A lithograph of Virata in his court by Ravi Varma Press, 1920
FamilyShatanika, Vishalaksha


Suryadatta (brothers)
ChildrenShankha, Uttara (sons) and Uttarā (daughter)

Virata (Sanskrit: विराट, IAST virāṭa), was the king of the Matsya Kingdom, in whose court the Pandavas spent a year in concealment during their exile. Virata was married to Queen Sudeshna and was the father of Prince Uttara and Princess Uttarā, who married Abhimanyu, the son of Arjuna. Abhimanyu and Uttara's son Parikshit succeeded Yudhishthira on the throne of Hastinapura, after the war of Mahabharata. He is the titular character of the Virata Parva, the fourth book of the epic Mahabharata [1]


Virata was a good ruler. He was the incarnation of one of Maruts and his brother Shatanika was portion of Mitra. Virata also had Vishalaksha, Madirashva and Suryadatta as his brothers. In order of age, the siblings were Virata, Vishalaksha, Shatanika, Madirashva and Suryadatta. He married his commander-in-chief Kichaka's elder sister Sudeshna. Though he was a fierce warrior, he was afraid of Kichaka's might. So he obeyed all orders of Kichaka. He was warned by Kichaka that if he wouldn't obey his orders, he (Kichaka) will destroy his whole kingdom. He was unable to stop Kichaka when he was insulting Draupadi in disguise of Sairandhri. After Bhima killed Kichaka, Virata became independent. He also insulted Duryodhana who was blaming Virata for Kichaka's death. When Trigarta's king Susharma attacked him on Duryodhana's order from another direction, he fought with him bravely but when Susharma was about to kill him, he was saved by Bhima. His daughter Uttarā was married to Arjuna's son Abhimanyu whose son Parikshit succeeded Yudhishthira's throne.

Virata sitting on the throne watching Draupadi’s insult by Kichaka and is unable to take an action.
Virata sitting on the throne watching Draupadi’s insult by Kichaka and is unable to take an action.

Role in the Kurukshetra War and death

He supported Pandavas in the war. Before, the war Sahadeva preferred Virata to be the commander-in-chief of their army, but Yudhishthira and Arjuna preferred Dhrishtadyumna.

On the first day, his son Uttara was killed by Shalya, the king of Madra, leaving only Shankha. On the second day, an enraged Virata killed Shalya's son Madranjaya as revenge for Uttara. During the war, he fought Bhishma several times. On the seventh day, he confronted Drona but his horses, charioteer, banner and chariot were quickly destroyed by Drona. Then, he ran towards his son Shankha's chariot. Together, they managed to stop Drona's onslaught and wounded him. An enraged Drona shot a poisonous arrow at Shankha, killing him instantly. Virata, having no more sons left, fled the battlefield. During the night battle of the 14th day, he was killed by Dronacharya in a fierce battle, as per the BORI CE. In a different version, he was killed during a Kaurava attack in the Kurukshetra War along with his sons.

See also


  1. ^ Dowson, John (1888). A Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology and Religion, Geography, History, and Literature. Trubner & Co., London. p. 1.