The Mahabharata War, also known as the Kurukshetra War, is a central event in the ancient Indian epic, the Mahabharata. It represents the culmination of a long-standing feud between two branches of the Kuru dynasty: the Pandavas and the Kauravas. This epic war is said to have taken place in the field of Kurukshetra, in the modern state of Haryana, India. According to the epic, the war lasted for eighteen days and involved numerous kingdoms of the Indian subcontinent, who participated as allies of either the Pandavas or the Kauravas. Each side had its own unique strengths, including legendary warriors and strategic generals, which contributed to the epic scale and complexity of the war.

The Kaurava Army

Strengths and Numbers: The Kaurava army was massive, often cited as having 11 Akshauhinis (a unit of measure in ancient Indian warfare, with one Akshauhini consisting of 21,870 chariots; 21,870 elephants; 65,610 cavalry; and 109,350 infantry). This numerical superiority was one of their biggest advantages.

Key Generals:

Bhishma: The grandsire of both the Kauravas and Pandavas, he was the commander-in-chief for the first ten days of the war. Known for his invincibility, Bhishma was bound by a vow of celibacy and loyalty to the throne of Hastinapur, which led him to fight for the Kauravas.

Drona: The royal preceptor of both the Pandavas and Kauravas, Drona was an unparalleled archer and warrior. He took command after Bhishma’s fall and was known for his knowledge of divine weapons and warfare tactics.

Karna: A lifelong friend of Duryodhana and the secret half-brother of the Pandavas, Karna was known for his generosity and formidable skills as an archer. He became the commander after Drona and was one of the most formidable warriors on the battlefield.

The Pandava Army

Strengths and Numbers: The Pandava army consisted of 7 Akshauhinis. Though numerically inferior to the Kauravas, the Pandavas’ forces were highly motivated and led by some of the finest warriors of the age, which compensated for their smaller size.

Key Generals:

Dhrishtadyumna: The commander-in-chief of the Pandava army, Dhrishtadyumna was the son of Drupada, the King of Panchala, and had a personal vendetta against Drona, who had defeated his father in a previous conflict. He was prophesied to be the killer of Drona.

Arjuna: The third Pandava brother, Arjuna was considered one of the greatest archers and was a key warrior for the Pandavas. His charioteer was Lord Krishna, who offered his counsel and divine support but did not directly participate in the combat.

Bhima: The second Pandava brother, known for his immense strength and prowess in wielding the mace, Bhima was crucial in defeating many key warriors of the Kaurava side, including Duryodhana.

Strengths and Notable Features

Kaurava Strengths:

  • Numerical superiority
  • Presence of legendary warriors like Bhishma and Karna
  • Strong military formations and strategies, especially under Drona’s leadership

Pandava Strengths:

  • Strategic insight and divine counsel from Krishna
  • Motivated and unified under a righteous cause
  • Exceptional warriors like Arjuna and Bhima, who were pivotal in key battles

Both armies were a microcosm of the greatest military might of the time, featuring a vast array of weaponry, chariots, elephants, and cavalry, which were used in sophisticated and complex formations.

In spite of larger army and competent generals, Kauravas lost the war. Why? We will delve deeper to the causes and circumstances of the Kaurava defeat.

1 reply
  1. Anoop
    Anoop says:

    None of the legends (Mahamahim Bhishma, Guru Dhron, Angraaj Karnn and Duryodhana) died with samarthiya of Pandavas.. All died with Chal (Tricks) suggested by Lord Krishna to Pandavas. Lord Krishna supported Pandavas although Krishna knews very well and acknowledged Arjuna for everyone’s mistakes (Kauravawa and Pandavas). The purpose of Mahabharata was to destroy old beliefs and traditions in the name of Dharma and to recreate the definition of Dharma for the benefits of well being.. Everyone in Mahabharata has own reasons to opt for Dharma and Adharma ways perhaps both were right and wrong in some or other ways.. The Mahabharata is not just an epic it’s more of learning’s and reality of our society..


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