Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Guest guest


Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

Guest guest



ABHIMANYU: The son of Arjuna and Subhadra. Said to be an incarnation

of the moon-god Soma's son. He was slain in the battle of Kuruksetra

when just sixteen. He married Uttara, King Virata's daughter, and

fathered Pariksit.


ADHIRATHA: A leader of the sutas, the caste generally employed as

charioteers. He found Karna after Kunti had cast him away in a

basket and raised him as his own son. His wife's name was Radha, and

thus Karna was known as Radheya.


AGNIVESHA: A rsi who underwent severe austerities on Mount Mahendra.

He was expert in the use of weapons, and both Drona and Drupada

studied under him. He received the Agneyastra (fire weapon) from the

Rsi Bharadvaja, and passed it on to Drona.


AKRURA: Krsna's uncle and a famous Vrsni. He was a commander of the

Yadava army and also acted as one of Krsna's advisors.


ALAMBUSHA: A rakshasa who fought for Duryodhana in the Kuruksetra

war. He was Baka's brother, and bore enmity toward Bhima because

Bhima slew his brother. He killed Arjuna's son Iravan, and was

himself killed by Bhima's son, Ghatotkaca.


AMBA: The king of Kashi's eldest daughter. Bhisma abducted her from

her svayamvara to be his brother's bride. Having already committed

herself to Shalva, Bhisma released her. When Shalva rejected her as

a wife because she had been touched by another, she developed an

intense hatred for Bhisma. She worshipped Siva and obtained a boon

that she would kill Bhisma in her next life. She was then reborn as



AMBALIKA: The king of Kashi's youngest daughter. She was abducted by

Bhisma from her svayamvara and married Vicitravirya. Later she

became Pandu's mother by union with Vyasadeva.


AMBIKA: Second daughter of the king of Kashi, abducted from her

svayamvara by Bhisma. She married Vicitravirya and, after his death,

became Dhrtarastra's mother by union with Vyasadeva.


ANGARAPARNA: A Gandharva chief; also known as Citraratha, who met

the Pandavas when they were fleeing from Varanavata after the

burning of the lac house.


ARJUNA: Third son of Pandu and Kunti, begotten by Indra. He is

famous as Krsna's dear friend and he heard the Bhagavad-gita from

Him. He is known by nine other names: Dhananjaya (winner of wealth),

Vijaya (always victorious), Swetavahana (he whose chariot is drawn

by white horses), Phalguna (born under the auspicious star of the

same name), Kiriti (he who wears the diadem), Bhibatsu (terrifying

to behold in battle), Savyasachi (able to wield a bow with both

hands), Jisnu (unconquerable), and Krsna (dark-complexioned). The

name Arjuna means "one of pure deeds." He is said to be an

incarnation of the ancient sage Nara.


ASHVINI KUMARAS: Twin gods who act as celestial physicians. They

fathered Nakula and Sahadeva through Madri.


ASHVATTHAMA: Son of Drona and Kripi. When he was young, his father

was impoverished. Some of Asvatthama's friends, knowing that he had

never tasted milk, once gave him a cup of water mixed with flour and

told him it was milk. The boy drank it and danced in glee, saying "I

have tasted milk!" His father saw this and was cut to the quick. It

was this incident that inspired him to go to his old friend Drupada

and beg. Asvatthama is said to be a partial expansion of Siva.


BABRUVAHANA: Son of Arjuna and Citrangada, who became the ruler of



BAHLIKA: Younger brother of Santanu. He lived a long life and was an

advisor to Dhrtarastra. He became a commander in Duryodhana's army

during the Kuruksetra war. He was finally killed by Bhima.


BALARAMA: Son of Vasudeva and Rohini. Said by the Vedas to be an

eternal form of the Supreme Lord who sometimes appears in the

material world to enact pastimes. More information about Him can be

found in the Bhagavata Purana (Srimad-Bhagavatam).


BHARATA: A king in the dynasty of the moon-god (all ksatriyas are

descendents either of Chandra, the moon-god, or Surya, the sun-god)

who ruled the earth for thousands of years. The earth planet has

been named after him, and it was common during the Mahabharata era

to call his descendents by his name. Bharata was born from the union

of King Dushyanta and the daughter of Kanva Rsi, named Shakuntala.

The story of their marriage and Bharata's birth is recounted in the

Mahabharata's Adi Parva.


