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Bhagadatta was the son of Naraka, mythological king of the Pragjyotisha Kingdom and second in line of kings of Naraka dynasty. He was succeeded by his son Vajradatta. He sided with Kauravas in the Mahabharata war as the result of his defeat to Karna during Digvijay.

In the Battle of Kurukshetra, Bhagadatta fought on the side of the Kauravas. He was very well known for his skill on his elephant. On the 12th day of the war, he was involved in a fierce battle with Arjuna on his World Elephant Supratika, who was being attacked by Bhima. During the course of this battle, Bhagadatta fired an irresistible weapon called Vaishnavastra on Arjuna. However, Arjuna was saved by the timely intervention of Krishna. Krishna let himself to be the cushion for that potent weapon, which turned into a garland and fell on Krishna and Arjuna was saved. Finally, Bhagadatta was beheaded by a lethal arrow shot by Arjuna.

In Kalika Purana, Harshacharita, Puranas and in other epics; Naraka is said to have sons namely Bhagadatta, Mahasirsa, Madavan and Sumali. Vajradatta and Pushpadatta are sons of Bhagadatta.