For those who are still devoid of knowledge, peace and strength that comes from the firm belief in and knowing about Shree Shyam Babaji….let us begin the journey by saying JAI SHREE SHYAM!!! Once more, JAI SHREE SHYAM!!! One more time and a little louder, JAI SHREE SHYAM!!!
Who is Shyam Babaji?
Shyam Babaji is the another form or manifestation of Shree Krishna and who coexisted with the lord himself during the same period and even at the same place. He is another individual, earlier known as Barbareek who was blessed by Lord Shri Krishna that he would be known as Shyam (another name of the Lord). Since then Shyam Babaji is synonymous with the Lord.
What is the history of Shree Shyam Babaji?
Shree Shyam Babaji is the grandson of Bhimsenji, the second of the Pandavas and Hidimba and the son of Ghatogachji and Kamkantkata devi.
How did Shyam Babaji become who he is?
Shyam Babaji, as mentioned earlier is the son of Ghatotgachji. Before the Pandavas and the Kauravas went to war, Shree Shyam Babaji’s name was Barbareek. Barbareek was a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva and he practiced severe penances. After a long period of time, Lord Shiva appeared before him and granted him immense strength and gave him 3 arrows (that when held of pictured together are the symbol of Shree Shyam Babaji). Lord Shiva gave Barbareek these three arrows. But these arrows weren’t just ordinary arrows. Each of these arrows had the capability to mark every target and destroy them all in a single launch.
We all know that just before the Pandavas and the Kauravas went to war, Duryodhana asked Shree Krishna for his Narayani Sena – the unlimited and invincible army of the lord. Arjuna on his part only asked the lord to be his Sarathi, his charioteer and guide his chariot into the deep battle grounds during the war.
When the war began, Ghatotgachji who lived in the jungles and forests with his wife and son Barbareek also went to the war to fight for his father Shree Bhimsenji. After some days, Barbareek expressed his desire to his mother to go the the war and assist his grandfather Bhimsenji. Barbareek asked his mother how he would recognize his grandfather since he had never seen him. His mother in her simple nature assumed that the Kaurava’s with The Lord’s Narayani Sena would most definitely defeat the Pandavas. She asked him to look for the losing side and help them.
Barbareek mounted his leela ghoda – blue horse – and went to the battle field in his usual garb of dhoti, carrying but 3 arrows in his quiver and his bow. Lord Krishna, quite amused by his attire asked him to introduce himself and the purpose of his visit to a battle field, particularly when he his carrying only 3 arrows.
Barbareek replied that he was Barbareek, a resident of Khatu and that the Lord should not be mistaken by his attire and the fact that he is carrying only 3 arrows. For a warrior is not known by his attire but only by his achievements in the battlefield. Lord Krishna responded that the famed warriors like Dronacharya, Kripa, et all are fighting in this war and hence he should not even think of participating in this war if he valued his life. Barbareek again replied that he was only there to see the war and see the great warriors fighting. He also said that no matter who is opposing him, no matter how great and famed a warrior his opponent may be, he is capable of destroying not only two entire armies, but even the 3 worlds with a single launch of a single arrow.
The Lord smiled and asked Barbareek not to speak childishly, to go home and not to needlessly jeopardize his life. But Barbareek would hear none of it and asked the Lord to test his skills with the bow and arrow. Lord Krishna decided to put Barbareek to test. Pointing at a Peepal tree, He asked Barbareek to pierce all the leaves with a single arrow launched only once. Having said this, unknown to Barbareek, The Lord, plucked a leaf and put it beneath his slipper to hide it.
Confidently Barbareek pick up his bow and fixed an arrow in position. Looking skyward, he put is a silent prayer of gratitude and respect to Lord Shiva and let the arrow fly. As promised by Barbareek and expected by the Lord, the arrow did pierce all the leaves on the Peepal tree and swiftly turned toward The Lord’s foot, forcing him to move it and went on to pierce the leaf. We must remember here that The Lord being The Lord was completely aware of all events that were to occur, the beauty of the situation lying in how wonderfully He played out his predefined role with no one realizing his prior to the event occurring knowledge.
