Who killed Dushasana?

Who killed Dushasana - Featured Image - Picture of three dice representing the dice game

Dushasana is the younger brother of Duryodhana, the main antagonist of the Mahabharata. Along with Shakuni and Karna, Dushasana and Duryodhana form the ‘wicked quartet’ of the story.

Dushasana’s life is characterized by blind obedience to all of Duryodhana’s instructions and plans. The most significant event of his life is when he undertakes to disrobe Draupadi during the game of dice.

In this post, we will answer the question: Who killed Dushasana?

Dushasana is killed on the seventeenth day of the Mahabharata war by Bhima. Bhima takes a vow during the dice game that he will drink Dushasana’s blood. On the seventeenth day, after killing him, Bhima tears open his chest and drinks a mouthful of his enemy’s blood.

Read on to discover more about who killed Dushasana.

(For more Duryodhana-related questions, see: Duryodhana: 12 Questions about the Mahabharata Hero Answered.)

Dushasana’s Character

Dushasana plays the perfect caricature of the not-so-bright-but-evil henchman that every serious villain needs. He is devoted to his older brother to such an extent that all of Duryodhana’s hates become his.

While Duryodhana has a sense of restraint about him, Dushasana is not blessed with this trait. He is more under the sway of his emotions, and allows himself to get carried away.

He is part of the ‘wicked quartet’ that together provides the antagonistic force in the Mahabharata story. The other three members of this group are Duryodhana, Karna and Shakuni.

It is not a stretch to say that Dushasana is probably the least significant part of this team. He only appears to be entertained by the other three because of his willingness to carry out all orders without questioning.

At the Dice Game

Throughout the childhoods of the Pandavas and Kauravas, Dushasana is always right with Duryodhana in all their little ploys to harm the sons of Pandu.

Dushasana is also part of the think-tank that creates the plot to kill the Pandavas in Varanavata.

But it is only during the dice game that Dushasana strides into the limelight. When Karna stands up and delivers a scathing rebuttal of Vikarna’s support of Draupadi, he concludes by saying that the wife of the Pandavas is nothing but a prostitute.

And then he calls upon Dushasana to undress her in public.

Horrid as the suggestion is, Dushasana steps up to the middle of the hall and begins to forcefully pull off Draupadi’s clothes. Earlier in the scene, it is he – under Duryodhana’s instructions – who drags Draupadi into the assembly hall by her hair.

Later, as the disgraced Pandavas and Draupadi are preparing to leave on their exile, Dushasana dances in front of them in unmitigated glee and sends them off.

Dushasana, therefore, can be seen as the manifestation of all those emotions that Duryodhana and Dhritarashtra are wise enough to conceal from public view. Dushasana simply doesn’t have the self-restraint to do so.

Bhima’s Vow

Bhima takes several vows during the distasteful dice game. He promises his ancestors that he will crush Duryodhana’s thighs – those same thighs that he slapped before gesturing obscenely at Draupadi.

He also states that he will kill all the sons of Dhritarashtra for heaping this insult upon Draupadi.

But he also reserves a special kind of hatred for Dushasana. He takes a vow that he will drink the blood from Dushasana’s body as an act of vengeance for all that Draupadi has had to endure because of him.

Nobody takes Bhima’s vow seriously at the time he takes it, of course. As far as the Kauravas are concerned, the Pandavas are being driven away into exile, and they will never hear from them again.

It takes Bhima fourteen years (or thereabouts) to fulfil his promises.

Bhima Faces Dushasana

On the seventeenth day of the Kurukshetra war, with Karna and Arjuna seeking to challenge one another, a decisive fight breaks out between Bhima and Dushasana.

The latter draws first blood in this challenge, breaking the bow of his opponent and killing his driver, but the son of Dhritarashtra is equal to the task of defending himself.

He picks up a new weapon in the blink of an eye, and shooting a cloud of arrows at Bhima while holding the reins of his horses himself.

A bright shaft decked with gold and diamonds now leaves his bow, and pierces through the armour of Vrikodara, at which the latter staggers back and falls down on the terrace of his car, losing consciousness for a while.

But he is up in a few moments, and begins to roar like an angered lion. Even now Duhsasana continues to dominate the duel, cutting off Bhima’s bow, and then with six shafts injuring Visoka, the Pandava’s charioteer.

Bhima, consumed with rage, hurls a dart at his sworn enemy, but sees it being shattered to pieces by nine well-aimed arrows.

While the soldiers witnessing this battle applaud Duhsasana for his skill, Bhima addresses his cousin and says, ‘Pierced I have been, O hero, deeply by your arrows. But bear now once more the stroke of my mace!’

Bhima Kills Dushasana

With those words, a fierce dart resembling the mace of Yama flies from Bhima’s hand toward Duhsasana. It strikes its target on the head, and carries him a distance measured by the length of ten bows away from his chariot.

Bhima descends from his own car and runs to where Duhsasana lies prostrate, and with his foot placed on the prince’s chest, looks around at Karna, Suyodhana, Kripa, Ashwatthama and Kritavarma, as if challenging them.

‘Today I am going to slay this wretched one,’ he says. ‘May the powerful warriors of the Kaurava army protect him if they can.’

Picking up a sword and slicing open the chest of his enemy, Bhima then pounds the heel of his foot down on Duhsasana’s throat, not paying attention to whether he is alive or dead.

Crazed with rage, he straddles the son of Dhritarashtra and drinks his warm lifeblood before chopping off his head with two swipes of his sword.

‘I regard my enemy’s blood to be tastier than my mother’s milk,’ he says, ‘or honey, or clarified butter, or even ambrosia or nectar that the gods drink.’

Gandhari’s Anger

After the war is finished, Gandhari gets angry at Yudhishthir for the crime of fighting the war against the Kauravas. She also gets angry at Bhima for the manner in which he kills Dushasana.

‘How could you drink the blood of a man like an animal, Vrikodara?’ she asks. ‘It is considered the height of cruelty to eat the flesh of another man, and only Rakshasas are known to drink the blood of their enemies.’

Bhima accepts Gandhari’s anger, and tells her that he did not actually drink Dushasana’s blood. ‘I only touched it to my lips to honour my vow, Mother,’ he says. ‘I did not let any of the blood travel down my throat.’

Bhima also expresses regret at having to kill Dushasana and the other Kauravas in so brutal a fashion. He tells Gandhari that the circumstances surrounding the dice game made it impossible for any other solution to be reached.

Bhima thus fulfils his vow of killing the Kauravas – and also of killing Dushasana.

Further Reading

If you liked this post, you may find these interesting also: