The Kurukshetra war – the epic contest in the Mahabharata – maybe one of the biggest events in Indian mythology and we’ve all heard renditions of it pretty much our whole lives. One memory growing up for a lot us may be the war cry of Doordarshan’s Mahabharat that was telecast every Sunday through the 90s.

We all know it was an epic war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas, but ever wondered about exactly how very maha the Mahabharata really was? And whatever became of all those characters with the tongue-twisting names? It probably was tedious to to keep track of this saga, so we’ve got a little survivors’ list for you.

The Kurukshetra war is estimated to have been fought by 3.94 million warriors. The number of survivors was relatively small. Just 12, in fact.

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Here are the 12 characters who survived the epic war.

1. The Pandavas

The sons of Pandu with Kunti and Madri, and husbands to Draupadi.

Yudhishtir, Bheem, Arjun, Nakul and Sahdev – the victors of the war, and overall good guys. Now these were five survivors, but to keep this brief, here they all are as one.


2. Krishna

King of Dwarka and the Pandavas’ all-knowing mentor.

As the charioteer to Arjun, Lord Krishna fought for the Pandavas while his army defended the Kauravas. His discourse in the form of advice to Arjun is what we commonly know as the Bhagavad Gita .


3. Satyaki

A Vrishini student of Arjun’s and a devout Krishna devotee

A warrior of the Vrishini clan, Satyaki fought passionately for the Pandavas even though the Vrishini army was promised to the Kauravas by Krishna.

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4. Yuyutsu

The Kaurava’s half-brother from a vaishya mother

The son of Dhritarashtra, Yuyutsu was the other oldest Kaurava. However, he fought for the Pandavas and was eventually designated the caretaker of Hastinapur.

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5. Ashwatthama

Dronacharya’s son and a rishi

A fierce warrior that fought for the Kauravas, Ashwatthama slayed the Pandava army in their sleep on the last night of the war. He is considered as one of the rishis that played harbinger to Kalyug.

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6. Kritavarma

Another Vrishini soldier who had many duels with Satyaki over the loyalties of their people

Another great soldier of the Vrishini clan, he defended the Kauravas and was key in the slaughter of the Pandava army that was led by Ashwatthama.

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7. Kripacharaya

A teacher to the Pandavas as well as the Kauravas for many years

This Kulguru chose to fight for the Kauravas. Even though he later served as a teacher to Parikshit – Arjun’s grandson – Kripacharaya is seen as yet another prominent name in the dawn of Kalyug.

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8. Vrishaketu

Karna’s son who fought for the Kauravas

Even though he fought for the Kauravas, Vrishaketu grew close to the Pandavas after the war and the death of Karna.

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These are the 12 lucky ones. So, now you know.