Khatu Shyam Temple

According to Hinduism, Khatu Shyam is a name and sign of Barbarika, child of Ghatotkacha. This indication is particularly prominent in Haryana, Rajasthan. Barbarika, which is a Sanskrit name, is frequently supplanted in Rajasthan by the Hindi rendition, Barbarik, and regularly composed as Barbareek.

The Khatu Shyam temple is located at a distance of 45kms from Sikar. The temple features the lord ‘Khatu Shyam’, worshiped as lord Krishna. The beautiful garden of the temple called the Shyam Bagicha, the holy pond called the Shyam kund, rich paintings and the marvelous architecture of the temple attract millions of devotees and tourists across the year from around the globe.

Khatu Shyam Temple

Krishna, an avatar of lord Vishnu, had granted a wish to Barbarika that he might be known and worshiped by Krishna's alternative or alias name ‘Shyam’ in the Kaliyuga. Krishna had proclaimed that just by taking the name of Barbarika with pure heart, his devotees will be blessed. They will be granted all their wishes on showing true devotion to Barbarika or Shyam.

Legend behind Khatu Shyam Temple

The legend of Khatu Shyam temple can be traced back to Mahabharata. Bhima, the second among the Pandavas, is the grandfather of Barbarika. Barbarika or ‘Khatu Shyam’ or  ‘Shyam Baba’ the son of Ghatotkacha and Kamkantkata Ma Morwi. Even as a child, Barbarika was a very brave. His braveness was a gift from his mother. Impressed by his courage, lord Shiva, granted him with three infallible arrows or teen Baan in Hindi. Henceforth, Barbarika got the moniker ‘Teen Baan Dhaari’ which means the ‘Bearer of Three Arrows’ according to Hindi. The bow for these arrows was given by ‘Agni’-the lord of Fire. Using the bow and arrows Barbarika would become triumphant in the three worlds.

When Barbarika realized that fight between the Pandavas and the Kauravas was inevitable, he wanted to witness the war which later became known to the world as the Mahabharata War. He made a promise to his mother that while feeling the urge to join the war, he would join the side which was losing. He reached the war-field or the ‘Yuddabhumi’ on his horse. The horse was blue in color and had the bow and the three arrows.

Krishna tests Barbarika

To test the courage and strength of Barbarika, Krishna disguised himself as a Brahmin and stopped Barbarika .To entice Barbarika, Krishna mocked him for carrying only three arrows to Mahabharata War.  Barbarika replied that a only one arrow was enough to destroy all his enemies in the war. Also he said that the arrow and it would then return to his quiver. The first of the three arrows is for marking all the enemies or things he wants to banish. The third arrow would banish all that marked by the first and then it will return to his quiver. However, the second arrow can be used to mark all those whom he wants to save, and on releasing the third arrow after the second, it will banish all those not marked.

The Outstanding Power of Barbarika

Hearing this, Krishna challenged Barbarika if he could to tie all the leaves of the peepal tree, under whose shade Krishna was standing, with his arrows. Barbarika accepts Krishna’s challenge. As soon as he closes his eyes to meditate and mark the leaves, Krishna plucks a leaf from the tree and hides it under his leg. Without knowing this, Barbarika releases his first arrow and marks all the leaves of the tree. After marking all the leaves, the arrows starts to revolve around Krishna’s leg. When Krishna questioned as to why the arrow was revolving around his leg, Barbarika replied that it wants to mark a leaf which must have fallen under Krishna’s leg.

Barbarika asks Krishna to lift his leg before the arrow would pierce his leg for marking the leaf. When Krishna lifts his leg, the arrow marks the leaf that Krishna was hiding under his leg. (It can be noted here that, according to another version of the legend, the first arrow did pierce Krishna’s leg and hence his leg became the weak part of Krishna, which later lead to his death.) Then Barbarika releases his third arrow which ties all the leaves, including the one that was hidden. Seeing all this Krishna realizes that, even if Barbarika is unaware of his hidden targets, the three arrows are truly infallible to find all the desired targets. This test was performed by Krishna to know whether he could hide the pandavas from Barbarika in the Mahabharata war, incase Barbarika takes the enemy’s side. Now he realized that nobody can escape from these arrows. And hence, Krishna got a deeper insight of Barbarika's outstanding power.

