royal court). But Vikarna stayed loyal to his family while Yuyutsu decided to join the side of righteousness. Vikarna ultimately perishes in the war while Yuyutsu survives and goes on to have notable encounters with other warriors.
Yuyutsu in Kurukshetra
Before the battle of the Kurukshetra War between Kauravas and Pandavas, Yuyutsu switched sides with the Pandava camp. Yudhishthira, the leader of the Pandavas, had announced that anyone who wishes to change sides could do so before the war began. Yuyutsu saved the life of Bhima by informing the Pandavas about Duryodhana’s plans to poison water.
He fought on the side of the Pandavas and was one of the eleven warriors to have survived the war. He had a few notable encounters, he was wounded by Kripacharya on the seventh day and fought with Shakuni’s son Ulooka on the sixteenth day, but failed to kill him as he fled. While he and Vikarna both disagreed with Duryodhana’s evil plans, Vikarna stayed loyal to the family and died in the war.
Yuyutsu saved Bhima’s life
Duryodhana, the eldest of the Kauravas, had the plan to kill Bhima, one of the Pandavas. Duryodhana, who was envious of Bhima’s strength and prowess in battle, devised a scheme to poison the water supply of the Pandavas’ camp during the Kurukshetra War. Yuyutsu, who was a half-brother of the Kauravas and also present in the Kaurava camp, became aware of Duryodhana’s plan and decided to inform the Pandavas about it. In this way, Yuyutsu saved Bhima’s life by warning him and his brothers about the poisoned water, allowing them to take precautions and avoid consuming it.
Yuyutsu in the sword fight with Kripacharya
One of the notable encounters he has during the war is with Kripacharya, who is the guru of both the Kauravas and the Pandavas. On the seventh day of the war, Yuyutsu and Kripacharya engage in a sword fight, and Kripacharya wounds Yuyutsu. However, Yuyutsu survives the encounter and continues to fight on the side of the Pandavas.
Yuyutsu against Sakuni’s son
Ulooka is a character and the son of the main antagonist Shakuni. He is said to have fought on the side of the Kauravas during the Kurukshetra War. Yuyutsu fought against Ulooka on the sixteenth day of the war. Yuyutsu is said to have wounded Ulooka but was unable to kill him as Ulooka fled from the battle.
The outcome of the war
The outcome of the Mahabharat war was the victory of the Pandavas and the death of most of the Kauravas. The Pandavas emerged victorious and established their rule over the kingdom of Hastinapura. Yudhishthira, the eldest Pandava, became the king of Hastinapura and ruled justly. The only surviving members of the Kaurava side were a few warriors including Ashwatthama, Kripacharya, Yuyutsu, and Kritavarma, and the queen Gandhari and her son Dhritarashtra. The war resulted in the deaths of many great warriors and the destruction of an entire generation. It also marked the end of the Kuru dynasty and the beginning of a new era in ancient Indian history.
Yuyutsu after the war
Yuyutsu is known for choosing the side of righteousness, despite being born in circumstances that would have predisposed him to evil. He fought on the side of the Pandavas during the war and was one of the eleven warriors to survive. After the war, he was appointed as the guardian of King Parikshit (Abhimanyu’s son) and later as the king of Indraprastha.
Yuyutsu’s death is not specifically mentioned in the original Mahabharata epic, but other legends provide some clues. After the war, Gandhari, unable to control her grief and anger, blamed the Pandavas for the deaths of so many people in the battle for the kingdom. She expressed her desire to see the Pandavas, with the intention of destroying them with her fiery gaze. Krishna, suspecting her true intentions, asked Sahadeva for clarification, and upon learning of her plan, he instructed Yuyutsu to remove the cover from Gandhari’s eyes.
However, as soon as he did so, Gandhari’s gaze reduced him to ashes. Krishna and Vidura later scolded Gandhari for killing her only surviving son and reminded her that if Yudhisthira were to perish, dharma would also be lost. They asked her to cover her eyes again, and a remorseful Gandhari complied without argument. Yuyutsu, like many other characters in mythology, made the difficult but right choice, even if it led to his death, and serves as an example of a hero who followed his conscience.
Comparing Yuyutsu with Vibhisana
Yuyutsu’s actions in the Mahabharata can be seen as a decision to align himself with righteousness rather than loyalty to his family. He recognized the wrongs committed by his brothers and chose to fight on the side of the Pandavas, despite the risk of being seen as a traitor. However, unlike Vibhishana, who left his own family to join Rama in the Ramayana, Yuyutsu did not completely abandon his family and instead chose to fight alongside his half-brothers, the Pandavas.
Yuyutsu’s story can be seen as a reminder that one should always stand up against injustice and oppression, even if it means going against one’s own family. It also shows that it’s possible to change and make amends for past mistakes. One can learn from Yuyutsu the importance of making difficult and unpopular choices when it is necessary to stand up for what is right.
Yuyutsu is a complex character in the Mahabharat, known for his decision to switch sides from the Kauravas to the Pandavas. He saved Bhima’s life by informing the Pandavas of Duryodhana’s plot to poison the water and fought as one of the eleven Maharathis on the Pandava side. Despite being considered a traitor by some, Yuyutsu’s actions demonstrate the importance of standing up for righteousness and the value of changing one’s ways in the face of injustice. His survival at the end of the war serves as a reminder that even in the midst of great conflict, there is always the possibility of redemption and a better future.