Akshauhini, Meaning and Numerical Value

Mahabharata - Kurukshetra War

Mahabharata - Kurukshetra War, Fight between Karna and Arjuna.jpg

by Jayaram V

The word Akshauhini figures prominently in the Mahabharata war, which took place in the interval between Dwapara and Kali Yugas, between the armies of Pandavas and Kauravas. It is stated in the epic that a combined total of 18 akshauhinis of warriors participated in it on both sides. Of them, only a few survived in the end, which points to the destructive nature of that war. Many wild speculations are available on the Internet regarding the war and its epic nature. Some of them speculate that atomic weapons, spacecrafts and missiles were used in it.

The meaning

What is an Akshauhini? Sruta explained it in the following manner.

“One chariot, one elephant, five foot-soldiers, and three horses form one Patti; three pattis make one Sena-mukha; three sena-mukhas are called a Gulma; three gulmas, a Gana; three ganas, a Vahini; three vahinis together are called a Pritana; three pritanas form a Chamu; three chamus, one Anikini; and an anikini taken ten times forms, as it is styled by those who know, an Akshauhini. O ye best of Brahmanas, arithmeticians have calculated that the number of chariots in an Akshauhini is twenty-one thousand eight hundred and seventy. The measure of elephants must be fixed at the same number. O ye pure, you must know that the number of foot-soldiers is one hundred and nine thousand, three hundred and fifty, the number of horses is sixty-five thousand, six hundred and ten. These, O Brahmanas, as fully explained by me, are the numbers of an Akshauhini as said by those acquainted with the principles of numbers.”

These numberts are showin the following table.

Division Number
Chariots 21,870
Elephants 21,870
Horsemen 65,610
Foot solders 109,350

Suggestions for Further Reading

Image Attribution:Author: Ramanarayanadatta astri Volume: 4 Publisher: [Gorakhpur Geeta Press.

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