The three main Kaurava.jpg
Vikarna sitting at the corner (right) with Duryodhana (centre) and Dussasana (left)
WeaponBow and Arrow
FamilyDhritarashtra (father)
Gandhari (mother)
Duryodhana, Dushasana, Chitrasena, 96 other (brothers), Duhsala (sister) and Yuyutsu (half-brother) (siblings)
SpouseMridula (Kashi Princess)
RelativesPandavas (paternal cousins)
Shakuni (maternal uncle)

In the Hindu epic Mahabharata, Vikarna (Sanskrit: विकर्ण) was the third Kaurava, a son of Dhritarashtra and Gandhari, and a brother to the crown prince Duryodhana. Vikarna is also referred to as the third-most reputable of the Kauravas.[1] Vikarna was the only Kaurava who opposed the humiliation of Draupadi, the wife of his cousins of the Pandavas after Yudhisthira lost her freedom in a game of dice to Duryodhana.[2]


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The word Vikarna has two meanings. Basically it is made from two words. First word is vinā (विना) or vishāla (विशाल), while second word is karna (कर्ण. vinā means 'without' and vishāla means 'large'. And karna means 'ears'. So this name contains two meanings. Either it is 'the one who is earless' or 'large eared'. This could say something about his character. It is possible that the name Vikarna basically came from his character of either not listening to anyone(self-esteemed) or who listens and captures wisdom through his (large)ears.


Vikarna was one of Drona's students who excelled in archery like Arjuna. On completing their training, Drona asked the Kauravas to bring him Drupada as a guru dakshina. Duryodhana, Dushasana, Yuyutsu, Vikarna, and the remaining Kauravas with the Hastinapura army attacked Panchala. Their attack was repelled. Vikarna and his brothers were forced to flee and abandon the field. Vikarna was married to Sudeshnavati of Kashi Princess and they had a daughter named Durga. Durga is married to Karna's son, Satyasena. [3]

Game of dice

During the infamous dice game of the Mahabharata, Vikarna raised his voice against the game as a whole, and specifically, at the mistreatment of Draupadi, his sister-in-law. Vikarna echoed the questions Draupadi had already asked the Kuru elders, demanding that her questions be answered. His protests were met with silence, even from the wise elders like Bhishma and Drona.

In the silence, and depending on the version of the story, Karna later rebuked and taunted Vikarna for his outburst. Vikarna quietly replied:

The sister-in-law's insult is an affront to the entire Kuru clan. If her questions are not answered, our line is doomed.

— Vikarna, [4]


Despite his misgivings, Vikarna fights for Duryodhana during the Kurukshetra War. Bhishma names him as one of the great warriors on the Kaurava side. Mentioned throughout the war, Vikarna has a few notable moments. On the fourth day of the war, he attempts to check Abhimanyu's advance, and is severely repulsed. On the fifth day of the war, he attempts to break the King of Mahismati's defense of the Pandava formation, and is unsuccessful. On the seventh day, he covers the retreat of his brothers from Bhima's rampage. On the same day he stops and repulses Drupada and Shikandi and wounds them badly, causing them to retreat. On the tenth day, he attempts to prevent Arjuna and Shikhandi from reaching Bhishma, but is counter-checked by Drupada.

On the thirteenth day of the war, depending on the version of the story, Vikarna is either a silent bystander in the slaying of Abhimanyu or an active participant. On the fourteenth day, Arjuna navigates the chakravyuha of Drona, in order to reach and kill Jayadratha before sunset. Duryodhana sends Vikarna to check Bhima's advance. Bhima, who had sworn to kill all of Dhritarashtra's true-born sons, calls Vikarna a man of dharma and advises him to step aside. Vikarna replies that even though he knew that the Kauravas would not win a war against a side with Krishna on it, he could not forsake Duryodhana. Pleadingly, Bhima reminds him of the dice game, where Vikarna had criticised his brother. Vikarna replied:

That was my duty then, and this is my duty now. Fight me, o son of Vayu!

— Vikarna challenging Bhima, [4]

Bhima quickly dispatches Vikarna; in some versions of the story Vikarna asks for Bhima to perform his last rites. His death brings tears to the eyes of Bhima. After his death, Bhima laments:

Alas, O Vikarna, you were just and knew what was dharma! You fought in loyal obedience to the call of duty. Indeed this battle is a curse upon us wherein men like you...have had to be slaughtered.

— Bhima upon Vikarna's death


Vikarna is somewhat comparable to Kumbhakarna from the Ramayana. Both Vikarna and Kumbhakarna acknowledged that their elder brother's actions are against dharma but ultimately they remained loyal to Duryodhana and Ravana respectively. Yuyutsu had the same ideology and mindset that of Vikarna. Yuyutsu also felt that Duryodhana's actions are wrong; however, he defected to Pandavas at the onset of Kurukshetra war; Yuyutsu's equivalent in the Ramayana is Vibhishana.[5]


  1. ^ Shankar, Uday (18 April 2021). Untold Tales from the Mahabharata: The Epic Beyond the Obvious. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 978-93-90358-44-1.
  2. ^ Krishnan, S. A. (1 July 2017). Karna, the son of Kunti: Stories from the Mahabharatha. SA Krishnan.
  3. ^ The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa, trl. into English by P.C. Roy, New Delhi 1972, pp. 291-92
  4. ^ a b Rajagopalachari, C. (1974). Mahabharata. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  5. ^ Critical Perspectives on the Rāmāyaṇa. Jaydipsinh Dodiya Sarup & Sons, Jan 1, 2001 - Hindu literature, Sanskrit - 297 pages