Teachings of Mahabharat and Shreemad Bhagavad Gita shaped the world culture and consciousness of the world and Bharat. Mahabharat not only witnessed the presence of Bhagwan, demons and their accomplices but also re-established Hindu dharma (morality, virtues) in its full glory for the future generation of Bharat Varsha. In doing so, it also witnessed the biggest war in the history of mankind that will happen only after 0.4 million years from now.
Some of the Interesting and Fascinating facts of Mahabharat are listed below:
1. Krishna rode a chariot that was heavily potent and once when Arjun was done with the war, Krishna asked him to get off the chariot first and then he got off. As soon as he got off, the chariot exploded in a huge fireball. That’s when he explained to Arjun why he asked him to get off the chariot first. All the fires, missiles and arrows directed towards Arjun’s Ratha was stopped by Shree Krishna himself to protect Arjun but since the purpose of all these arms was to detonate, it was done after Shree Krishna moved out from the Ratha.
2. Hastinapur (of Bharat Varsha) was the most opulent and developed place in the history of mankind during Mahabharat’s time. It had all the resources that a civilized state comprises of: dams, artificial ponds, irrigation, monuments, temples and learned Sages.
3. Sahadeva (the youngest Pandav) knew everything about the future. He knew that a war was going to occur, but he kept silent because he was under a curse that if he revealed anything to anybody he would die.
4. Arjun’s ‘pilgrimage’ for breaking his marital laws with Draupadi earned him three more wives. They were Chitrangada (Manipura), Ulupi (Naga) and Subhadra.
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5. Arjun was unable to defend the wives of Krishna from common robbers after Krishna’s departure to Vaikuntha. His bow became heavy and he forgot all his mantras. The 8 main wives committed suicide. The others were kidnapped by robbers.
6. Yudhistira learnt to play dice form the Sage Vrihadaswa who narrated the story of Nala and Damayanti in their exile.
7. Bhima had one surviving son named Sarvaga by Balandhara, who was not given the throne despite being much elder to Parikshit. He became the ruler of Kashi (his mother’s land) instead.
8. Ekalavya was actually Krishna’s cousin. He was the son of Devashrava (brother of Vasudeva) who got lost in the forest and was found by a Nishada Hiranyadhanu. Ekalavya died protecting his father during Rukmini Swayamvar. He was killed by Krishna. For his great sacrifice of Gurudakshina, Krishna blessed Ekalavya that he would be soon reincarnated and take revenge on Drona. This person was Dhristadyumna (who kiled Drona).
9. Krishna himself said to Arjun in Bhagwat Geeta ”O invincible one, you are Nara and I am Hari Narayana, and we, the sages Nara-Narayana, have come to this world at proper time”. (Nara Narayan are considered as the part avatars of Vishnu).
10. Mahabharat is also known as Pancham Veda, the fifth Veda.
11. Krishna broke his promise. In the battle of Mahabharat, Lord Krishna promised that he will not pick up any weapon. On the other hand Bhishma promised Duryodhan that he will fight like a lion and will either kill Arjun or make Lord Krishna break his promise. To respect words of his bhakt Bhisma, Krishna broke his promise and saved Bhisma from embarrassment. The intense battle between Bhishma and Arjun began, but despite being extremely powerful, Arjun was no match to Bhishma. Arjun was soon helpless when Bhagwan Krishna could not tolerate it and immediately threw down the chariot rein and jumped out of it onto the battle field and lifted one of the chariot’s wheels and charged towards Bhishma determined to kill him. Arjun tried to stop Lord Krishna, but all in vain.
12. Vidura (chief counsel of Dhritharashtra) was the incarnation of Yamaraj after being cursed by Manduk Muni to become a Sudra (the less intelligent class of men in the society) because he killed a small insect which was not harming him by accident.
13. Some references indicate that Vidura was in possession of a mysterious and very powerful bow – gifted to him by Vishnu himself. The wielder of the bow would not face defeat in battle. When Krishna comes to make peace with the Kauravas – Duryodhana insults Vidura so much that Vidura decides that he will not participate in the war and in an attempt to completely fructify it, he breaks his bow in half.
