Biographies | Women
See Also Shikhandee, Bheeshm
Ambaa is a Mahaabhaarat character. Though Ambaa name is very unfamiliar even to readers of Mahaabhaarat, still she is a very important character in Mahaabhaarat, as she was the cause of winning Mahaabhaarat war. If she had not been there, only Bhagavaan knows, how Bheeshm could have been fallen down. She was the only means to kill Bheeshm.
Ambaa was the daughter of Kaashee Naresh. She had two sisters also - Ambikaa and Ambaalikaa. They were married to Vichitraveerya of Hastinaapur. Their father was angry with Shaantanu, Hastinaapur King, because he ignored the offer of his sister's marriage to Bheeshm, that is why when he arranged the Swayamvar of his three daughters, he did not invite Hastinaapur King Vichitraveerya.
His Kul Guru tried to explain him several times that he should not ignore them but he didn't listen to him and organized the Swayamvar without inviting Hastinaapur King. Bheeshm wanted to marry all the three girls to his brother Vichitraveerya. When he did not get invitation from Kaashee, he himself went to Kaashee and kidnapped them declaring that he was taking them for his half brother. If anybody wanted to take any one of them, should be ready to fight with him. Now who had the courage to fight with him so everybody sat silent. Even the girls and their father also could not do anything.
But Ambaa loved Shaalv Kumaar, so when Bheeshm was taking them in his chariot, Shaalv Kumaar followed him and fought with him, but it was his childishness. So he got defeated and came back.
As they entered the Hastinaapur palace, Satyavateecame to welcome them. Ambaa requested Satyavatee, the Raaj Maataa (King's mother), that she loved Shaalv Kumaar and thus couldn't marry her son. Both Satyavatee and Bheeshm readily agreed to send her back to Shaalv, and so they did. They sent her with all respect. But Shaalv did not accept her, so she came back to the King of Hastinaapur and asked for justice that since she was kidnapped at the time when she had Var Maalaa in her hands and she had the right to choose her husband, she should be given the opportunity to do so again. Bheeshm said in the court that "she did not tell us this in her Swayamvar. But when she told us that she loved Shaalv we sent her back to Shaalv, now what?" Ambaa told that Shaalv did not accept her because he felt insulted and now she wanted to marry Bheeshm.
Bheeshm told that first thing: he did not ask them for himself, but for his brother, so there was no case to marry her; second thing: otherwise also he could not marry her because he had already vowed to become lifelong Brahmchaaree. At this Ambaa got severely angry and vowed that whether she had to take several births, but she would take her revenge from Bheeshm. She would be the cause of his death. [This was the foundation of Bheeshm's death.] Since Bheeshm did not do anything wrong, he got silent on this.
Ambaa Seeks Help From Other Sources
Filled with rage and revenge she consulted her maternal grandfather Hotravaahan who advised her to seek the advice of Parashuraam Jee, because Parashuraam Jee was Bheeshm's Guru and Bheeshm would not disobey him. She told her miseries to Parashuraam Jee, so he called Bheeshm. First he asked him to marry her, then he ordered him, but Bheeshm did not move from his decision. Parashuraam Jee said - "Do you know the punishment of disobeying the Guru?" He further said - "I have killed so many Kshatriya, I have no hesitation to kill one more." Bheeshm said - "You have killed many types of Kshatriya, but my type of Kshatriya has not born yet." Then the two got engaged in fighting with each other. The fight lasted for 23 days, then in the last Brahmaa Jee had to intervene to call off the fight.
In fact this fight could not be decided like this because Parashuraam was immortal and Bheeshm had the Var of Ichchhaa Mrityu from his father.
Now Ambaa was back to square one. She then did a severe Tapasyaa to please Shiv Jee (some say Sage Subramanya). He got pleased and gave her a ever-fresh lotus flower garland and said "whoever will wear this garland will become the killer of Bheeshm". Now Ambaa tried to find somebody who would wear that garland and kill Bheeshm but she could not get any. She got frustrated and she hung that garland at the gate of Drupad's palace.
She then went to forest to do more severe Tapasyaa, pleased Shiv Jee and asked Him to give her a Var that she should be able to kill Bheeshm. Shiv Jee said "It is not possible in your present life, but you will do it in your next life." After that Ambaa died by self-immolation.
Later she was born as Shikhandee in Raajaa Drupad's house. She remembered everything of her previous life. So she looked forward for an opportunity to be the cause of death of Bheeshm. read here about Shikhandee)
Shikhandee in Mahaabhaarat War
Bheeshm remained Kaurav's Commander-in-chief for 10 days. On the 9th day he declared that the next day either he will kill one Paandav or die himself. This was also the sign for Paandav to come to him and ask as how he would be killed. Paandav came to ask him as how could they win the war. Bheeshm clearly told them that until he was alive they could not win the war. But there was a way not to make him fight, that he would not use any weapon at any woman. Yudhishthir said - "But Pitaamah, we don't have any woman in our battlefield." Bheeshm said - "Ask Krishn, He will tell you."
Next day Krishn asked Shikhandee to fight with Bheeshm. The same thing happened. Bheeshm did not counterattack Shikhandee as he saw Ambaa in him. But still Shikhandee could not pierce even his armor. So Krishn asked Shikhandee to come on Arjun's chariot and stand in front of Arjun and asked Arjun to aim his arrows towards Bheeshm from behind Shikhandee. Bheeshm did not counterattack Arjun also, so he had so many arrows on his body that when he fell on the ground being wounded, he did not touch the ground, he was lying on arrows only. Thus Ambaa took her revenge of her insult from Bheeshm.
Created by Sushma Gupta On 5/27/04
Modified on 03/10/13