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
Arjuna: The warrior prince of the Pandava dynasty. ExoticIndia.com
  • Abhimanyu: Son of Arjuna and Subhadra, married to Uttara, daughter of King Virata
  • Achuta: Sri Krishna
  • Adhiratha: Karna's foster-father
  • Agastya: This sage with mystic powers 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 that was 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 "Bhagavad Gita" was spoken by Lord Krishna to Arjun who was an undefeatable archer and the third of the Pandava brothers, born of Lord Indra.
  • 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: This great scholar became renowned while still in his teens.
  • Ashwapati: Lord of the horses and 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 who 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, who 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
Bhishma: The almost immortal great grandfather figure of the Mahabharata. ExoticIndia.com
  • Baladev: Balarama, elder brother of Sri Krishna
  • Bakasura: This voracious, cruel and mighty Rakshasa 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 a partial incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
  • Bhima: Bhima was the second Pandava brother. He had surpassing 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: Bhishmaka was the King of Vidarbha and father of Rukmini and Rukma. He was the old grandsire of the Pandavas and the Kauravas, the eighth child of King Santanu and Goddess Ganga, and the 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, and 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: This great sage visited the Pandavas in their forest hermitage and reminded them of King Nala of Nishadha. King Nala also lost his kingdom in the game of dice and deserted his wife Damayanti because of a curse, but ultimately regained both.
  • Brihadratha: This celebrated commander of three regiments reigned over Magadha and married the twin daughters of the King of Kashi or Varanasi. The wives 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: This daring warrior charged at Abhimanyu who was 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
Chyavana: One of the most important sages of the Hindu scriptures - seen here among other luminaries seated in front of Sage Shukracharya. ExoticIndia.com
  • 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: Chitrasena was the King of the Gandharvas who prevented the Kauravas from putting up their camp near the pond where he himself had encamped. He was one of the hundred sons of Dhritarashtra.
  • Chitrangada: Chitrangada was the eldest son of King Shantanu born of Matsyagandhi (Satyavati) and 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.
  • Chitravarma: A brother of Duryodhana, one of the hundred sons of Dhritarashtra who was killed in the war
  • Chitrayudha: One of the hundred Kaurava princes, killed in the war
  • Chyavana: A sage, son of Rishi Bhrigu        
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Names from Mahabharata Starting with 'D'

Damayanti
Damayanti: The beautiful daughter of King Bhima. ExoticIndia.com
  • Dadhicha: This sage 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: Dattatreya was an incarnation of Lord Krishna and the son of the sage Atri and his wife Anasuya. He gave Kartavirya Arjuna one thousand arms.
  • Devaki: Sri Krishna’s mother and wife of Vasudeva
  • Devata: This sage condemned the game of dice as an evil form of gambling, because it offered opportunity for deceit and dishonesty and was not fit for entertainment.
  • Devavrata: Another name of Bhishma
  • Devayani: Devayani was the beautiful daughter of Sukracharya and ​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: Dharmagranthi was 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: Dharmavyadha was a meat-seller who possessed the secret of good life and lived in the city of Mithila.
  • Dhananjaya: One of the names of Arjuna
  • Dhanusaksha: This great sage was once insulted by Medhavi, son of the sage Baladhi. He took the form of a bull and butted Medhavi until he fell down dead.
  • Dhaumya: Dhaumya was the preceptor of the Pandavas. He 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: Dhritarashtra was the elder son of Vichitravirya and Ambika and he was born blind. He was the father of Duryodhana and the hundred Kauravas and the brother of Pandu.
  • Dhartarashtras: Sons of Dhritarashtra
  • Dhundhu: This demon harassed the 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: Draupadi was the daughter of King Drupada, King of Panchala. She married all five Pandavas, though Arjuna had won her in the Swayamvara, because of the vow that the brothers would share everything in common.
  • Dridhasyu: Dridhasyu was a great scholar and ascetic. He was the son of the sage Agastya and his wife Lopamudra.
  • Drona: Drona was the son of a Brahmana named Bharadwaja. He married Kripi and fathered Ashwatthama. He learned military art from Parasurama, the master, and taught military art to the Kaurava and Pandava princes.
  • Drupada: Drupada was the king of Panchala. He was the father of Shikhandi and of Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas.
  • Durdhara: One of the hundred sons of Dhritarashtra killed by Bhima in the war
  • Durjaya: Durjaya was Duryodhana’s brother. He 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: This sage was the son of Atri and Anasuya. He was known for his irascible temper, curses, and blessings.
  • Durvishaha: A warrior fighting on the Kaurava side
  • Duryodhana: Duryodhana was the first son of King Dhritarashtra. He was the leader of Kauravas, who illegally wrested the throne from the Pandavas.
  • Dushkarma: A warrior belonging to the Kaurava side
  • Dushmanta: Dushmanta was the valiant king of the Lunar race, descended from Puru. He was the husband of Shakuntala, by whom he had a great son, Bharata.
  • Dushshala: Daughter of King Dhritarashtra
  • Dushasana: Dushasana was Duryodhana's brother, who dragged Draupadi to the hall of assembly by her hair and tried to strip her naked. He failed, due to Lord Krishna’s divine intervention.
  • Dussaha: One of the hundred sons of Dhritarashtra killed by Bhima
  • Dyu: Dyu was one of the eight Vasus, gods who stole the cow Nandini from sage Vashishtha. He was reincarnated on earth as the warrior Bhishma.
  • Dyumatsena: Dyumatsena was king of Shalva and father of Satyavan, Savitri’s husband. Savitri saved her husband's life 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. Exoticindia.com
  • Gadhi: A king of the Kushika race and father of sage Visvamitra
  • Ganapati: Ganapati was Vvasa’s scribe. He agreed to write down, without pause, the complete story of the Mahabharata as dictated by Vyasa.
  • Gandhari: Gandahari was the daughter of King Subala, the king of Gandhara. She was also King Dhritarashtra's wife and queen and the mother of the Kauravas.
  • Gandharvas: These celestial beings were specialists in music and medicine. They prepared soma juice for the gods.
  • Ganga: This goddess is mother of Bhishma. The sacred River Ganga or Ganges 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: Govinda is a name for Sri Krishna or Vishnu. This name means cowkeeper and refers 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
Hiranyakashipu: A demon king who was killed by Vishnu in the form of Narasimha. ExoticIndia.com
  • Haihaya: Haihaya was a prince of the Lunar race and the great grandson of King Yadu.
  • Hamsa, Hidimbaka, Kamsa: Hamsa, Hidimbaka, and Kamsa were allies of King Jarasandha. Kamsa married the two daughters of Jarasandha. Kamsa was Krishna's step-uncle, whom Krishna killed.
  • Halayudha: Plough-weapon wielder, an epithet of Balarama
  • Hanuman: Hanuman was the wise learned monkey god and devotee of Sri Rama. He possessed extraordinary powers and searched and found Sita in her confinement in Lanka.
  • Hari/ Hrishikesha: Sri Krishna
  • Hiranyakashipu: This king of the Daitya (demon) race was known for his severe austerities. Lord Vishnu in the form of Narasimha killed him to protect His devotee Prahlada.
  • Hiranyavarman: This king of Darsana's daughter married Shikhandi.
  • Hotravahana: This saintly king was Amba’s grandfather.