SIKHANDI – A daughter born to King Drupada, an ally of the Kauravas

Sikhandi’s story had its beginning in another life. Wrongs done in that life car­ried into the next, with a vow to kill the warrior who had wronged her. In that previous birth she was Amba, the eldest daughter of the King of Kashi. She was engaged to marry King Salva, when she and her two sisters, Ambika and Amba- lika, were abducted by Bhishma. The three sisters were to be given to Bhishma’s timid half-brother, King Vicitarvirya. Amba objected and was returned to Kashi. However, King Salva had no desire to marry one whose chastity could be ques­tioned. Humiliated, Amba went to Hastinapura and demanded that Bhishma marry her. Bhishma refused, saying that he had taken a lifelong vow of celibacy.
Ruined, Amba went to the forest to do austerities (tapas) in order to get revenge. She received a boon to be reborn as Sikhandi in order to kill Bhishma.
Because of his own austerities and his asceticism as a brahmachari, Bhishma was almost invulnerable as a warrior. Sikhandi either fought in disguise as a man or, according to one version, was a hermaphrodite warrior. In the final battle with Bhishma, Sikhandi was the material cause of his death. Asvatthama, one of the Kaurava warriors, killed her in turn.

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