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  • Name Kunti  
    Nickname Pritha 
    Gender Female 
    Person ID I104  Hindu Puran Genealogy Tree | Somavanshi
    Last Modified 10 Oct 2012 

    Father Kuntibhoja 
    Relationship Foster 
    Family ID F189  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Father Shurasena 
    Mother Marisha, II 
    Family ID F253  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 Pandu  [2
    Association Vyasa (Relationship: Father (Niyoga)) 
    +1. Yudhisthira
    +2. Bhima
    +3. Arjuna
    Last Modified 10 Oct 2012 
    Family ID F52  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Association Ashwin Kumar - Nasatya (Relationship: Nakul's Father (Niyoga)) 
    Association Ashwin Kumar - Dasra (Relationship: Sahadev's Father (Niyoga)) 
    +1. Karna,   d. Kurukshetra, Ancient Cities, India Find all individuals with events at this location  [Birth]
    Last Modified 21 Dec 2011 
    Family ID F54  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Sources

    1. [S43]
      WIKI.Kunti, Wiki, (Wikipedia), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kunti.

      A late 17th-century painting of Pandu and Kunti from Kashmir
      Personal Information
      Gender Female
      Family Parents
      14 siblings including Vasudeva and Shrutashrava
      Spouse Pandu
      Children Sons Step-sons (Madri)

      Kunti (Sanskrit: कुन्ती, IAST: Kuntī), born Pritha (Sanskrit: पृथा, IAST: Pṛthā), is a prominent figure in the Hindu epic Mahabharata. Recognized for her pivotal role as the mother of Karna and the Pandavas, the central protagonists of the narrative, she is depicted as possessing notable beauty, intelligence, and shrewdness.

      Originally born to the Yadava chief Shurasena, Pritha was adopted by her childless uncle, Kuntibhoja, and subsequently bestowed with the name Kunti. During her adolescence, she garnered the favour of the sage Durvasa, receiving a divine mantra. Intrigued, she employed this mantra to invoke the sun god Surya, resulting in the birth of her son, Karna. Faced with the societal stigma associated with bearing a child out of wedlock, Kunti found herself compelled to relinquish her son to safeguard her honour.

      Upon attaining marriageable age, Kunti chose Pandu, the king of Kuru, as her husband. However, her marital harmony was disrupted by the inclusion of Madri, the princess of Madra, as Pandu's second wife. Pandu, cursed to perish instantly upon attempting intimacy with his wives, retired to the forest with Kunti and Madri. Responding to her husband's entreaty, Kunti employed her mantra, resulting in the birth of Yudhishthira, Bhima, and Arjuna. Later, she shared this mantra with Madri, who bore Nakula and Sahadeva. Following Pandu's demise and Madri's self-immolation, Kunti assumed responsibility for her stepsons and relocated with her children to Hastinapura, the capital of Kuru.

      Surviving the perilous events at the Lakshagriha, Kunti, during their concealment, instructed Bhima to marry Hidimbi, a Rakshasi. A misunderstanding on Kunti's part led to the polyandrous union of Draupadi, the princess of Panchala, with the five Pandavas. Following the establishment of Indraprastha, Kunti continued to reside in Hastinapura, cultivating a harmonious relationship with her sister-in-law, Gandhari. Preceding the Kurukshetra War, Kunti encountered Karna, urging him to align with the Pandava faction upon discovering his true lineage. Despite Karna's refusal, she implored him to spare all her sons except Arjuna. Subsequent to Yudhishthira's ascension to the throne of the Kurus, Kunti retired to the forest, eventually passing away.

      Within Hindu tradition, Kunti is venerated as one of the panchakanya ("five maidens"), embodying ideals of female chastity. Her name is believed to possess purifying qualities, capable of dispelling sin when recited. Kunti is lauded as the epitome of maturity, foresight, and dutiful womanhood.