14. There are different versions of the epic. One version is for Deva Loka.
15. Lots of past incidents including the Amrit Manthan are part of the original Mahabharata epic. The entire epic was narrated as a flashback at the Sarpa Yagna being conducted by Janamejaya, the son of Parikshit (Arjun’s Grandson). There are also inferences which narrate why the Sarpa Yagna had to be conducted, and who were all the people acting as catalysts for the Yagna.
16. Krishna knew that the time has come, Arjun and his sister Subhadra are to be united. He confronted Arjun and told him to kidnap her. When Arjun did kidnap her, Balarama and the other Yadavas were furious. They were up in arms and were getting ready to chase Arjun and oust him in battle. Balarama stopped the entire frenzy and exclaimed that Krishna is sitting silently. When asked, Krishna replied that I think what Arjun has done is in accordance with Kshatriya dharma, as it is happening with the permission of Subhadra and family’s wishes (Krishna himself permitted Arjun). That is how Arjun got away with marrying Krishna’s sister Subhadra.
17. Krishna tried to narrate the Bhagavad Gita to Duryodhana. Obviously, if Duryodhana would have been educated, then the entire war would have been averted. But, Duryodhana told Krishna that he already knows what is right and what is wrong. His argument to Krishna was that there is some internal force within him which does not allow his mind to choose what is right. That his Prakriti is not allowing him to act as per his dharma.
18. Krishna is arguably the most difficult character to understand, as without bhakti no one can comprehend the existence of Bhagwan. Once, he even started fighting with Arjun. Bhagwan Shiv got so perturbed that he descended to stop the fight. He asked what Krishna was doing. Krishna’s simple reply was that Arjun needed to fight in battle and hence Krishna was testing Arjun.
19. Mahabharat is indeed a treasure house of knowledge. In the Vana Parvam, Draupadi teaches Patni dharma to Satyabhama. She elaborately explains the duties of a wife and the principles of a Pati-vrata. The teachings are still considered as the best practices for the deserving husbands of today. The golden words invoke sense of pride, respect and gratitude towards husband, that gets replicated in forming able children who in turn also respect their older parents in future.
20. The Kauravas were all mis-named because of their bad reputation. Duryodhana (which means Evil warrior) was actually Suyodhana (Good warrior), Dusshasana (means Bad ruler) was actually Sushaasana (good ruler), Dusshala (meaning one who moves badly) was actually Suchala (one who moves nicely) and so on. Though, India has a population of over 125 crore people today, you will hardly find single individual having names of major Kauravas, even enemies do not call names of their rivals on Kauravas, since it is considered as bad omen. No baby is named after them.
21. In Mahabharat, Shakuni appears to be on the side of Kauravas, but his secret intention was the downfall of both Pandavas and Kauravas. There was bitter past behind his hatredness. Tragedy struck Gandhar, on the advice of astrologers, to avert a calamity it was said that Gandhari was married to a goat for the Yagna before getting married to Dhritarashtra. Because Gandhari was Kanya and Yagna could have caused harm to her husband. Technically, this made Gandhari a widow and Dhritarashtra her second husband. Many years later when her husband Dhritrashtra learns about this truth, shocked and enraged, Dhritrashtra puts Gandhari’s entire family, including king Subala in prison. In prison, they were served just one fistful of rice every day. Realizing that this was an elaborate plan to starve them to death, Gandhari’s father declared that none but his youngest son would eat the sparse food being served, so that at least one amongst them would survive to avenge the death of the rest. The youngest son of king Subala was Shakuni. He survived and swore not to rest until all of Kuru kingdom is destroyed. He used the thigh bones of his father to make the dice with which he was able to defeat the Pandavas in the gambling match, and thus which eventually led to the war at Kurukshetra and also to the destruction of entire Kuru clan. His father twisted his one leg to give him a permanent limp as a constant reminder of revenge.
In some of the version of Mahabharat, Shakuni is also known as a devotee of Bhagwan Krishna.
22. Draupadi was asked 3 times by Duryodhana to come to the court after her husbands lost her in dicing. Draupadi kept denying and asked Duryodhana to question Yudhistira whether he staked himself first or her first. Duryodhana asked Draupadi to question her husband in court directly. Yet Draupadi refused to come and sent the attendant back. Duryodhana lost his temper and ordered Dusshasana to bring her there at any cost.
