By Swami Harshananda
Ambā, the eldest daughter of the king of Kāśi, was forcibly taken away from the court during her svayamvara by Bhīṣma, along with her two sisters Ambikā and Ambālikā. Since neither the king Saubha, whom she had loved, nor Bhīṣma who abducted her agreed to marry her, she vowed to kill Bhīṣma in her next birth.
She was reborn as the daughter of the king Drupada but was brought up as a son. Later, due to the grace of a yakṣa named Sthuṇākarṇa, she became a man and was named as Śikhaṇḍin. Prince Śikhaṇḍin was trained by Droṇācārya and became a great warrior. He married the daughter of the king Hiraṇyavarma of the country Daśārṇa and had two sons from her. He fought the Kauravas on behalf of the Pāṇḍavas. Since Bhīṣma, who knew the whole truth, refused to fight with him, Arjuna kept him in front of himself and shot Bhīṣma, who now retired from the battlefield. Śikhaṇḍin was killed by Aśvatthāma in sleep along with the other warriors of the Pāṇḍava army at the end of the Kurukṣetra war.
- Svayamvara means marriage by choice.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore