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Pandava Army Layout

The Pandava had 9 graded ranks of officers in the Mahabharata war. They had 7 ranks of units of army that made up there entire army. Pandavas grouped all there forces under seven Akshaunis.

Pandava Army Layout


Smallest unit for the Pandava army was a Sena, or in modern equivalent a platoon. A Sena consisted of of 9 chariots, 9 elephants, 27 horsemen and 45 foot-soldiers. There were 90 soldiers in a Sena including charioteers. The officer in command of each Sena was called a Senanayaka or in modern equivalent a Lieutenant.

Three Senas made up a Vahini or in modern equivalent a company. Each Vahini is commanded by the officer rank of Vahinipati or in modern equivalent a Captain.

Three Vahinis make up a Prataana or in modern equivalent a battallion. Each Praatana would be commanded by the officer rank of Prataanartha or a battalion commander. In modern equivalent a Prataanatha is a Major.

Three Prataanas make a Dhwajini or flagged force and in modern equivalent a Dhwajini is regiment. Each Dhwajini is commanded by the officer rank of Dhwajapala or in modern equivalent a Colonel.

Three Dhwajinis make a Chamu or in modern equivalent a division. Each Chamu is led by a Chamupati or division leader and in modern equivalent a Brigadier. Some known Chamupatis in Kurukshetra war are Satanika, Virata’s brother and Maghadaraja.

Three Chamus make a Varuthini or a Corps in modern equivalent. Each Varuthini is led by a Varuthinirata or in modern equivalent a Major General.

Ten Varuthinis make up a Akshauni or in modern equivalent an army. An Akshauni consisted of 21,870 chariots, 21,870 elephants, 65,610 horsemen, 109,350 foot soldiers. This is a ratio of 1:1:3:5. Each Akshauni is led by an Akshaunipati or in modern equivalent a Lt general. Pandavas had several huge Akshaunis. The following are the Pandava Akshaunis and why they joined the Pandavas.

  • 1 Akshauni from Panchala from Drupada
    • Joined the Pandava side because Drupada’s daughter Draupadi was married to the Pandavas
  • 1 Akshauni from Central Matsya/Southern Matsya from Virata
    • Joined the Pandava side because Virata’s daughter Uttaraa was married to Abhimanyu and because the Pandavas stayed at his kingdom during their incognito year
  • 1 Akshauni from Kasi from Abhibhu
    • Joined the Pandavas because Arjuna had given Abhibhu’s father Subahu territories and because Bhima was married to Jallandharaa, Abhibhu’s sister
  • 1 Akshauni from Sivi from Govishana
    • Joined the Pandavas because Yudhistira was married to Devika, Govishana’s daughter
  • 1 Akshauni from Chedi from Dhristaketu
    • Joined the Pandavas because Dhristaketu’s grandfather Damghosha was married to Kunti’s sister
  • 1 Akshauni from Maghada from Sehdeva
  • 1 Akshauni from Malla from Deerghapragya
    • Joined Pandava side because they worshipped Kunti, they often associated with Bhima, and because Yudhistira promoted them to the rank of Kshatriyas and set up a kingdom for them
  • 1 Akshauni from Dasarna from Sudhraman
    • Joined the Pandava side because, during Bhima’s military campaign, Sudhraman was the commander of his army
  • 1 Akshauni from Pandya/Chola from Malayadhwaja
  • 1 Akshauni from Anarta Federation from Satyaki
    • Joined the Pandavas because Satyaki was Kunti’s grand nephew
  • 1 Rakshasa Akshauni from Ghatotgacha
    • Joined Pandavas because Ghatotgacha was son on Bhima
  • 1 Akshauni from Kekeya from Chekitana
    • Joined the Pandava side because Chekitana was the grandson of Kunti’s sister
  • Half Akshauni from Abhimanyu
    • Joined Pandava side because Abhimanyu was Arjuna’s son
  • 6,000 Infantry from Parama Kamboja

All of these armies add up to around 11+ Akshaunis. Only seven Akshaunis were front-line Akshaunis. 40,000 rathas, 60,000 elephants, 200,000 horses and 400,000 men were all reserved for later in the Pandava army. This adds up to 2-4 Akshaunis of reserved army. So 2-4 Akshaunis were reserved and 7 Akshaunis were front-line.

Commanding all of then was the Commander-in-Chief. On the first day the Commander-in-Chief was Shweta. But, he was killed by Bhishma on the first day of war. The next Commander-in-Chief of the Pandava army was Dhristadyumna, who remained Commander-in-Chief throughout the war.

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