Family Pandu, (fathers)
Kunti and Madri (mother)
Karna, Yudhishthira, Bhima, Arjuna & Sahadeva (brothers)
Spouse(s) Draupadi
Children Satanika

In the Hindu epic Mahabharata, Nakula was fourth of the five Pandava brothers. Nakula and Sahadeva were twins born to Madri, who had invoked the Ashwini Kumaras using Kunti's boon. Nakula and his brother Sahadeva, are both called as Ashvineya(आश्विनेय), as they were born from Ashvinas.[1]

Life at Hastinapur

Shalya's attempt to make Nakula and Sahadeva his heirs

Years after Madri had killed herself, King Shalya, her brother, as well as the ruler of the kingdom of Madra, would each year, for a spell, bring his nephews Nakula and Sahadeva to Madra. On their fifteenth birthday, Shalya revealed his intention of making the twins his heirs. Shalya argued that Nakula could be a king one day, instead of fourth-in-line to the throne of Hastinapura... provided that Yudhishthira was named their heir in the first place. The wise Nakula pointed out that Shalya only wanted Nakula and Sahadeva as his heirs, because both were children of god-in fact, Shalya was eschewing his own children with this gambit. Nakula claimed that while he and Sahadeva staying with the Pandavas would give them no power, his brothers and Kunti genuinely loved him, and would never try and make Nakula and Sahadeva their pawns. Nakula laments that by becoming Shalya's heir, he would then become Shalya's pawn. Through some deliberation, Nakula is convinced that Shalya is being genuine. He and Sahadeva become the heirs to the throne, but Sahadeva told his uncle on one condition: they will always stay with the Pandavas.[2]


Yudhishthira's loss in the game of dice meant that all Pandavas had to live in exile for 13 years. Once in exile, Jatasura, disguised as a Brahmin, kidnapped Nakula along with Draupadi, Sahadeva and Yudhishthira. Bhima rescued them eventually and in the fight that ensued, Nakula killed Kshemankara, Mahamaha, and Suratha.[3]

In the 13th year, Nakula disguised himself as an ostler and assumed the name of Granthika(in other versions, Jayasena) at the Kingdom of Matsya. He worked as a horse-trainer who looked after horses in the royal stable.[4]

Role In The Kurukshetra War

Nakula desired Drupada to be the general of the Pandava army, but Yudhishthira and Arjuna opted for Dhristadyumna.[5]

As a warrior, Nakula slew prominent war-heroes on the enemy side. The flag of Nakula's chariot bore the image of a red deer with golden back.[6] Nakula was the leader of one of the seven Akshahuni.

On the 1st day of the war, Nakula defeated Dussasana, sparing his life so that Bhima could fulfill his oath.

On the 11th day, Nakula defeated Shalya, destroying his uncle's chariot.

On the 12th day, he killed Shakuni's Uluka

On the 13th day, his advance into Drona's formation was repulsed by Jayadratha.

On the 14th day, he defeated Shakuni

On the 15th day, he was defeated by Duryodhana, being rescued by Chekitana.

On the 16th and 17th day,he gave a tough fight to Karna, but was defeated and spared by the latter.[7]

On the 18th day of the war he killed three sons of Karna, Sushena, Chitrasena and Satyasena.

After the War

After the war, Yudhishthira appointed Nakula and Sahadeva as the Kings of Madra kingdom.[8]


Upon the onset of Kali Yuga and the departure of Krishna, the Pandavas retired. Giving up all their belongings and ties, Pandavas, accompanied by a dog, made their final journey of pilgrimage to the Himalayas.

Except Yudhishthira, all of the Pandavas grew weak and died before reaching heaven. Nakula was third one to fall after Draupadi and Sahadeva. When Bhima asks Yudhishthira why Nakula fell, the reason given is his pride on his beauty and his belief that there was nobody that equalled him in looks.[9]

Special Skills

  • Horse-keeping: Nakula's deep understanding of horse breeding and training is documented in the Mahabharata after the death of Narakasura by Krishna. In a conversation with Virata, Nakula claimed to know the art of treating all illnesses of horses. He was also a highly skilled charioteer.[10][11]
  • Ayurveda: Being a son of the physicians, Ashwini Kumaras, Nakula was also believed to be an expert in Ayurveda.[12]

In the Media


  1. Gopal, Madan (1990). K.S. Gautam, ed. India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 73.
  2. Rajagopalachari, C. (. (1970). Mahabharata (10 th ed.). Bombay : Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan
  3. Parmeshwaranand, Swami (2001). Encyclopaedic dictionary of Purāṇas (1st ed.). New Delhi: Sarup & Sons. p. 900. ISBN 9788176252263.
  4. Kapoor, edited by Subodh (2002). The Indian encyclopaedia : biographical, historical, religious, administrative, ethnological, commercial and scientific (1st ed.). New Delhi: Cosmo Publications. p. 4462. ISBN 9788177552713.
  5. Menon, [translated by] Ramesh (2006). The Mahabharata : a modern rendering. New York: iUniverse, Inc. p. 88. ISBN 9780595401888.
  6. "Mahabharata Text".
  7. "The Mahabharata, Book 8: Karna Parva: Section 48". Retrieved 2018-01-27.
  8. "Mahabharata Text".
  10. "Mahabharata Text".
  11. Lochan, Kanjiv (2003). Medicines of early India : with appendix on a rare ancient text (Ed. 1st. ed.). Varanasi: Chaukhambha Sanskrit Bhawan. ISBN 9788186937662.
  12. Charak, K.S. (1999). Surya, the Sun god (1st ed.). Delhi: Uma Publications. ISBN 9788190100823.
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