I have come across two opinions on this:

  1. This was his actual name

  2. His actual name was Suyodhana and he was later on known as Duryodhana.

What was Duryodhana's actual name?

  • 2
    I just did a scanned search... Mahabharat calls Duryodhan by the name Suyodhan 183 times... Mahabharat mentions the name Duryodhan 1871 times... Thus it is clear his original name was Suyodhana...
    – Tezz
    May 9, 2016 at 9:00
  • 1
    As far as I know his name was Duryodhana. The Suyodhana thing came up because people thought any name with 'Dur' means a bad thing.
    – Surya
    May 9, 2016 at 9:00
  • 2
    @Tezz How does that number prove that Suyodhana was his original name?
    – Surya
    May 9, 2016 at 9:01
  • 3
    @Amit No. 'Dur' means bad, but Duryodhana means 'difficult to conquer'. So the meaning of Duryodhana is 'excellent warrior'. How is that a villain's name ?
    – Surya
    May 9, 2016 at 9:09
  • 1
    In Sanskrit there are some words which if you split and check the meaning you'll get a meaning opposite to when you combine the word.
    – Surya
    May 9, 2016 at 9:10

2 Answers 2


Both are names for the same person and often used interchangeably. Suyodhan means one who is good with arms (in warfare). Duryodhan means unconquerable warrior. Naturally there can be many who are good in battle but there can be only ONE who is unconquerable, by definition. Duryodhan was more unique and it stuck.

  1. His actual name was Suyodhana and he was later on known as Duryodhana.

It's the other way round as Nityānanda Miśra clarifies in a series of tweets starting with this. He's referring to this verse from Virāṭa Parva where Arjuna taunts Duryodhana saying his former name, Duryodhana (which literally means one who is difficult to fight with) doesn't suit him as he's running away from the battlefield.

18  moghaṃ tavedaṃ bhuvi nāmadheyaṃ; duryodhanetīha kṛtaṃ purastāt
     na hīha duryodhanatā tavāsti; palāyamānasya raṇaṃ vihāya

Arjuna said,

Renounce your deeds and great fame. Why are you running away in this way and refraining from battle? Why aren't trumpets being sounded for you now, the way they were sounded when you set out to do battle? I obediently follow Yudhishthira's instructions. I am the third of the Parthas and I am steadfast in battle. Therefore, turn around and show me your face. O son of Dhritarashtra! Remember how Indras among men are supposed to act. You have been named Duryodhana earlier, but that name will be uttered on earth in vain.194 There is no Duryodhana left in you. You are running away and refraining from battle. I do not see anyone to protect Duryodhana, either at the front or at the back. O foremost among Kurus! Therefore, run away from the battle. Protect your beloved life from the Pandava.

194 Duryodhana means someone who it is difficult to fight with.

(Bibek Debroy. The Mahabharata: Volume 4)

Another twitter user True Indology argues that it's mostly Duryodhana's rivals that address him as "Suyodhana" meaning "easy to be fought".

In Mahabharata, it is his rivals like Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Krishna, Bhishma, Dhrishtadyumna, Nakula, etc., as well as sages like Narada, Kanva, Vaisampayana, etc., who refer to Duryodhana as "Suyodhana".


"Suyodhana" means "one who can be easily defeated in war".

Benfey Sanskrit-English Dictionary:

सुयोधन suyodhana, i. e. su-yudh + ana, m. A name of Duryodhana (easy to be fought), Hiḍ. 4, 58.

दुर्योधन duryodhana (see the next), m. The eldest of the Kuru princes, MBh. 1, 2728.

दुर्योधनता duryodhana + tā, i. e. dus-yudh + ana + tā, f. Difficulty of being attacked, MBh. 4, 2103.

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