      Birth of Karna and early life

      Kunti was the biological daughter of Shurasena, a Yadava ruler.[1] Her birth name was Pritha. She is said to be the reincarnation of the goddess Siddhi. She was the sister of Vasudeva, the father of Krishna and shared a close relationship with Krishna. Her father gave Kunti to his childless cousin Kuntibhoja.[2]

      Kunti invokes Surya out of curiosity.

      Once Rishi Durvasa visited Kuntibhoja. Being extremely pleased by the all comforts, patience, and devotion offered by Kunti, he offered her a mantra that would invoke any god of her choice and he would bless her with children.

      Out of impetuous curiosity, Kunti invoked the god Surya. Bound by the power of the mantra, Surya blessed her with a child. To her surprise, the child was born with his sacred armour on. Out of fear of the public and with no choice, Kunti put the child in a basket and set him afloat the Ganga river. He later became famous as Karna.[3]

      Marriage and children

      Kuntibhoja organised Kunti's swayamvara. Kunti chose King Pandu of Hastinapur, making her the Queen of Hastinapur.[4][1] Soon after, during his mission to expand his empire, Pandu, on Bhishma's proposal, married Madri, a princess of Madra in order to secure the vassalage of Madra.[4] Kunti was disturbed by her husband's actions, but eventually reconciled with him and treated Madri as a sister.

      Pandu, while hunting in a forest, mistakenly shot and killed Rishi Kindama and his wife as they had taken the form of deer to mate. The dying sage then cursed him to die if he tries to embrace or touch his wives. Pandu renounced the kingdom and went into exile with Kunti and Madri.[5]

      Pandu could not sire children with his wives due to the curse by sage Kindama. A remorseful Pandu met some sages and asked them a way for heaven and salvation. They said, without children, one can never aspire for heaven. When Pandu expressed to Kunti his despair at the prospect of dying childless, she mentioned the boon granted to her. He happily advised her to beget children by suitable, illustrious men. Thus, Kunti used the boon granted to her by Sage Durvasa to bear three sons—Yudhishthira by Dharmarajagod of Justice; Bhima by Vayu – god of wind, and Arjuna by Indra – the king of Svarga (Heaven). She also invoked Ashvins for Madri on her behest and Madri gave birth to twin sons, Nakula and Sahadeva.[6][7]

      Kunti gave special care to Madreyas (sons of Madri) especially Sahadeva, the youngest one. Madri gave tribute to Kunti by saying

      "You are blessed. There is none like you you are my light, my guide, most respect-worthy, reater in status, purer in virtue." I.125.66–68[4]


      One day, Pandu, forgetting his curse, attempted to embrace his wife Madri. But, as a result of Kindama's curse, he died. Madri committed suicide out of remorse that caused her husband's death. Kunti was left helpless in the forest with her children.[8]

      After the death of Pandu and Madri, Kunti took care of all five Pandava children taking them back to Hastinapur. Dhritrashtra's sons never liked them. During their childhood, Duryodhana poisoned and tried to kill Bhima but he was saved. Kunti was hurt by this but was consoled by Vidura. Later the Kuru princes were sent to train under Drona.[9]


      The Pandavas travelling with their mother

      After the princes finished their training, they returned to Hastinapura. After some time Duryodhana and his maternal uncle Shakuni tried to burn Pandavas alive along with Kunti for which they built the palace out of lac (Lakshagriha) in a village named Varanāvata. The Pandavas, though, managed to escape the house of lac with the help of Vidura through a secret tunnel.[10]

      After surviving from the Lakshagriha Kunti and five Pandavas lived in Ekachakra village.[11] During their stay, Kunti and the Pandavas become aware of a demon, Bakasura, who ate people. Villagers had to send one member of their family and food to Bakasura, who devour both. When Kunti heard the cries of a Brahmin – who had provided her and her son's shelter in Ekachakra, Kunti consoled him and suggested that instead of a Brahmin's family, her son Bhima would face the demon. Kunti engineered a plot where Bhima would be able to face and kill the demon. The powerful Bhima brought his might to the fore and defeated Bakasura.[12] Later, Bhima slays the rakshasa Hidimba and he is beseeched by Hidimbi, Hidimba's sister, to wed her. Bhima is reluctant, but Kunti ordered Bhima to marry Hidimbi seeing merit in the woman. Hidimbi would go on to birth Ghatotkacha, who later takes part in the Kurukshetra War.[citation needed]

