Characters of the Mahabharata: Glossary of Names (A to H)

 The Mahabharata is the world's longest epic poem and one of Hinduism's most popular and important scriptures, along with the Ramayan. The epic is a narrative of the Kurukshetra war but also contains much philosophical and devotional material. Contained within this massive epic are very important works, including the Bhagavad Gita, the story of Damayanti, and a shortened version of the Ramayana. 

There are many forms of the epic, and the oldest parts are thought to have been written about 400 BCE. 

 Here is a glossary of over 400 names from among the numerous characters found in the 100,000 verses and 18 chapters of the great epic poem as written by sage Vyasa.

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Names from Mahabharata Starting with 'A'

Arjuna: The warrior prince of the Pandava dynasty.
  • Abhimanyu: Son of Arjuna and Subhadra, married to Uttara, daughter of King Virata.
  • Achuta: Sri Krishna.
  • Adhiratha: Karna's foster-father.
  • Agastya: A sage with mystic powers. He gave Lord Rama the bow of Lord Vishnu. Pandavas got acquainted with his life story while on pilgrimage to holy places. His wife Lopamudra was also a great sage.
  • Agni: The god of fire.
  • Airavata: Lord Indra's elephant produced when gods and demons churned the Milk Ocean.
  • Ajatasatru: Another name for Yudhisthira, meaning "one who has no enemy."
  • Akritavrana: A sage, close companion of Parasurama.
  • Alambasa: A rakshasa friend of Duryodhana who joined his Kaurava forces but was then forced to flee the battlefield by Satyaki. 
  • Amba: The eldest daughter of the king of Kashi or Varanasi.
  • Ambalika: The youngest daughter of the king of Kashi.
  • Ambika: The middle daughter of the king of Kashi.
  • Amshuman: A king belonging to the sun dynasty, descended from King Asamanjas.
  • Anga: Mlechchha king, a Kaurava supporter.
  • Angiras: A sage and mind-born son of Lord Brahma and one of the ten progenitors of mankind.
  • Anila: One of the eight Vasus or heavenly beings, responsible for creating wind.
  • Anu: Son of King Yayati by his wife Sharmishtha, a Daitya (demon) princess.
  • Apsara: Wives of the heavenly Gandharvas, or angels.
  • Arjun: The third of the Pandava brothers, born of Lord Indra, an undefeatable archer. The Bhagavad Gita was spoken to him by Lord Krishna.
  • Arka: An ancient king; also synonym of sun god. 
  • Arundhati: Wife of sage Vasishtha, family priest of the house of Ikshvaku.
  • Aruni: A devoted disciple of his guru Ayodha-Dhaumya.
  • Ashtaka: A king of the Puru dynasty descended from Ajamidha.
  • Ashtavakra: A great scholar. Became a renowned scholar while still in his teens.
  • Ashwapati: Lord of the horses. Also the name of many kings.
  • Ashwatthama: Son of guru Dronacharya and Kripa, and last supreme commander of the Kaurava force.
  • Ashwins: The twin gods--youth and handsomeness; physicians of heaven wo restored the youth of sage Chyavana.
  • Asita: A sage who denounced gambling and disciple of Vyasa.
  • Asmaka: A Kaurava warrior who attacked Abhimanyu.
  • Asumanjas: A king of sun dynasty descended from King Sagara.
  • Asuras: Demons (atheists); enemies of the gods.
  • Atreya: Disciple of Vamadeva. He had the power to go from one planet to another.
  • Atri: A sage and author of many Vedic hymns, son of Lord Brahma.
  • Ayodha-Daumya: A great sage whose disciples were Aruni, Upamanyu and Veda.
  • Ayus: The king of the frogs.
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Names from Mahabharata Starting with 'B'

