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.