In Mahabharat, what happened to the dead bodies of Pandavs & Draupadi?

I think towards the end while climbing some mountain one after the other they all get tired, fall to the ground and die. Did anyone recover their dead bodies and perform the funeral rites? Or they reached heaven/hell in their human bodies without the need of funeral rites?

I'm assuming if no final rites are performed, the dead person's soul will be "stuck" on Earth forever.

1 Answer 1


The Pandavas & Draupadi are not "stuck" on the Earth. They were not "ordinary" human embodied jivas to start with. All of them were partial incarnation of highly exalted deities, as I discuss in this answer.

As per Mahabharata, they entered heaven, and later-on everyone got merged back into the deities they issued from.

  • Description of the Pandavas and Draupadi as seen by Yuddhiṣṭhira in the Indra's heaven.

Section 4, Svargarohanika Parva

Vaishampayana said, "King Yudhishthira, thus praised by the gods, the Maruts and the Rishis, proceeded to that place where those foremost ones of Kurus race were. He beheld Govinda endued with his Brahma-form. It resembled that form of his which had been seen before and which, therefore, helped the recognition. Blazing forth in that form of his, he was adorned with celestial weapons, such as the terrible discus and others in their respective embodied forms. He was being adored by the heroic Phalguna (an epithet of Arjuna), who also was endued with a blazing effulgence. The son of Kunti beheld the slayer of Madhu also in his own form. Those two foremost of Beings, adored by all the gods, beholding Yudhishthira, received him with proper honours.

"In another place, the delighter of the Kurus beheld Karna, that foremost one among all wielders of weapons, resembling a dozen Suryas in splendour. In another part he beheld Bhimasena of great puissance, sitting in the midst of the Maruts, and endued with a blazing form. He was sitting by the side of the God of Wind in his embodied form. Indeed, he was then in a celestial form endued with great beauty, and had attained to the highest success. In place belonging to the Ashvinis, the delighter of the Kurus beheld Nakula and Sahadeva, each blazing with his own effulgence.

"He also beheld the princess of Pancala, decked in garlands of lotuses. Having attained to Heaven, she was sitting there, endued with a form possessed of solar splendour. King Yudhishthira suddenly wished to question her. Then the illustrious Indra, the chief of the gods, spoke to him, This one is Shri herself. It was for your sake that she took birth, as the daughter of Drupada, among human beings, issuing not from any mothers womb, O Yudhishthira, endued with agreeable perfume and capable of delighting the whole world. For your pleasure, she was created by the wielder of the trident. She was born in the race of Drupada and was enjoyed by you all. These five highly blessed Gandharvas endued with the effulgence of fire, and possessed of great energy, were, O king, the sons of Draupadi and yourself.

  • In the next chapter, it's revealed all the people involved in the Mahabharat got merged back into their original deity, they issued from.

Section 5,, Book 18 - Svargarohanika Parva

Bhishma of mighty energy and great effulgence attained to the status of the Vasus. Eight Vasus, O chief of Bharatas race, are now seen. Drona entered into Brihaspati, that foremost one of Angirasas descendants. Hridikas son Kritavarma entered the Maruts. Pradyumna entered Sanatkumara whence he had issued. Dhritarashtra obtained the regions, so difficult of acquisition, that belong to the Lord of treasures. The famous Gandhari obtained the same regions with her husband Dhritarashtra. With his two wives, Pandu proceeded to the abode of the great Indra. Both Virata and Drupada, the king Dhrishtaketu, as also Nishatha, Akrura, Samva, Bhanukampa, and Viduratha, and Bhurishrava and Sala and king Bhuri, and Kansa, and Ugrasena, and Vasudeva, and Uttara, that foremost of men, with his brother Sankhaall these foremost of persons entered the deities. Somas son of great prowess, named Varcas of mighty energy, became Abhimanyu, the son of Phalguna, that lion among men. Having fought, agreeably to Kshatriya practices, with bravery such as none else had ever been able to show, that mighty-armed and righteous-souled being entered Soma. Slain on the field of battle, O foremost of men, Karna entered Surya. Shakuni obtained absorption into Dvapara, and Dhrishtadyumna into the deity of fire. The sons of Dhritarashtra were all Rakshasas of fierce might. Sanctified by death caused by weapons, those high-souled beings of prosperity all succeeded in attaining to Heaven. Both Kshattri (an epithet of Vidura) and king Yudhishthira entered into the god of Righteousness (Yamaraja) . The holy and illustrious Ananta (who had taken birth as Balarama) proceeded to the region below the Earth. Through the command of the Grandsire, he, aided by his Yoga power, supported the Earth. Vasudeva was a portion of that eternal god of gods called Narayana. Accordingly, he entered into Narayana.

