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I have not found any specific reference to the age of each of the Pandavas, like Arjuna and Bheema when they fought the epic Mahabharata battle.

It will be also interesting to know the age of Bhishma pitamah during the Mahabharata war as he saw many generations of his own family unfold in front of his own eyes.

Their ages were not mentioned in various TV episodes of Mahabharata.

  • 1
    I asked same question adding kauravas and famous characters and question was given minus reputations with closed as too broad then deleted by community.. After that I stopped asking question here..!! Now this time this question is answerable.. strange rules..!! – Shaunak Shukla Jan 22 '15 at 9:09
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    @ShaunakShukla That's because you wanted the ages of all the famous characters of the Mahabharata. This question just asked for the ages of the Pandavas and one other person. – Keshav Srinivasan Feb 19 '15 at 16:21
  • I think while calculating years of person , you must be able to calculate the hours in a day , In those days and another point is that their body structure, they fought for year together,the dinosaur Geochelone (Aldabrachelys) sumeirei) which lived for 152 years had a accidental death.I suppose Mahabharata had happened before that so life will be certainly longer. – user7372 Aug 11 '16 at 5:07
  • See if this clears your confusion a little bit. – sv. Nov 23 '16 at 20:59
7

As per this research article of Mahabharat timeline, Yudhisthira was 91 years old at the time of Mahabharat war. And since all other pandava brothers were younger nearly by one year successively (excluding Sahadeva), there ages at the time of war would have been as below approximately:

Yudhistihra - 91 yrs, Bhima - 90 yrs, Arjuna - 89 yrs, Nakula and Sahadeva - 88 yrs

However, this other site states the age of Yudhistira as 49 years and Devavrata as 140 years. But the first site calculations seem to be more perfect than this one although that doesn't says Bhisma or Devavrata's age. I have found this site while searching today which also says the age of Bhisma was nearly 140 while dying as per his year of birth and death.

12

Following is the timeline posted from this link. Names of years and months can be found on the source of this information -

Yudhishthir - 91 years; Bheem - 90 years; Arjun - 89 years; Nakul & Sahdev - 88 years.

INTERESTING NEWS: Yudhishthir ruled for 72 years in his 127 years of life!

The number in (parenthesis) is the time in years from Yudhishthir's birth.

  • [-16] Karna's Birth.
  • [0] Yudhisthira was born. That was just [127-5-25] prior to Kaliyug [roughly 3229-8-15 B.C]
  • [1] Bhima's Birth
  • [2] Arjun's Birth [Phalguna Full Moon Day]. Lord Krishna's birth [Shravana Dark 8th day] who was 6 months older to Arjun.
  • [3] Nakula's and Sahadev's Birth
  • [1] Duryodhana's Birth : Just one day after Bhima's birth. From that day onwards everyday the rest 99 Kauravas and their sister were born.
  • [16] Pandu died
  • [29] Pandavas were brought to and stayed in Hastinapur for 13 years. They learnt archery under Drona.
  • [31] King Drupada was taken captive. Yudhishthira was made Crown-Prince.
  • [36] Pandavas stayed at Hastinapur for yrs. 5-4-20
  • [37] The Lac Palace was set on fire.
  • [38] Demon Hidimba was slain. Ghatotkacha was born and he grew up as an adult immediately.
  • [39] Demon Baka was slain. Princess Draupadi's Swayamvaram took place.

  • [40] In Panchala Kingdom, Pandavas stayed there for yr. 1-0-15 days

  • [45] Pandavas were received in Hastinapur. They stayed in Hastinapur for 5 years and 6 months. Indraprastha City was being built during this period.

  • [46] Yudhisthira was coronated.

  • [58] Arjuna went on pilgrimage for 12 years. He married Subhadra, and Abhimanyu was born. The Khandava Forest was burnt down. Mayasabha took yrs. 1-2-0 days for construction.

  • [60] Pandavas entered Mayasabha

  • [76] Rule in Indraprastha for 16 years. Wrestling started between Bhima and Jarasandh continued for 14 days, and Jarasandh was killed on 14th evening. The Rajasooya Yajna began. The two dice-plays were played in an interval of 4 days.

