King Shalya (
Sanskrit: शल्य) was the brother of Madri, who was the mother of Nakulaand Sahadeva, as well as the ruler of Madra-desa or the kingdom of Madra. Thus, he was the maternal uncle of Nakula and Sahadeva and was loved and revered by the Pandavas. When he was young, he entered a competition among princes and nobilities to marry Kunti, but subsequently lost to Pandu. Fact|date=February 2007Madri was married off to Pandu as part of a secret deal between Shalya and Pandu.Fact|date=February 2007 Shalya was a skilled archer and formidable warrior.
The Pandavas had counted on Shalya joining their side with his huge army. On the way to assist the Pandavas in the Kurukshetra War, Shalya was tricked by Duryodhana, who arranged a huge feast for Shalya and his men. When Shalya was impressed by the hospitality of his host who he mistakenly thought to be Yudhisthira, he offered to be at his host's service. Unable to turn down Duryodhana's request to join the Kauravas, Shalya met Yudhisthira and apologized for his error. Yudhishtira knowing that Shalya was a great charioteer and forecasting that Shalya would someday be asked to be the charioteer of Karna, extracted a vow from Shalya to the effect that Shalya will demoralise Karna and dampen his spirits. Yudhishtira, a person of immaculate character, for once, stooped to a low level. It is still unclear as to why Yudhishtira did so. Anyway, Shalya assured the Pandavas that he would do everything possible to demoralise Karna and dampen his spirits.
Shalya reluctantly entered the
Kurukshetrawar on the Kauravas side. Shalya confronted many great Warriors and killed them. One was Abhimanyu’s brother-in-law Uttar.Uttar was Princess Uttara’s brother and son of King Virāta. Uttar once with Arjuna’s help defeated a Kaurava army that had invaded Virāta kingdom. Uttar then had been Arjuna’s charioteer.
Shalya looking at the skill displayed by the young boy asked who he was, the lad replied “Krishna is Arjuna’s charioteer in this war “Kurukshetra” but I was Arjuna’s charioteer in the battle of Virāt.The young prince knew that Shalya himself was a Great Warrior and the best charioteer of that era. After that Shalya killed the boy with his spear displaying fantastic skill.Later Abhimanyu took revenge by killing Shalya’s brother and son and disabling Shalya himself so badly that the great warrior could not even move in Drona’s circular formation (The Chakravyuha formation).
Shalya served as
Karna's charioteer during the latter's battle with Arjuna, while continuously praising the Pandava prince and citing Karna's shortcomings. Shalya took over the leadership of the Kaurava army on the eighteenth and last day of the great battle after the death of Karna when it was becoming rapidly clear that the war was a lost cause, and close to the end of the battle he was killed by Prince Yudhishtirawith a spear. Shalya was the second to last Kaurava commander-in-chief and after his death, the Kauravas were left leaderless and broke ranks fleeing from the slaughter despite Duryodhana's best efforts.
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