Ambopakhyana Parva is the sixtieth Upa parva included in the sixth Maha parva named as Bhishma parva. Vaishampayana continued narration to Janamejaya in reply to his queries as follows.

Duryodhana desired to know the reasons from Bhishma for not fighting with Shikhandi and requested with him to clarify his doubts in the court.

What reasons Bhishma told to Duryodhana for not fighting with Shikhandi?

Bhishma started to tell the Ambopakhyana to Duryodhana in detail.

The king of Kashi or Varanasi had three daughters. After they had grown up and completed their royal education, the king desired to give them away by arranging their marriage through Swayamvara system.  The names of the three daughters were Amba, Ambika and Ambalika.

Who was the father of Amba?

The King of Kashi or Varanasi was the father of Amba. He was known as Kasha.

Why Bhishma had carried away Amba to Hastinavati from Kashi?

In Hastinavati, then Vichitraveerya was installed on the throne. He was young but not had gained name and fame, and also younger than Bhishma. Bhishma had already taken a vow not to get married and his former name was Devavrata. The King of Kashi had not sent invitation for the Swayamvara marriage of his three daughters to Hastinavati Palace but had sent to all other princes of the Bharatavarsha.

Bhishma fights while returning from Swayamvara
Bhishma fights while returning from Swayamvara

Bhishma got the news of the Swayamvara at Kashi and felt as an insult to his status since Vichitraveerya could also be invited. Bhishma had travelled to Kashi and carried away Amba, Ambika and Ambalika forcefully on the day of marriage in his chariot. Bhishma was an able warrior and had good capacity to face the enemies. So the three daughters reached the Palace of Hastinavati from Kashi. Other princes came on protesting with their soldiers but Bhishma had defeated them and moved ahead. The king Shalva had followed him but due to the striking of Bhishma, returned to Shalva’s own kingdom. This part has already been narrated in Sambhava Upa parva of Mahabharat on this website.

Why Amba had gone to the Palace of Shalva?

In Hastinapura Palace, Bhishma had tried the wedding of Vichitravirya. Then Amba told to Bhishma her desire to marry Shalva, as she had previously decided. So Bhishma had sent her with an old man escorted with a female servant to the Palace of Shalva. Amba then travelled comfortably to the Palace of Shalva.

Who was Hotravahana?

Shalva denied marrying Amba and she returned from his palace and went to her grand-father’s palace as a temporary asylum. Hotravahana was her grandfather from her maternal side and a friend of Parashurama. He suggested Amba to meet Parashurama and request him to get rid of her grievances. She felt disappointed.

What Akritavarna told to Amba?

Akritavarna was a sage and Amba met her on returning from the palace of her grandfather Hotravahana. She got happy news of coming of Parashurama to the same place of Akritavarna. She felt lucky and explained her marriage failure.

How Parashurama helped Amba and what Bhishma had done?

Parashurama had reprimanded Bhishma and compelled him to marry Amba. But Bhishma told him his helplessness describing his vow of remaining as a bachelor. Bhishma was also a student of Parashurama. Parashurama had threatened Bhishma by announcing a war against him if he did not marry Amba.  

Who was the charioteer of Parashurama when he fought with Bhishma?

Ganga Mata, the mother of Bhishma came to know the incidences. She came to help Bhishma. She assured Bhishma to work as charioteer to him in case Parashurama started to assault him in the war. The war began between Parashurama and Bhishma, later continued for many days. Parashurama had no charioteer. He was very strong in all respects. 

What Ganga Mata had done?

Ganga Mata had blessed her son to live long with a boon to decide his own time for death. Hence he could not be killed by Parashurama in the war. Parashurama being a Chiranjivi would not die in the war. So they both fought for many days. Narada Maharshi had intervened during his visit there. He had compromised them and the war had ended. Parashurama advised Bhishma to marry Amba. He also told him he would be failing in life if he starts facing any lady in the battle field ultimately. Few people knew all these incidences but were never disclosed.

What Amba had decided finally?

Amba had initially thought to fight with Bhishma. But Narada had intimated her about Bhishma, his vow regarding his marriage and his boon from his mother to choose his own time for death. She understood in her present life as a lady, Bhishma would not fight with her. So she decided to perform penance. 

Where and how Amba had performed her penance?

Amba went to the forest of Ekalavya. She prepared a circle of fire. In the middle, safely, she sat for penance. After many years of penance, she had left her present mortal female body with a vow to take rebirth and fight with Bhishma in the battle field as a case of revenge. Ekalavya was formerly in that forest being another character in Mahabharat history. He also left his present mortal male body with a request with Krishna to take rebirth desiring to learn under Drona the art of archery for use in the battle field as a case of challenge. Ekalavya is referred in this website under Amshavatarana and Sambhava Upa parvas.

Who was Shikhandi?

Shikhandi was the natural child of Drupada. She was the rebirth of Amba. Drishtadyumna was the second child of Drupada. He was the rebirth of Ekalavya. Krishna was the third and female child of Drupada, in Mahabharata she had other names as Draupadi or Panchali. These stories were told in Chaitraratha Upa parva of this website. Dhoumya Rishi was the priest for Drupada and all these children were born as a later result of rituals. Initially, the wife of Drupada had lied with him as Shikhandi was a male child. So Shikhandi and Drishtadyumna were brought up being dressed up as princes of Drupada. 

Who was Sthulakarna?

Sthulakarna was a Yaksha who blessed Shikhandi to be a male prince.

How Shikhandi fulfilled her wishes?

After the education and archery training, Drupada arranged the marriage of Shikhandi with the daughter of king Dasharnaka. When princess realized Shikhandi was female, she complained with her father. King Dasharnaka got angry with Drupada for cheating him and sent a war message to punish him. But Shikhandi meanwhile had started penance and one Gandharva with Sthulakarna had blessed her to change her as a male prince.

Hence when Dasharnaka got a second medical opinion, he was contended. But Shikhandi had forgotten to offer thankfulness to the master Kubera of that Gandharva. Kubera as a result again insisted her to remain as female until she was declared as an active soldier in the battlefield. This helped Shikhandi to surrender Bhishma on the tenth day of Mahabharat war. Bhishma was laid in the bed of arrows till the Ashtami day after the war and after Uttarayana solstice had started. Bhishma had left his present mortal body with a loud prayer before God Krishna containing one thousand names of Vishnu. It is known as Vishnu Sahasranama.

What was the difference between Bhishma and Kripa?

Bhishma had participated actively in the battle field. Kripa was inside the Hastinavati palace as a security for the throne during the war times.

Who had contributed more to Sanatana Dharma out of Bhishma and Kripa? 

Both Bhishma and Kripa had equally contributed to Sanatana Dharma. Bhishma had been following practical principles. Kripa was a peace lover. He had been offered with a boon by God Krishna to live forever as Chiranjivi with instructions to teach the boy Parikshit and later to install him on to the throne. 

What was asked by Duryodhana finally in the court about the war and how the house members replied?

Duryodhana desired to kill the all the Pandavas with all the enemy soldiers and their commanders. Hence he asked how many days it would be required for their army to achieve this target. Initially, Karna told it would be five days, but later Ashwathama told in support describing in detail as after the five days, the reserve of opposite side would be there, requiring two more days. Hence one week is guessed.

Drona described various war possibilities of marching troops who would come and reach there within a month, in addition to the camping soldiers. Bhishma was confident and knew many things about the war but he had not disclosed them to Duryodhana. He simply agreed with Drona.    

What are the precautions taken by Duryodhana against Shikhandi?

During the Mahabharat war, Duryodhana had taken special care about Bhishma and Drona. He kept Karna as the reserve commander and allotted palace protection duty for the initial thirteen days. Karna was instructed specially to report about the movements of Shikhandi and Ashwathama. The soldiers would avoid Shikhandi coming in front of Bhishma and Ashwathama was not allowed to go to war field. 

Who was the reserve commander on the side of Yudhishtira?

Sahadeva was the reserve commander on the side of Yudhishtira. On the fourteenth day morning, Karna appeared as commander for Duryodhana and Sahadeva appeared on the side of Yudhishtira. Sahadeva had killed Shakuni and his son Uluka. Forty princes of Kauravas had been killed by Sahadeva. He was fighting expert with shaft and sword. Being an expert in astrology, he was marching with full confidence of success. Shalya was his uncle and he was moving on the other side avoiding Shalya. After Mahabharata war, Shalya already being killed, Sahadeva was allotted South Madra kingdom and Nakula got North Madra kingdom. He knew Ambopakhyana but had not disclosed to anybody. 

Next post, Mahabharat: Jambhu-Dvipa Parva would be more interesting.

Mahabharat: Bhumi Parva would be presented separately in another article.

On reading this story, children would gain more memory power, great moral strength in their future life; create a sense of self-reliance leading to peace and progress. 

It is humbly prayed for the blessings of God Krishna upon us. 

Readers may share this story with children, friends and family.

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