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  • Writer's pictureanjali mohapatra

Iravan- what a sacrifice!

Iravan, one of the greatest heroes of the Mahabharata was not mentioned as a main character in the epic. But his self-sacrifice ensured the Pandavas win over the forthcoming battle- the Kurukshetra war! His self-sacrifice proved one of the best and hardest tasks one can ever do! Why did Iravan sacrifice his life? Let us know who was Iravan! Then proceed how he was engaged in the battle.

Iravan was the son of Arjun and the snake princess, Ulupi. When Arjun was exiled himself for twelve years, he was offering his prayer on the bank of the river Ganges. That time, the snake princess- Ulupi was attracted by his beauty and manliness. She desired his company, thus dragging him into the river and expressing her love for him. At first, Arjun was reluctant but Ulupi insisted that he accept her as his consort.

At last, the third Pandava, Arjun agreed and married her. Later, they were blessed with a son- Iravan, whom Arjun didn't see. When Arjun was with Lord Indra in Indraloka, Iravan wished to see his father. He came to Amaravati and paid his obeisance to Arjun. He, then introduced himself saying, ‘O Father! I am your son from Ulupi, the Naga princess. I am your son- Iravan! I want to join you in the forthcoming war between Kauravas and Pandavas that I heard.’ 

Having heard his son, Arjun was overwhelmed with joy and hugged him saying, ‘O Son, I will recall you at the time of my need. Be with your mother now!’ Iravan bowed his head and returned to Nagaloka. The story of Iravan in Mahabharata war comes like this———-

After thirteen years of exile from their kingdom, Pandavas returned. They were supposed to get back their kingdom! So, Yudhishthira- the eldest Pandava sent Lord Krishna to Duryodhana who was ruling over the kingdom then. When Lord Krishna went to Kuru Assembly Hall as a peace-maker and conveyed the message of King Yudhishthira, wicked-minded Duryodhana insulted Lord Krishna saying, ‘O Keshava!  Pandavas can only get back their kingdom after winning over the Kauravas in the war.’

Thus, Lord Krishna thought to himself- ‘War is inevitable’. He asked Pandavas to be prepared for the battle. As a tradition, a ritual of human sacrifice (Nara Bali) has to be done before goddess Kali before the commencement of the war! And the person to be sacrificed should have the 32 excellent Lakshyana! That 32 excellent qualities were endowed only with three persons at that time namely- Krishna, Arjun, and Iravan! 

It was impossible to sacrifice Krishna or Arjun! So, the only option left was-  Iravan. When Iravan came to know of this, he was overwhelmed with joy! He was happy to serve his life for the benefit of the Pandavas! Before his sacrifice, Iravan asked Lord Krishna to grant him three boons. Firstly-He desired to get married. Thus, Krishna himself took the form of an extraordinarily beautiful lady- Mohini. Iravan satisfied his desire to get married to Mohini! Secondly, he wished to die only on the battlefront- a heroic death! Krishna granted that also! Thirdly, he wished to see the total Kurukshetra war. Lord Krishna fulfilled all his wishes in a very strategic manner.

So, Iravan sacrificed himself-  cutting off his head and body parts into 32 pieces and offering it to goddess Kali! Maa Kali was extremely pleased with his devotion. With HER grace, the cut-off pieces joined again and Iravan got back his life again. Thus, he joined in the Kurukshetra war.

On the 8th day of the war, Iravan took a terrible form in the battle killing thousands of Kauravas. He created havoc among the Kuru troops. Looking at his irresistible warfare, Duryodhana asked Alambush, the son of Sage Rushyashringa to kill Iravan. Both were masters of mystic power. They started creating illusions on the battlefield. When Iravan took the form of a snake using his mystic power, Alambush took the form of Garuda and cut off Iravan’s head with a sharp sword. Thus, Iravan was killed by Alambush Rakshasas and died a heroic death on the battlefield!

What a sacrifice he made for Pandavas! Because of his noble deeds, now also he is worshiped by many people in different parts of India. 

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