Bhishma: The almost immortal great grandfather figure of the Mahabharata.
  • Baladev: Balarama, elder brother of Sri Krishna.
  • Bakasura: A voracious, cruel and mighty Rakshasa who lived in a cave near the city of Ekachakrapura. Bhima killed him and relieved the citizens from constant fear of the demon.
  • Balarama: Elder brother of Sri Krishna.
  • Balarama: An avatar or incarnation of Adisesha, the thousand-hooded serpent on which Lord Vishnu reclines in Vaikuntha.
  • Bali: A good and virtuous Daitya king, son of Virochana and grandson of Prahlad.
  • Bhagadatta: King of Pragjyotisha, a Kaurava ally.
  • Bhagiratha: King Anshuman’s son who brought the Ganges River to earth.
  • Bharadwaja: A sage, son of Brihaspati, father of Drona, the military preceptor of the Pandavas, father of Yavakrida.
  • Bharata: Son of King Dushmanta and Shakuntala, he was partial incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
  • Bhima: The second Pandava brother who surpassed him in physical prowess, as he was born of the wind-god, Lord Pavana and Kunti. Another Bhima is the king of Vidharbha and Damayanti’s father.
  • Bhishmaka: King of Vidarbha, father of Rukmini and Rukma. Old grandsire of the Pandavas and the Kauravas, eighth child of King Santanu and Goddess Ganga, supreme commander of the Kaurava armies. He vowed abstinence from sexuality so his father could marry Satyavati. He excelled in yielding arms, the Vedas and Upanishads, the sciences known to Sukra.
  • Bhrigu: A Vedic sage and a son of Lord Brahma.
  • Bhuminjaya: Another name of prince Uttara, son of Virata, who fought the Kauravas with Brihannala as his charioteer.
  • Bibhatsu: One of Arjuna's names,  meaning a hater of unworthy acts.
  • Brahma: Creator of the universe, one of the Hindu holy trinity born on a lotus sprung from Lord Vishnu’s navel.
  • Brihadaswa: A great sage who visited the Pandavas in their forest hermitage and reminded them of King Nala of Nishadha, who also lost his kingdom in the game of dice and who deserted his wife Damayanti because of a curse but ultimately regained both.
  • Brihadratha: Celebrated commander of three regiments, reigned over Magadha, married the twin daughters of the King of Kashi or Varanasi, who shared a mango gifted by sage Kausika and begot half a child each. A rakshasi recovered the two halves and accidentally it joined to form a baby, who later became known as Jarasandha.
  • Brihadyumna: A king, a disciple of sage Raibhya.
  • Brihannala: Arjuna’s assumed name while living at Virata's court incognito.
  • Brihaspati: A son of the Rishi Angiras; great sage and preceptor of the gods, and father of the sage Bharadwaja.
  • Brihatbala: A daring warrior who charged at Abhimanyu caught in the Kaurava army's net, Chakravyuha.
  • Burishrawa: A prince of the Balhikas and ally of the Kauravas. 
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Names from Mahabharata Starting with 'C'

Chyavana: One of the most important sages of the Hindu scriptures - seen here among other luminaries seated in front of Sage Shukracharya.
  • Charachitra: One of the hundred sons of King Dhritarashtra who died in the battle.
  • Chitra: One of the hundred sons of Dhritarashtra killed in the war.
  • Chitraksha: One of the hundred sons of King Dhritarashtra who fell in the war.
  • Chitrasena: King of the Gandharvas who prevented the Kauravas from putting up their camp near the pond where he himself had encamped. One of the hundred sons of Dhritarashtra.
  • Chitrayudha: One of the hundred Kaurava princes, killed in the war.
  • Chitravarma: A brother of Duryodhana, one of the hundred sons of Dhritarashtra who was killed in the war.
  • Chitrangada: Eldest son of King Shantanu born of Matsyagandhi (Satyavati), brother of Bhishma. He was killed in early life in conflict with a Gandharva of the same name. He succeeded his father on the throne of Hastinapur.
  • Chyavana: A sage, son of Rishi Bhrigu.              
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Names from Mahabharata Starting with 'D'

