Firstly the answer is quite long,might be boring too read at your own risk…..
According to Hindu mythology there are 5 classes of warrior excellence.
- Rathi: A warrior capable of attacking 5,000 warriors simultaneously.
- Atirathi: A warrior capable of contending with 12 Rathi class warriors or 60,000
- Maharathi's: A warrior capable of fighting 12 Atirathi class warriors or 720,000
- Atimaharathi's: A warrior capable of fighting 12 Maharathi warriors simultaneously
- Mahamaharathi's: A warrior capable of fighting 24 Atimaharathi's simultaneously
Here is the list of warrior that I consider the top 10 based on the warrior classes and other powers they possess
There are a considerable amount of equally powerful warriors like Lava, Kusa, Parashurama, Kartavirya Arjuna etc during that era. But I have left such warriors out for various reasons .
Class : Atirathi
Race: Vanara(half man-half monkey)
Notable mention : He is Nephilim(Son of Vali)
Angada,the fierce son of vali,has killed many great warriors from Lanka, including,Ravana’s son, Narantaka, and Mahaparshva, chief general of Ravana’s army. Angada and his mother were the main reason for convincing Sugriva to help Lord Rama to find his wife,Sita. When he was sent to lanka for diplomatic reason where he was humiliated, he challanged the members of Ravan’s court to lift his leg from the ground at which everyone failed.
Notable mention : Had an armor that can be pierced only by Brahmastra
Atikaya,the son of Ravana and the younger brother of Indrajit.Once upon a time when he infuriated Lord Shiva atop Mount Kailasha, the deity hurled his Trishula (divine trident) at Atikaya, but Atikaya caught the Trishula in mid air and folded his hands before the lord in a humble manner. Lord Shiva was pleased at seeing this, and benevolently blessed Atikaya with the secrets of archery and divine weapons. An invincible armor of Lord Brahma was granted to Atikaya, owing to which Lakshmana killed him using Brahmastra.
Class : Maharathi
Race : Rikshas( Were-bears)
Notable mention : He was created by Brahma himself to aid Rama.
Jambavan,the King of the Bears,has received a boon from Lord Rama that he would have a long life, and have the strength of ten million lions. It is he who makes Hanuman realize his immense capabilities and encourages him to fly across the ocean to search for Sita in Lanka.Several years later during Mahabharata era ,he even managed to put a tough fight with Lord Krishna.
Class : Maharathi
Race : Rakshasas
Notable mention :He was massive colossus that 1000 elephants could walk over him.
Kumbhakarna, the gigantic brother of Ravana is a fearsome monsterous-Rakshasas who sleeps for six months at a stretch, rising for only one day and then returning to his slumber. Kumbhakarna can slay hundreds of warriors by the sweep of his hand or step of his foot. He injured Hanuman, and knocked Sugriva unconscious and took him prisoner, but was ultimately killed by Rama. When Ravana heard of his brother's death, he faints and proclaims that he is truly doomed.
Class : Maharathi
Race : Human
Notable mention : He is a quarter manifest of Vishnu and avatar of Adi shesha.
Lakshmana,the quick-tempered brother of Lord Rama is as powerful and excellent a warrior as his brother, and slayed extremely powerful demons, including Atikaya and Indrajit.He also posses many celestial weapons.
05. Vali / Sugriva
Class : Maharathi
Race : Vanara
Notable mention: Vali- Demigod(Son of Indra)/Sugriva -Demigod(Son of Surya)
Though Vali didn’t fight in the war,he and his twin brother Sugriva were equally matched in power ,Vali outmatched him by his boon that he had received, according to which anyone who fought him in single-combat lost half his strength to Vali, thereby making Vali invulnerable to any enemy.This boon alone is enough to acknowledge the fact, when its comes to single-combat,Vali will be victorious if the enemy uses his brute strength alone.
Notable mention : King of Rakshasas and the grandson of Pulastya(one of Brahma’s Mind sons)
Ravana, a rakshasa is the king of Lanka. He was son of a sage named Vishrava and daitya princess Kaikes. After performing severe penance for ten thousand years he received a boon from the creator-god Brahma: he could henceforth not be killed by gods, demons, or spirits. He is portrayed as a powerful demon king who disturbs the penances of rishis . Vishnu incarnates as the human Rama to defeat him, thus circumventing the boon given by Brahma.
03. Lord Rama
Notable mention: He is the seventh avatar of Lord Vishnu and the only one to posses Vaishnavastra other than Indrajit and Parashurama during this era.
Rama ,the seventh avatar of god Vishnu, he is the eldest and favourite son of Dasharatha, the king of Ayodhya and his Chief Queen, Kausalya.Rama single-handedly slays the 14,000 demon hordes of Khar (in one hour, according to the Ramayana), the demons Maricha and Subahu, Ravana's chief commander Prahasta and is responsible for the ultimate killing of Ravana himself.