So Pandavas ruled for a period of yrs. 36-6-20 days

  • [76] Forest Life : Forest life started. 12 years forest exile and 1 year anonymity
  • [89] Pandavas declared their identity
  • [91] Shri Krishna's Peace talks
  • [91] The Great Mahabharata War started, Lord Krishna's famous Bhagavad Geeta discourse with Arjuna. Yudhishthira was crowned again.
  • [92] Ashwamedha Yajna began.
  • [127] Yudhishthir ruled for yrs. 36-2-15 days. Kaliyug started and Krishna finished his Avatar. [B.C 3102-2-20 at 2-27-30 P.M]. Seven days later, Dwarka city was submerged by the Ocean.
  • [128] Pandavas started for their final End. Parikshit, 36 years old, was coronated on the same day at Hastinapur.
  • [188] Parikshit ruled for 60 years, coronated his 25 year old son Janamajeya, and died.
  • The source link shows 404 error and not found. – Sarvabhouma Nov 29 '16 at 7:18
  • @SreeCharan its working now.. – Itachi Uchiha Nov 29 '16 at 10:22
8

This web page gives a detailed timeline of the Mahabharata, based on the text of the Mahabharata and its associated commentaries. Here is the basic method of calculating the ages of the Pandavas. First of all, as I discuss in this answer, Krishna departed the Earth after he was shot by a hunter who mistook his foot for the mouth of a deer. This event marks the beginning of the Kali Yuga, and it took place in 3102 BC. Now we use the description of the birth of Yudhisthira given in this chapter of the Adi Parva of the Mahabharata:

Then the handsome Kunti was united (in intercourse) with the god of justice in his spiritual form and obtained from him a son devoted to the good of all creatures. And she brought his excellent child, who lived to acquire a great fame, at the eighth Muhurta called Abhijit, of the hour of noon of that very auspicious day of the seventh month (Kartika), viz., the fifth of the lighted fortnight, when the star Jyeshtha in conjunction with the moon was ascendant.

It can be determined using astrological calculation that this took place in 3229 BC, 127 years before the start of the Kali Yuga. So Yudhisthira was 127 years old at the time of Krishna's death. But we know from the Sauptika Parva of the Mahabharata that Krishna died 36 years after the Mahabharata war.

Thus Yudhisthira was 91 years old at the time of the Mahabharata war. And each of the Pandavas were born a year apart. So at the time of Mahabharata war, Yudhisthira was 91 years old, Bhima was 90 years old, Arjuna was 89 years old, and Nakula and Sahadeva were 88 years old.

By the way, as I discuss in this answer, the Matsya Purana says that Krishna was 89 years old at the time of the Mahabharata war, making him younger than Yudhisthira and Bhima, the same age as Arjuna, and older than Nakula and Sahdeva. That is confirmed by the relations of respect described in the Srimad Bhagavatam:

After the Lord bowed down at the feet of Yudhiṣṭhira and Bhīma and firmly embraced Arjuna, He accepted obeisances from the twin brothers, Nakula and Sahadeva.

In any case, using similar astrological calculations, it can be shown that Bhishma was born in 3278 BC, and was thus 140 years old at the time of the Mahabharata war.

By the way, it may seem odd to you that everyone was so old, but you have to keep in mind that people were much longer-lived in the Dwapara Yuga.

8

If we consider "sacred-texts" as the most reliable source for Mahabharata, then the only age, I could find is -- Guru Drona, who was 85 years old; Other being Abhimanyu, 16.

Having slain Bharadwaja's son (Drona). Dhrishtadyumna was filled with great joy, and uttered leonine shouts, whirling his sword. Of a dark complexion, with white locks hanging down to his ears, that old man of five and eighty years of age, used, for thy sake only, to career on the field of battle with the activity of a youth of sixteen. [Drona Parva]


Few points to be noted for the pitamaha Bhishma:

He was a young prince, when his half brothers, Chitrangada and Vichitravirya (younger) were born. He was matured enough to take an oath for a lifelong celebacy.
Let's say if he was at least 10 years during the oath. At the earliest, Vichitravirya would have been married at the age of 15-18. So Bhishma would be at least 30 years when, Dhritarashtra, Pandu, Vidura would have got born.

We can assume that in the earlier times, women were getting pregnant at pretty early age. They may not be waiting for 18 years to finish. (e.g. Mahatma Gandhi's wife, Kasturba got married at 13 and pregnant at the age of 17-18).

