Mahabharata: Arjuna’s vow to kill Jayadratha

On the 13th day of the Mahabharata war, the Kauravas get together and kill Abhimanyu. Every possible rule in the warbook is broken to kill Abhimanyu. In fact, upon close inspection, it becomes clear that Abhimanyu’s death was destined that way by Lord Krishna in order to ensure the killing of all the major Kauravas is not even questioned.

When the war ends on the 13th day, Arjuna and Krishna, who were away fighting the Samsaptakas, come back to their camp. They are told the news of Abhimanyu’s killing. Arjuna is extremely enraged and wants to know the cause for the death of his dear son. He is told that Abhimanyu became alone inside the Chakravyuha because the Sindhu King Jayadratha blocked the entrance and did not allow the other Pandavas to get in.

Arjuna then makes a terrible vow to kill Jayadratha before sunset the next day. He announces that he will kill Jayadratha, come what may, unless Jayadratha runs away from the war or surrenders to him or Lord Krishna. Further, he announces that if he fails to slay Jayadratha, he will enter a fire and kill himself.

In his emotional state, Arjuna declares a vow that terrible fate should occur to him if he fails in his vow. He says that he will meet the fate of those people who make terrible mistakes in life. He declares that he will reach the Naraka (hell) meant for people who have committed big sins. He gives a list of the sins which are terrible and says he should meet the same fate as those who commit those sins would meet. The list of sins he talks about is extremely interesting. It gives a peek into the life and times during Mahabharata, their value systems, their beliefs and their Dharma. Some of the sins that Arjuna talks about is listed below (list does not cover all that Arjuna mentions)

  • Killing one’s own parents
  • Sleeping with the teacher’s wife
  • Speaking ill of others
  • Taking away the wealth deposited in one with trust
  • Killing Brahmanas
  • Touching a Brahmin or Fire with one’s feet
  • Spitting into water (river, lake) or throwing excreta and urine into water
  • Bathing in the nude
  • Not taking good care of guests
  • Taking bribes
  • Speaking lies
  • Eating sweets in front of wife, sons or even servants without sharing
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Insulting those who are worthy of respect
  • Being an ingrate
  • Speaking ill of brothers
It is clear that the mistakes mentioned above are considered to be the worst by the Shastras. Hence Arjuna mentions them during his vow. One quick glance at the list is enough to realize that most people are into one or more of the above practices, every single day of their lives!
A million more lives is also not enough to wash away the sins one accumulates.
In fact, Sri Madhvacharya has revealed that on an average, a human being makes enough sin every single day of his life, after he turns 14 years, to earn him 10 more Janmas!

5 Responses to “Mahabharata: Arjuna’s vow to kill Jayadratha”

  1. karthik Says:

    respected sir,

    how may one escape the ill effects of taking bath in nude ?? i mean how should one take bath

  2. Arun Kumar Says:

    Hari,
    Firstly, thans for the good post. Will wait for more as usual.

    Now coming to the point, Did eating Non vegetarian not come into the list?

    Also, I had read that the Brahmans before were actually eating meat and having alcohol which was then stopped later considering the depleting animals around.

    And also, if these rules were made for the Kshathriyas? Or the Brahmins?

    Could you please clarify?

  3. Chinmay Says:

    This is really insightful. The Mahabharata is absolutely at the pinnacle of literary work anywhere in the the world.

  4. H Bala Says:

    Will bathing in the nude with teacher’s wife amount to two-times’ sin ?


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