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Subhadra, the half sister of Krishna, drives a chariot away from Dwaraka with Arjuna.

Subhadrā (Sanskrit: सुभद्रा) is an important character in the Mahābhārata. She is the half sister of Krishna, wife of Arjuna, and mother of Abhimanyu.[1]


Subhadra is the daughter of Vasudev and his first wife Rohini Devi. She is much younger to Krishna and Balarama since she was born after Vasudeva was released from Kansa's prison. She was an incarnation of godess Durga.[2] She is also known to be Yogmaya[3]

Marriage Preparations[edit]

When Subhadra becomes of age, Balarama suggests her as a bride to Duryodhana, who is his favourite pupil. The entire family is against this due to Duryodhana’s reputations as a notorious prince. Subhadra too resents this but nothing can be said because Balarama had already sent the proposal to Duryodhana.[4]

Kidnapping Of Arjun[edit]

Arjuna kidnaps Subhadra
Arjuna and Subhadra.
Painting by Raja Ravi Varma.

Arjuna was in the midst of self-imposed pilgrimage, for breaking terms of the agreement he had had with his brothers regarding private time with their shared wife, Draupadi. He reached the city Dwaraka, the holy abode of Lord Sri Krishna. “I can meet Sri Krishna in Dwaraka. Subhadra, beloved sister of Sri Krishna, who is known to be a beautiful girl. I can have a glimse of that eternal beauty. With the blessings of Sri Krishna, I can marry her also” so thinking, Arjuna reached the outskirts of City of Dwaraka. “How to enter the city? Yadavas generally respect Sanyasis. It would be better to enter the city in a Sanyasi attire.” So thinking, Arjuna transformed into a Sanyasi and entered the city chanting the name of Srikrishna. Sri Krishna came to know about the arrival of Arjuna. He immediately rushed to the place where Arjuna was staying. He enquired about the welfare of Dharamaja and Kunti and other Pandavas. Sri Krishna kept Arjuna in a cave of Raivatakaadri. Sri Krishna went back to his palace.With the permission of his brother Balarama, Krishna proclaimed the Raivatakaadri festival. All yaadavas proceeded to Raivatakaadri, went round the hill and worshipped the hill. Sri Krishna along with his wife also visited Raivatakaadri. Sarana, Satyaki, Akroora, Ugrasena, Uddhava also followed Sri Krishna. Balarama, his wife, his sister Subhadra, also went there to see the festival. In fact, Subhadra heard about Arjuna and his valiant deeds. Arjuna was no other than his aunt’s son, a marriageable alliance. She began to admire Arjuna and was dreaming about him. Balarama, his wife, his sister Subhadra was making “pradakshin” by going round the hill. At that time, Arjuna concentrated his passionate looks on Subhadra and also on her beautiful figure. Sri krishna was observing Arjuna and his behaviour with regard to Subhadra “Swamijee, sanyaasis should not look at beautiful girls like that. Control yourself” smilingly said Krishna. Arjuna felt shy. “Arjuna, I know that your mind is fixed on my sister Subhadra. Dont worry. I will tell my parents, Devaki and Vasudeva and also the elders and see that your desire is fulfilled” said Krishna. In the meanwhile, Balarama came there. Balaraka thought that Arjuna was a real saint. He bowed before Arjuna. “Swamijee, now it is rainy season. You may stay here and continue your “chaaturmaasya vrata”. We will make all arranements for your stay and Vrata” said Balarama. Arjuna gladly accepted the offer. Balarama engaged Subhadra for making all arrangements to Arjuna who is in disguise. Subhadra was serving Arjuna with great devotion. Sri Krishna sent a message to Indraprastha about the welfare of Arjuna. While serving Arjuna, Subhadra entertained a doubt about his beautiful handsome body and also about his passionate behaviour towards her. She wanted to clear off her doubt. One day Subhadra asked Arjuna “Swamijee, you might have seen many places. I heard my aunt’s son Arjuna was also roaming around holy places. Have you ever seen him? How does he look? Is he handsome and beutiful? I am in love with Arjuna. How can I reveal it to him” wittingly she asked that fake Sanyasi. Arjuna could not control himself. He removed his sanyasi clothes and appeared before her as real Arjuna and said “Hey Subhadra, my love. I am Arjuna” Subhadra looked at him amazingly and admiringly. Her mind filled with full of joy and shy. Arjuna asked Subhadra to marry him in Gaandharva method, without the intervention of elders. But Subhadra did not agree. “Elders are ready to perform our marriage. Ask them” so saying she went away. Sri krishna talked to his parents Devaki and Vasudeva and other elders and they also consented for the marriage of Subhadra and Arjuna. The only hurdle is Balarama. Of course, he may not agree. Hence Sri Krishna proclaimed a Siva festival at Antara Dweepa and asked all Yadavas to proceed to Antara dveepa for worshipping Siva. Krishna also took Balarama and other Yadavas to Antara dweepa. But Krishna came back immediately to Dwaraka. Sri Krishna sent for Devendra. In the presence of Devendra, Vasudeva, Devaki, other yadava elders, the marriage of Subhadra with Arjuna was performed at Dwaraka. Devendra gave many gifts and presentations to Arjuna.Then Krishna asked Arjuna to immediately leave Dwaraka with Subhadra on a golden chariot. Krishna turned back to Antara Dveepa and appeared before Balarama as if he was there in Antaravadveepaa throughout. While Arjuna was going on a golden chariot with Subhadra, the Sentries and Guards of Dwaraka thought that somebody was kidnaping their pincess Subhara. They began to fight with Arjuna. Arjuna killed them and proceeded to Hastinapuram. This information reached Balarama at Antaradveepa in no time. Balarama along with Krishna returned to Dwaraka and convened a meeting with Yadava elders. Yadavas are shivering with anger. Their blood was boiling. They sought the permission of Balarama to go to Hastina, wage a war on Arjuna and bring back Subhadra. Balarama pacified them and asked Krishna . Balarama’s relaxes and he agrees to their marriage.[5]


Subhadra and Arjuna had only one son, Abhimanyu. . He studied under the tutelage of Balarama, Krishna, Kritvarma and Pradyumna.[6] Later he married Uttara[7] and had a son named Parikshit. Abhimanyu died in the Kurukshetra war.[8] Parikshit becomes the sole surviving heir of the entire Kuru dynasty.[9] When he comes of age, the Pandavas appoint him as the king and retire to the Himalayas. Subhadra stays back to guide and mentor her grandson.[10]


Subhadra in the middle with her brothers Balarama and Krishna

As she is goddess yogmaya, Subhadra is one of the three deities worshipped at the Jagannath temple at Puri, along with her brothers Krishna (as Jagannatha) and Balarama (or Balabhadra). One of the chariots in the annual Ratha Yatra is dedicated to her. Apart from it she is also worshiped by many communities in Odisha, West Bengal, Gujarat and other states of the nation.[11]

See also[edit]