Sahadeva was the fifth Pandava. He played a major role in the Mahabharata. He was a son of Madri. She had invoked the Ashwini Kumaras using Kunti’s boon to have twin sons: Nakula and Sahadeva.
- Father: Pandu
- Mother: Madri
- Godly Father: Ashvins
- Brothers: Yudhistira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula
- Wives: Draupadi (Panchali), Vijaya
- Sons: Shrutasena, Suhotra
Once, King Pandu went hunting. He saw two dear and killed them with his arrows. As soon as he killed them, they turned into a rishi and his wife. Pandu was shocked. He realized that the two dear had been Kindama rishi and his wife in the form of dear. Kindama rishi was really mad and cursed Pandu that whenever he engages in intercourse with any women, he will die. A moment after, Kindama and his wife died from pain.
Pandu was really upset since he had killed a Brahmin who was a rishi. He decided to leave his post as king of Kuru kingdom. He and his two wives named Kunti and Madri left for the jungle. Pandu’s older blind brother, Dhitrastra was then coronated as king of Kuru. Dhitrastra them married Gandhari, the princess of Gandhara.
Due to his curse from Kindama rishi, Pandu could not have children. He was really upset. When she was small, Kunti was given a boon that she could have any children with any deva. Kunti used her boon. She had three children. Her first and oldest child was Yudhistira from Yama. Her second child was Bhima. He was the son of Vayu deva. Her third child was Arjuna from Indra deva.
One year after the birth of Arjuna, Pandu wanted more children. Kunti said that three children was enough. Meanwhile, Madri was filled with dismay and despair. Kunti already had 3 children when she had none. She didn’t say anything, but Pandu could tell she was upset from her mood.
After some time, she couldn’t bear it. She told Pandu, “Do you love Kunti more than me? She has three children while I have none. Please go tell Kunti to share the mantra with me so even I can have children.”
“I had a feeling this was going on in your mind, but I couldn’t be sure. Now that I’m sure, I will go ask Kunti. She will definitely listen,” Pandu assured.
Pandu went to Kunti and ask her the favour. Kunti was apprehensive, but agreed. She taught the incantation to Madri. Madri summoned the twin gods the Ashwini Kumaras. Soon, Nakula and Sahadeva were born to Madri. When they were born, a voice from the sky said that in vigor and beauty, the twins shall excel all. These five were called the five Pandavas.
One day, Pandu told Sahadeva that when he died, Sahadeva should eat his brain to become knowledgable.
Once, Pandu engaged in intercourse with Madri, forgetting about his curse. Immediatly, Pandu died. Madri was so depressed that she also killed herself. Kunti and the five Pandavas were really depressed. A funeral was performed for Madri and Pandu.
As Pandu’s body was burning, Sahadeva remembered what Pandu had told him about eating his brain when he died. Sahadeva wanted to obey his father’s orders, so he took Pandu’s brain and ran into the forest. He took one bite and became enlightened about everything that had happened in the past. With a second bite, he became enlightened about the present. With a third bite, he became enlightened with the knowledge of the future. Krishna, who was at Mathura at that time, knew that Sahadeva had been enlightened with the knowledge with the knowledge of the past, present and future. He immediately appeared at the place where was Sahadeva was in the disguise of a Brahmin. He started running after Sahadeva. Even though he was a little boy, Sahadeva realized that the brahmin was Krishna, the Supreme Lord. Krishna said,” Don’t ever tell anybody what you know about the past, present and future. Sahadeva agreed. He also said,” You have to agree to my request also.” The request was that Krishna would always protect Sahadeva and his four brothers. Krishna agreed to fulfill Sahadeva’s wish.
Kunti and the 5 Pandavas were brought to Hastinapura by Vidura and Bhishma to Hastinapura, the capital of Kuru kingdom. The Pandavas were given a horrible greeting by the 100 Kauravas, the sons of Dhitrastra and Gandhari. Shakuni, Gandhari’s brother, had poisoned their mind and turned them against the Pandavas. Slowly an enmity developed between the Pandavas and Kauravas. Whenever the Pandavas and Kauravas played games together, the superior capabilities of the Pandavas would always show.
The Kauravas became frustrated with the Pandavas, especially Bhima. They made many schemes to end the lives of Bhima. But ultimately, all of these ploys were unsuccessful.
Dhitrastra realized that the Pandavas and Kauravas were wasting their time with useless activities. He appointed Kripacharya, the royal preceptor, as the teacher of the princes. He taught the princes how to use weapons.
After the princes completed their short education with Kripacharya, Dhitrastra wanted to give the princes a higher education. He started searching for a teacher who was a master at weaponry.
Meanwhile, Dronacharya, the son of Bharadwaja, and his family had recently moved to Hastinapura. They stayed in the house of Kripa. Ashwastamma often helped Kripa give lessons about weaponry to the princes.
