Mahabharat mentions a great warrior named Barbareek, He was also known as Baliyadev, Belarsen, Khatushyamji, King Yalamber, Akash Bhairav etc. He was the son of Ghatotkach and Ahilawati alias Maurvi.
Both his parents were an excellent warrior and great sorcerer. Therefore, Barbareek was a great warrior from childhood. Ahilawati taught Barbareek the art of warfare.
During teenage, Barbareek found a yogi who had acquired great powers. He became his disciple. The Yogi taught him all he knew and Barbareek became impossible to be defeated.
Barbareek also received a special bow from Lord Agni(God of Fire). He was an ardent devotee to Lord Shiva. Barbareek received three arrows from Lord Shiva that possessed the power to wipe out an entire race.
Before the Kurukshetra war, Lord Krishna asked everyone as to how long they will take to end the Kurukshetra war. Bhishma replied 20 days, Dronacharya said 25 days, Karna said 24 days and Arjuna said 28 days.
Barbareek had a strong desire to participate in the Kurukshetra war. Before he was leaving, his mother asked as to which side will he participate from. Barbareek promised his mother that he will fight from the weaker side. Then he left for the battlefield.
During the journey, Lord Krishna saw Barbareek going towards the battlefield. He disguised himself as a brahmin and met Barbareek. After knowing about Barbareek’s intention to join the war, Lord Krishna asked him the same question that he asked other warriors participating in the war.
To his surprise, Barbareek replied that he could win Kurukshetra war within a minute. It came as a surprise also because Barbareek had only a bow and 3 arrows in his quiver.
Lord Krishna asked Barbareek how was he capable of ending the war in a minute with just 3 arrows and a bow. Barbareek explained the power of his three arrows :
The first arrow is used to mark all the objects that he wanted to be destroyed.
The second arrow is used to mark all the objects that he wants to be saved.
Finally, the third arrow is used to destroy all objects marked with the first arrow or destroy all the objects not marked with the second arrow.
Barbareek also explained that after destroying the target, all 3 arrows would return to the quiver. Lord Krishna was eager to witness the power of such arrows so he asked Barbareek to aim for all the leaves of a nearby tree.
Barbareek started meditating to prepare for this challenge. While he was meditating, Lord Krishna hid a leaf under his foot. When Barbareek shot the first arrow to mark all the leaves, it started rotating around Lord Krishna’s foot.
When Krishna asked him why it did so, Barbareek replied that there must be a leaf under his foot. Barbareek requested Krishna(still disguised as Brahmin) to lift his foot. As soon as he lifts his foot, the arrow marks the leaf.
Lord Krishna was astonished to see that even without knowledge of Barbareek, the arrows aimed for the objects that he wished for. Krishna then asked Barbareek which side is he willing to join in the Kurukshetra war. Barbareek explained about his oath to join the weaker side.
Lord Krishna then explained Barbareek the paradox of the condition. He termed his oath to be silly because no warrior in this war was stronger than him. Whichever side he joins will make the other side weaker. Due to the oath, he will have to keep switching sides after every attack. This way, he will keep oscillating between the two sides and he will be the only warrior left in the battlefield.
Krishna(still disguised as Brahmin) then asked for the head of Barbareek as a donation to avoid his participation in this war. Krishna also explained Barbareek about the necessity of sacrificing the head of the strongest warrior to worship the battlefield.
Barbareek expressed his desire to witness the full battle before offering his head. Krishna agreed to his request and placed his head on top of a mountain which overlooked the battlefield.
Today, Barbareek is worshipped as the Kaliyug manifestation of Lord Krishna as Khatu Shyam. The main holy place of Khatu Shyam is at Khatu Nagari in district Sikar and state Rajasthan of India.
Even the peepal tree which had all its leaves pierced by Barbareek is believed to be standing amidst acres of barren sandy tract about 15 km from Hisar. This peepal tree is different from a normal tree of this genus. Its young leaves develop small round brownish spots which, over a period, become small holes. While legend has it that these holes are a result of piercing by Barbareek’s arrow, the non-believers term it as an unknown disease.
The tree is located at Bir Babran(Bir in common parlance means a forest and Babran is said to be the distorted name of Barbareek) in the farmland originally attached to the Central sheep breeding farm, previously known as Indo-Australian Sheep breeding farm. The land is now given to Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University for research farming.