Based on above, we can infer the ages of other characters during the great war:

  • Bhishma Pitamaha should be of at least 90 years (assuming elder to Guru Drona)
  • Muni VedavyAsa should be also at least 90 years, if not more
  • Guru KripachArya was brother-in-law of Guru Drona; so should be around 85 +/- years
  • Dhritarashtra should be maximum 60 years (Bhishma - 30), while Gandhari & Kunti were also of similar ages
  • Bhishma should be elder to Yudhistira by at least 50 years; Hence Yudhishtira & Yuyutsu should be around 40 years
  • Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula-Sahadeva would follow with -1, -2, -3 years of consecutive difference respectively from the age of Yudhishtira; hence late 30s
  • Shri Krishna was of the equal age as Arjuna; viz 36-38
  • Duryodhana & his siblings were of similar age as Bhima
  • Karna & Ashwathama would have been of similar ages, yet elder to Yudhishtira; May be mid or early 40-s age
  • Abhimanyu was of age 16 -- This tele-s with Arjuna's age of early 40s

The curse of Gandhari had wiped out the whole Yadu clan, 36 years after the war. In such sense, Shri Krishna wouldn't have lived beyond 75 years.


Humans' anatomy hasn't changed much in several thousands of years. Hence if we hear about over the top heights, ages and strengths, then they ought to be ignored either as interpolation or translation errors.

3

The Mahabharat mentions the time periods that Pandavs spent at different places after they left for Varnavat when they were already adolescents.

The sons of Kunti reached the town of Varanavata and lived there with their mother. And, agreeably to the command of Dhritarashtra, those illustrious slayers of all enemies lived in the palace of lac, while in that town. And they lived in that place for one year, protecting themselves from Purochana.

After they escaped, Bhima married Hidimba and Arjun won the hand of Draupadi in Panchal where they again stayed for a year.

And having obtained Draupadi (as their common wife) they then dwelt there for a year. And after they became known, those chastisers of all enemies went back to Hastinapura.

Then they lived in Khandavprasth for some time:

And the sons of Pritha dwelt there for many years. And they brought, by force of arms, many a prince under their subjection.

Then Arjun went on an exile individually for twelve years:

And Arjuna, that tiger among men, of firm soul, and gifted with every virtue, lived in the woods for eleven years and months.

After this they had the fateful game of dice:

And deceiving Yudhishthira by means of the dice played through the hands of the son of Suvala, Duryodhana sent the Pandavas into the woods for twelve years and one additional year to be passed in concealment, thus making the period full thirteen.

"And the fourteenth year, O monarch, when the Pandavas returned and claimed their property, they did not obtain it. And thereupon war was declared.

Adding these we get somewhere close 35 odd years account of their life after adolescence. So I think their age around 50 years would be more accurate rather than it being around 90 years.

1

I would like to point out that the classical commentator Nilakantha claims that years mentioned in the Mahabharata do not mean ordinary human years. There is a passage in Mahabharata Virata Parva Section XLIII which says:

And finally Partha, surnamed Swetavahana, hath held it [Gandiva] for five and sixty years.

The translator Sri K. M. Ganguli says in a footnote that 'Nilakantha spends much learning and ingenuity in making out that sixty-five years in this connection means thirty-two years of ordinary human computation'.

  • Let's be clear that Nilakantha's 32 year-argument are the means by which we get the figure that the Pandavas were 90 years old at the time of the Mahabharata war. If we rejected Nilakantha's argument, we would get figures a lot higher than 90. – Keshav Srinivasan Nov 12 '15 at 13:57
  • So did you mention this in your answer? I didn't see it. – Pradip Gangopadhyay Nov 12 '15 at 15:52
  • No, I didn't mention it in my answer. Basically Nilakantha was confronted with the following problem: if we rely upon the rest of the Mahabharata, it's clear that the Pandavas were about 90 years old at the time of the war. But if we use the 65 year figure given in the Virata Parva, then we would have to conclude that the Pandavas were over 120 years old at the time of the war, contradicting the rest of the Mahabharata. Nilakantha resolved this apparent contradiction by arguing that in the Virata Parva, and only in the Virata Parva, Arjuna was referring to a different year system. – Keshav Srinivasan Nov 12 '15 at 16:42
  • You're welcome. So there's really no escaping the fact that the Pandavas were in the 90 years old, in our unit of year, at the time of the war. – Keshav Srinivasan Nov 13 '15 at 15:49
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    Not every body will like what I am saying. I think the fact that Mahabharata war was fought by 90 year old men is simply a sign that what we are reading is a fictionalised account of [possibly] a real war. – Pradip Gangopadhyay Nov 13 '15 at 15:53

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