      The Pandavas attended the swayamvara of Draupadi in Panchala. Arjuna was able to win Draupadi's hand. The Pandavas returned to their hut and said that they have bought alms (signifying Kanyadan). Kunti misunderstood them and asked the Pandavas to share whatever they had brought. Kunti was shocked after realizing the implications of her words, that is, all of the Pandavas married Draupadi thinking that they are obeying their mother's orders. Therefore, she scolded her children for treating a woman like alms. However, Draupadi accepted this as her fate.[13]

      Role in the events of Hastinapura

      When Kunti, along with the Pandavas and Draupadi, returned to Hastinapura, they faced many problems including Draupadi's polyandry and succession dispute between Yudhishthira and Duryodhana. On the advice of Bhishma, Pandavas were given a barren land to rule which was developed into Indraprastha.[14]

      When the Pandavas lose the kingdom in a dice game and are forced to go into exile for thirteen years, Kunti is forced by King Dhritarashtra to remain in the capital. She chose to stay in Vidura's house rather than the royal palace.[15]

      Reconciliation with Karna

      As war approached, Kunti met Karna and in desperation to keep her all children alive, asked Karna to leave the side of Duryodhana and join the Pandavas. Karna denied the offer, as he could not betray his friend. However, he promised Kunti that he would not kill any of his brothers except Arjuna, thus following both Mitra dharma and Putra dharma. He also promised that at the end of the war she would still have five sons, the fifth one be either Arjuna or Karna himself.[3]

      Despite supporting her children, Kunti stayed in the Kaurava camp along with her sister-in-law Gandhari. After the death of Karna, Kunti disclosed the secret of Karna's birth to the Pandavas. A grief-stricken Yudhisthira would curse the women of the world that they shall be unable to keep any secret anymore.[16]

      Later life and death

      After the Kurukshetra war, Kunti lived with her sons for many years. After she felt that her job in the world was over, she moved to a forest near the Himalayas with her brothers-in-law Vidura and Dhritarashtra, Sanjaya and Dhritarashtra's wife Gandhari. Vidura died two years after they left. Later Sanjaya left for the Himalayas and those remaining perished in a forest fire.[4][17]

      Portrayal in the Mahabharata

      In the Mahabharata, Kunti is depicted as a mild-mannered woman with high moral and social values. She constantly guides her sons on their actions and keeps the family bound as one, never to have them fight among each other. She is said to have a great amount of respect for her brothers-in-law Dhritarashtra and Vidura and for Dhritarashtra's wife Gandhari. She is also said to have an affectionate relationship with her daughter-in-law Draupadi.[18]

      Other versions of the Mahabharata depict her to be shrewd and calculative. Early in her life, she rejects her son born out of wedlock (Karna) in societal fear, only to confess to him several years later, in solitude, that she birthed him. She tries to have him shift allegiance out of fear of losing her five sons. In exile with her husband Pandu, she shares her boon with his second wife Madri reluctantly and fears being overshadowed. It is said that Kunti did not share the boon for a second time with Madri, in the fear that Madri's children would outnumber her own.[19]

      Various actresses portrayed the role in various films and TV serials.


