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The legend begins with the Mahabharata. Barbarika alias Khatushyamji alias Shyam Baba was a grandson of Bhima, Second of the Pandava brothers. He was the son of Ghatotkacha, son of Bhima, Mother name is Kamkankata ( Mata Morwi ). So Baba Shyam is also Called Morwinandan Khatu Shyam ji.
Even in his childhood, Barbarika was very brave warrior. He learnt the art of warfare from his mother. Ma Jagdama ( Parvati ) , 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.
One day, when Naarada maharshi was describing Shri Hari Leelas and greatness of Hari-bhakti, Leelaavati slept off, but Prahlaada who was in her garbham was listening a telling "ok" "ok" to all the tattvam that Naarada maharshi was telling. Thus even before Prahlaada was born he got Gnyaanopadesham from Naarada maharshi. On one shubha-lagnam, Prahlaada was born. Devatas showered pushpa-varsham.
When Barbarika came to know that battle between Pandavas and Kauravas will happen, he wanted to witness the battle. He promised his mother that he would join the side which would be losing. He rode on his Blue Horse (Neela Ghoda) equipped with 3 arrows and bow. Lord Krishna, disguised as a Brahmin, stopped Barbarika to examine his strength.
He even tried to mock Barbareek saying that he was going to the great battle with only three arrows. 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. Lord Krishna challenged him to tie all the leaves of the peepal tree under which he was standing, with one arrow. Barbarika accepts the challenge and starts meditating to release his arrow by closing his eyes. Then, Krishna without the knowledge of Barbarika, 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 Barbarika, as why was the arrow revolving around his foot? For this, Barbareek replies that there must be a leaf under his foot and the arrow was targeting his foot to mark the leaf that is hidden under him. Barbarika advises Krishna to lift his leg, since, otherwise the arrow will mark the leaf by pricking Krishna's leg. Radha Krishna Ras LeelaThus, 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 third 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, that even if Barbarika is not aware of his targets, the arrows are so powerful that they can still navigate and trace all his intended targets. Lord Krishna asked the boy whom he would favour in the war. Barbarika revealed that he will fight for whichever side is weak. Lord Krishna knew that the defeat of the Kauravas was inevitable if this boy joins them. The Brahmin (Lord Krishna) then sought charity from the boy. Barbarika promised him anything he wished.
Lord Krishna asked him to give his head in charity. Barbarika was shocked, he requested the Brahmin to disclose his real identity. Lord Krishna showed Barbarika a vision of His Divine Form. He explained to Barbarika that before the battle, in order to worship the battlefield, head of the bravest Kshatriya needs to be sacrificed. And he considered Barbarika to be the bravest among Kshatriyas, and hence asked 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. Barbareek requested that he wanted to see the battle till its end, and his wish was granted. The head was placed atop a hill overlooking the battlefield. When the battle was over, the victorious Pandava brothers argued amongst themselves as to who was responsible for the victory. At this, Lord Krishna suggested that Barbarika's head had watched the whole battle, and he should be allowed to judge. Barbarika's head suggested that it was Lord Krishna who was responsible for the victory, his advice, his presence, his game plan had been crucial.
He 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.