Sahadeva and Nakula were the youngest of the Pandavas. They were the twins that Madri gave birth to. Kunti had used the divine mantra given to her by Sage Durvasa and gave birth to Yudhisthir, Arjuna, and Bhima. Madri used the mantra and she gave birth to Nakul and Sahadeva by the blessings of Ashwinis. The Ashwinis are the gods of Ayurveda, horse riding, and sword fighting. Let us look at each of the twins in depth.
Sahadeva was blessed with the knowledge of Ayurveda, astrology, and fortune-telling. He also became a skilled warrior and specialized in fencing and axe fighting under Dronacharya and Kripacharya. He learned Nitishastra from Brihaspati. He is believed to be the reincarnation of Shukra, the guru of Asuras.
While the Pandavas were in exile, Sahadeva was a cowherd. Sahadeva was blessed with the best knowledge of Astrology and fortune-telling. Some sources also mention that he had eaten the flesh of Pandu which made him see the future. He was approached by Duryodhana to see the auspicious time for the war and was also offered a bribe that his and his brother’s life shall be spared for the deed. Sahadeva refused the offer but he would tell the time.
It is also said that he knew the details of everything and the events of the Mahabharata before they happened because of the boon he had got after eating the flesh. He would share this with Krishna who would console him.
He defeated 40 brothers of Kauravas and also killed Shakuni – something he had vowed to do when Draupadi was insulted.
After the war, Sahadeva played a major role in establishing Yudhisthir as Chakravarti Samrat by defeating many Southern Kingdoms. He was given the kingdom of Southern Madra.
Sahadeva had Vijaya and Draupadi as his wives. He had Shatrusena as his son from Draupadi and Suhotra from Vijaya. Suhotra becomes the next king of Southern Madra after Sahadeva’s death.
Nakula was blessed with beauty and was considered the most handsome person during that time. He was a very skilled swordsman. He knew everything about horses and horse breeding. He was an excellent horse rider. When the Pandavas were in exile, Nakula disguised himself as a caretaker of horses.
Nakula was instrumental in deciding the fate of war as he defeated Shakuni, Dushasana, Karna’s sons, and Shakuni’s sons. He did not kill Dushasana as Bhima had taken the oath of killing each of the hundred brothers who were responsible for the insult of Draupadi in the court.
After the war, Nakula was made the king of Northern Madra. He had two wives – Draupadi and Karenumati. He had two sons- Shatankika (who was killed in the Kurukshetra war) and Niramitra who succeeded him in ruling Northern Madra.
He was the third person to die while the Pandavas marched towards heaven with their dog. He did not reach Heaven as he was too proud of his beauty and considered himself the most handsome person in the world.
Thus, the two twins – Sahadeva and Nakula had so much to contribute and were essential to the victory of the Pandavas in the Kurukshetra war. They both played their role perfectly to make their victory possible.