Once, the Pandavas and Kauravas were playing ball outside the palace. The ball accidentally fell into a nearby well. Everybody tried to take it out but it was to deep. At that moment, Drona arrived at the scene. He said, “If you promise me dinner today, then I shall remove this ball from the well and this ring which I am going to drop.”
Saying that, Drona dropped his ring into the well. He then threw a blade of grass at the ball and pierced it. He then pierced the blade of grass with another blade of grass and continued this until a chain was formed. Using the chain, he easily removed the ball. He then removed the ring by using an arrow.
The Pandavas were astonished by this impossible feat. They quickly went and told Bhishma about what had happened. Bhishma instantly knew that his was none other than Dronacharya. Drona went to the palace and personally met Bhishma. He told Bhishma about all that had happened. Bhishma, who had been searching for a teacher for the princes, asked Dronacharya to become their teacher. Dronacharya readily agreed.
Bhishma built a house for Drona to live in. The Pandavas and Kauravas were taken to this house and their education commenced. Dronacharya imparted scriptural and combat knowledge to the Pandavas and Kauravas. By the end, Sahadeva had become formidable at swordsmanship.
In a short time, the education of the Pandava and Kaurava princes was complete. To display their skills to the Kuru elders, Dronacharya hosted a tournament. A grand stage and hall was constructed. The day of the demonstration arrived and the entire royal family and the citizens gathered in the arena. The princes entered one-by-one and each exhibited their skills. In this tournament, Karna would enter the epic and he would display his archery skill, challenging Arjuna.
When the Pandavas and Kauravas returned from their studies at Drona’s ashram, they had grown into young adults. As a token of thanks, the Pandavas and Kauravas would have to give Dronacharya a gurudakshina. Drona said that for gurudakshina he wanted them to defeat the Panchalas and their king Drupada. The Kauravas first attacked but were defeated and came back, fleeing the city. Thus, the Pandavas attacked. Yudhistira stayed back while Arjuna, Bhima, and the twins raced into the city. With Sahadeva and Nakula protecting their flanks, Bhima annihilated the Panchala army while Arjuna easily captured Drupada. The Pandavas presented Drupada in front of Drona. Drupada was forced to give the northern half of his kingdom to Drona and Ashwastamma.
The House of Lac- The House of Death
When they returned to Hastinapura from Panchala, Yudhistira was appointed the Crown Prince of Hastinapura. Meanwhile, Sahadeva and Nakula continued their training under Drona because they were still young. Sahadeva learned Nitishastra, the science of morality and society. He then went to Brihaspati, the preceptor of the gods, for further education regarding Nitishastra. Sahadeva and Nakula also accompanied Arjuna in his western military campaign to defeat Sauvira.
Dhitrastra and Duryodhana hated the fact that Yudhistira was crown prince. “Father, we must do something. The citizens are loving Yudhistira as their prince. If this continues, Yudhistira will become king soon and we will have to serve him!”
“I know what we have to do. If we send them away somewhere, then I can rise to power. And we can try to kill them at that place. But even if they survive, I will have already risen to power,” Duryodhana said.
Duryodhana and Dhitrastra decided to send them to Varnavrata. Dhitrastra easily convinced Yudhistira to go to Varnavrata. Kunti and the Pandavas stayed at a palace at Varnavrata for a few days. The palace was called Lakshagriha and it was made out of quickly flammable materials. Their plan was to have Purochana, burn the palace one night, so that the Pandavas would burn in the palace. When Purochana did this, the Pandavas and Kunti barely eascaped. Vidura, who was waiting near Varnavrata, helped them cross the Ganga river and adviced them to live in the forest for a while. The Pandavas and Kunti follwed his advice. In Kuru kingdom, everybody thought that the Pandavas had died.
During their forest life, Arjuna in the disguise of a Brahmin, won Draupadi, the princess of Panchala at her swayamvara. When Arjuna led Draupadi to Kunti, he said “I brought something”. Kunti, who was not paying attention unknowingly said to share between the five. When Kunti saw that Arjuna meant that he had brought Draupadi as a wife, Kunti was shocked. The five Pandavas were forced to all marry her since Yudhistira refused to disobey his mother. After some time, Nakula begot a son named Shrutasena from Draupadi.
After some time, the Pandavas along with Kunti and Draupadi returned to Hastinapura.
Indraprasta and Rajasuya Military Campaign
Dhitrastra and Bhishma decided to give a part of Kuru kingdom to the Pandavas. They gave the pandavas a region called Khandavprastha. This region was every infertile. It was hard to grow crops here. The Pandavas still made this land into a beautiful city called Indraprasta.
Yudhistira decided to perform the Rajasuya yagna. His 4 brothers went and defeated all the kingdoms of India. Sahadeva was chosen to go south since Bhishma had once said that the southerners were skilled sword-fighters. The area he conquered was forested and mountainous. Also, his supply lines were really far. One of his officers in this campaign was Krathaputra.
