My previous article on the Akshouhini gave rise to some interesting discussions in the comments section. Sri Chiraan rightly pointed out that the actual number of people who participated in the war had to be much more. It was, after all, the “Maha”bharata war!
I recalled reading in the Tatparya Nirnaya that the number 18 Akshouhinis was just the core army. The actual army *had* to be much bigger! So I got down to doing some research on this and yes, the Bhaarata has captured this detail as well. We find details of the actual fatalities (and survivors) in the war in the Stri Parva. The Pandavas, along with Krishna, come to meet Dhritharashtra and Gandhari. At one point, Dhritharashtra asks Yudhishthira if he knows the number of people dead and number of survivors. The numbers that Dharma reveals are
- Fatalities : 1 billion, 660 million and 20,000!!!
- Survivors : 240,165
Today’s world population is 6 billion, 700 odd million. Even in today’s terms, about 25% of the population got wiped out in the war!
dashayutanam ayutam sahasrani cha vimshatihi |
kotyah shashtishcha shat chaiva ye asmin rajamrudhe hataha ||
alakshyaanam tu veeraanam sahasraani chaturdasha |
dasha chaanyani rajendra shataam shashtis cha pancha cha ||
“One billion 660 million and 20,000 men have fallen in this battle. Of the heroes that have escaped, the number is 240,165″
Truly, the war was a Maha Yuddha!