The Pandavas in Agyatvas

During the Agyatvas, a period of exile in the Mahabharata, the Pandavas faced trials, adopted concealed identities, and navigated a precarious existence to fulfill the terms of their banishment. The Virata Parva of Mahabharata tells about Agyatvas of Pandavas.

The Pandavas used these names to hide their identities: Yudhishthira (Kanka), Bhima (Ballava), Arjuna (Brihannala), Nakula (Granthika), Sahadeva (Tantripala) and Draupadi (Sairandhri). Here’s a concise summary of their roles and disguised names during this challenging period:


Disguised Name: Kanka

Yudhishthira took on the guise of Kanka, a Brāhmaṇa skilled in dice playing. While introducing to king Virata, Yudhishthira said, ‘My name is Kanka, and I am a Brahman belonging to the family known as Vaiyaghra. I am skilled in casting dice, and formerly, I was a friend of Yudhishthira.’

He secured employment in the court of King Virata, strategically positioning himself to fulfill the conditions of their exile.

Read more about Yudhishthira


Disguised Name: Ballava (Vallabha)

Bhima presented himself as a cook to King Virata, showcasing his expertise in the culinary arts. He expressed his intention to prepare exquisite curries for the king. Bhima, adopting the name Ballava, showcased his cooking skills in King Virata’s court. This role allowed him to contribute to the royal household while maintaining a discreet presence.

During Agyatvas, Bhima took decisive action to address Draupadi’s harassment from the wicked Kichaka. Fueled by Draupadi’s plea and determination, Bhima confronted Kichaka and engaged in a fierce battle. With unparalleled strength, Bhima killed Kichaka (Kichak Vad), ending his menace once and for all.

Read more about Kichak Vad (the story about Kichak and his ultimate fate)


Disguised Name: Brihannala

Arjuna assumed the persona of Brihannala, adopting the form of a eunuch. Serving as a dance teacher to Princess Uttara, he remained inconspicuous while fulfilling his obligations during the Agyatvas.

Read more about Arjuna


Disguised Name: Granthika

Under the alias Granthika, Nakula managed the horses in King Virata’s stable. This role allowed him to stay close to the court and serve his disguised purpose effectively.


Disguised Name: Tantripala

Sahadeva, adopting the name Tantripala, worked as a cowherd in King Virata’s kingdom. This inconspicuous role allowed him to fulfill his responsibilities without drawing unnecessary attention.


Disguised Name: Sairandhri

Draupadi concealed her identity under the guise of Sairandhri, skilled in dressing hair, in the royal household of King Virata. This disguise shielded her actual status while contributing to the group’s concealment.

The Pandavas’ adoption of these disguised identities and strategic roles was crucial in navigating the challenges of the Agyatvas. Their ability to adapt, fulfill their duties, and maintain a low profile played a pivotal role in the eventual unfolding of the Mahabharata epic.

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We, a group of youths born into Hindu families, were raised in the rich culture of Vedic Sanatan Dharma, embracing its cultures and traditions. Post-graduation, recognizing the immense value of our Sanatan Dharma for humanity, we initiated the "Why Hindu" project. With guidance from our elders, we aim to create awareness about Hindu Dharma, delve into Vedic scripture, explore Vedic mantras, and elucidate the significance of festivals. Through this endeavor, we strive to share the profound teachings of our heritage, fostering understanding and appreciation for the timeless principles of Sanatan Dharma.

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