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Ravi Varma-Arjuna and Subhadra.jpg
Arjuna and Subhadra. Painting by Raja Ravi Varma
Other namesBhadra, Chitra
AffiliationKuru queen, Devi
TextsMahabharata, Bhagavata Purana
Personal information
SiblingsKrishna and Balarama

Subhadra (Sanskrit: सुभद्रा, IAST: Subhadrā) is a Hindu goddess, appearing in the epic Mahabharata and other ancient Hindu scriptures including the Bhagavata Purana. In the epic, she is the sister of Krishna and Balarama, wife of Arjuna, mother of Abhimanyu and grandmother of Parikshit. She is the daughter of Vasudeva and his first wife Rohini. Subhadra is one of the three deities worshipped at the Jagannath temple at Puri, along with Krishna (as Jagannatha) and Balarama (or Balabhadra). One of the chariots in the annual Ratha Yatra is dedicated to her.

Etymology and epithets[edit]

The word 'Subhadra' is made up of two words 'su' and 'bhadra'. Many scholars translate this name into 'glorious', 'fortunate', 'splendid' or 'auspicious'.[1] It is a common word and name found in various contexts in the ancient and medieval texts of India, referring to other figures and objects including a cow and a tree.[2] Subhadra is also known as Bhadra.[3] The text Harivamsa mentions Chitra (lit. bright, clear, excellent or colourful) as her birth name.[4] Subhadra is often identified with the Vrishni goddess Ekanamsha, and thus it is considered as an epithet.[5][6]

Subhadra is known as Veera sodari (brave sister), Veera Patni (brave wife) and Veera mata (brave mother) due to her relationship with Krishna, Arjuna and Abhimanyu respectively.



Arjuna abducts Subhadra on Krishna's request.
Subhadra elopes away from Dwaraka with her lover, Arjuna.

According to Vyasa's Mahabharata, when Arjuna was in the midst of self-imposed pilgrimage, for breaking terms of the agreement he had with his brothers regarding private time with their common wife Draupadi. After he reached the city of Dwarka and met Krishna, he attended a festival held at Raivata mountain. There Arjuna saw Subhadra and was smitten by her beauty and wished to marry her. Krishna revealed that she was Vasudeva's pet child and his sister. Krishna stated that he couldn't predict Subhadra's decision at her swayamvara (self choice ceremony) and advised Arjuna to abduct Subhadra. After Arjuna sent a letter to Yudhishthira for permission, he drove a chariot to the hills and took the smiling Subhadra with him. After Subhadra's guards unsuccessfully attempted to stop them, the Yadavas, the Vrishni and the Andhaka held a meeting to discuss the matter. After Krishna comforted them, they agreed and thus, Arjuna married Subhadra with Vedic rituals.[3][7]

Bhagawat Purana narrates about Balarama's picking of Duryodhan as Subhadra’s groom without taking her consent and also her reciprocation to feelings of Arjuna. Knowing that after getting the news of Subhadra's to elope, Balarama would wage a war against Arjuna, Krishna decided he will be the charioteer for Arjuna. Arjuna proceeds to take Subhadra and with Krishna, in tow, they leave. After getting the news that Subhadra has eloped with Arjuna and seeing her stowed on the chariot, Balarama and other Yadavas are angered by this and decide to pursue Arjuna who successfully held them off. After escaping Krishna returned and dissuaded them. Finally, Balarama consents and conduct the marriage of Subhadra with Arjuna in Dwarka.[8]

Impression on Draupadi[edit]

Subhadra meets Draupadi and Kunti

Draupadi had told the Pandavas that she would not share her household with any other woman. When Arjuna returned from his exile to Indraprastha along with Subhadra, he was welcomed by his brothers. When he asked about Draupadi, his brothers told him that she is in rage and doesn't want to meet anybody. To save her husband from Draupadi's rage, Subhadra went to the chamber of the fire born empress. When Draupadi asked who she was, Subhadra replied that she is a cow herder and has come to serve you. Subhadra then fell down to Draupadi's feet and told her that she never wants to replace her. After such humility, Draupadi hugged Subhadra and accepted her as her younger sister.[9]


After Parikshit was seated on the throne of Hastinapur and the Pandavas along with Draupadi had reached heaven, Subhadra and Uttarā went to the forests to live as hermits. It is believed they died of natural causes in the forest.


Subhadra in the middle with her brothers Balabhadra (Balarama) and Jagannath (Krishna)

Some Hindus believe Subhadra to be a goddess named Yogmaya.[10][6] Subhadra is one of the three deities worshipped at the Jagannath temple at Puri, along with 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 believed to be worshipped by certain communities in Odisha, West Bengal, Gujarat and Bangladesh.*[11]

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Monier-Williams, Leumann & Cappeller 1899, p. 1229.
  2. ^ Mani 1975, p. 746.
  3. ^ a b Ganguli 1883.
  4. ^ Monier-Williams, Leumann & Cappeller 1899, p. 396.
  5. ^ Hawley & Wulff 1982.
  6. ^ a b Ph.D 2016.
  7. ^ Mani 1975.
  8. ^ "Subhadra's marriage". The Hindu. 27 August 2019. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 23 November 2020.
  9. ^ Srivastava 2017.
  10. ^ Krishnan, S. A. (20 May 2017). Abhimanyu: The Warrior Prince. SA Krishnan.
  11. ^ "Why Subhadra Is Worshipped With Krishna In Jagannath Yatra". July 2011. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  12. ^ "Mahabharat cast: List of actors and the characters they play in the iconic show". RepublicWorld. 30 March 2020.
  13. ^ "Mahabharat Star Plus cast | List Of Actors And The Characters They Play". republicworld. 9 May 2020.
  14. ^ Team, Tellychakkar. "Aanchal Goswami to enter 'RadhaKrishn Krishn – Arjun Gatha' as Subhadra". Retrieved 30 August 2020.


External links[edit]