Satyaki - a forgotten warrior from Mahabharata

Satyaki - a forgotten warrior from Mahabharata

Satyaki - a forgotten warrior from Mahabharata

We have been so busy glorifying Karna's role as a friend in Mahabharata - a friendship that pushed both the friends towards their doom and almost destroyed an entire generation, that we have completely forgotten another very important character who in our opinion was a much better friend to have. 

This post is dedicate to Satyaki and his role in the epic Mahabharata.

Satyaki was an important character of Mahabharata but many whose source of the epic has been through later retellings probably would not even have heard of him and about his important role in the events of Mahabharata. His importance in the epic is clear from the fact that his name is specifically called out in the beginning of the Mahabharata as one of the key players.  


This post is an attempt to introduce the character of Satyaki to everyone and highlight his role in the great epic using references from authentic sources.  


The character of Satyaki appears very late in the Mahabharata but his story starts many years before he was even born.  

During Devaki's swayamvar, a fight broke out between son of Bahlika, Somadutta and Vasudev's uncle Sini. Sini fought and defeated Somadutta. Sini then humiliated the Kuru prince by kicking him. Unable to digest this humiliation, Somadutta performed penance to have a son who will avenge this humiliation.  


Many years later Sini's son Satyak had a son named Yuyudhan, who was commonly referred as Satyaki after his father. This makes Satyaki a cousin of Shrikrishna and Pandava.  

Satyaki was an accomplished warrior who learned archery from Dronacharya and later from Arjuna. He was also very close to Shrikrishna and accompanied him in every war be it fighting with Jarasandha or attacking Indra to get Parijat tree to Dwaraka, Satyaki was present to fight alongside Shrikrishna. His closeness to Pandava can be ascertained from the fact that Satyaki came from Dwaraka to perform the last rites of Pandava after hearing the news of their death in the Varanavat fire.  


Satyaki was a staunch supporter of Pandava and wanted Yudhishthira to attack Hastinapur and avenge their humiliation instead of going on exile. Later, after the exile period was over, Udyog Parva played a very critical role.  

When Balaram proposed Pandava should try their best to avoid the war, Satyaki got extremely angry and proposed war as the only solution to the conflict.  

Later when Shrikrishna was chosen to visit Hastinapur as a peace messenger Satyaki also accompanied him. It was Satyaki who informed Shrikrishna of Duryodhana's plot to capture him, which led to the epic Vishwaroopam scene in the Hastinapur assembly.  


When all the efforts at diplomacy failed and the war became inevitable, Satyaki joined the war from Pandava side along with his sons and other Vrishni warriors. He was the most destructive warrior from the Pandava side after Arjuna and Bhima.  


As part of the battle strategy Satyaki was appointed to mark Kritavarma, his fellow Yadava warrior from Bhoja clan, who was fighting for the Kaurava and leading the Narayani Sena of Shrikrishna in battle. There was also someone from Satyaki's past fighting for the Kaurava.  

Satyaki's grandfather Sini's rival Somadutta along with his sons was fighting for the Kaurava side. Among Somadutta's sons was also Bhurishrava who was born to avenge his humiliation at the hands of Satyaki's grandfather many years ago. Bhurishrava was responsible for killing Satyaki's sons in the Kurukshetra war. 


Satyaki's involvement in the war of Kurukshetra can fill up entire book worth of content so we will not cover the whole thing here, however among his notable achievements during the war were defeating Drona and Karna on different days.  

On the 14th day when Arjuna was away looking for Jayadratha, Yudhishthira sent Satyaki after him. On the way a tired Satyaki faced Bhurishrava, who due to Mahadev's boon to his father managed to disarm Satyaki and then kicked him the way Satyaki's grandfather had kicked Bhurishrava's father.  

However, when Bhurishrava was about to strike the fatal blow Satyaki's friend and mentor Arjuna intervened and cut off Bhurishrava's arm. When Bhurishrava protested, Arjuna reminded him of his participation in unfair killing of Abhimanyu the previous day. After this exchange Bhurishrava sat down in meditation. Around the same time Satyaki regained consciousness. He picked up a sword and beheaded an unarmed Bhurishrava. Everyone including Arjuna scolded Satyaki for his act, but Satyaki justified it by saying that when Bhurishrava was kicking him he had taken a vow to cut-off his head.  


Satyaki was one of the survivors of the Kurukshetra war along with his mark on the opposing side, Kritavarma. Many years later these two heroes became responsible for igniting the fire that destroyed the entire Yadava clan.  


Once all the prominent Yadava leaders were gathered where Kritavarma mocked Satyaki for the way he had killed Bhurishrava, to which Satyaki retorted by mocking Kritavarma for his participation in the killing of Abhimanyu, who was Subhadra's son and was dear to Yadavas. This resulted into a fight which escalated when Yadava warriors picked sides and started killing each other resulting into the destruction of the entire Yadava clan.   


The information presented in this post is based on the unabridged version of Hindi translation of Mahabharata by Gita Press

Contributed by Gaurav Tiwari