The Effect of Barbarika's Word to his Mother

After realizing the power of the arrows, Krishna asks Barbarika, whose side he would favor in the war.  Barbarika answers that according to the promise made to his mother, he will take the side of the weak.  Since Pandavas have only seven Akshouni army and Kauravas have eleven of them, Barbarika would favor the Pandavas and hence they will win the war. However, Krishna asks Barbarika if he is aware of the consequences of his promise to take the side of the weak. Knowing that he is not aware of it, Krishna reveals the consequences of the promise.

Kauravas had made a strategy to win the war. According to it, they will not be using the entire eleven Akshouni on the first of the war. If Barbarika takes the side of the Pandavas and destroys the Kaurava’s army that is sent on first day, the remaining army of Kaurava’s would now be weaker. As a result, Barbarika will have no other choice than to take the side of the Kauravas. Hence, Barbarika will be destroying the Pandavas army now. This makes the remaining army of the Pandavas weak. Hence, whichever side Barbarika will support only makes the other side weaker because of the power of his arrows and only Barbarika will become victorious, destroying all others. This would make Barbarika to be the lone surviror of the war.

Barbarika Donates his Head to Krishna

To prevent the sad consequence of Barbarika’s promise, Krishna asks for charity from Barbarika. Barbarika was happy to give him anything of his desire. Hearing this, Krishna asked him to give his head in charity. This made Barbarika to be shocked. He released that something was hidden from his perception, he requested the Brahmin to disclose his real identity. When Krishna appeared in front of Barbarika in one of his divine form, Barbarika felt graced. Krishna then told Barbarika that before a war, one the the brave Kshatriyas should sacrifice his head to sanctify the warfield. Krishna considered Barbarika to be the bravest among Kshatriyas, and hence he was asking for Barbarika’s head in charity. Barbarika felt blessed, and agreed to give his head as charity to Krishna. He gave his head on a Tuesday, the 12th day of the Shukla Paksha or bright half of the month of phalguna.
Lord Krishna had to accept this charity because he did not want the Pandavas to lose in the Mahabharata war.

Barbarika becomes the Witness to Mahabharata War

 Barbarika wanted to view the forthcoming Mahabharata war from his own eyes. If he gave his head to Krishna, this desire of his won’t be fulfilled. Hence he asked Krishna to allow him to witness the war. Krishna gave a solution that Barbarika’s head would be kept on top of a hill from where the war can be witnessed. Hence, Barbarika beheaded himself and his head was placed near the warfield.

When the war ended, the Pandavas who won the war, started to argue among themselves about who was responsible for their victory. As per Krishna’s suggestion, Barbarika's head, which had watched the whole war, was asked for the answer. Barbarika's head proposed that Krishna alone was responsible for the victory, since his advice, his gameplan, his presence were very strong.

Alternative Interpretation of Arrows

According to another interpretation of the three arrows, they are the signs of the three ‘taaps’ found in humans. They are the physical, emotional and mental conflicts and confusions that are found in almost all humans. To clear these three ‘taaps’, one has to chant the name of Krishna. And hence Barbarika was named as ‘Shyam’, an alternative name of Krishna. It means the lord whose aims to remove these three taaps from human beings.

Names Associated with Khatu Shyamji

Barbarika: Khatu Shyam was called or named as Barbarika as a child. This was his name until Krishna gave his name ‘Shyam’ to Barbarika.
MorviNandan: Morvi was the mother of Barbarika. MorviNandan means son of Morvi. And hence Barbarika was also called as MorviNandan .
Sheesh Ke Daani: According to the legend, Barbarika donated his head to Krishna. Hence is he also called as ‘Sheesh Ke Daani’ which means ‘Donor of Head’.
Haare Ka Sahara: According to the promise made by Barbarika, to his mother, he would support those who were weak or losing. Hence he is also called as ‘Haare Ka Sahara’ which means ‘Supporter of the defeated’.
Teen Baan Dhaari: Since Barbarika was blessed with three arrows by Lord Shiva, he is also called as ‘Teen Baan Dhaari’ which means ‘Bearer of three arrows’. These arrows had the title ‘Maam Sevyam Parajitah, written below them.
Lakha-datari: Barbarika or ‘Khatu Shyam’ grants all the wishes of his devotees without any hesitation. Hence he is also called as ‘Lakha-datari’ which means ’The Munificent Giver’.
Leela ke Aswaar: The blue horse on which Barbarika rode was called by the name ‘Leela’. Hence he is also called as ‘Leela Ke Aswaar’ which means ‘Rider of Leela’.
Khatu Naresh: Khatu Naresh means ‘The King of Khatu’, ruler of Khatu the whole universe.
Kalyug ke Avtaari: According to Krishna, Barbarika is the god who will be the savior of good in Kalyug. Hence he is also called as Kalyug ke Avtaari which means ‘The God of Kaliyug’.
Shyam Pyarey: Barbarika is the god whom all people love and he loves them back without any discriminations. Hence he is also called as ‘Shyam Pyarey’ which means ‘Shyam the dear one’.
Baliya Dev: Balilya Dev means ‘God with super power’, which is another name for Barbarika.

