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Duryodhana showing his army to Drona

Duryodhana (Devanāgari: दुर्योधन; lit. unconquerable warrior) is the primary antagonist in the Hindu epic Mahabharata and the most famous incarnation of Kali from the previous yuga called Dvapara.


  • When Draupadi refuses to allow Karna to string the bod at her Swayamvara because of his low birth, Duryodhana defends him saying "great sages, philosophers, and warriors have no source. They are made great, not born great".


K. M. Ganguli, tr. in: The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa. Published between 1883 and 1896

  • O Vrikodara, it behoveth thee not to speak such [denigrating] words. Might is the cardinal virtue of a Kshatriya, and even a Kshatriya of inferior birth deserveth to be fought with. The lineage of heroes, like the sources of a lordly river, is ever unknown. The fire that covereth the whole world riseth from the waters. The thunder that slayeth the Danavas was made of a bone of (a mortal named) Dadhichi. The illustrious deity Guha, who combines in his composition the portions of all the other deities is of a lineage unknown. Some call him the offspring of Agni; some, of Krittika, some, of Rudra, and some of Ganga. It hath been heard by us that persons born in the Kshatriya order have become Brahmanas. Viswamitra and others (born Kshatriyas) have obtained the eternal Brahma. The foremost of all wielders of weapons, the preceptor Drona hath been born in a waterpot and Kripa of the race of Gotama hath sprung from a clump of heath. Your own births, ye Pandava princes, are known to me. Can a she-deer bring forth a tiger (like Karna), of the splendour of the Sun, and endued with every auspicious mark, and born also with a natural mail and ear-rings? This prince among men deserveth the sovereignty of the world, not of Anga only, in consequence of the might of his arm and my swearing to obey him in everything. If there be anybody here to whom all that I have done unto Karna hath become intolerable, let him ascend his chariot and bend his bow with the help of his feet.
  • It behoveth thee, O Kesava, to speak after reflecting on all circumstances. Indeed, uttering such harsh words, thou, without any reason, findest fault with me alone, addressed regardfully as thou always art by the sons of Pritha, O slayer of Madhu. But dost thou censure me, having surveyed the strength and weakness (of both sides)? Indeed, thyself and Kshattri, the King, the Preceptor, and the Grandsire, all reproach me alone and not any other monarch. I, however, do not find the least fault in myself. Yet all of you, including the (old) king himself, hate me. O repressor of foes, I do not, even after reflection, behold any grave fault in me, or even O Kesava, any fault however minute.
  • A person like me should only bow down to the Brahmanas for the sake of piety, without regarding anybody else.
    • Duryodhana in: Book 5: Udyoga Parva, section 127
  • At present, O Kesava of mighty arms, as long as I live, even that much of our land which may be covered by the point of a sharp needle shall not, O Madhava, be given by us unto the Pandavas.
    • Duryodhana in: Book 5: Udyoga Parva, section 127
  • O son of Kansa's slave, thou hast, it seems, no shame, for hast thou forgotten that I have been struck down most unfairly, judged by the rules that prevail in encounters with the mace? It was thou who unfairly caused this act by reminding Bhima with a hint about the breaking of my thighs! Dost thou think I did not mark it when Arjuna (acting under thy advice) hinted it to Bhima? Having caused thousands of kings, who always fought fairly, to be slain through diverse kinds of unfair means, feelest thou no shame or no abhorrence for those acts? Day after day having caused a great carnage of heroic warriors, thou causedst the grandsire to be slain by placing Shikhandi to the fore! Having again caused an elephant of the name of Ashvatthama to be slain, O thou of wicked understanding, thou causedst the preceptor to lay aside his weapons. Thinkest thou that this is not known to me! While again that valiant hero was about to be slain this cruel Dhrishtadyumna, thou didst not dissuade the latter! The dart that had been begged (of Shakra as a boon) by Karna for the slaughter of Arjuna was baffled by thee through Ghatotkacha! Who is there that is more sinful than thou? Similarly, the mighty Bhurishrava, with one of his arms lopped off and while observant of the Praya vow, was caused to be slain by thee through the agency of the high-souled Satyaki. Karna had done a great feat for vanquishing Partha. Thou, however, causedst Aswasena, the son of that prince of snakes (Takshaka), to be baffled in achieving his purpose! When again the wheel of Karna's car sank in mire and Karna was afflicted with calamity and almost vanquished on that account, when, indeed, that foremost of men became anxious to liberate his wheel, thou causedst that Karna to be then slain! If ye had fought me and Karna and Bhishma and Drona by fair means, victory then, without doubt, would never have been yours. By adopting the most crooked and unrighteous of means thou hast caused many kings observant of the duties of their order and ourselves also to be slain!
