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Title: Upapandavas  
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Subject: Ashwatthama, Chekitana, Kirateshwar Mahadev Temple, Samsaptakas, Ahilawati
Collection: Characters in the Mahabharata
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In the Hindu epic Mahabharata, the Upapandavas are the five sons born to Draupadi from each of the five Pandavas. They are Prativindhya, Satanika, Sutasoma, Srutasena and Srutakarma.[1][2] They fought the battle on the side of the Pandavas, but not much is said in the Mahabharata about the brothers except for fleeting mentions during the battle. However all five of them were killed by Ashwathama on the night of the last day of the war.


  • Prativindhya 1
  • Satanika 2
  • Sutasoma 3
  • Srutasena 4
  • Srutakarma 5
  • Death 6
  • Citations 7


Prativindhya or Shrutavindha(lit. related to the Buddhi[3]) was born to Yudhisthira and Draupadi and was the eldest of the Upapandavas. Presumably, he was the crown prince. He was left in Ekachakrapura when he was a baby and later token-battled his uncle Arjuna during Yudhishthira's Rajasuya Yajna campaign.

Some folklore holds him as the Avatar of Chitraratha the Gandharva.

During the infamous game of dice, his mother Draupadi asked that he and his brothers be never referred to as the children of slaves; his bloodright was hence restored.

In the Puranas, there is some mention of his son, Yaudheya. However, in the Mahabharata, Yaudheya was referred to as a son of Yudhishthira through Devika.

Some Indians believe that Yaudheya founded the Yaudheya dynasty. That tribe's coins from 1st century AD reveals they believed they were descended from Yudhishthira just as the Malavas were thought to be Bhima's descendants and Arjunayanas were thought to be Arjuna's descendants.

In the Indonesian Mahabharata, Prativindhya's son Kalimshada succeeds Dhritarashtra as King of Hastinapur and marries a princess from Kuntibhoja's family. His sister's son Vajra inherits Indraprastha; in this story, Parikshit's line is based at Kaushambi where we encounter them at dawn of Buddhist period. It is not clear whether Prativindhya or Kalimshada are the king in this version.

During the Kurukshetra war, he would be more than twenty-four years old (extrapolating from his age during the Rajasyua incident).


Satanika was born to Nakula and Draupadi. He was the second of the Upapandavas. He was named after a famous Rajarsi in the Kuru lineage who had that name and he was considered to be an avatar of Visvadevas. He being the oldest of the Upapandavas in the Kurukshetra War is also nominated as a deputy commander-in-chief of forces under Dhrishtadyumna, in charge of Vyuha planning.[4] He killed the Kaurava king/ally Bhutakarma.[5]


Sutasoma (lit. manifestation of the mind, suta: manifestation; soma: mind[6]), the son of Bhima and Draupadi was the third of the Upapandavas. He played a major role in the battle by nearly killing Shakuni. He played a major role along with Yudhisthira and other Upapandavas in holding off Arjuna and Bhima]

] on the 15th day.[7]

He was favored by Arjuna, who gave him a bow, and horses for his chariot.

In some Jataka tales, a Sutasoma, "price of the Kurus" gets into a moral argument with the man Kalmashapada, and helps him change his ways and regain his unspecified kingdom. Kalmashpada occurs frequently in stories of Panchala and Kosala and other kingdoms and stands for a corrupt cruel and adharmic king.

Like Prativindhya, some consider him the ancestor of the Malavas whose samvagari coins mention the Upapandavas founding Yaudheyas, Malavas and Arjunayanas, the three samvagari tribes.


Srutasena was born to Sahadeva and Draupadi and the fourth of the Upapandavas. He was defeated by Shakuni during the battle, he killed Shala, the younger brother of Bhurishravas.[8]


Srutakarma was the son born to Arjuna and Draupadi, the youngest of the Upapandavas, he was born definitely after the Arjuna's return from adventures and would be very young at time of battle. His horses were supposed to bear the colour of kingfishers.[9] He fought against Dushasana and Ashwatthama in the battle.


Ashwatthama propitiates Shiva before making a night attack on the Pandava camp

On the last night of the war after Duryodhana's death and Kaurava defeat, a very disturbed and restless Ashwatthama was sitting sleepless under a large tree. He observed that an owl which had been attacked and harassed by numerous crows in the morning, attacked the same group of crows at night. Taking this as a divine sign, he got the idea of attacking the Pandava camp at midnight.

He gathered the only other surviving Kaurava warriors - Kritavarma,Kripacharya and Vrishaketu attacked the Pandava camp on the 18th night of the Kurukshetra war. He killed Dhrishtadyumna, Shikhandi and many other prominent warriors of Pandava army while they were sleeping. Those who tried to flee from Ashwatthama's wrath were hacked down by Kripacharya and Kritavarma who were positioned at the camp's entrance.

He killed all the five Upapandavas during their sleep. In some versions of the story, he believes them to be the five Pandava brothers; in others, he purposefully attacks the Pandavas' heirs in order to hurt the Pandavas emotionally.

Many feel that this may be poetic allusion added later to explain the accession of Parikshit to throne. For example, the Pandavas have many children who are explicitly stated to be alive, yet it is Abhimanyu's line that inherits Hastinapur. More importantly, Karna was revealed to be Yudhishthira's older brother; the question arises why his son Vrishakethu, who was explicitly said to have not fought in the war, does not inherit the throne.

In the Jataka tales version of the Mahabhartha, Parikshit's mentors included both Sutasoma. Prativindhya, Shrutasoma and Shatanika at least (who even in Sauptika parva is shown as wounded not dead) have definite longer lives in Jatakas. In this version it is implied that Ashwatthama killed other children, like:

So, it could be that Devaka, Sarvaga and Nirmitra were the other three sons of Pandavas killed by Ashwathhama and as their mothers.

This is typical of Nine sons (& 18 grandsons) of Bhima by Rohini's daughters (who are mentioned fleetingly in Puranas but appear as major players in folk Mahabharatas and Meo stories). Other sons and grandsons of Bhima are major players in foreign mahabharatas and other folk stories. Draupadi's other sons (some born during exile and others after the war) appear in Vanniyar legends as founding fathers and in Karnataka Agni-vansha and Ghanta Pujari's legends.


  1. ^ Menon, [translated by] Ramesh (2006). The Mahabharata : a modern rendering. New York: iUniverse, Inc.  
  2. ^ translated; Buitenen, edited by J.A.B. van (1981). The Mahābhārata (Phoenix ed. ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.  
  3. ^ N.V., Thadani. The Mystery of the Mahabharata: Vol.4. 
  4. ^ Parmeshwaranand, Swami (2001). Encyclopaedic dictionary of Purāṇas (1st ed. ed.). New Delhi: Sarup & Sons.  
  5. ^ Parmeshwaranand, Swami (2001). Encyclopaedic dictionary of Purāṇas (1st ed. ed.). New Delhi: Sarup & Sons.  
  6. ^ N.V., Thadani. The Mystery of the Mahabharata: Vol.4. 
  7. ^ The Mahabharata.  
  8. ^ Parmeshwaranand, Swami (2001). Encyclopaedic dictionary of Purāṇas (1st ed. ed.). New Delhi: Sarup & Sons.  
  9. ^ .  
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