English Translation by K.M. Ganguli

As regards performing the final funeral rites and annual sradhhas rituals for ancestors, it is safe to assume that the onus fell on Parikshit since he was the successor and descendant of the Kuru dynasty.

Also, Yuddhishthira reached the heaven with his own body.

Section 3, Book 17 - Mahaprasthanika Parva

Shakra said, ‘Thou shalt behold thy brothers in Heaven. They have reached it before thee. Indeed, thou shalt see all of them there, with Krishna. Do not yield to grief, O chief of the Bharatas. Having cast off their human bodies they have gone there, O chief of Bharata’s race. As regards thee, it is ordained that thou shalt go thither in this very body of thine.

To conclude -

  • The Pandavas and Draupadi are not "stuck" on Earth, they reached heaven, and ultimately merged into their original deity source.

  • The final rites, and other death rituals must be performed by Parikshit, the sole eligible male descendant of the Kuru dynasty.

  • 4
    You make a lot of assumptions. 'Yuddhishthira reached the heaven with his own body' - what about the rest? 'final rites, and other death rituals must be performed by Parikshit' - how did he know that they died? Did he conduct a survey? If he did and no bodies were found it means they could be still roaming around. How can one conduct final rites for someone without knowing for sure they died or not? Commented Apr 26, 2022 at 17:36
  • @chowkidarchorhai kindly go through the answer properly. In the first block quote itself. It describes in detail how Yuddhishthira saw all his kin in the Indra's heaven. Then read the final block quote of the answer, it clearly states, in the words of Indra that Yuddhishthira was destined to reach heaven with his body and the other five reached via their subtle body casting off their human bodies in the Mahaprasthana journey. This is more or less similar to a penance, and as such a maybe roughly equated to a Samadhi (although I'm doubtful on that part). (1/2)
    – Vivikta
    Commented Apr 27, 2022 at 1:04
  • @chowkidarchorhai in any case, it is very much safe to assume that since all those people, most of them, were parts of deities they don't need to have their last rites performed, as is evident from my answer, everyone merged back into their original deity source. Even so then, it is not a wrong assumption to assume that the descendant male issue would have performed those rights in proper ways, as a part of his pitr yajna duties. There's no wrong about that assumption. Once it is depicted they merged back, on what basis do you asssume that they're "stuck" on Earth?! Wrong assumption! (2/2)
    – Vivikta
    Commented Apr 27, 2022 at 1:08
  • 1
    Well if you notice, my question begins with 'what happened to the dead bodies of Pandavs & Draupadi'. But I didn't find the answer either in your introduction or the conclusion. Pls add "the other five reached via their subtle body casting off their human bodies in the Mahaprasthana journey" to your conclusion. Commented Apr 27, 2022 at 5:30
  • 1
    I'm more interested in how the other 5 reached heaven when there is no evidence of anyone performing the funeral rites for them. I found this chapter in manusmriti sacred-texts.com/hin/manu/manu06.htm which deals with hermits and renunciates. Maybe the rites were performed before they started their 'Mahaprasthana journey'. Commented Apr 27, 2022 at 5:33

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