23. After the whole incident of Draupadi vastraharan, Draupadi herself apologises to the court saying “I had been dragged here and humiliated. In all that has occured, I did not bow down to the elders of the court and the family. My apologies to them.”
Even in such adverse situation, Draupadi remembered her dharma of Putravadhu. This bought tears in the eyes of elders and Bhisma. Draupadi never said “Andhe Ka Putra Andha” as per original Mahabharat. No single verse is found where Draupadi humiliates guest Duryodhana.
24. Jayadrath, who is mainly held responsible for slaying the 16 year old Abhimanyu (Arjun’s son) in the Chakravyuh, was in fact the only brother-in-law to the 101 Pandava and Kaurava brothers, married to their sister Dushala.
25. The narration of the Bhagavad Gita by Krishna was heard firsthand not only by Arjun but also Hanuman and Sanjay. Hanuman was perched on top of Arjuna’s chariot throughout the battle of Kurukshetra and Sanjay was blessed by Ved Vyas with divine vision in order to narrate the events of the battle to Dhritharashtra.
26. Iranvan, Son of Uloopi and Arjun self-sacrificed to the goddess Kali to show his bhakti towards her and ensure favor and the victory of the Pandavas in the war, with a wish to marry a girl before dying; to fulfill his wish Krishna married to him as Mohini (the roop he took during Samudra Mantra to protect Amrit) and cried after his death like a real wife.
27. Draupadi was a daughter of Panchal King Draupad. She did tapasya and prayed Bhagwan Shiv. After appearance of Shiv, she asked for the boon to marry a great man who had 14 of the best qualities. Bhagwan Shiv informed her such 14 qualities are not possible to be present in the yoni of a human being. But Draupadi insisted, so there upon Bhagwan Shiv granted her a wish – a marriage with 5 great men who would have 14 such great qualities, and also after every morning bath she would regain her virginity.
28. In his previous life, Dhritarashtra was a tyrant king, who one day while walking on the lake side saw a swan bird surrounded by hundred cygnets (young swans). He ordered to remove the swan bird’s eyes and kill all the hundred cygnets just for his passing fancy. Therefore, in next birth he was born blind and all his sons were killed in the war.
29. Bhishma was among the Eight Vasus (attendants to Indra) and was cursed by Sage Vsashishta for stealing his cow to get born from Ganga. Although other 7 seven Vasus were drowned by Ganga just after their death , Bhishma was kept alive because of persuasion of his father Shantanu, and thus served the mortal form.
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30. Krishna once protested to Yudhishthira that why the king of Indraprastha did not seek his assistance while playing the game of dice. If Sakuni could have played the game of dice on behalf of Duryodhana, then definitely Krishna could have played on behalf of the Pandavas.
31. It is said by some scholars that many verses of Mahabharat composed by Vyas were difficult for his scribe, the God of intelligence, Shree Ganesha to understand. These verses were understood by Ganesh in a split second’s break. This break allowed Vyas to visualize the further verses. But, these verses are so difficult that 80% of them remain unsolved even today. There are 8800 such verses in the Mahabharat. The recall of incidents and writing it all over so accurately was never done before in modern times by anyone.
32. Satyavati (mother of Vyasa) was the daughter of a cursed apsara named Adrika.
33. Ved Vyas was the father of Dhritrashtra, Pandu and Vidura.
34. Ved Vyas (Vyasa) simply wrote the history of his own sons, grandsons and great grandsons – all the while keeping himself entangled in the intricacies of the future of the kingdom of Hastinapur and yet remaining out of it.
35. Out of five Pandavas three were the sons of Kunti Yudhisthira from Yama, Bhima from Vayu and Arjuna from Indra. Other two were the sons of Pandu’s second wife and morning and evening stars – Ashwini, all sky gods were called by Kunti to plant their seed in the wombs of these two wives.
36. While in exile, the Pandavas were travelling all across the country. At one time, it so happened that they reached a forest near Dwarka. They were all resting under a tree when prominent Yadavas came to meet them. The Yadavas were raged at the condition of the Pandavas. They proclaimed that this is not how these virtuous men must suffer. Warriors like Satyaki and others insisted that they shall all go right now and destroy Duryodhana. They argued that the Pandavas were under oath to not attack, not the Yadavas. All were spirited to march to Hastinapur for war. Krishna was silent and everyone looked to him for sermon. Krishna merely pointed at Yudhishthira and said that “if this man agrees, then we shall go to war.”
