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Ravi Varma-Arjuna and Subhadra.jpg
Arjuna and Subhadra. Painting by Raja Ravi Varma
Other namesBhadra, Chitra
TextsMahabharata, Bhagavata Purana, Brahma Purana
Personal information

Subhadra (Sanskrit: सुभद्रा, romanizedSubhadrā) is a Hindu goddess mentioned in ancient Hindu scriptures like the Mahabharata and the Bhagavata Purana. She is described as the favourite child of Vasudeva and the younger sister of deities Krishna and Balarama. According to the Mahabharata, Arjuna—one of the Pandava brothers—married her, with whom she bore one son, Abhimanyu.

Subhadra is one of the three deities worshipped at the Jagannath Temple at Puri, along with Krishna (as Jagannatha) and Balarama (or Balabhadra). One of the chariots in the annual Ratha Yatra is dedicated to her.

Etymology and epithets

The word 'Subhadra' is made up of two words 'su' and 'bhadra'. Many scholars translate this name into 'glorious', 'fortunate', 'splendid' or 'auspicious'.[1]

Subhadra is often identified with the Vrishni goddess Ekanamsha, and thus it is considered as her other name.[4][5]


Arjuna abducts Subhadra with Krishna's consent.
Arjuna abducts Subhadra with Krishna's consent.

When Arjuna was in the midst of self-imposed pilgrimage, for breaking terms of the agreement he had with his brothers regarding private time with their common wife Draupadi. After he reached the city of Dvaraka and met Krishna, he attended a festival held at Raivata mountain. There Arjuna saw his first cousin Subhadra and was smitten by her beauty and wished to marry her. Krishna revealed that she was Vasudeva's and Rohini's child, and his sister. Krishna stated that he couldn't predict Subhadra's decision at her swayamvara (self choice ceremony) and advised Arjuna to elope with Subhadra. After Arjuna sent a letter to Yudhishthira for permission, he drove a chariot to the hills and took the smiling Subhadra with him. After Subhadra's guards unsuccessfully attempted to stop them, the Yadavas, the Vrishnis, and the Andhakas held a meeting to discuss the matter. After Krishna comforted them, they agreed, and thus, Arjuna married Subhadra with Vedic rituals.[3][6]

Subhadra elopes from Dvaraka with her lover, Arjuna.
Subhadra elopes from Dvaraka with her lover, Arjuna.

The Bhagavata Purana narrates about Balarama's picking of Duryodhana as Subhadra’s groom without taking her consent. Knowing that after getting the news of Subhadra's to elope, Balarama would wage a war against Arjuna, Krishna decided he will be the charioteer for Arjuna. Arjuna proceeds to take Subhadra and with Krishna, in tow, they leave. After getting the news that Subhadra has eloped with Arjuna. Finally, Balarama consents and conduct the marriage of Subhadra with Arjuna in Dvaraka.[7]

However, the interpretation of the Mahabharata referred to as the 'Southern Recension' totally differs in presenting the Subhadra Harana Parva. It is a love story, not one-sided but from both sides. It is also a bit more elaborated on the event. As soon as Arjuna reaches Prabhasa, he remembers Gada’s words, describing Subhadra’s beauty and virtues. He takes the form of an ascetic, sits under a Vata Vriksha, thinking about Subhadra. He feels that with the help of Krishna, he can get Subhadra as his wife. Meanwhile in Dvaraka, Krishna smiles in his sleep and Satyabhama asks him the reason for his happiness. He tells her about the situation of Arjuna. Thereafter, Krishna gets up and reaches Prabhasa, where he meets Arjuna and takes him to the Raivataka mountain. After a few days, all the prominent Yadavas happened to go to Raivataka to celebrate a festival. Arjuna and Krishna roamed together. Subhadra also arrives there, and Arjuna gets enchanted by her beauty. Krishna teases Arjuna, reminding him of his ascetic status. Krishna then suggests Arjuna to take Subhadra with him, as it is acceptable for Kshatriyas. Balarama meets the ascetic, honours him, and invites him to live in the gardens of Subhadra. Subhadra starts tending to every need of the ascetic. Arjuna, on the other hand, is passionately in love on seeing Subhadra before his own eyes. Subhadra observes him and finds the similarity of Arjuna, her aunt’s son, about whom she has heard from Gada and Krishna. One evening, Subhadra starts enquiring the young ascetic about Indraprastha, and the third Pandava prince. Arjuna immediately reveals his identity. A great ritual for Shiva is planned at an island near Dvaraka. All the Yadavas, with Balarama at the head, leave for worship. Seeing the opportunity, Arjuna elopes with Subhadra, and marries her. Indra and Shachi descend to perform the wedding rituals.[8]