  • I have studied, made presents according to the ordinance, governed the wide Earth with her seas, and stood over the heads of my foes! Who is there so fortunate as myself! That end again which is courted by Kshatriyas observant of the duties of their own order, death in battle, hath become mine. Who, therefore, is so fortunate as myself? Human enjoyments such as were worthy of the very gods and such as could with difficulty be obtained by other kings, had been mine. Prosperity of the very highest kind had been attained by me! Who then is so fortunate as myself? With all my well-wishers, and my younger brothers, I am going to heaven, O thou of unfading glory! As regards yourselves, with your purposes unachieved and torn by grief, live ye in this unhappy world!
    • Duryodhana in: Book 9: Shalya Parva, section 61
  • Upon the conclusion of these words of the intelligent king of the Kurus, a thick shower of fragrant flowers fell from the sky. The Gandharvas played upon many charming musical instruments. The Apsaras in a chorus sang the glory of king Duryodhana. The Siddhas uttered loud sound to the effect, "Praise be to king Duryodhana!" Fragrant and delicious breezes mildly blew on every side. All the quarters became clear and the firmament looked blue as the lapis lazuli. Beholding these exceedingly wonderful things and this worship offered to Duryodhana, the Pandavas headed by Vasudeva became ashamed. Hearing (invisible beings cry out) that Bhishma and Drona and Karna and Bhurishrava were slain unrighteously, they became afflicted with grief and wept in sorrow.
    • Sanjaya in: Book 9: Shalya Parva, section 61
  • Alas, I who had Santanu's son Bhishma for my protector, and Karna, that foremost of all wielders of weapons and Gotama's son, Shakuni, and Drona, that first of all wielders of arms, and Ashvatthama, and the heroic Shalya, and Kritavarma, alas, even I have come to this plight! It seems that Time is irresistible! I was the lord of eleven Chamus of troops and yet I have come to this plight! O mighty-armed one, no one can rise superior to Time! Those of my side that have escaped with life from this battle should be informed, how I have been struck down by Bhimasena in contravention of the rules of fair fight! Many have been the very unfair and sinful acts that have been perpetrated towards Bhurishrava, and Bhishma, and Drona of great prosperity! This is another very infamous act that the cruel Pandavas have perpetrated, for which, I am certain, they will incur the condemnation of all righteous men! What pleasure can a righteously disposed person enjoy at having gained a victory by unfair acts? What wise man, again, is there that would accord his approbation to a person contravening the rules of fairness? What learned man is there that would rejoice after having won victory by unrighteousness as that sinful wretch, Vrikodara the son of Pandu, rejoices? What can be more amazing than this, that Bhimasena in wrath should with his foot touch the head of one like me while lying with my thighs broken? Is that person, O Sanjaya, worthy of honour who behaveth thus towards a man possessed of glory endued with prosperity, living in the midst of friends? My parents are not ignorant of the duties of battle. Instructed by me, O Sanjaya, tell them that are afflicted with grief these words: I have performed sacrifices, supported a large number of servants properly, governed the whole earth with her seas! I stayed on the heads of my living foes! I gave wealth to my kinsmen to the extent of my abilities, and I did what was agreeable to friends. I withstood all my foes. Who is there that is more fortunate than myself? I have made progresses through hostile kingdoms and commanded kings as slaves. I have acted handsomely towards all I loved and liked. Who is there more fortunate than myself? I honoured all my kinsmen and attended to the welfare of all my dependants. I have attended to the three ends of human existence, Religion, Profit, and Pleasure! Who is there more fortunate than myself? I laid my commands on great kings, and honour, unattainable by others, was mine, I always made my journeys on the very best of steeds. Who is there more fortunate than myself? I studied the Vedas and made gifts according to the ordinance. My life has passed in happiness. By observance of the duties of my own order, I have earned many regions of blessedness hereafter. Who is there more fortunate than myself? By good luck, I have not been vanquished in battle and subjected to the necessity of serving my foes as masters. By good luck, O lord, it is only after my death that my swelling prosperity abandons me for waiting upon another! That which is desired by good Kshatriyas observant of the duties of their order, that death, is obtained by me! Who is there so fortunate as myself? By good luck, I did not suffer myself to be turned away from the path of hostility and to be vanquished like an ordinary person! By good luck, I have not been vanquished after I had done some base act! Like the slaughter of a person that is asleep or that is heedless, like the slaughter of one by the administration of poison, my slaughter hath taken place, for I have been slain as unrighteously, in contravention of the rules of fair fight! The highly blessed Ashvatthama, and Kritavarma of the Satwata race, and Saradwat's son Kripa, should be told these words of mine, 'You should never repose any confidence upon the Pandavas, those violators of rules, who have perpetrated many unrighteous acts!'

