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A picture showing the fighting of the vast armies in the Mahabharata War with the devas watching from above

Tribes in the Mahabharata War

The Kurukshetra war was the huge war of the epic Mahabharata. Most of the kingdoms of India participated in this 18-day war. Kingdoms from outside India like China and Iran also participated in the war.

Tribes which Participated


Pandava’s Side

  • Panchala- Their king Drupada was the Pandavas’ most important ally. They joined the Pandavas because Drupada’s daughter Draupadi was married to the Pandavas.
  • Kuntirastra- Their king Kuntibhoja sided with the Pandavas. They joined the Pandavas because Kuntibhoja was the foster father of Kunti.
  • Chedi- Their king Shishupal had an enmity with Krishna, but after his death his son Dhristaketu allied with the Pandavas. He allied with the Pandavas because Kunti’s sister was married to Dhristaketu’s grandfather.
  • Central Matsya – Their king Virata and his sons were allies of the Pandavas. They joined the Pandavas because Virata’s daughter Uttaraa was married to Abhimanyu.
  • Karusha- A important ally of the Pandavas. They joined the Pandavas because Kunti’s sister was married to the Karusha king’s father.
  • Somaka- They were a branch of the Panchalas led by Sutasoma. They joined the Pandavas because Sutasoma was the son of Bhima.
  • Kekeya- The five Kekeya first brought an Akshauni to the Kauravas, but when the Kauravas attacked their kingdom for resources, the five Kekaya brothers joined the Pandavas.
  • Pandya- Their king Malayadhvaja came to help the Pandavas.
  • Chola- They were ruled by Malayadhvaja, so they joined the Pandavas
  • Chera (Udrakeralas)- They were allied with the Pandavas.
  • Kasi- The Kasi king Abhibhu with his two sons was on the Pandava side. They joined the Pandavas because Abhibhu’s sister Jallandharaa was married to Bhima.
  • Ashmaka- They were yadavas who fought for the Pandavas.
  • Kulinda- Sided with Pandavas and attacked Kauravas with strong elephants.
  • Patachchara- They first joined the Kauravas, but then defected to the Pandava side along with Krathaputra of the Suparsas.
  • Srinjaya- They were a branch of the Panchalas led by Drupada.
  • Malla- Their king Deerghpragya came to the Pandavas. They fought for the Pandavas because they worshiped Kunti, they often associated with Bhima, they were promoted to the ranks of Kshatriya by Yudhisitra, and Yudhisitra set up a kingdom for them.
  • Ashwamedha- Their king Rochamana fought Bheem in Rajasuya campaign and chose Pandava side.
  • Vrishnis- They were Yadavas who ruled in Anarta. They joined the Pandava forces because their leader Satyaki was Arjuna’s disciple.
  • Dravida- Southern tribe who sided with the Pandavas.
  • Nishada- There were several Nishada kingdoms. The Nishada kingdoms under Manimana and Ekalavya’s son joined the Pandavas.
  • Southern Nishada- They ruled in South India and joined the Pandavas.
  • Parama Kamboja- They brought 6000 troops to the Pandavas.
  • Ulluka- Their king Vrihanta was a major ally of the Kauravas and was part of the Bahlika federation, but chose the Pandavas.
  • Kumara- Their king Srenimata chose Pandavas.
  • Prabhadraka- A Panchala tribe that sided with Pandavas.
  • Southern Matsya- They were ruled by the brothers and kinsmen of Virata, so they sided with the Pandavas.
  • Rakshasas- Their king Ghatotgacha was the son of Bhima, so they joined the Pandavas.
  • Nagas- Their leader Iravan was Arjuna’s son, so they helped the Pandavas.