Impression on Draupadi

Subhadra meets Draupadi and Kunti
Subhadra meets Draupadi and Kunti

When Arjuna returned from his exile to Indraprastha along with Subhadra, he was welcomed by Kunti and his brothers. When he asked about Draupadi, his brothers told him that she is in rage and doesn't want to meet anybody. To save her husband from Draupadi's rage, Subhadra went to the chamber of the fire born empress in the attire of a simple cowherd. When Draupadi asked who she was, Subhadra replied that she is her maid. Subhadra then fell down to Draupadi's feet and told her that she never wants to replace her. After such humility, Draupadi hugged Subhadra and accepted her as a younger sister.[9]


Subhadra in the middle with her brothers Balabhadra (Balarama) and Jagannath (Krishna)
Subhadra in the middle with her brothers Balabhadra (Balarama) and Jagannath (Krishna)
Subhadra (in Jagannath Temple, Puri)
Subhadra (in Jagannath Temple, Puri)

Subhadra is one of the three deities worshipped at the Jagannath temple at Puri, along with Krishna (as Jagannatha) and Balarama (or Balabhadra). One of the chariots in the annual Ratha Yatra is dedicated to her. Apart from it she is also believed to be worshipped by certain communities in Odisha, West Bengal, Gujarat and Bangladesh.*[10]

There is a village called Bhadrajun in the western part of Rajasthan where Subhadra is worshiped as Dhumda mata since the time of Mahabharata. It is believed that, after eloping with her lover Arjuna and a gruelling journey of three days, the couple got married here.[11]

Many Hindus believe Subhadra to be the reincarnation of goddess Yogmaya who took birth to save Krishna’s life from the wicked Kamsa[12][5]

Balarama, Lakshmi (Subhadra), Vasudev (Krishna, Jagannath) idols in early 11th century
Balarama, Lakshmi (Subhadra), Vasudev (Krishna, Jagannath) idols in early 11th century

In some texts like the Brahma Purana and the Garga Samhita, Subhadra is mentioned as Devi Shatarupa with Arjuna being Svayambhuva Manu. She is also worshiped as Mata Bhuvaneshvari in some sects. Apart from it, Subhadra is sometimes linked with Goddess Lakshmi by some Vaishnavas.


After Parikshit was seated on the throne, while leaving for heaven, Yudhishthira gave the responsibility of keeping both the kingdoms Hastinapura ruled by her grandson and Indraprastha being ruled by Vajranabha, great-grandson of her brother Krishna in harmony. There is no specific mention in the epic about how and when she died but it is believed that after the Pandavas along with Draupadi reached heaven, Subhadra and her daughter-in-law (Uttarā) went to the forest to dwell the rest of their lives as hermits.[13]

In popular culture

See also



  1. ^ Monier-Williams, Leumann & Cappeller 1899, p. 1229.
  2. ^ Monier-Williams, Leumann & Cappeller 1899, p. 396.
  3. ^ a b c Ganguli 1883.
  4. ^ Hawley & Wulff 1982.
  5. ^ a b Ph.D 2016.
  6. ^ Mani 1975.
  7. ^ "Subhadra's marriage". The Hindu. 27 August 2019. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 23 November 2020.
  8. ^ Southern Recension Kumbhakonam Edition Adi Parva.
  9. ^ Srivastava 2017.
  10. ^ "Why Subhadra Is Worshipped With Krishna In Jagannath Yatra". July 2011. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  11. ^ "the history of the village of Bhadrajun". September 2009.
  12. ^ Krishnan, S. A. (20 May 2017). Abhimanyu: The Warrior Prince. SA Krishnan.
  13. ^ Mahaprasthanika Parva
  14. ^ Team, Tellychakkar. "Aanchal Goswami to enter 'RadhaKrishn Krishn – Arjun Gatha' as Subhadra". Retrieved 30 August 2020.