Damayanti: The beautiful daughter of King Bhima.
  • Dadhicha: A sage who donated his bones to the gods who used them to create a thunderbolt weapon to defeat the demons.
  • Daksha: Son of Lord Brahma who had many daughters whom he gave in marriage to Kashyapa, Chandra, Dharma, and Lord Shiva.
  • Dala: Son of King Parikshit and Queen Sushobhana of the Ikshvaku dynasty.
  • Damayanti: Daughter of King Bhima of Vidarbha.
  • Daruka: Sri Krishna's charioteer.
  • Dasaratha: King of Ayodhya, Rama's father.
  • Dattatreya: An incarnation of Lord Krishna; son of sage Atri and his wife Anasuya. He gave Kartavirya Arjuna one thousand arms.
  • Devaki: Sri Krishna’s mother and wife of Vasudeva.
  • Devata: A sage who condemned the game of dice as an evil form of gambling, as it offered opportunity for deceit and dishonesty and was not fit for entertainment.
  • Devavrata: Another name of Bhishma.
  • Devayani: The beautiful daughter of Sukracharya, ​wife of King Yayati. She bore him two sons, Yadu and Turvasu. She fell in love with Kacha, son of Brihaspati, preceptor of the Devas.
  • Devendra: King of the Gods.
  • Dhara: Wife of a Vasu, or god, named Drona.
  • Dharmagranthi: Nakula’s name when he was in disguise at king Virata's court.
  • Dharmananda/ Dharmaraja /Dharmaputra: Names for Yudhishthira, the son of Dharma or Yama.
  • Dharmavyadha: A meat-seller, possessed the secret of good life, lived in the city of Mithila.
  • Dhananjaya: One of the names of Arjuna.
  • Dhanusaksha: A great sage whom Medhavi, son of sage Baladhi, once insulted. He took the form of a bull and butted Medhavi until he fell down dead.
  • Dhaumya: Preceptor of the Pandavas, who accompanied them during their exile to the Kurijangala forest, singing Sama hymns addressed to Yama, Lord of Death.
  • Dhrishtadyumna: Supreme commander of the Pandava forces, eldest brother of Draupadi.
  • Dhrishtaketu: A kinsman of the Pandavas.
  • Dhritarashtra: Elder son of Vichitravirya and Ambika, born blind, father of Duryodhana and the hundred Kauravas; brother of Pandu.
  • Dhartarashtras: Sons of Dhritarashtra.
  • Dhundhu: A demon who harassed sage Utanka while he was meditating; he was killed by King Kuvalashva.
  • Dhundhumara: King Kuvalashva, killer of Dhundhu.
  • Dilipa: Son of King Anshuman and father of Bhagiratha of the Ikshvaku or solar dynasty.
  • Drahyu: Son of King Yayati born from Sharmishtha.
  • Draupadi: Daughter of King Drupada, King of Panchala. She married all the five Pandavas, though Arjuna had won her in the Swayamvara, because of the vow that they would share everything in common.
  • Dridhasyu: A great scholar and ascetic, son of sage Agastya and his wife Lopamudra.
  • Drona: Son of a Brahmana named Bharadwaja; married Kripi and father of Ashwatthama; learned military art from Parasurama, the maser; taught military art to the Kaurava and Pandava princes.
  • Drupada: King of Panchala, father of Draupadi the wife of the Pandavas; also father of Shikhandi.
  • Durdhara: One of the hundred sons of Dhritarashtra killed by Bhima in the war.
  • Durjaya: Duryodhana’s brother who was sent to attack Bhima to save Karna's life, but lost his own.
  • Durmarsha:  One of the hundred sons of Dhritarashtra killed by Bhima.
  • Durmata: One of the hundred sons of Dhritarashtra killed by Bhima.
  • Durmukha: A chariot-borne warrior on the Kaurava side. 
  • Durvasa: A sage known for his irascible temper, curses and blessings; son of Atri and Anasuya.
  • Durvishaha: A warrior fighting on the Kaurava side.
  • Duryodhana: First son of King Dhritarashtra and leader of Kauravas who illegally wrested the throne from the Pandavas.
  • Dushkarma: A warrior belonging to the Kaurava side.
  • Dushmanta: Valiant king of the Lunar race, descended from Puru; husband of Shakuntala by whom he has a great son, Bharata.
  • Dushshala: Daughter of King Dhritarashtra.
  • Dushasana: Duryodhana's brother who dragged Draupadi to the hall of assembly by her hair and tried to strip her naked but failed, due to Lord Krishna’s divine intervention.
  • Dussaha: One of the hundred sons of Dhritarashtra killed by Bhima.
  • Dyu: One of the eight Vasus, gods who stole the cow Nandini from sage Vashishtha. He was reincarnated on earth as the warrior Bhishma.
  • Dyumatsena: King of Shalva and father of Satyavan, Savitri’s husband, whose life she saved by following Lord Yama to his abode.
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Names from Mahabharata Starting with 'G'

Goddess Ganga
Ganga: The goddess, mother of Bhishma. Sacred River Ganges. It flows from the toe of Lord Vishnu and was brought down to earth by King Bhagiratha.
  • Gadhi: A king of the Kushika race and father of sage Visvamitra.
  • Ganapati: Vvasa’s scribe who agreed to write down without pause the complete story of the Mahabharata as dictated by Vyasa.
  • Gandhari: Daughter of King Subala, Gandhara’s king and King Dhritarashtra's wife and queen, mother of the Kauravas.
  • Gandharvas: Celestial beings, specialists in music and medicine; prepared soma juice for the gods.
  • Ganga: The goddess, mother of Bhishma. Sacred River Ganga or Ganges. It flows from the toe of Lord Vishnu and was brought down to earth by King Bhagiratha.
  • Gautama: Sage Saradwat, a son of Gotoma, and the husband of Ahalya.
  • Ghatotkacha: Son of Bhima from demoness Hidimba.
  • Govinda: Sri Krishna or Vishnu; meaning cowkeeper, referring to Krishna's occupation as a cowherd in Gokula.
  • Gritachi: A heavenly nymph who sings and dances.
  • Guhyaka: A yaksha or member of Kuvera’s court.
  • Gurnika: A companion of Devayani.
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Names from Mahabharata Starting with 'H'

Hiranyakashipu: A demon king who was killed by Vishnu in the form of Narasimha.
  • Haihaya: A prince of the Lunar race, great grandson of King Yadu.
  • Hamsa, Hidimbaka, Kamsa: Allies of King Jarasandha; Kamsa married the two daughters of Jarasandha. He was Krishna's step-uncle, whom Krishna killed.
  • Halayudha: Plough-weapon wielder, an epithet of Balarama.
  • Hanuman: Wise learned monkey god, devotee of Sri Rama. He possessed extraordinary powers, searched and found Sita in her confinement in Lanka.
  • Hari/ Hrishikesha: Sri Krishna.
  • Hiranyakashipu: A king of the Daitya (demon) race known for his severe austerities. Lord Vishnu in the form of Narasimha killed him to protect His devotee Prahlada.
  • Hiranyavarman: The king of Darsana, whose daughter married Shikhandi.
  • Hotravahana: A saintly king who was Amba’s grandfather.