BHIMASENA: Pandu and Kunti's second son, sired by Vayu, the wind-

god. After the great war he was installed by Yudhisthira as crown

prince. A story is told in the Skanda Purana that Bhima became a

little proud after the war, considering that it was by his own power

that he had achieved success in the war. All his brothers attributed

their success to Krsna. Wanting to curb Bhima's pride, Krsna took

him on Garuda and traveled a long way to the south, where they came

to a great lake many miles wide. Krsna sent Bhima to find the source

of the lake. Bhima ran around its perimeter, but could not discover

its source. As he ran he encountered a number of powerful Asuras.

Bhima found himself unable to defeat them and he ran to Krsna for

shelter. Krsna lifted and threw the lake away and dispersed the

Asuras. He said to Bhima, "This lake was contained in Kumbhakarna's

skull, the Raksasa killed by Rama in a previous age. The warriors

who attacked you were from a race of demons who fought with Ravana

against Rama." Bhima's pride was thus curbed.


BHISMA: Son of Santanu, known as the "grandfather" of the Kurus.

Although he never became king, he officiated at Hastinapura as

regent until Vicitravirya was of age. He is said to be an

incarnation of Dyau, the chief Vasu (see Appendix Three). The

original text of the Mahabharata contains an entire Parva, the

Shanti Parva, devoted to Bhisma's instructions on religion and

morality, which he delivered while lying on the bed of arrows.


CHITRASENA: King of the Gandharvas who taught Arjuna the arts of

singing and dancing while he was in heaven. He later captured

Duryodhana, whom Arjuna and Bhima had released. Citrasena was also

the name of a king of Trigarta who fought with the Kauravas, and

also the name of one of Karna's sons.


DEVAKI: Krsna's mother and the wife of Vasudeva, a chief of the

Vrishni clan. Details of her life can be found in the Bhagavata



DHAUMYA: An ascetic rsi who became the Pandavas' guru and guide. The

younger brother of Devala, another famous rsi.


DHRISTADYUMNA: Son of Drupada, born from the sacrificial fire. Said

in the Vedas to be an expansion of the fire-god, Agni.


DHRISTAKETU: A son of Sisupala, king of the Cedis, who befriended

the Pandavas and supplied them with an akshauhini division of troops

for the Kuruksetra war. He was slain by Drona. After the war, his

sister married Nakula. He was said to be one of the celestial

Visvadevas incarnating on earth.


DHRITARASTRA: The blind son of Vyasadeva, born of Ambika after the

death of her husband, Vicitravirya. He became king in Hastinapura

after Pandu retired to the forest. He was the father of the

Kauravas. In the Bhagavata Purana it is said that, after practicing

yoga, he achieved liberation, merging into the Supreme Brahman at

the end of his life.


DRAUPADI: Daughter of Drupada, king of Panchala, and wife of the

five Pandavas. In her previous life she was an ascetic woman named

Nalayani who received a boon from Siva that she would have five

husbands in her next life. The epitome of womanly skills, she once

gave advice on how to serve a husband to Satyabhama, one of Krsna's

principal wives. She was said to be an expansion of the Goddess

Laksmi. Also known as Pancali.


DRONA (DRONACHARYA): The Kurus' martial teacher. The sage Bharadvaja

once caught sight of the Apsara Ghrtachi and, as a result, semen

fell from his body, which he caught in a pot. Drona was later born

from that pot. He was taught by Agnivesya and Parasurama. Said to be

an expansion of Brhaspati, the celestial seer and preceptor of the



DRUPADA: King of the Panchala province in Bharata. He was a staunch

ally of the Pandavas, respected as the senior most king among their

allies. He formed an enmity with Drona after the latter had come to

him for charity and had been refused. Drona finally killed him in

the Kuruksetra war. Drupada was also known as Yajnasena, and is said

to be an expansion of the celestial Maruts.


DURVASA: A powerful rsi famous for his quick temper. The Puranas and

Mahabharata contain many stories about Durvasa. He is particularly

famous for having granted Kunti the boon that she could summon any

god to do her will, which resulted in the births of the Pandavas

from five principal deities. He is said to be an expansion of Siva.


DURYODHANA: Eldest of Dhrtarastra's sons and leader of the Kauravas.

