An epic battle, the Mahabharat war was fought for righteousness. In the eighteen-day Mahabharat war, the thirteenth day would be remembered because of a heroic sixteen year old boy, Abhimanyu, son of one of the Pandavs, Arjun. During the thirteenth day of the war, he fought courageously against mighty warriors. Despite his tender age, his mastery in warfare and phenomenal valor wrecked such havoc that it caused the enemy leaders to use the most treacherous and cowardly means to try to defeat him.
At dawn on the thirteenth day, Duryodhan smartly arranged the Kauravs in a battle formation known as chakravyuh, a circular formation. At the center Guru Dronarachya kept Duryodhan. To guard him, he arranged seven circular formations going outwards. In the outer circles, he placed terrifying warriors known as Maharathis, such as Dushasan, Karna, Guru Kripacharya, Ashwathama, Shakuni, Shalya, Bhurishrava and Jayadrath.
When the Pandavs and their leader Yuddhisthir saw the chakravyuh, their high spirits dropped. Nobody among them knew how to break the chakravyuh except Arjun and his son Abhimanyu. That day, the war was purposely set up so that Arjun would be tied up elsewhere. Yuddhisthir appointed the sixteen year old Abhimanyu to break the chakravyuh. However, Abhimanyu knew how to go in but did not know how to come out. They then formed a battle strategy. When Abhimanyu broke through, the Pandavs would follow him to create a wider opening and protect him. They would prevent the outer layer of the circle from closing in. Abhimanyu then climbed his chariot. In an instant he was streaking like a lightning bolt towards the chakravyuh. The mighty warriors of the Pandavs army followed.
Young Abhimanyu clashed with the Kauravs at the outer ring. He charged through. The chakravyuh was open! Like a mighty lion he entered under the nose of Drona, his ‘grand guru’. A mere sixteen year old had managed to outwit the experienced Guru Dronarachya. Abhimanyu shot off arrows like flashes of lightning. The arrows smashed chariots and cut down soldiers. Those who dared fight him either died or went for a hasty retreat. He was a tornado, whirling through and churning up the Kauravs army. Abhimanyu reached Duryodhan finally. The seventh layer of the circle had been broken. The Maharathis rushed to protect Duryodhan.
Meanwhile Yuddhisthir and the other Pandavs clashed with Jayadrath at the outer layer, just after Abhimanyu broken through. Jayadrath, however effectively stopped their progress with a wall of elephants. The Pandavs could not help Abhimanyu, who had sped in the circle so fast. He was crashing through the ranks, deeper and deeper into the Chakravyuh. Abhimanyu did not know how to get out so he was basically on his own.
At the center, a gruesome battle took place. Abhimanyu fought valiantly. He smashed and destroyed the hundreds of arrows fired at him by Kripacharya, Ashwathama, Duryodhan, Shalya and Bruhadbal. On several occasions, all of them had to flee his tremendous volley of arrows. He cut down many other Maharathis. Karna then asked Drona how Abhimanyu could be defeated. Drona admired Abhimanyu’s unexcelled valor and supreme archery. He had no other choice but to reveal the secret of defeating Abhimanyu. As the master of warfare, only he knew how. He said, “If you can, break his dense armor, kill his two charioteers and destroy his chariot. Then cut the string of his bow. So long as he sits in his chariot with his bow, nobody can defeat him!”
The six Kauravs Maharathis did just that. They attacked him mercilessly from all sides and all at once. They knew well enough that in war only two people can fight each other at a time, but they deliberately broke the rules of war. However the gallant young Kshatriya fought right until the end. The Pandavs had an intuition that their worst fears had come true. Soon the terrible news was confirmed. Yuddhisthir and Bhim fell down sadly. They had sent Abhimanyu to his death. The Pandavs had never sunk so deep in despair and sorrow, since the beginning of the war. They were unable to face Arjun on his return. Despite his death, he had fought for Dharma (righteousness). This is why a sixteen year old boy was the supreme hero of the thirteenth day and even perhaps the whole Mahabharat war.