Duryodhana Vadham

Story Play (Attakkatha): 

Translated by Achuthan TK

Main characters:

  • Duryodhana
  • Bhanumathi
  • Dussasana
  • Pandavas -- Yudhishtira, Bheema, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva
  • Panchali
  • Krishna
  • Sakuni
  • Dhritharashtra
  • Roudra Bheema ( Bheema ) 



Duryodhanavadham is based on events in the great Indian epic Mahabharata. This is a very
popular play in Kathakali. Its storyline is known to most people and it has great visual impact on
stage with plenty of drama, brisk movements, war and killings.
The play was written by Vayaskara Aryan Narayanan Moossad who lived between 1842 and 1902.
At the core of the story is the bitter rivalry between the Pandava and Kaurava princes, the
descendants of the Kingdom of Hastinapura.


The play starts after the Rajasuya yaga conducted by the Pandavas and when they were living in a
magnificent, even magical, palace created by Mayan the architect in Indraprastha. Duryodhana
and his brothers, envious of the Pandavas, decide to insult them but get insulted instead.
Duryodhana consults his uncle Sakuni who advises him to invite Yudhishtira for a game of dice.
The Pandavas lose their kingdom in the game after being cheated by the devious Sakuni. They
become slaves to the Kauravas and Dussasana drags Panchali to the royal court and tries to
disrobe her. But Krishna’s intervention saves her from being shamed in public. Duryodhana’s father
Dhritarashtra arrives on the scene and liberates the Pandavas. But the Kauravas again challenge
Yudhishtira for another single game of dice where the losers will have to live in the forest for 14
years and one year incongnito without being found out. The Pandavas lose that game and go to
the forest. After they complete the stipulated 15 years they decide to send Krishna as their
emissary to claim their kingdom back from the Kauravas. Duryodhana rejects the mediation efforts
and war ensues. Kauravas lose the war after Bheema first kills Dussasana and then Duryodhana.