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An Akshauhini (Sanskrit: अक्षौहिणी), was an ancient battle formation that consisted of 21,870 chariots (Sanskrit ratha); 21,870 elephants; 65,610 cavalry and 109,350 infantry, as per the Mahabharata (Adi Parva 2.15-23). The ratio is 1 chariot : 1 elephant : 3 cavalry : 5 infantry soldiers. In each of these large number groups (65,610, etc.), the digits add up to 18.
It is said that the size of Pandavas‘ army in the Kurukshetra war was 7 akshauhinis, and those of Kauravas 11 akshauhinis.
The count is arrived as follows:
One elephant (Gaja), one chariot (Ratha), three horses (Ashwa) and five foot soldiers (Padhata) form a Patti;
Three Pattis form a Sena-Mukha;
Three Sena-Mukhas make a Gulma;
Three Gulmas a Gana;
Three Ganas a Vahini;
Three Vahinis a Pruthana;
Three Pruthanas a Chamu;
Three Chamus a Anikini;
Ten Anikinis form an Akshauhini. Thus an Akshauhini, by calculation, contains 21,870 elephants, 21,870 chariots, 65,610 Horses, and 109,350 foot soldiers.
Kuru Army of 11 Akshauhinis is formed by the kingdom of Hastinapura in alliance with races like the Samshaptakas, Trigartas, the Narayana army, the Sindhu army and Shalya of Madra.
Commanders in Chief: Dhristadyumna
- Atirathis: Dushasana, Jayadratha, Shakuni and Vikarna
- Maharathis: Duryodhana, Kripacharya, Ashwathama and Shalya
- Atimaharathi: Bhisma, Dronacharya and Karna
- Bhagadatta the veteran - 1 Akshauhini
- Shalya, king of Madra - 1 Akshauhini
- Nila of Mahishmati - 1 Akshauhini (from south)
- Kritavarma (Krishna's Narayani sena of Yadavas) - 1 Akshauhini
- Jayadratha (Saindhava) - 1 Akshauhini
- Sudakshina, king of Kambhoja - 1 Akshauhini (has Yavanas & Sakas in his troops)
- Vinda and Anuvinda (from Avanti) - 1 Akshauhini
- Kalinga Forces - 1 Akshauhini
- Shakuni of Gandhara - 1 Akshauhini
- Susharma of Trigata - 1 Akshauhini
- Kurus and other Allies - 1 Akshauhini
Pandava Army: is a coalition of 7 Akshauhinis, primarily the Panchala and Matsya forces, the Rakshasa forces of Bhima's son, and Vrishni-Yadava heroes.
- Atirathis: Yuyutsu, Uttara, Shikhandi and Upapandavas
- Maharathis: Bhima, Nakula, Sahadeva, Yudhishthira, Dhristadyumna, Satyaki, Ghatotkacha, Abhimanyu, Drupada and Virata
- Atimaharathi: Arjuna
Pandava Army and their Allies:
- Satyaki of the Vrishni clan - 1 Akshauhini
- Ghatotkacha - 1 Akshauhini
- Dhrishtaketu, king of Chedis - 1 Akshauhini
- Sahadeva, son of Jarasandha - 1 Akshauhini (from Magadha)
- Drupada with his sons - 1 Akshauhini
- Virata the king of Matsya - 1 Akshauhini
- Pandya, Chola and other allies - 1 Akshauhini
Levels of Warrior Excellence:
Mahamaharathi: A chariot warrior capable of fighting 24 Atimaharathi warriors simultaneously. No warrior has attained this status, not least because there have never been 24 Atimaharathi warriors at the same time.
Maharathi: A chariot warrior capable of fighting 60,000 warriors simultaneously; circumspect in his mastery of all forms of weapons and combat skills. Kamsa, Yudhishthira, Bheema, Nakula, Sahadeva, Dhristadyumna, Drupada, Virata, Shalya, Duryodhana, Kripacharya, Ashwathama, Satyaki and Abhimanyu were Maharathis.
Atirathi: A chariot warrior capable of contending with 10,000 warriors simultaneously. Yuyutsu, Uttara, Shikandhi, Dushashana, Vikarna, Jayadratha and Shakuni were Atirathis.