>From childhood he formed an enmity with the Pandavas, which later

resulted in the Kuruksetra war. He was killed by Bhima and went to

the heavenly planets as a result of his adherence to ksatriya

duties. He was said to be an expansion of Kali, the god presiding

over the dark age.


DUSHASHANA: Duryodhana's eldest brother and one of his inner circle

of close advisors. He grievously offended Draupadi and the Pandavas,

and as a result Bhima vowed to kill him and drink his blood. He did

so during the great war.


EKALAVYA: Son of Hiranyadhanu, a Nisadha tribal chief. He became

quite skilled in archery by worshipping Drona, but he was ultimately

cursed by him. He was killed by Krsna.


GANDHARI: Daughter of the king of Gandhara, who became Dhrtarastra's

wife. Having once pleased Vyasadeva by her service, she was blessed

by the sage that she would have one hundred sons. After marrying the

blind Dhrtarastra, she covered her own eyes with a cloth for the

rest of her life. She is thus famous as one of the most chaste

ladies in Vedic history. She died in the forest with her husband and



GANGA: A goddess who appears in this world as the river Ganges. She

was Bhisma's mother (see Appendix Three). Her origin is described in

various Vedic texts, including Bhagavata Purana and Ramayana. The

river water descends from the spiritual world after touching Lord

Visnu's foot and is thus considered sacred.


GHATOTKACHA: The son of Bhima and the Rakshashi Hidimbi. He became a

leader of the Raksasas and assisted the Pandavas in the Kuruksetra

war. Karna killed him with Indra's celestial Sakti weapon.


INDRA: King of the gods, also known as Purandara and Sakra. The

Vedas contain numerous stories about this deity, who became Arjuna's



JARASANDHA: King of Magadha and a powerful enemy of Krsna. His

father, Brhadratha, once approached a sage to seek a blessing to

have a son. The sage gave him a mango, which the king divided into

two, giving half to each of his wives. They each gave birth to half

a child, and the king threw away the halves. A Rakshashi named Jara

later found the two halves and joined them together, whereupon the

body came to life. The child was then named Jarasandha,

meaning `joined by Jara.' The Bhagavata Purana describes the history

of his inimical relationship with Krsna. He was killed in a

wrestling match with Bhima.


JAYADRATHA: King of Sindhu who married Dhrtarastra's daughter

Dushala. When he was born, a heavenly voice announced that he would

be a powerful warrior but would be beheaded by an enemy of

unparalleled strength. His father, Vridhakshetra, then cursed

whomever would cause his son's head to fall to the ground to himself

die, his own head shattering into a hundred fragments. He was killed

by Arjuna at Kuruksetra.


KAMSA: Maternal uncle of Krsna who usurped the throne from his

father, Ugrasena. He was killed by Krsna. Details of his life are

found in the Bhagavata Purana.


KARNA: Firstborn son of the Pandavas' mother Kunti from her union

with the sun-god (see Appendix One). He became the chief support and

best friend of Duryodhana, who made him king of Anga. He was killed

by Arjuna at Kuruksetra and went to the sun planet. Other names of

Karna include Vasusena, Vaikarthana and Radheya.


KRIPA (KRIPACHARYA): Son of the sage Saradvan, who was once

practicing asceticism in the forest when he saw the Apsara Janapadi.

He passed semen, which fell into a clump of reeds, and a boy and

girl were born from it. They were named Krpa and Kripi. They were

found and brought to Santanu, who was later told of their origin by

Saradvan. Krpa was taught Dhanurveda, the martial arts, by his

father, and he became one of the Kurus' martial teachers. He

survived the Kuruksetra war and counseled the Pandavas when they

ruled the world. Later, they appointed him preceptor of their

grandson, Pariksit.


KRISHNA: Said by the Vedas to be God, the Supreme Person, who is the

origin of all other incarnations of the Godhead such as Visnu and

Narayana. The Bhagavata Purana contains extensive descriptions of

His qualities and activities. He spoke the Bhagavad-gita to Arjuna

at the beginning of the Kuruksetra war.


KRITAVARMA: A chief in the Yadu dynasty. A devotee of Krsna, he was

the commander of the Yadu army. Krsna offered the army to Duryodhana

for the Kuruksetra war, and thus they and Krtavarma fought against

the Pandavas. Krtavarma survived the war, but was later killed at

Prabhasa during a fratricidal quarrel among the Yadus.


