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Armed Forces used in Mahabharata battle

Mahabharata is one of the Sanskrit epics which narrates the struggle between two cousins Pandavas and Kauravas for the throne of Hastinapur which led to a battle of Kurukshetra. Famous Hindu Scripture “Bhagawad Gita” was based on the conversation between Krishna and Arjun during this battle which was fought between 850/950 BC approx.

In this post, we will look at the armed forces used during this battle.

Types of units used in battle

Each armed forces primarily contains four kinds of groups known as “Chaturangini” which are as follows.

  • Padatik-  Infantrymen.
  • Ashvarohi  – Horseman.
  • Rad  – Warrior in a Chariot.
  • Gaj  – Warrior above an elephant.

Types of Forces used in battle

Southee narrated the description of the forces used in the Mahabharata battle. There were nine types of the group containing above units used in warfare to perform various tactics.

Patti – This group contains 1 Rad, 1 Gaj, 5 Padatik and 3 Ashvarohi.

Senamuk – Each Senamuk contains 3 Patti which is 3 Rad, 3 Gaj, 15 Padatik and 9 Ashvarohi.

Gulm – Each Gulm contains 3 Senamuk which is 9 Rad, 9 Gaj, 45 Padatik and 27 Ashvarohi.

Gana – Each Gana contains 3 Gulm which is 27 Rad, 27 Gaj, 135 Padatik and 81 Ashvarohi.

Vahini – Each Vahini contains 3 Garna which is 81 Rad, 81 Gaj, 405 Padatik and 243 Ashvarohi.

Pritana – Each Vahini contains 3 Vahini, which is 243 Rad, 243 Gaj, 1215 Padatik and 729 Ashvarohi.

Chamu – Each Chamu contains 3 Putna which is 729 Rad, 729 Gaj, 3645 Padatik and 2187 Ashvarohi.

Anikini – Each Anikini contains 3 Chamu, which is 2187 Rad, 2187 Gaj, 10935 Padatik and 6561 Ashvarohi.

Akshohini – Each Akshohini contains 10 Anikini which is 21870 Rad, 21870 Gaj, 109350 Padatik and 65610 Ashvarohi.

Now let’s look at the different ranks that were given to officers based on their position.

Padatik, Patis/Nayak/Adipati- there will be one officer in charge of each group as mentioned above arranged from lowest to highest as follows Pattipati, Senamukadipati, Gulmadipati, Gananayak, Vahinipati, Pritanapati, Chamupati, Anikinipati, Akshohinipati). The person who controls the entire army is called Senadipati.

Military Units used by Kauravas and Pandavas

The military units used by Kauravas and Pandavas in the Mahabharata war were measured in “Akshohini”. 11 Akshohini groups were part of Kauravas, and 7 Akshohini units were part of Pandavas side.

Total military strength used by both in the war.

1968300 Padatik – 1202850 by Kauravas and 765450 by Pandavas

393660 Gaj – 240570 by Kauravas and 153090 by Pandavas

1180980 Aahwarohi – 721710 by Kauravas and 459270 by Pandavas

3936600 Rad – 240570 by Kauravas and 153090 by Pandavas

393600 Total Units – 2405700 by Kauravas and 1530900 by Pandavas

One of the worlds popular strategy game “Chess” is based on these four military units.  Pawn = Padatik, Elephant= Gaj, Aahwarohi=Horse and Rad=Bishop.

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