Yudhishthira folded his hands and said that “you all must please leave us in our state as of now. My dharma has already been fixed. There is an understanding that myself and Duryodhana have arrived at. It is adharma to interpret it differently and fish for loopholes. I must follow my dharma.”
37. In Indralok, Arjun was propositioned by Apsara Urvashi, but he used to address her as ‘mother’. Annoyed with Arjun’s rejection, Urvashi cursed him that he would become a eunuch. When Devraj Indra came to know about the curse, he told Arjun that this curse is going to serve as a boon during the one year stay in hiding and after spending that period, he would regain his masculinity. This proved to be significant in Mahabharat. After spending 12 years in forest, Pandavas spent the 13th year of exile incognito, in the court of King Virat. Arjun used his curse as blessing and lived as a eunuch named Brihannala. This teaches that if adverse condition arises and life is in danger then disguising in any form to escape and remain alive becomes important. Many future kings of Bharat followed this principle of disguise and escaped their death from the evil clutches of enemy. Mahabharat teaches many things including morality and truth which can be practically adapted in life to save people and his leader’s life.
38. The situation Bhagwan Krishna supported the Pandavas in Mahabharat. Duryodhan and Arjun both went to Dwarka to meet Bhagwan Krishna to seek his support for the war. Duryodhan was first to reach Dwarka. Satyaki informed that Krishna was asleep. Both Arjun and Duryodhan entered Krishna’s room. Duryodhan who entered the room first, sat on Krishna’s bed besides his head. Arjun went to the foot of the bed and stood there with his hands folded. When Krishna woke up he saw Arjun first. But Duryodhan said that since he came first it was only fair for Krishna to support the Kauravas. However, Krishna smiled and said that since he saw Arjun first so it would only be fair if he supported both the sides. So, on one hand was his famous Narayani army and on the other hand was he alone without any weapon. Duryodhana choose Narayani Sena. Arjun took support of Shree Krishna.
39. Yudhisthir was very well known for his firm adherence to truth. But in the battle of Mahabharat, Drona who was Kauravas commander was killing thousands of Pandavas warriors. Krishna made a plan and Drona was told that Ashwathama has died. The plan was set in motion when Bhishma killed an elephant named Ashwathama and loudly proclaimed that he was dead. Drona went up to Yudhisthir to ask him the truth, he replied that he was not sure of who had died, his son or the elephant. Bhagwan Krishna knew that Yudhithir won’t be able to lie, so when he was speaking the truth, Krishna made loud noise by beating the drums, which dissolved Yudhisthir’s words. Drona was disheartened and laid down his weapons. He was later killed.
40. Mahabharat war lasted mere 18 days but killed millions of people, thousands of elephants and horses. Even today, traces of radiation are found in the places where the war was fought. Scientists often describe, in recent history, first ever nuclear war in the world was fought in India before 3000 BC.
41. After Sri Kirshna left the earth, Pandavas too lost their interest in life. They started their journey to heaven with a dog. All Pandavas lost their lives during the journey. Only Yudhisthir and the dog made it to heaven. That dog was Yamaraj.
42. Karna was born with Kavach and Kundala. Ashwathama had mani on his forehead since birth.
43. Karna’s teacher was Parshuram.
44. Karna and Bhisma never fought together because Karna had taken an oath not to fight till Bhisma is alive and a general of the Kauravas. Later he meets dying Bhisma to pay homage and seek forgiveness for his past errors. Bhisma receives Karna kindly, pardons him with affectionate words, then urges that Karna should not fight the war on Kauravas side because they are wrong and unjust; Bhisma recommends Karna to fight on the side of his step brothers Pandavas because they are on the side of truth and justice. Karna refuses to accept the advice of dying Bhisma.