KUNTI: The Pandavas' mother. She was the sister of Vasudeva, Krsna's

father. Her own father, Surasena, had given her as a baby to his

close friend King Kuntibhoja, who had no children. She was named

Prtha at birth, but became better known as Kunti after being raised

by Kuntibhoja.


KURU: Ancient king and founder of the Kuru dynasty (see family tree

in Appendix Four). Due to his performance of sacrifice and

asceticism at the site, the place known as Kuruksetra, named after

Kuru, is considered sacred.


KUVERA (VAISHRAVANA): God of riches and one of the four universal

protectors or Lokapalas. Known as the celestial treasurer.


MARKENDEYA: An ancient rsi said to have lived through thousands of

ages. The Mahabharata contains many stories about him.


NAKULA: One of the twin sons of Pandu and Madri, begotten by the

twin Asvini gods. He was a maharatha warrior renowned for his

expertise with a sword. He conquered the western regions of Bharata,

before Yudhisthira's Rajasuya sacrifice. Along with Draupadi, he

married a princess of Chedi named Karenumati.


NARADA: A celestial sage also known as Devarshi, or the rsi among

the gods. He is famous as a devotee of Krsna and frequently assists

Him in His pastimes on earth. The Vedas contain innumerable

references to Narada's activities and teachings.


PANDU: Father of the Pandavas born to Vicitravirya's widow queen

Ambalika by the grace of Vyasadeva.


PARASARA: A powerful rsi, grandson of Vasista, who fathered

Vyasadeva by conceiving him with Satyavati when she was still a

maiden. Once Satyavati ferried the sage across a river and he was

attracted by her beauty. He asked if he could have union with her,

promising that by his mystic power she would not lose her virginity.

She agreed and they united on an island in the middle of the river,

which Parasara shrouded from view by creating volumes of mist.

Vyasadeva was immediately born and grew at once to manhood.


PARASURAMA: A rsi said to be an empowered incarnation of Visnu. He

is famous for having annihilated all the ksatriyas of the world

after his father, Jamadagni, had been killed by a king named

Kartavirya. An expert in the Vedic military arts, he was the martial

teacher of Bhisma, Drona and Karna. The Mahabharata contains various

stories about his exploits.


PARIKSIT: Posthumous son of Abhimanyu, the Pandavas installed him as

king in Hastinapura when they retired. He was named Pariksit,

meaning `the examiner', as the Brahmins said he would come to

examine all men in his search for the Supreme Lord, whom he saw

while still an embryo in his mother's womb. He became famous as the

hearer of the Bhagavata Purana from the sage Sukadeva Goswami.


SAHADEVA: The youngest Pandava. One of the two twin sons of Madri

fathered by the Asvini gods. He conquered southern Bharata before

Yudhisthira's Rajasuya sacrifice. Famous for his perceptive powers

and intelligence, he was appointed as Yudhisthira's personal advisor

after the Kuruksetra war. Besides being married to Draupadi, he

married a princess of Madra named Vijaya.


SANJAYA: Dhrtarastra's charioteer and secretary. Although he

belonged to the suta caste, he was a spiritually advanced disciple

of Vyasadeva, who gave him the power to see the events during the

Kuruksetra war. Consequently, he narrated all the battle scenes to



SATYAKI: A Vrsni hero who became Arjuna's martial disciple. He was a

close friend of Krsna. A powerful maharatha, he fought for the

Pandavas at Kuruksetra, surviving both the war and subsequent

massacre of sleeping soldiers by Asvatthama. He died at Prabhasa

during the fratricidal battle among the Yadus.


SHAKUNI: Son of King Suvala and brother of Gandhari. Acted as close

confidant and mentor to Duryodhana. Although a powerful ksatriya, he

preferred cunning and underhanded methods to open combat. Said to be

an expansion of the deity presiding over the Dvapara age (third in

the cycle of four ages), he was slain at Kuruksetra by Sahadeva.


SHALVA: King of Saubha. He fought Bhisma for Amba's hand after

Bhisma kidnapped her from her svayamvara. Due to his strong

friendship with Sisupala, whom Krsna killed, he became Krsna's

enemy. He attacked Dwaraka in the huge airplane he had received from

Siva. Said to be an incarnation of the Asura Ajaka, Krsna killed him.


SHALYA: Ruler of Madra and brother of Pandu's second wife Madri.

