In the Hindu epic Mahabharata, Nakula was one of the five Pandava brothers. Nakula and Sahadeva were twins born to Madri, who had invoked the Ashwini Kumaras using Kunti's boon.
Due to Pandu's inability to bear children , Kunti had to use the boon given by Sage Durvasa to give birth to her three children. She shared the boon with Pandu's 2nd wife, Madri, who invoked the Ashwini Kumaras to beget Nakula and Sahadeva. The dark-complexioned Nakula was known to be the most handsome person in the Kuru lineage.
In his childhood, along with the other Pandava brothers, Nakula mastered his skills in archery under his father Pandu and a hermit named Suka at the Satasringa ashram. Especially, Nakula turned out to be an accomplished wielder of the sword.
Later, Pandu lost his life when he attempted intercourse with his wife, Madri. The latter also immolated herself in her husband's pyre, so Nakula and Sahadeva lost both their parents at an early age.
Later Kunti and the five Pandavas moved to Hastinapura. Nakula greatly improved his archery and swordplay skills under the tutelage of Drona. His expertise and mastery earned him the title of an Athirathi.
Nakula married Draupadi during this period and had a son, Satanika. Nakula also married Karenumati, the daughter of the Chedi Kingdom, who bore him a son, Niramitra.
Nakula was sent west by Yudhisthira to subjugate kingdoms for the Rajasuya sacrifice, after crowning as the Emperor of Indraprastha. Nakula set forth to the kingdom once dominated by Vasudeva with a huge army. He 1st attacked the prosperous mountainous country of Rohitaka. He defeated the Mattamyurakas of the land in a fierce encounter. In another battle with the sage Akrosa, Nakula subjugated the regions of Sairishaka and Mahetta. He also defeated many tribes and small dynasties, including the Dasarnas, the Sivis, the Trigartas, the Amvashtas, the Malavas, the five tribes of the Karnatas, the Madhyamakeyas, the Vattadhanas and the Utsava-sanketas.
It is said that Nakula needed ten-thousand camels to bring the entire wealth back to Indraprastha.
Yudhisthira's loss in the game of dice meant that all Pandavas had to live in exile for 13 years. Once in exile, Jatasura, disguised as a Brahmin, kidnapped Nakula along with Draupadi, Sahadeva and Yudhisthira. Bhima rescued them eventually, and in the fight that ensued, Nakula killed Kshemankara, Mahamaha and Suratha.
In the 13th year, Nakula disguised himself as an ostler and assumed the name of Granthika at the Kingdom of Virata. He worked as a horse-trainer who looked after horses in the royal stable.
Nakula desired Drupada to be the general of the Pandava army, but Yudhisthira and Arjuna opted for Dhristadyumna.
As a warrior, Nakula slew prominent war-heroes on the enemy side. The flag of Nakula's chariot bore the image of a red deer with golden back. Nakula slew Chitrasena, Sushena and Satyasena, the sons of Karna.
After the war, Yudhisthira appointed Nakula as a supervisor of the army.