45. Of the 100 brothers of Kaurava, only Yuyutsu survived the Mahabharata war.
46. Yuyutsu had fought from Pandavas side.
47. Bheem killed 99 brothers of Kauravas.
48. The only person who witnessed the Mahabharat war and is still alive is Ashwathama.
49. Drona was born in a vessel. He was sage Bharadwaj’s son.
50. Krishna forgave Shishupala 100 times before killing him.
51. The biggest front to front war ever fought in the history of mankind. The size of Pandavas‘ army in the Kurukshetra war was 7 Akshauhinis, and those of Kauravas 11 Akshauhinis. An Akshauhini (Sanskrit: अक्षौहिणी), is described in the Mahabharat as a battle formation consisting of 21,870 chariots (Sanskrit ratha); 21,870 elephants; 65,610 cavalry and 109,350 infantry as per the Mahabharata (Adi Parva 2.15-23).
The ratio is 1 chariot : 1 elephant : 3 cavalry : 5 infantry soldiers. In each of these large number groups (65,610, etc.), the digits add up to 18.
The Akshauhini comprises of Gaja, Ratha, Ashwa and Padhata as follows:
One elephant (Gaja), one chariot (Ratha), three horses (Ashwa) and five foot soldiers (Padhata) form a Patti;
Three Pattis form a Sena-Mukha;
Three Sena-Mukhas make a Gulma;
Three Gulmas a Gana;
Three Ganas a Vahini;
Three Vahinis a Pruthana;
Three Pruthanas a Chamu;
Three Chamus a Anikini;
Ten Anikinis form an Akshauhini. Thus an Akshauhini, by calculation, contains 21,870 elephants, 21,870 chariots, 65,610 Horses, and 109,350 foot soldiers.
Strength of Kuru Army
Kuru Army of 11 Akshauhinis is formed by the kingdom of Hastinapur in alliance with races like the Samshaptakas, Trigartas, the Narayana army, the Sindhu army and Shalya of Madra.
Commanders in Chief of the War for the Kurus: Bhishma (10 days), Drona (5 days), Karna (2 days), Shalya (1 day), Ashwatthama (after Duryodhana loses the mace fight with Bheem)
Atirathis: Jayadratha and Shakuni.
Maharathis: Duryodhana, Dushasana, Vikarna, Kripacharya, Shalya, Bhisma, Dronacharya, Karna and Ashwathama.
Kaurava Army and Duryodhana’s Allies:
Bhagadatta the veteran – 1 Akshauhini
Shalya, king of Madra – 1 Akshauhini
Nila of Mahishmati – 1 Akshauhini (from south)
Kritavarma (Krishna’s Narayani sena of Yadavas) – 1 Akshauhini
Jayadratha (Saindhava) – 1 Akshauhini
Sudakshina, king of Kambhoja – 1 Akshauhini (has Yavanas & Sakas in his troops)
Vinda and Anuvinda (from Avanti) – 1 Akshauhini
Kalinga Forces – 1 Akshauhini
Shakuni of Gandhara – 1 Akshauhini
Susharma of Trigata – 1 Akshauhini
Kurus and other Allies – 1 Akshauhini
Kauravas had 240570 Elephants, 240570 Chariots, 721710 Horses and 1202850 Foot Soldiers.
Strength of Pandava Army
Pandava Army: is a coalition of 7 Akshauhinis, primarily the Panchala and Matsya forces, the Rakshasa forces of Bhima’s son, and Vrishni-Yadava heroes.
Atirathis: Uttara, Shikhandi and Upapandavas
Maharathis: Bhima, Nakula, Yuyutsu, Sahadeva, Yudhishthira, Dhristadyumna, Satyaki, Ghatotkacha,Abhimanyu, Drupada, Virata and Arjuna
Pandava Army and their Allies:
Satyaki of the Vrishni clan – 1 Akshauhini
Ghatotkacha – 1 Akshauhini
Dhrishtaketu, king of Chedis – 1 Akshauhini
Sahadeva, son of Jarasandha – 1 Akshauhini (from Magadha)
Drupada with his sons – 1 Akshauhini
Virata the king of Matsya – 1 Akshauhini
Pandya, Chola and other allies – 1 Akshauhini
The 4 types of units that make up an Akshauhini can also be seen in Chaturanga, the chess, which was formed based on Mahabharat war.
Pandavas had 153090 Elephants, 153090 Chariots, 459270 Horses and 765450 Foot Soldiers.