Building the Temple

When the Mahabharata war was over, Barbarika's head was submerged in the ‘Rupawati’ river, by lord Krishna, after blessing it. Many years later, in the beginning of Kalyug, Barbarika’s head was found buried in the Khatu village of Rajasthan. However, this area was secluded for many years. Later, one day when a cow was passing near this area, milk started to flow voluntarily from the cow. Witnessing this amazing incident, people of Khatu village dug up the place to find the buried head of Barbarika. Not knowing what to do with the head, they handed it over to a Brahmin to worship. One day, the king of Khatu, Roopsingh Chauhan, had a dream. In his dream, he was directed to build a temple at the place where the head was found, and instate the head in the temple for further worship. Hence, he built a temple. The idol was instated on an 11th day of the Shukla Paksha during the month of Phalguna.

According to another version of the story, wife of Roopsingh Chauhan, Narmada Kanwar had a dream. In her dream, she was instructed to revive the head from the earth. Following her dream, the indicated place was dug up to find the idol of Barbarika or Khatushyam. Later, a temple was build and the idol was enshrined in the temple.

Roopsingh Chauhan built the original temple in 1027 AD, after the dream of his wife Narmada Kanwar. The place from where the head was retrieved is known as ‘Shyam Kund’. Later, in 1720 AD, Diwan Abhaisingh, renovated the old temple with the help of the then ruler of Marwar. The idol of Khatu Shyam was enshrined in the sanctum sanctorum. It is made from a rare stone. Till now, the renovated temple remains untouched. Many families across India, worship Khatu Shyam as their family deity. One more temple of Khatu Shyam or Barbarika is placed at Vasna, Ahmedabad in Gujarat. His devotees bring the newly born babies to this temple for his blessings. Barbarika is known as Baliya Dev in Vasna.

Architecture of Khatu Shyam Temple

The Khatu Shyam temple has a rich architecture. Marble, lime mortar and tiles are used to build the temle. Silver is used to cover the doors of the sanctum sanctorum. Outside the temple there is a prayer hall. It is called as ‘Jagmohan’, and has a large area of 12.3m x 4.7 m. The painting on the wall of Jagmohan depict mythological scenes elaborately. Both the entrance and exit doors are made up of marble. The corners of the doors are also made from marble and showcase beautiful ornamental floral designs.

Precincts of the temple

In front of the entrance to the temple, there is an open space. Near the temple, there is a beautiful garden called the ‘Shyam Bagicha’. Flowers from this garder are picked daily to offer to the deity. The garden has a Samadhi, of Aloo Singh, one of the great devotees.

To the south-east of the Khatu Shyam temple, there is another temple, the Gopinath temple. Other than this there is Gaurishankar temple located nearby.

Festivals Celebrated in Khatu Shyam Temple

Since Barbarika is named as Shyam, or alternative for Krishna, the festivals celebrated in Khatu Shyam temple have blend of Krishna’s mischievous nature. Festivals like Janmaastami, Holi, Jhool Jhulani Ekadashi, and Vasanta Panchami are celebrated righteously in the temple. The significant attraction of the temple is the ‘Phalguna Mela’.