Kaurava’s Side

  • Kuru- Kauravas were from that tribe.
  • Trigarta (Sampshapatakas)- Their king Susharma along with his brothers was an important ally of the Kauravas. They joined the Kauravas because they were related to Dronacharya.
  • Vatadhana- Their king was captured and their army was forced to fight with the Kauravas.
  • Sivi- They were under Jayadratha who was an ally of the Kauravas.
  • Sauvira- They were under the control of Jayadratha who was a Kaurava ally.
  • Sindhu- This was the kingdom of Jayadratha, an ally of the Kauravas. He fought for the Kauravas because Dushala was married to him.
  • Kuru-Vahlika- They were descended from Bahlika, the brother of Shantanu. Many other tribes joined the Kauravas because they joined.
  • Pragjyotisha- Their king Bhagdatta was an ally of the Kauravas.
  • Gandhara- Their king Shakuni was the 100 brothers’ uncle and the main plotter of the schemes of the Kauravas.
  • Madra- Their king Shalya was siding with the Pandavas, but was tricked into fighting with the Kauravas.
  • Salwa- They fought on the Kaurava’s side.
  • Amvastha- Important ally of the Kauravas. They joined the Kauravas because they were part of the Bahlika family.
  • Tushara- A northern tribe that sided with the Kauravas.
  • Kambhoja- Their king Sudakshina was a friend of Duryodhana, so he chose Kauravas. He was also part of the Bahlika family.
  • Saka- Northwestern tribe that was under Bhagdatta, a Kuru ally.
  • Yavana- They fought on Kaurava side.
  • Kalinga- Their king Shrutayus chose the Kauravas. They joined the Kauravas because they had been defeated by Yudhistira several times in the past for their unrighteous deeds, so they wanted revenge.
  • Anga- Their king Karna was a friend of Duryodhana and supported the Kauravas in the Great War.
  • Vanga- They brought elephants for the Kauravas. They joined the Kauravas because they had been defeated by Yudhistira several times in the past for their unrighteous deeds, so they wanted revenge.
  • Sinhala- They ruled a colonial kingdom of Vanga, so they joined the Kauravas.
  • Nishada- The Kalinga royal family ruled over them, so they sided with the Kauravas.
  • Avanti- The rulers of Avanti, Vinda and Anuvinda were close friends of Duryodhana. They also had enmity with Krishna, so they joined the Kauravas.
  • Vasati- Their king Vasatiya was a close cousin of the Kauravas.
  • Pulinda- They were dwellers of the Vindhya Range and chose the Kauravas.
  • Mahishmati (Heheya)- Their ruler Nila Duryodhana was on the Kaurava’s side. They chose the Kauravas because Nila Duryodhana had been defeated by Sahadeva in his military campaign, so he wanted revenge on Sahadeva due to his arrogance.
  • Kosala- Their king Vrihadvala sided with Duryodhana and brought 10,000 chariots.
  • Nishada- They were ruled by the same royal family that ruled the Kalingas and chose the Kauravas. They joined becuase of their enmity with Kuntibhoja and the Karushas.
  • Andhaka- They were headed by Kritavarman and were the only Yadavas on the Kaurava’s side.
  • Andhra- They fought for Duryodhana and the Kauravas.
  • Abhisara- They joined the Kauravas because their rulers were part of the Bahlika family.
  • Abhira- Abhira king Chitra and his brother Chitrasena sided with the Kauravas.
  • Karnapravarna- Joined the Kaurava forces.
  • Kitavas- They were headed by Shakuni’s son Ulluka.
  • Southern Kuntala- They sided with the Kauravas.
  • Khasa- A northern tribe that chose the Kauravas in the great war.
  • Kirata- They were under Bhagdatta’s control, who was a Kaurava ally.
  • China- They were part of Bhagdatta’s army.
  • Tundireka- Sided with the Kauravas.
  • Pahlava- A northern tribe that sided with the Pandavas.
  • Parada/Parataka- A northern that was in the Kaurava forces.
  • Eastern Vangas- They brought elephants to the Kuru forces.
  • Surasena- They were from Mathura and helped the Kauravas in the Kurukshetra war.
  • Simhala- A kingdom near Lanka that joined the Kauravas.
  • Surashtra- A kingdom near Dwarka that sided with Duryodhana.
  • Mekala- Mekalas fought on the Kaurava side.
  • Pragjyotisha- This was the kingdom of Bhagdatta, who was an ally of the Pandavas.
  • Prasthala- They were a branch of the Trigartas.
  • Tamralipti- Their king Samudrasena chose Kauravas.
  • Rakshasas- Two Rakshasa kings (viz. Alayudha and Alambusha) joined the Kauravas because Danavas preferred the Kauravas.
  • Kekaya- The 5 Kekaya brothers eventually joined the Pandavas, but Vind and Anuvind, another set of brothers from the Kekaya family, chose the Kauravas.
  • Nishadha- They fought for the Kauravas.

Neutral Tribes


  • Vidarbha- Their king Rukmi asked both sides if they wanted his help, but both sides declined.
  • Kasmira- They were defeated by Arjuna and did not participate in war.
  • Kichaka- They were under Matsya control and their king Keechaka was killed by Bheema. They did not participate in the Kurukshetra war.
  • Mahishaka- They did not participate in the war.
  • Videha- They did not participate in the war because of their small army.

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