Bhagavad Gita[edit]

Chapter 1: Verse 2, by Sanjaya

Chapter 1: Verse 3, by Duryodhana

Chapter 1: Verse 4, by Duryodhana

Chapter 1: Verse 5, by Duryodhana

Chapter 1: Verse 6, by Duryodhana

Chapter 1: Verse 7, by Duryodhana

Chapter 1: Verse 8, by Duryodhana

Chapter 1: Verse 9, by Duryodhana

Chapter 1: Verse 10, by Duryodhana

  • Guarded by Bhishma, this our force is all too weak; and all too strong that force of theirs, by Bhima guarded.

Chapter 1: Verse 11, by Duryodhana

  • And (so) in all movements,
    Stationed in your several places,
    Guard Bhishma above all,
    Each and every one of you.
    • Franklin Edgerton, tr.

Ajaya: Roll of the Dice[edit]

  • "Stay out of this, Bhanu!" Suyodhana jumped from the bed, toppling over a stool. "This is not just about me and my cousin. It is about this country and the future of its people. You have not seen Indraprastha. You have not seen how the poor live in the model city of the Pandavas. You have not seen..."
    • p. 412

Quotes about Duryodhana[edit]

  • Today, with Mahabharath, the epic being picturised on the Television, this group of ardent followers of Duryodhan have understood that their ‘benefactor’ is more a villain than a hero, hence a portion of the populace have distanced themselves from Duryodhana and dedicated the temple at Osla to Siva.
    • Vrinda and J. Ramanan in: Shrine for Duryodhana!
  • The best chapters of Duryodhana are the early ones. The case is compellingly created. I really started to buy into the argument that maybe Duryodhana was not the villain I had always known.
    • Abhijit Bhaduri in: Book review: Duryodhana


John D. Smith, tr. in: The Mahābhārata: an abridged translation. Penguin Classics, 2009 (ISBN 978-0-670-08415-9)

  • King Duryodhana, the foolish, wicked bringer of disgrace to the Kurus, was born on earth from a portion of Kali;[1] he was the man of ill omen, hated throughout the entire universe, who slew the whole world, the base man who sparked off the terrible enmity which led to the deaths of so many.

