In the Hindu epic Mahabharata, Madri is the princess of Madra Kingdom and the second wife of the king Pandu. She is the mother of the youngest Pandavas - the twin brothers Nakula and Sahadeva. The word Mādrī means 'woman of Madra'.[1]

Pandu at Shatasrunga Hill.jpg
Madri, Kunti and Pandu at Shatasrunga hill.
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In the epic Mahabharata, Madri is the sister of Shalya, the king of the Madra Kingdom. Hastinapura's Kuru king Pandu once encountered the army of Shalya. Very soon, Pandu and Shalya become friends. The Adi Parva of the Mahabharata states that Bhishma travelled to Madra and asked for the hand of Madri for Pandu. Shalya assented, but according to their family custom, he was unable to 'bestow' his sister to the Kurus. So, Bhishma presented him with wealth, gold, elephants, and horses, and takes Madri with him to Hastinapura.[2]

Pandu's curseEdit

While hunting in a forest, Pandu sees a couple of deer in the process of coitus, and shoots arrows at them; only to find out that it was a sage named Kindama and his wife who were making love in the form of deer. The dying sage curses Pandu, that if he would approach his wives with the intent of making love, he would die. Upset and seeking to repent his action, Pandu renounces his kingdom and lives as an ascetic with his wives.[3]

Birth of Nakula and SahadevaEdit

Due to Pandu's inability to bear children, Kunti uses a boon by Sage Durvasa to give birth to her three children Yudhisthira, Bhima and Arjuna from divine fathers. She shared the boon with Madri, who invoked the divine twins Ashwini Kumaras to beget Nakula and Sahadeva.[4]


One day, Pandu becomes captivated by the beauty of Madri and engages in intercourse with her. Madri, despite her best efforts, is unable to fend him off from the act. As a result of the sage's curse, Pandu dies. Attributing her husband's death to herself, Madri takes her own life.[5] A stanza in the Mahabharata states that Madri committed suicide by sati. However, this account is contradicted by the very next stanza, which states that her dead body and that of her husband were handed over by sages to the Kaurava elders in Hastinapura for the funeral rites.[6]

Madri commits sati (see panel corner), from Birla Razmnama


  1. ^ (15 June 2012). "Madri, Mādrī, Mādri, Madrī: 14 definitions". Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  2. ^ Debalina (20 December 2019). Into the Myths: A Realistic Approach Towards Mythology and Epic. Partridge Publishing. ISBN 978-1-5437-0576-8.
  3. ^ Ramankutty, P.V. (1999). Curse as a motif in the Mahābhārata (1. ed.). Delhi: Nag Publishers. ISBN 9788170814320.
  4. ^ Williams, George Mason (2003). Handbook of Hindu Mythology. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-57607-106-9.
  5. ^ Fang, Liaw Yock (2013). A History of Classical Malay Literature. Institute of Southeast Asian. ISBN 978-981-4459-88-4.
  6. ^ M. A. Mehendale (1 January 2001). Interpolations In The Mahabharata. pp. 200–201.