Wayang puppet of Dhrishtadyumna
ChildrenKshatradharman, Kshatravarman, Kshatranjaya, and Dhrishtaketu (sons)

Dhrishtadyumna (Sanskrit: धृष्टद्युम्न, romanizedDhṛṣṭadyumna, lit.'the courageous and splendid one') is the son of Drupada—the king of the Panchala kingdom—and the twin brother of Draupadi in the Hindu epic Mahabharata.[1]

Dhrishtadyumna is born from a yajna (fire-sacrifice) organised by Drupada, who wanted a son capable of killing his enemy, Drona. When the Pandava prince Arjuna—disguised as a Brahmana—won the hand of Draupadi in marriage, Dhrishtadyumna realised his identity. In the Kurukshetra War, Dhrishtadyumna joins the Pandavas, and becomes the supreme commander-in-chief of the Pandava forces. On the fifteenth day of the war, he beheads Drona, fulfilling the mission of his birth.



A Mughal painting by Bilal Habsi depicting the birth of Dhrishtadyumna. A folio of Razmnama, the Persian translation of the epic

Dhishtadyumna, along with Draupadi, is described as an "ayonija", one not born from a woman's womb.[2] His birth is narrated in the Adi Parva of the epic. According to the legend, Drupada once humiliated his childhood friend Drona because of his poor financial condition, and this led to hatred between them. Drona then became the teacher of the Pandava brothers and they defeated and captured Drupada. Though Drona spared Drupada's life because of their past friendship, he forcefully took half of Panchala. Humiliated by his defeat, Drupada wanted vengeance, but since none of his children or allies were powerful enough to defeat Drona, he decided to perform a yajna (fire-sacrifice) to obtain a powerful son.[2][3]

Drupada appointed the sages Upyaja and Yaja as the head-priests and the yajna was conducted.[4] After it was completed, the sages instructed the queen of Drupada to consume the offering to have a son. However, the queen had scented saffron in her mouth and asked them to wait till she had a bath and washed her mouth.[2][5] Unable to wait, the sages poured the offering into the sacrificial altar, causing a youth to emerge. He had a fiery complexion, wore a crown on his head and armour on his body, and carried a sword, a bow, and some arrows in his hands. He then went to a chariot and the people of Panchala rejoiced after seeing him.[3][5] Soon after his birth, a divine voice prophesied:

This prince hath been born for the destruction of Drona. He shall dispel all the fears of the Panchalas and spread their fame. He shall also remove the sorrow of the king.[5]

This was followed by the emergence of a beautiful maiden from the fire. The sages named the youth Dhrishtadyumna, and the maiden was named Krishnaa, better known by her patronymic name, Draupadi.[2][5][3]

After some time, Drona heard about Dhrishtadyumna and invited him to his kingdom. Even though Drona knew about Dhrishtadyumna's prophecy, he happily accepted him as a student and taught him advanced military arts. This made him a very powerful warrior, highly knowledgeable about celestial weapons. Dhrishtadyumna became a maharathi under the tutelage of Drona.[3][5]

Draupadi's Svayamvara

Dhrishtadyumna hosted his sister Draupadi's svayamvara and told its rules to the kings and princes. When a young Brahmin won Draupadi in front of all the princes and nobility, Dhrishtadyumna secretly followed the Brahmin and his sister, only to discover that the Brahmin was in fact Arjuna, one of the five Pandava brothers.[6][7]

Marriage and children

Dhrishtadyumna had multiple wives. He had four sons—Kshatradharman,[8] Kshatravarman,[9] Kshatranjaya,[10] and Dhrishtaketu.[11] The first three were wounded in the Kurukshetra War by Drona, whereas Dhrishtaketu was wounded by Karna.[12]