Although the Pandavas' friend, and having a particular friendship

with Yudhisthira, he was tricked by Duryodhana into fighting for the

Kauravas at Kuruksetra. Said to be an incarnation of the Daitya

Samhlada, Yudhisthira killed him in the war.


SANTANU: Great grandfather of the Pandavas and Kauravas, and

Bhisma's father from his union with Ganga (see Appendix Three).

After retirement, he went to Mount Archika in the Himalayas and

practiced asceticism, finally attaining liberation. It is said in

the Bhagavata Purana that his elder brother, Devapi, still lives on

earth in a place called Kalapa, awaiting the commencement of the

next Satya-yuga (golden age) when he will become king.


SHIKHANDHI: Son of Drupada and a reincarnation of Amba. He was born

as a woman and later became a man by the grace of a Yaksa named

Sthunakarna. Remembering his enmity from his previous life, he vowed

to kill Bhisma. It was due to him that Arjuna was able to approach

and finally slay Bhisma. Asvatthama killed him during the night

slaughter of the sleeping Pandava warriors.


SISHUPALA: King of Chedi and an avowed enemy of Krsna. The Bhagavata

Purana describes his previous existence as Jaya, a gatekeeper in the

spiritual Vaikuntha world. Due to a curse, he and his brother Vijaya

had to take birth in the material world for three lives as demons

(his other two incarnations were Hiranyaksha and Ravana). Krsna

killed him at Yudhisthira's Rajasuya sacrifice.


SUBHADRA: Krsna's sister, said to be an incarnation of Yogamaya, the

Lord's personified spiritual energy. Her birth is described in the

Bhagavata Purana. She married Arjuna and they had a son named

Abhimanyu. Unlike her co-wife Draupadi, no details are given in the

original text about how she ended her life.


SUSHARMA: King of Trigarta and brother of Duryodhana's wife,

Bhanumati. He led a huge army and concentrated on fighting Arjuna

during the Kuruksetra war, having taken a vow to kill him. He was

slain by Arjuna.


ULUPI: Daughter of the Naga king Kauravya, who became Arjuna's wife.

They had a son named Iravan, who was killed at Kuruksetra. She

married Arjuna during his one year exile from Indraprastha, only

spending one day with him after their wedding. She was reunited with

him in Hastinapura after the war.


UTTARA: A princess of Virata whom Arjuna taught dancing during his

final year of exile. She married Abhimanyu and their son was named



VASUDEVA: Krsna's father, after whom Krsna Himself is named. Details

of his life and previous births are given in the Bhagavata Purana.


VIDURA: Son of Vyasadeva and a palace maidservant. He was said to be

an expansion of Yamaraja, the lord of justice. Once a rsi named

Mandavya was mistaken for a robber. The king arrested and punished

him by having him pierced by a lance. The sage later went to

Yamaraja and asked why this had happened and was told that in his

childhood he had pierced an insect with a blade of grass. Hearing

that he had received punishment for a mistake made when he was still

an ignorant child, the sage cursed Yamaraja to take birth on earth

as a sudra. Thus he became Vidura.


VIRATA: King of Matsya, where the Pandavas spent their final year in

exile. He joined with the Pandavas in the Kuruksetra war, bringing

an akshauhini division of warriors. Drona killed him in the battle.

He was said to be an expansion of the celestial Maruts.


VYASADEVA: The sage who authored the Mahabharata. Born from the

union of Parasara Rsi and Satyavati, he is known as Dwaipayana

because he was born on an island (see Parasara). He compiled the

Vedas and is said to be an empowered incarnation of Visnu. His son's

name is Sukadeva, the famous reciter of the Bhagavata Purana.


YADU: Ancient king and founder of the Yadu dynasty, in which Krsna

appeared (see family tree in Appendix Four). Details of Yadu's birth

and life are given in the original text of the Mahabharata and also

the Bhagavata Purana.


YUDHISTHIRA: Eldest Pandava, born from the union of Kunti and the

god Dharma. He performed a Rajasuya sacrifice which established him

as world emperor. Famous for his adherence to virtue and truth, he

is also known as Dharmaraja, as well as Ajatasatru, which means "one

who has no enemies." After the war he ruled the world for thirty-six

years and was succeeded by Pariksit.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You are posting as a guest. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

  • Create New...