02. Indrajit a.k.a Meghnadha
Notable mention : Possessed all three ultimate weapons of Trimurti’s and many more celestial weapons, can spread darkness and ignorance among enemies which greatly empowered the might of the Rakshasas, Master of Sorcery and Archery
Meghnadha,the eldest son of demon king Ravana was an excellent warrior.He was given the name ‘Indrajit’ after defeating Indra, the king of Devas by Lord Brahma.He had a boon that no one could win him over a battle field if he had completed Yagna and boarded his celestial chariot.He coupled his supreme fighting skills with various stratagems to inflict heavy losses on Vanara army before his death. Indrajit is t one of the few warriors in hindu mythology who is in Atimaharathi class. I placed him second because of the fact that most celestial weapons have no effect on the number one
Notable mention: : He is a Demi-god(Son of Vayu),Incarnation of Lord Shiva and the greatest devotee of Lord Rama
Hanuman,who belonged to a half-man half-monkey race was an invincible warrior. He, the son of a vanara king Kesari was the minister of Sugriva and was considered a formidable solider in the vanara army.Lord Rama has said that Hanuman can not even be defeat by him in a fight. Mostly importantly he played a major role in the battle by killing thousands of demons and reviving his fellow soldiers and his Lord Rama.
As per Bhishma in Mahabaratha, there are three classes of warriors: Rathi, Atirathi and Maharathi. I have considered only warrior fought in kurukshetra war.
Class: Rathi(both were equal to 8 Rathi)
Both of them where equally skilled with mace and were equally powerful in their one on one.They were almost equal to Atirathi. However Bhima, being the half brother of Hanuman had learned a few tricks from him which helped him in the final battle.
Satyaki was the greatest natural-born human warrior in the Mahabharata. He was taught by Arjuna.Everyone else who fought is either a demigod, nephilim, or son of some great sage, or perhaps born under extraordinary circumstances.He is regarded as almost equal of Arjuna. However had no knowledge of Chakravyuha.
Ashwatthama had knowledge of some great weapons and ranks third in killing the most number of warriors in the war.He is the avatar of one of the eleven Rudras. He is cursed with immortality. He was born with a gem in his forehead which gives him power over all living beings lower than humans. This gem is supposed to protect him from attacks by ghosts, demons, poisonous insects, snakes, animals etc.He was also responsible for leading the night raid at the end of 18th day of the war and killing all the remaining Panchala army and sons of Pandavas.
07. Ghatotkacha (Night Form)
Class : Atirathi
He is a master Illusionist who can baffle almost all celestial weapons. Karna had to use one of the most powerful weapons in the world to take down this guy, and even then, he took an entire legion with him just by falling down on them.He killed in masses like hundreds and thousands in one blow.Infact when Ghatotkacha realized that he was going to die, that he assumed a gigantic size. When the huge body fell, it crushed one akshuhini of the Kaurava army.
Class : Maharathi
Abhimanyu is a consummate warrior almost equal to his father. When he enters the unbreakable Chakra vyuha, he holds the entire Kuru host, with Drona, Karna and hundreds of other heroic warriors, in addition to hundreds of thousands of foot soldiers at bay single-handedly. He is killed however, by deceit and a merciless and unlawful slaying while he is unarmed and without a chariot, by the Kauravas.
Bhagadatta fought on the side of the Kauravas. He is very well known for his skill on his elephant.During the course of this battle, Bhagadatta fired an irresistible weapon called Vaishnavastra on Arjuna.However, Arjuna was saved from death by the timely intervention of Krishna. Krishna let himself to be cushion for that potent weapon, which turned into a garland and fell on Krishna. The Vaishnavastra was only known to Lord Krishna, Narakasura, Bhagadatta, Pradyumna and Parashurama during the Mahabharata age.
Class : Maharathi
Drona is a great master of Vedic military arts and almost every celestial weapon. He is invulnerable to any attack till he holds a weapon of any sort. This is the reason why the only way Pandavas could kill him was for him to throw down all weapons, which he does after hearing the death of his son. He also has great religious knowledge and wisdom. He becomes the second Kuru commander, and Arjuna is his favorite student. Drona's refused to teach Karna because Karna was not a prince, lays the foundation for the great Karna-Arjuna rivalry.
Class : Maharathi(Equal to 2 Maharathi)
He is one of the greatest archer on Earth and equal to Karna. He also pleased Lord Shiva who gave him his personal celestial weapon Pashupatastra, Lord Indra and others gods gave him all celestial weapons on his visit to heaven, he is also responsible for slaying the mighty demon race of Kalkaiya's, Puloma's and Nivatkavacha's. He is responsible for vanquishing Bhishma with help of Sikhandini, as well as exterminating an entire Akshauhini of warriors and Maharathas in one day, in addition to the armies of Samshaptakas, Trigartas and Narayanas – millions of soldiers and heroic warriors. He is also the protagonist in the great epic.Arjun held Gandiva, the personal bow of Lord Varuna.
