Bahlika (Mahabharata)

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FamilyPratipa (father), Sunanda (mother), Devapi, Shantanu (brothers)
RelativesBhurishravas (grandson)

Bahlika (Sanskrit: बाह्लिक), also spelled as Vahlika, was the king of Bahlika kingdom in the Mahabharata, the elder brother of Shantanu, who was a king of Hastinapur and the uncle of Bhishma. He was the oldest warrior to fight in the Mahabharata war. He had a son Somadatta and grandson Bhurishravas who along with him fought on the side of the Kaurava army in the Kurukshetra War. He was slain by Bhima in the 14th day of the war when it continued after sunset. According to Yudhishthira, Bahlika's only wish was that there should be peace among the Bhāratas.[1]

Kuru Prince & Accession To The Throne[edit]

Bahlika was the second of the three sons of Pratipa and his wife Sunanda, the king and queen of Hastinapur. With his eldest son Devapi set to inherit, Pratipa gifted some newly-conquered land (though in some versions of the story, this is the land Jarasandha gifted Bahlika for agreeing not to join Panchal in a war against Magdha)[2] to his second son; the land was given the name Bahlika as a result. However, due to leprosy, Pratipa's eldest son Devapi refused to ascend the throne and retired into the woods to perform penance. Bahlika was next in line to ascend the throne, but felt that he would be an inadequate emperor, having never been raised as such. Shantanu then became the crown prince and upon Pratipa's death became the king of Hastinapur, with Bahlika's blessing.[3]

Before The Kurukshetra War[edit]

Bahlika is present at the Rangboomi where Kurus show the skills they had learned from Dronacharya and Kripacharya. He is also present at Yudhishthira's appointment as the crown prince. When Yudhishthira does the Rajasuya sacrifice in order to become an emperor, it is Nakula who extends a challenge/request to his great-grandfather's brother. Bahlika willingly accepted the Yudhishthira's authority and attends the coronation, gifting him a chariot that was made from pure gold. Bahlika along with his family attended the game of dice between Duryodhana and Yudhishthira.[4]

During The Kurukshetra War[edit]

Bahlika and his kingdom fought on the side of Duryodhana during the war. Bhishma, the son of Shantanu and his nephew considered him to be an Atirathi.[5] On the first day, Bahlika fought against Dhristaketu. On the ninth day, Bhima destroyed Bahlika's chariot; however, he was saved by Laxmana. On the thirteenth day, he participated in the killing of Abhimanyu (he is not mentioned as an active participant, and is assumed to be a silent bystander). On the fourteenth day, he fought against the Upapandavas and Shikhandi, simultaneously, resisting them.[6]


On the fourteenth day of the war, Bahlika slew Senavindu. Afterwards, Satyaki battled Bahlika's son Somadatta and knocked him unconscious with his arrows. Furious, Bahlika rushed to his son's aid, only to be counter-checked by Bhima. Bahlika struck Bhima with a dart that made him delirious. Upon recovering his senses Bhima hurled a mace at Bahlika's head, killing him.

The war would extinguish Bahlika's line. His only child and heir, Somadatta, as well as Somadatta's oldest son, Bhurisravas, were killed by Satyaki. In the Chatahurdi compilation, Bhurisravas's nine interpolated brothers die as well.[1] Bhurisravas's two sons, Pratipa and Prajanya, were killed by Abhimanyu on the thirteenth day of the war. Bhurisravas's daughter would marry Satyajit of the Panchal Kingdom. Their first son would inherit Panchal, while their second son would marry Pratipa's daughter and claim the Bahlika Kingdom.[7]


  1. ^ a b Ganguli, Kisari Mohan. The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa Translated into English Prose by Kisari Mohan Ganguli.
  2. ^ Purwadi. Mahabharata. Yogyakarta: Media Abadi, 2004. Print.
  3. ^ Muir, J. Original Sanskrit Texts on the Origin and History of the People of India, Their Religion and Institutions, by J. Muir. New Delhi: Oriental Publishers and Distributors, 1976. Print.
  4. ^ Debroy, Bibek (June 2015). The Mahabharata, Volume 4. Penguin UK. pp. 810, 790.
  5. ^ Debroy, Bibek (June 2015). The Mahabharata, Volume 4. Penguin UK. p. 827.
  6. ^ Ganguly, Kisari. "The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa". Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  7. ^ Munshi, Kanaiyalal Maneklal, and Śivaratana Thānavī. Yudhishṭhira:. Nayī Dillī: Rājakamala Prakāśana, 2010.