Twins In The Mahabharata

The Mahabharata is essentially an epic tale of warring cousins. While the Kauravas and Pandavas were out to destroy each other, there are many examples of siblings who stood together through thick and thin and helped each other every step of the way. Interestingly, the Mahabharata also mentions multiple sets of twins who went on to shape the story. – By Srinidhi Murthy

Draupadi and Dhrishtadyumna 
Twins by Ritoparna Hazra
Illustration: Ritoparna Hazra

In the Mahabharata, Draupadi and Dhrishtadyumna were born together from the sacrificial fire. The fire was part of a yagna, performed by King Drupada of Panchal, to obtain a mighty son. When the twins emerged from the fire, a divine voice declared that Dhrishtadyumna was destined to kill Drona, while Draupadi would become the cause of the fall of the Kuru clan. Despite knowing his destiny; Drona taught Dhrishtadyumna the science of arms, which he needed to know as a prince.

After his twin sister’s swayamvara, Dhrishtadyumna followed Draupadi and her husband, Arjuna, who was in disguise and found out his real identity. As wife of the Pandavas, Draupadi became the queen of Indraprastha. Years later, Dhrishtadyumna was a successful commander-in-chief of the Pandava army in the Kurukshetra war and beheaded Drona on the fifteenth day.  

Kripa and Kripi 

Kripa, also known as Kripacharya, and his twin sister, Kripi, were born from the seed of Sage Sharadvan and, were later adopted by King Shantanu of the Kuru dynasty. Kripi married Drona, the son of Sage Bharadwaja. Kripa, on the other hand, became a guru to the Kuru princes.

When Drona, with his wife Kripi and his son Ashwatthama, arrived at Hastinapur, he stayed for many years in the house of Kripa, his brother-in law. Kripa, along with his nephew Ashwatthama, are considered among the eight Chiranjivis (immortal beings), who are to remain alive on Earth until the end of Kaliyuga. 

Satyavati and King Matsya 
Twins by Ritoparna Hazra
Illustration: Ritoparna Hazra

In the Mahabharata, Satyavati and her twin brother, Matsya, were born from the seed of Uparichara, the king of Chedi, while he travelled through the sky in his celestial chariot. The seed was swallowed by a fish in the Yamuna and few months later, it was caught by a fisherman.

When the fisherman opened the fish’s stomach, he saw a male and female child in it. He took the babies to Uparichara, who adopted the male child and gave the female child to the fisherman as she smelt strongly of fish. The male child became King Matsya and the female child, named Satyavati, later became the mother of Sage Ved Vyasa and married King Shantanu of Hastinapura.  

Kauravas and Dushala 

Pleased by Gandhari’s hospitality to him during one of his visits, Sage Ved Vyasa gave a boon to the queen. According to the boon, she would become the mother to a hundred sons. Soon, Gandhari delivered a lump of flesh, which Vyasa broke into hundred pieces and stored in small pots. He also made an extra part for a princess, to fulfil Gandhari’s wish to have a daughter. Thus, the Kauravas and their only sister, Dushala, were born.

As the only sister of the Kauravas, Dushala was said to be dear to them all. She was married to Jayadratha, the king of Sindhu. Her husband was killed in the Kurukshetra war by Arjuna, for the role he played in the death of Arjuna’s son, Abhimanyu. During the Ashvamedha sacrifice after the war, Arjuna proclaimed Dushala’s infant grandson as the king of Sindhu. 

Lakshmana Kumara and Lakshmana 

The twins Lakshmana Kumara and Lakshmana were born to Duryodhana and his wife, Bhanumati. On her swayamvara, Lakshmana was abducted by Sambha, Krishna and Jambavati’s son. He was later imprisoned by the Kuru elders for his misconduct. However, he was then married to Lakshmana after Balarama, his uncle, convinced Duryodhana.

Lakshmana Kumara fought in the Kurukshetra war and was killed by Abhimanyu on the thirteenth day of the war. According to popular Telugu folklore, Lakshmana Kumara was engaged to Vatsala, also known as Sasirekha, Balarama’s daughter. Later in the folklore, she marries Abhimanyu, the son of Arjuna and Subhadra. 

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