Continuing on the same note, The Lord expressed his astonishment at Barbareek’s knowledge and skill with the bow and arrow and asked him which of the two warring sides he would like to fight for. Barbareek instantly replied that he will fight for the losing side and with just one launch of a single arrow vanquish the victorious side to turn the face of the war around. The Lord, realizing that with Him with the Pandavas, them losing was impossible and if Barbareek joined the losing Kauravas and launched his arrow upon the Pandavas, it would be impossible to save any of them. He quickly asked Barbareek to join them saying that his name would forever be taken with respect and worship. Barbareek declined and told the Lord of his promise to his mother, as the reason for fighting with the losing side. He said he never declines anyone who asks anything of time that he always supports the one who he sees as losing. The Lord realized it would be futile to get Barbareek to change his mind and thought of another ploy. After some thought he told Barbareek that fighting for the losing side was fine but before the war would begin He needed the head of a brave warrior to offer as a sacrifice to the battlefield. He asked Barbareek if he could recommend anyone. Barbareek in all earnestly replied that for the sacrifice only three warriors were worthy…The Lord Himself, Arjuna and he himself. But The Lord was required to be the Sarathi – Charioteer for Arjuna, and Arjuna was required to fight the war. He then bowed to The Lord and offered his own head but also said that he wished to see the war and Bharat Varsh – country of Bharat – India. Lord Krishna replied that he would affix his head on top of Giri mountain so he could fulfill his desire. At this juncture, Barbareek carved out his head from his body and handed it over to The Lord who placed it on top of Giri mountain, as promised. This happened on the 12th day of Shukla Paksha of Phagun (Fagun)month.
After 18 days of intense fighting, after Duryodhan and his brothers were dead, the war was over and the Pandavas emerged victorious. As happens to all those who achieve victory or success, the Pandavas also could not refrain from letting their egos get the better of them, and particularly Bhimsenji, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahdev who kept on harping of their achievements in the battlefield. The Lord asked them why the pomp and pride to which they replied that they were proud of their achievements in the battlefield. The Lord asked them to ask the head of Barbareek that was affixed on the top of Mount Giri, about the proceedings and happenings of the war. When they all climbed up the mountain, Lord Krishna asked the head of Barbareek that had carefully watched the entire battle, to speak the truth on the entire proceedings on the battlefield. The Head replied that no was brave, neither father nor uncle. It was only the Lord who with his Sudarshana Chakra who caused the victory of the Pandavas in the battlefield. The Sudarshana Chakra kept on slicing the heads of the warriors of the enemy side while Draupadi after assuming the fearful form Mata Kali holding onto a bowl made of a skull kept on collecting and drinking the spilling blood, not letting a single drop fall on the ground.
On hearing the truth from the head of Barbareek, Lord Krishna blessed him:
You will henceforth be known and worshipped as Shyam in all my temples,
In the Kalyug, man and wife and all people shall pray to you as Shyam Kanhai
Those who meditate and worship you with their thoughts, words and actions will have all of their wants, needs and desires fulfilled,
will become wealthier than the seas and oceans, have a beautiful baby boy in the arms of their wives,
Your devotees will always have the protection of your name, Shreepati Yadupati Kunj Bihari.
Later His head was buried in the the place called Khatu.Thus Barbareek, became another form of Lord Krishna and the day on on which he carved out his head and offered it to The Lord, was the 12th days of the month of Phagun (Fagun) is now known as Shyam Baras.
Centuries later, one day a cow reached that spot and milk started flowing from her udders. The spot was dug and Shyam Babaji’s head was recovered. The king of Khatu then had a dream that inspired him to build a temple and which he promptly did and installed the head in the main temple. Since then millions and crores of people have visited the temple and sought and returned with the blessings of Shree Shyam Babaji.
As the legend of Shyam Babaji spread, it inspired other devotees to build temples also. A noticeable point is that all temples have only the head of Shree Sham Babaji. The rest of the body below the head is always covered with flowers in a pyramid like fashion, denoting the Giri mountain on which Barbareek’s head was placed.
(courtesy: shreekhatushyamji )