What is the Significance of Nakula and Sahdeva in Mahabharata?

Indonesian Mahabharat Paintings
Nakula and Sahadeva (Source: Wikimedia)
Sometimes, we take certain things (or people) for granted such that we tend to forget their very importance (in our life). One such example is Nakula and Sahadeva. In the shadows of their elder Pandava brothers, Dharamraj Yudhisthira, Gadhadhari Bhima, and Falguni Arjuna, they are never seen important. Even when we compare them to other alike Mahabharata figures like Karna, Dhristidyumna, and Duryodhana, the Madri twins' role seems timid. So the question arises, what makes the Madri Twins, Nakula and Sahadeva, important?

As mentioned in the very first line of this article, the answer (of their importance) lies somewhere in between our ignorance and lack of knowledge. Indeed, there is very less written about them, and what is written, haven't discussed under the weight of other illustrious characters.

Nakula and Sahadeva, the sons of Ashiwins, are the expert physicians. Along with that Nakula is professed in Economics and Diplomacy, and on other side, Sahadeva was expert in Astrology and Public Administration. Both of them are expert swordsmen and said to assisted Bhima on his conquest to kill one hundred Kaurva brothers (Both of them assisted in forty killings each). But what is important their public administration and diplomacy part.

It was on the advice of Sahadeva, Yudhisthira asked for the five villages, in his epic plea to Duryodhana for making peace, "We are desirous of peace; give us even a single province of the empire. Give us even Kusasthala, Vrikasthala, Makandi, Varanavata, and for the fifth any other that thou likest. Even this will end the quarrel. O Suyodhana, give unto thy five brothers at least five villages." In actuality, it was a plan to encircle Hastinapura from four sides and to establish a territory (conclave) in Hastinapura. Vrikasthala was in the South of Hastinapura, Makandi was on the border of Panchal and Hastinapura, Varnavrata on the North side and Kusasthala was probably in the East. It is said people of Kusasthala, Vrikasthala, Makandi, Varanavata, and probable fifth village, Tilprastha were heartless and mercenary alike who doesn't hesitate to kill their own brother for money. Duryodhana knew this will make war inevitable and so, he rejected the plea.

It also said, Sahadeva knew Karna is the eldest Kaunteya, and want him to be the King of Hastinapura for his just nature. When Krishna asked Sahadeva, what could be done to stop the Kurukshetra war, he replied, "Krishna and Shakuni must be tied down and all Pandavas along with Duryodhana must be sent to the forest while Karna must be made the emperor of the world." When Krishna mocked Sahadeva and taunted to tie him down, Sahadeva literally tied him down by his Maya and Krishna was unable to free himself.
Yudhisthira,Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva
Yudhisthira with his four brothers by Ibrahim Kahar (Circa 1598)/Souce: WIkimedia
On another hand, regarded as the most handsome man on the Earth, Nakula was a great diplomat. His sweet tongue helped him to make friends even out of enemies. It is evident because whenever Yudhisthira wants to send his message across Hastinapura or other hostile places, he always chose Nakula over others. Nakula was also an expert equestrian and helped to raise the best cavalry in the whole Aryavrata. He also helped King Virata to raise his cavalry.

Nakula and Sahadeva's role is much clearly defined in the episode of Rajsurya Yagna (or why they are important), before the consecration of Yudhisthira as the Chakravati Samarat. Nakula and Sahadeva were asked to conquer Western and Southern Jambudweep, a much larger region than Arjuna and Bhima's Eastern and Northern conquests. It is said, both of them met very less resistance, even from their fierce rivals, simply because of their supereme diplomatic and administration skills.

Nakula and Sahadeva played a crucial role in the Mahabharata war, but it is just we failed to acknowledge their presence. As I have said, in the very beginning of this article, sometimes, we take certain things for granted that we failed to appreciate them. Nakula and Sahadeva case also states not everyone is a superstar, and some work silently and live there behind the screen, far from the limelight (just like you and someone else who is working tirelessly on the next seat to you, and you haven't acknowledge him for ages. :D)

Also Read: How did Nakul and Sahadeva influence the story of Mahabharata? How did they have an impact on the story of the epic?

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