Kurukshetra War

Dhristadyumna was appointed as the Senapati (commander-in-chief) of the Pandava Army in the Kurukshetra War against the Kauravas. He maintained his position till the end of the war. On the 15th day of the war, Drona killed Drupada. The Pandavas conceived a plot to capitalise on Drona's only weakness, his son Ashwatthama. The Pandava Bhima killed an elephant named Ashwatthama. The Pandavas spread the rumour of Ashwatthama's death. Hearing the terrible news, Drona approached the eldest Pandava Yudhishthira in disbelief, who confirmed that Ashwatthama had been killed, but murmured that it had been the elephant named Ashwatthama; the latter part of his reply was overshadowed by conches of Pandava warriors. Thinking his son had died, Drona was shocked and heartbroken. He surrendered his weapons and sat down. Drona started to meditate, and his soul left his body in quest of Ashwatthama's soul. Dhristadyumna, taking advantage of the situation, took his sword and decapitated Drona, killing him.[13][14][15][16]


On the 18th night of the war, Ashwatthama attacked the Pandava camp during the night, and wounded Dhristadyumna. As Dhristadyumna begs for an honourable death, asking to die with a sword in his hand, Ashwatthama ignores him, proceeding to beat and smother him to death rather than beheading him, but his body disappeared.[17]


In one of the many side-stories of the Mahabharata, there is a drama centred around the fact that Dhrishtadyumna, despite being Drupada's youngest son, is his heir. While Drupada and others give many reasons for this, it is implied that the real reason is that Dhristadyumna has a godly parent, and thus more coveted as a ruler since his rule would seem more blessed. Dhristadyumna somewhat internalizes this, looking down upon Satyajit's pacifism, and Shikhandi's single-minded hatred of Bhishma.[18]


  1. ^ www.wisdomlib.org (29 June 2012). "Dhrishtadyumna, Dhṛṣṭadyumna, Dhrishta-dyumna: 12 definitions". www.wisdomlib.org. Retrieved 25 November 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d Chakrabarti & Bandyopadhyay 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d Mani 1975, p. 234.
  4. ^ Mani 1975, p. 252.
  5. ^ a b c d e Ganguli 1889, Adi Parva: Chaitraratha Parva: Section CLXIX
  6. ^ Kapoor, Subodh (November 2004). A Dictionary of Hinduism: Including Its Mythology, Religion, History, Literature and Pantheon. Cosmo Publications. ISBN 978-81-7755-874-6.
  7. ^ Rao; Rameshwar, Shanta (1985). Mahabharata, The(Illustrated). Orient Blackswan. ISBN 978-81-250-2280-0.
  8. ^ "The Mahabharata, Book 7: Drona Parva: Dronabhisheka Parva: Section XXIII". www.sacred-texts.com.
  9. ^ "Kshatravarman, Kṣatravarman, Kshatra-varman: 1 definition". www.wisdomlib.org. 9 March 2019.
  10. ^ "Kshatranjaya, Kṣatrañjaya: 1 definition". www.wisdomlib.org. 13 March 2019.
  11. ^ "Dhrishtaketu, Dhrishta-ketu, Dhṛṣṭaketu: 9 definitions". www.wisdomlib.org. 29 June 2012.
  12. ^ "Dhrishtadyumna, Dhrishta-dyumna, Dhṛṣṭadyumna: 9 definitions". www.wisdomlib.org. 29 June 2012.
  13. ^ Buck, William (2000). Mahabharata. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-22704-0.
  14. ^ "Dhrishtadyumna". Glorious Hinduism. 11 November 2016. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  15. ^ Vishwananda, Paramahamsa Sri Swami (12 January 2017). Shreemad Bhagavad Gita: The Song of Love. Bhakti Marga Publications. ISBN 978-3-940381-70-5.
  16. ^ Porwal, Gunjan (12 September 2018). Ashwatthama's Redemption: The Rise of Dandak. Om Books International. ISBN 978-93-5276-635-2.
  17. ^ K M Ganguly (1883-1896). The Mahabharatha Book 10: Sauptika Parva section 8 Ashwatthama killing Dhrishtadyumna, October 2003
  18. ^ Debroy, Bibek (June 2015). The Mahabharata, Volume 4. United Kingdom: Penguin Books.