Pujas Performed in Khatu Shyam Temple

Apart from the festivals, Khatu Shyam is worshiped with Aarti, five times every day. The five aarti’s are:
  1. As soon as the temple is opened in early morning, ‘Mangala Aarti’ is performed.
  2. After the idol of Khatu Shyam is fully decorated and ornamented, ‘Shringaar Aarti’ is performed.
  3. At noon, ‘Bhog Aarti’ is performed to the lord and prasad is distributed to the devotees.
  4. During sunset, ‘Sandhya Aarti’ is performed to the lord.
  5. Before closing the temple for the day, ‘Sayana Aarti’ is performed at night.
While performing all these Aartis, the two chants ‘Shri Shyam Aarti’ and ‘Shri Shyam Vinati’ are chanted for the lord.

Shukla Ekadashi and Shukla Dwadashi: On the 11th and 12th days of bright half of every lunar month, according to Hindu calendar, Shukla Ekadashi and Shukla Dwadashi are celebrated in the temple. These two days are of great importance to Khatu Shyam because he was born on the 11th day of bright half lunar month and his head was donated to Krishna on the 12th day of bright half lunar month. Hence during these two days of every month, the number of devotees visiting the temple is huge when compared to other days of the months. For the convenience of the devotees the temple is not closed on the night of the 11th day. Bhajans are organized during these night, throughout the these nights of every month, and a large number of devotees gather here to praise the lord.

Holy Dip in Shyam Kund: Taking a dip in the ‘Shyam Kund’, the place dug up to retrieve the idol of Khatu Shyam, is considerd auspicious. Devotees believe that just a dip in the pond would revive them of all ailments and bring good health. Specifically, devotees come to the temple during ‘Phalguna Mela’ to take a dip in the pond.

Nishan Yatra: Many devotees travel from Ringas town to Khatu with bare foot, covering a distance of 17 km. During their journey, they hold a ‘Nishan’, or a small flag made by cloth and hoisted using bamboo stick. These Nishans are then offered the lord Khatu Shyam on reaching the temple. The journey is called as ‘Nishan Yatra’ and is undergone by millions of devotees during Phalguna Mela.

Phalguna Mela: Three to four days before the commencement of Holi festival, ‘Phalguna Mela’ is celebrated in Khatu Shyam temple. This observation gathers millions of tourists and devotees across the globe and is the significant festival of Khatu Shyam temple. Since the head of Barbarika was found on Shukla Ekadashi of Phalguna month, devotees of Khatu Shyam celebrate this for four days from 9th day of Phalguna month to its 12th day.

During the mela, the Khatu town is completely filled with people from various regions of the world. This creates a long queue of wait for the devotees to have a glimpse of the lord Khatu Shyam. Whole of the Khatu town is filled with lights during the mela. Bhajans are performed by various singers from various parts of the world. To take good care of the visiting tourists and devotees, food and shelter is provided in Dharmashalas and guest houses. Additional special buses and trains operate during this mela, and the Rajasthan government help in the enforcement of law at the mela.

Administration of Khatu Shyam Temple

The Khatu Shyam temple is governed by a public trust whose registration number is ‘3/86’. It has seven members. It offers many Kharmashalas or lodges for charity for the convenience of the tourists and devotees. The temple is open to the public in the following timings:
  • 5.30 am to 1.00 pm and 4.00 pm to 9.00 pm on winter days. This lies between 1st day of Ashvin bahula to 15th of Chaitra shuddha according to Hindu calendar.
  • 4.30 am to 12.30 pm and 4.00 pm to 10.00 pm on summer days. This lies between 1st day of Vaishakha bahula to 15th of Bhadrapada shuddha.
The temple is open to public 24hrs on the four days of Phalguna Mela. Also, as mentioned earlier, it remains open 24hrs  on 11th day of bright half month or Shukla Paksha Ekadashi according to Hindu calendar.

How To Reach Khatu Shyam Temple

By Road: Haryana Roadways, DTC and Rajasthan Roadways buses operate daily from Delhi to Khatu and vice-versa. It is approximately 300km from Delhi to Khatu. The buses travel through Manesar, Kharuheda, Bahror, Kotpuli, Shahpura, Ajitgarh, Chandwaji, Deorala, Choumu, Shri Madhopur, Ringas while travelling from Delhi to Khatu.

By Rail:  The nearest railway station to Khatu Shyam temple is at Reengus. All the trains travelling on Delhi route will pass through Reengus.

By Air: The nearest airport to Khatu Shyam temple is at Jaipur, about 80 km from the temple. One can board a cab or a bus to reach the desired destination.

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