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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. She is avtar of goddess yogmaya or durga.[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.

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.[2]

Affair with Arjuna and Abduction[edit]

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. With Krishna's help and blessing, Arjuna disguises himself as an ascetic and establishes a "sage’s" residence near Subhadra’s palace. Subhadra serves him, and as they spend time together, they fall-in-love with each other. After sometime Arjuna discloses his identity to her. Knowing his legend and that her love is requited, she pleads with Krishna to sanction their love. Krishna agrees and instructs Arjuna to carry Subhadra away and marry her in secret, as Balarama would not change his mind.[3] When Subhadra is returning from the temple, Arjuna abducts her. When Balarama is alerted by the Vrishni guards he is full of wrath for Arjuna. Krishna pacifies him. Balarama’s relaxes and he agrees to celebrate the couple’s marriage at Indraprastha.[4]


Subhadra and Arjuna had only one son, Abhimanyu. He became a valiant warrior. He studied under the tutelage of Krishna, Kritvarma and Pradyumna.[5] Later he married Uttara[6] and had a son named Parikshit. Abhimanyu died in the Kurukshetra war.[7] Parikshit becomes the sole surviving heir of the entire Kuru dynasty.[8] 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.[9]


Subhadra in the middle with her brothers Balarama and Krishna

As she is godess 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.[10]

See also[edit]