Kingdoms, Kings and Tribes Sahadeva defeated:
- Matsya Kingdom
- Surasena Kingdom
- King Dirghayagna of Karusha Kingdom
- King Sumitra of Pulinda Kingdom
- Southern Matsyas
- King Sreniman of Nishada
- Yakrilloma Kingdom
- Sakambari city
- Gosringa Mountain
- Kuntibhoja of Kuntirasta
- Jambakhas at Paripatra Mountains
- Avanti Kingdom
- Kshemdarshi of Southern Kosala Kingdom
- Herambas and Natakeyas
- 18 states of Karnataka
- Nachinas and Arvukas
- King Vatadhipa of Southern Pulinda
- Mainda and Dvivida at Kishkinda Kingdom
- Nila at Mahishmati
- Tripuri king Amitaujas
- Southern Paurava Kingdom
- Rukmi at Bhojkata
- Surparaka Kingdom
- Islands of Mlechhas, Nishadas, Karnapravarnas, Rakshasas
- King Timingala
- Rameshwaram (Ramaka Parvata)
- Sanjyati city
- Tamradwipa (island near Lanka)
- Pashandas and Karhatakas
- King Vibhishana of Lanka
Sahadeva attended the self-choice ceremony of Vijaya, the daughter of Dyutimata. Dyutimata was the king of Salwa kingdom. Vijaya picked to marry Sahadeva.
Duryodhana and Shakuni made another cruel plan. They invited the Pandavas and Draupadi to Hastinapura (capital of Kuru) for a gambling game. Not knowing of the cruel plan, the Pandavas accepted. The Pandavas and Draupadi went to Hastinapura. Shakuni, with his magical dice, made the Pandavas loose everything, including their wealth, jewelry, chariots, Indraprasta and lots more. Soon Yudhistira also lost his brothers and himself. During the gambling, Sahadeva took an oath that he would kill Shakuni.
In the end, Dushasana dragged Draupadi to the court and attempted to disrobe her. Krishna saved Draupadi by continuing to magically add more to her clothing. After a long time. Dushasana gave up. In the end, it was decided that the Pandavas would go into exile for 12 years and incognito for 1 year. If they were identified during incognito they would repeat they exile and incognito.
Exile and Incognito Year
The Pandavas and Draupadi ventured around Kamyaka and Dwaita forests. They met many great rishis. They went to places such as Narayanashram and Badrikasram.
When it was time for the year of incognito, the Pandavas made a list of kingdoms they could stay in disguise in. They finally decided to stay in Matsya kingdom. Each Pandava and Draupadi disguised themeselves as someone and took up an occupation. Sahadeva took up the disguise of a Vaishya named Tantipala. He took care of all the cows in Matsya.
Duryodhana and Susharma (King of Trigarta) did a combined attack on Matsya. This was because Duryodhana had guessed that the Pandavas were at Matsya. Arjuna, in disguise as Brihanalla, defeated the entire Kuru army alone while Virata (King of Matsya) and his army defeated Susharma and the Trigartas. After the war, since their incognito year was over, the Pandavas revealed their real identity to Virata. He was really shocked.
Duryodhana refused to give the Pandavas Indraprastha back after the exile. He also ignored all peace treaties. Hence, war was declared. Before the war, Duryodhana asked Sahadeva for the proper date for the war, as Sahadeva was a great astrologer. Sahadeva told Duryodhana a good date, even though he knew he shouldn’t. The war occurred at the battlefield of Kurukshetra and lasted 18 days. The Pandavas won the war.
In the war Sahadeva killed:
- Uluka (Shakuni’s son)
- Neermitra (Trigarta prince)
On the 18th day of war, Sahadeva fulfilled his oath by killing Shakuni. He also killed Uluka, the son of Shakuni, on the same day. Shrutasena was brutally killed by Ashwastamma on the eighteenth day night while sleeping. Suhotra was killed by Karna.
Later Life and Death
After the war, Yudhistira performed an Ashwamedha yagna in which Nakula participated. After some time, the Pandavas and Draupadi left for their last journey. They went on a final pilgrimage to the Himalayas. Along the way, Draupadi fell to her death. Then Sahadeva fell to his death. After that, Nakula fell to his death. Then Arjuna and Bhima also fell to death. They were being dragged down by all their sins. After dying Sahadeva met Arjun, Bhima, Nakula and Draupadi at swarga along with all his enemies. Soon, Yudhistira joined them.
Nakula was an expert at swordsmanship just like his brother Nakula. He was also a master at bouvine vetinary. One amazing talent of Sahadeva was that he knew the past, present and future, which made him a great astrologer. He knew the results of the Mahabharat war beforehand. As son of the Ashvins, he was a master at medicine and Ayurveda. He was also a master at equestrian skills, politics and humanities.
Sahadeva was the smartest among his brothers. He was Yudhistira’s private counselor.