One of the Pandava twins, probably Sahadeva.jpg
Painting of Sahadeva
Personal Information
AffiliationPandavas and Ashvineya
Brother (Madri)
Step-Brothers (Kunti)
  • Kauravas (Paternal Cousins)
  • Vijaya (Maternal Cousin, later second wife)

Sahadeva (Sanskrit: सहदेव) was the youngest of the Pandava brothers, the five principal protagonists of the epic Mahabharata. He and his twin brother, Nakula, were blessed to King Pandu and Queen Madri by invoking the twin gods Ashvins. Sahadeva is described to be skilled in swordsmanship and astrology. During the Kurukshetra War, he slew many warriors including Shakuni.


The word sahadeva is derived from two Sanskrit words saha (सह) and deva (देव). Saha means with and deva is a Hindu term used for deity. So literally, Sahadeva means with Gods. Another meaning is thousand Gods. Sahadeva and his brother Nakula, are both called as Ashvineya (आश्विनेय), as they were born from Ashvins.[2]

Birth and early years

Due to Pandu's inability to bear children (because of the curse of Rishi Kindama), Madri had to use the boon given to Kunti Devi by Sage Durvasa to give birth, who invoked the Ashwini Kumaras to beget Nakula and Sahadeva.[3]

Later, Pandu died due to his Kindama's curse when he attempted to make love with his wife. Madri handled her children to Kunti and committed sati. Kunti raised him along with his brothers in Hastinapura with love and care. It is believed that Sahadeva was Kunti's favourite Pandava, in spite of not being her biological son.[4] It is also believed that Sahadeva was an incarnation of Shukra, the guru of the asuras.

Sahadeva and his brothers went to Hastinapura where they were instructed by Drona and Kripa in weapons. He mastered his skills in fencing and axe fighting. He also acquired the Nitishastra from Brihaspati, Guru of the Devas.

Marriage and children

Later, Kunti and the five Pandavas moved to Hastinapura. Sahadeva's core skill was the wielding of the sword.[5] Sahadeva is said to be mild-mannered, bashful, patient, and virtuous in every aspect, except he was arrogant about his wisdom and his spiritual knowledge.[6]

Sahadeva had two wives: Draupadi, the common wife of the Pandavas, and Vijaya, whom he married. Sahadeva's son with Draupadi was Shrutasena and his son with his other wife Vijaya was Suhotra. Vijaya chose Sahadeva in her swayamvara, and hence their marriage was arranged. Vijaya was Sahadeva's maternal cousin.

Suhotra was Queen Vijaya and Sahadeva's son. They lived in Madra after the events of the Mahabharata.

Conquest for Rajasuya

Sahadeva's military expedition to the southern kingdoms, as per epic Mahabharata.
Sahadeva's military expedition to the southern kingdoms, as per epic Mahabharata.

Sahadeva was sent south by the eldest Pandava Yudhishthira to subjugate kingdoms for the Rajasuya sacrifice, after crowning as the Emperor of Indraprastha. He was specifically chosen for the south because of his expertise with the sword, and because Bhishma opined that Southerners are skilled with sword-fighting in general. he Mahabharata mentions several kingdoms to the south of Indraprastha which were conquered by Sahadeva. Some of them are as under:[7]


Sahadeva works as a cowherd in exile.
Sahadeva works as a cowherd in exile.

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.

In the 13th year, Sahadeva disguised himself as a Vaishya and assumed the name of Tantripal (within themselves Pandavas called him Jayadbala) at the Kingdom of Virata.[8] He worked as a cowherd who supervised the maintenance and upkeep of all cows in Virata's kingdom.

Role in the Kurukshetra War

Sahadeva was very good in Astrology. Weeks before the war, Prince Duryodhana, on the advice of Shakuni approached Sahadeva in order to seek the right time (muhurta) to start the Mahabharata war so that the Kauravas will be victorious. Duryodhana offered to spare Sahadeva and his twin after the war and make them kings in exchange. Sahadeva declined his offer but disclosed the date for the Kauravas in spite of knowing that Kauravas were their enemy, as Sahadeva was known to be very honest in his profession. Then, Krishna planned to create an eclipse much before the beginning of the war. In the meantime, both Sun and Moon got shocked by Krishna's thoughts and appeared before Krishna stating that this will create a huge imbalance in the entire Universe. Then, Krishna declared that as Earth, Moon and Sun are together in one place, this in itself was an eclipse. Even before the great war, Duryodhana would always ask Sahadeva about his future and Sahadeva would tell his future. He was the most favourite Pandava of Duryodhana.

Sahadeva desired Virata to be the general of the Pandava army, but Yudhishthira and Arjuna opted for Dhristadyumna.[9] His conch was called Manipushpaka.

As a warrior, Sahadeva slew prominent warriors of the enemy side. The flag of Sahadeva's chariot bore the image of a silver swan. He defeated 40 brothers of Duryodhana while fighting them simultaneously. On the 13th day, his advance into the Chakravyuha was stopped and repelled by Jayadratha. On the night of the 14th day, he was defeated by Karna but his life was spared as Karna had made a promise to Kunti that he would only kill Arjuna. [10][11] During the gambling loss, he took an oath of slaying Shakuni. He accomplished this task successfully on the 18th day of battle. Among other prominent warriors killed by Sahadeva were Shakuni's Son on the 18th day and also Shalya's son on the same day and Trigata Prince Niramitra on the 14th day.

Later life and death

After the war, Yudhishthira appointed Nakula as king of Northern and Sahadeva as the Kings of southern Madra.[12]

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

Except for Yudhishthira, all of the Pandavas grew weak and died before reaching heaven. Sahadeva was the second one to fall after Draupadi. When Bhima asked Yudhishthira why Sahadeva fell, Yudhishthira replied that Sahadeva took much pride in his wisdom.[13]


In the media


  1. ^ "The Mahabharata, Book 1: Adi Parva: Sambhava Parva: Section XCV". Archived from the original on 16 January 2010. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  2. ^ Gopal, Madan (1990). K.S. Gautam (ed.). India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 73.
  3. ^ "The five Pandavas and the story of their birth". Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  4. ^ Fang, Liaw Yock (2013). A History of Classical Malay Literature. Institute of Southeast Asian. ISBN 978-981-4459-88-4.
  5. ^ A. van Nooten, Barend. The Mahābhārata; attributed to Kṛṣṇa Dvaipāyana Vyāsa Volume 131 of Twayne's world authors series: India.
  6. ^ "Mahabharata Text".
  7. ^ "Mahabharata Text".
  8. ^ Subodh Kapoor, ed. (2002). The Indian encyclopedia: biographical, historical, religious, administrative, ethnological, commercial and scientific (1st ed.). New Delhi: Cosmo Publications. p. 4462. ISBN 9788177552713.
  9. ^ Menon, [translated by] Ramesh (2006). The Mahabharata : a modern rendering. New York: iUniverse, Inc. p. 88. ISBN 9780595401888.
  10. ^ "Mahabharata Text".
  11. ^ Subodh Kapoor, ed. (2002). The Indian encyclopaedia : biographical, historical, religious, administrative, ethnological, commercial and scientific (1st ed.). New Delhi: Cosmo Publications. p. 4462. ISBN 9788177552713.
  12. ^ "Mahabharata Text".
  13. ^ Mahabharata Text