K. M. Ganguli, tr. in: The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa. Published between 1883 and 1896

  • And Duryodhana, O monarch, having obtained Karna (in this way), banished his fears arising out of Arjuna's proficiency in arms. And the heroic Karna, accomplished in arms, began to gratify Duryodhana by sweet speeches, while Yudhishthira was impressed with the belief that there was no warrior on earth like unto Karna.
  • Having unfairly slain king Suyodhana of righteous soul, the son of Pandu shall be reputed in the world as a crooked warrior! The righteous-souled Duryodhana, on the other hand, shall obtain eternal blessedness! Dhritarashtra's royal son, that ruler of men, who hath been struck down, is a fair warrior. Having made every arrangement for the Sacrifice of battle and having undergone the initiatory ceremonies on the field, and, lastly, having poured his life as a libation upon the fire represented by his foes, Duryodhana has fairly completed his sacrifice by the final ablutions represented by the attainment of glory!
  • This act, O Krishna, done from wrath, of Vrikodara's touching the head of the king with his foot, is not agreeable to me, nor am I glad at this extermination of my race! By guile were we always deceived by the sons of Dhritarashtra! Many were the cruel words they spoke to us. We were again exiled into the woods by them. Great is the grief on account of all those acts that is in Bhimasena's heart! Reflecting on all this, O thou of Vrishni's race, I looked on with indifference! Having slain the covetous Duryodhana bereft of wisdom and enslaved by his passions, let the son of Pandu gratify his desire, be it righteousness or unrighteousness!
  • The Earth is today thine, O king, without brawls to disturb her and with all her thorns removed! Rule over her, O monarch, and observe the duties of thy order! He who was the cause of these hostilities and who fomented them by means of his guile, that wretched wight fond of deception, lieth, struck down, on the bare ground, O lord of earth! All these wretches headed by Duhshasana, who used to utter cruel words, as also those other foes of thine, the son of Radha, and Shakuni, have been slain! Teeming with all kinds of gems, the Earth, with her forests and mountains, O monarch, once more cometh to thee that hast no foes alive!
    • Bhima in: Book 9: Shalya Parva, section 60
  • Thou, O son of Gandhari, hast been slain with thy brothers, sons, kinsmen, friends, and followers, only in consequence of the sinful path in which thou hast trod! Through thy evil acts those two heroes, Bhishma and Drona, have been slain! Karna too hath been slain for having imitated thy behaviour! Solicited by me, O fool, thou didst not, from avarice, give the Pandavas their paternal share, acting according to the counsels of Shakuni! Thou gavest poison to Bhimasena! Thou hadst, also, O thou of wicked understanding, endeavoured to burn all the Pandavas with their mother at the palace of lac! On the occasion also of the gambling, thou hadst persecuted the daughter of Yajnasena, while in her season, in the midst of the assembly! Shameless as thou art, even then thou becamest worthy of being slain! Thou hadst, through Subala's son well-versed in dice, unfairly vanquished the virtuous Yudhishthira who was unskilled in gambling! For that art thou slain! Through the sinful Jayadratha again, Krishna was on another occasion persecuted when the Pandavas, her lords, had gone out hunting towards the hermitage of Trinavindu! Causing Abhimanyu, who was a child and alone, to be surrounded by many, thou didst slay that hero. It is in consequence of that fault, O sinful wretch, that thou art slain! All those unrighteous acts that thou sayest have been perpetrated by us, have in reality been perpetrated by thee in consequence of thy sinful nature! Thou didst never listen to the counsels of Brihaspati and Usanas! Thou didst never wait upon the old! Thou didst never hear beneficial words! Enslaved by ungovernable covetousness and thirst of gain, thou didst perpetrate many unrighteous acts! Bear now the consequences of those acts of thine!

Bhagavad Gita[edit]

Chapter 1: Verse 12, by Sanjaya

  • To give him [Duryodhana] cheer the aged Kuru lord [Bhishma], the glorious sire, blew his shell, raising on high a roar as of a lion.
    • W. Douglas P. Hill, tr.

Chapter 1: Verse 23, by Arjuna

  • I wish to look at those who are assembled here, ready to fight and eager to achieve in battle what is dear to the evil-minded son [Duryodhana] of Dhṛtarāṣṭra.
    • Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, tr.

Ajaya: Roll of the Dice[edit]

  • There were more than 100,000 people assembled to watch the procession and pay homage to the presiding deity of the temple. The devotees belonged to all castes and creeds and the fervour they displayed was bewitching to watch. Strangely enough, the majestic festival was in honour of a man I had always believed to have few admirers, if any. The deity at the Malanada Temple in Poruvazhy village, Kerala, is none other than the most reviled villain of Indian mythology – Duryodhana.
  • Suyodhana was the butt of jokes for remaining faithful to his wife in a culture that adored Krishna for his harem of 16,008 'wives'.
    • p. 387
  • I know Suyodhana is a good man. If he had taken the incident to heart, he would not have invited us to this dice game. It shows he has forgiven us. He knows Yudhishthira likes nothing better than a game of dice. It is good of your husband to forgive his sister's mistake.

Ajaya: Rise of Kali[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. The name of the worst throw in dice, and of the worst of the four ages of the world, personified as a powerful evil being.

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