Class :Maharathi(Equal to 2 Maharathi)
Karna,the son of Surya was born with kavach and kundal. They were armor of divine origins and could not be pierced with any kind of weapons.He sacrificed them for a great offence he received, the Shaktiastra that could slay immortals and it was used to kill Ghatotkacha who was on rampage on the 14th day of war . Karna's prowess is equal to Arjuna's in terms of Archery, however, he possessed strength and other war skills much more than Arjuna. There are many occasions where he over powered Arjuna.According to Krishna, Karna had all the qualities of the five Padavas – The Righteousness of Yudhisthira, Strength of Bhima, War Skills of Arjuna, Handsomeness of Nakula and Wisdom of Sahadeva. He had Vijaya bow the bow once held by Lord Shiva.
Class : Maharathi (Equall to 2 or 3 Maharathi)
Bhisma,the most consummate warrior trained by Parashurama, Bhisma is indestructible by any warrior when he lifts his weapons. Having defeated his preceptor himself, as well as all the kings of the earth, he is the Commander in Chief of the Kuru Army.He has a boon to die when he desired.Bhisma was well versed with tactical formations of the military in those days and only Drona, Krishna, Karna, & Arjuna could be compared to the vast knowledge that Bhishma possessed.
But there is warrior whose power is more than all of them in the above list and was in the battle field of Kurushetra war.
00. Lord Krishna
Class : Maharathi
Technically speaking Krishna didn’t really fight in the war but he is the one responsible for orchestrating the dead of all big shots.He was the eight incarnation of Maha Vishnu and possessed knowledge on all weapons. He is omnipotent,omnipresent and omniscient. His great power can only be matched by Trimurti’s.
And finally the list is over ,Sorry for the long answer….Actually writing this answers was really challenging since I had to compare a lot of warriors of equal standard and come out with the best. Some of them out there may not agree with my choice but this is my personal opinion. I neglected many powerful warriors like like Kartavirya Arjuna,Barbarica etc due to various factors one such great warrior is Parashurama,the sixth avatar of Vishnu who is belongs to timeline of both epics.He,being a Atimaharathi class warrior will be in the top 3 in both epics.
(Lord Parashurama fighting with Kartavirya Arjuna)
But I left him out owing to the fact that he didn’t fight the major wars of the epics.Same goes with other left out warriors.
*Disclaimer: The images I have added are just CG art.Since no one has ever seen any of this characters in real and only know them by their description from our ancient stories or arts,I took the liberty of adding the images that look close to their description.This image might not be the real image of the characters.
Source and references :
- Hindu mythological wars – Wikipedia
- Who according to you were the top 10 warriors during the time of the "Mahabharata" and how do you rank them from 1 to 10, except Lord Krishna?
- Who was the most powerful warrior in the Mahabharata?
Thanks for reading….Hope you enjoyed this…..
EDIT 1: Answers for FAQs:
- I could see many of the readers asking for the links of the above images . The above images are not from any particular site and they are just random images. You could search for them though but some of them are hard to get .
- Secondly, I could also see people asking for Barbarik in the list …Of course I agree he had a great offence , but I have neglected Barbarik for few reasons…One such reason is he didn’t fight in Kuruchetra war, moreover I believe that the characters in the list had enough tactics to counter his three arrows…I could justify this claim by saying that most of the characters from 00–09 had a lot of celestial weapons in their arsenal which they could use before Barbarik could launch all his three arrows (remember he had to launch all his 3 arrows to take his enemies out, but 1 divine arrow could take him down) …Moreover they knew at least one of the ultimate weapons i.e. Brahmastra, Pashupatastra and Vaishnavastra. Only Bhima and Duryodhana are defenseless against him but they are mace warriors, according to battle ethics Archers only fight with Archers right….When it comes to his father Ghatotkacha, he was a master of illusion and magic which made him immune to most celestial weapons..
- People also ask ‘ Why an Atimaharathi like Indrajit is placed below maharathi-Hanuman?’ (Thats because he is Lord Hanuman you genius)…Just kidding, now the fact….I accept Indrajit had a greater offense than Hanuman but when it comes to defense, Hanuman’s hands are raised far upper than that of Indrajit. Hanuman is immune to all celestial weapons and whats so cool is, not even the three ultimate weapons cannot harm him unless Hanuman himself gives in and plans to surrender to it.And this is reason for placing a lower class warrior above a upper class warrior.I hope this helps for that question.
- For people who ask ‘Wasn’t there a single Mahamaharathi in these two epics?’, The answers is ‘NO’ because only the Trimurti’s along with Ganesha and Devi Durga is considered to be of that class.Sometimes, Lord Karthikeyan is also referred to a Mahamaharathi.
Apart from this if you guys have any queries or suggestion feel free to comment friends…Thanks happy reading…