      1. 1 2 "The Mahabharata, Book 1: Adi Parva: Sambhava Parva: Section CXII". www.sacred-texts.com. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
      2. "The Mahabharata, Book 1: Adi Parva: Sambhava Parva: Section CXI". www.sacred-texts.com. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
      3. 1 2 McGrath, Kevin (2004). The Sanskrit Hero: Karna in Epic Mahābhārata. Brill Academic. ISBN 90-04-13729-7. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
      4. 1 2 3 4 "Kunti" (PDF). Manushi India Organization. Retrieved 10 January 2013.
      5. Ramankutty, P.V. (1999). Curse as a motif in the Mahābhārata (1. ed.). Delhi: Nag Publishers. ISBN 9788170814320.
      6. Perry, Edward Delavan (1885). "Indra in the Rig-Veda". Journal of the American Oriental Society. Journal of the American Oriental Society vol. 11.1885. 11: 121. doi:10.2307/592191. JSTOR 592191.
      7. Bhattacharya, Pratip (2004). "She Who Must Be Obeyed, Draupadi: The ill fated one" (PDF). Manushi. Panchakanya 19–30.
      8. "Chapter 60-Death of King Pandu and Madri at the same time". The Tales of India. 31 August 2017. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
      9. https://web.archive.org/web/20110713024835/http://www.india-intro.com/religion/mahabharat/210-mahabharat-the-story-of-drona-teacher-of-kauravas-and-pandavas.html The Story of Drona – the Teacher of Kauravas and Pandavas
      10. "Lakshagraha of Mahabharat". Nerd's Travel. 7 August 2019. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
      11. "ASI grants permission to excavate palace Kauravas commissioned to kill Pandavas". India Today. 2 November 2017. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
      12. Gopal, Madan (1990). K.S. Gautam (ed.). India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 75.
      13. Johnson, W. J. (2009). "Arjuna". A Dictionary of Hinduism. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acref/9780198610250.001.0001. ISBN 978-0-19861-025-0.
      14. Narlikar, Amrita; Narlikar, Aruna (20 March 2014). Bargaining with a Rising India: Lessons from the Mahabharata. OUP Oxford. ISBN 978-0-19-161205-3.
      15. Mani, Vettam (1 January 2015). Puranic Encyclopedia: A Comprehensive Work with Special Reference to the Epic and Puranic Literature. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-81-208-0597-2.
      16. "The Mahabharata, Book 12: Santi Parva: Rajadharmanusasana Parva: Section VI".
      17. Mani pp.442–3
      18. Kumar, Manisha (15 October 2014). "Kunti And Gandhari – The Two Matriarchs Of Mahabharata". Dolls of India. Retrieved 20 August 2020.
      19. admin (20 April 2020). "Kunti Devi From Mahabharata: A Character Sketch". Meghnaunni.com. Retrieved 20 August 2020.
      This information is sourced from Wikipedia, the leading online open-content collaborative (crowd-sourced) encyclopedia. Wikipedia and/or TransLiteral Foundations can not guarantee the validaity of content above and can not be held responsible for inaccuracies or libelious information within. Please see Wikipedia General Disclaimer.

    2. [S40]
      WIKI.Pandava, Wiki, (Wikipedia), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pandava.

      A print by Ravi Varma Press depicting the Pandava brothers—Yudhishthira (centre), Bhima (bottom left), Arjuna (bottom right), Nakula and Sahadeva (both standing beside the throne)—with their common consort, Draupadi

      The Pandavas (Sanskrit: पाण्डव, IAST: Pāṇḍava) is a group name referring to the five legendary brothers, Yudhishtira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva, who are central figures of the Hindu epic Mahabharata. They are acknowledged as the sons of Pandu, the King of Kuru, but were fathered by different Devas (gods) due to Pandu's cursed inability to naturally conceive children. In the epic, the Pandavas married Draupadi, the princess of Panchala, and founded the city of Indraprastha after the Kuru Kingdom was split to avoid succession disputes. After the split, the other part of the kingdom was ruled by their cousins, the Kauravas. However, the Pandavas lost their kingdom to Duryodhana (eldest and king of the Kauravas) when Yudhishtira gambled it away during a game of dice. The bet Yudhishtira agreed to was that the Pandavas would hand the kingdom to the Kauravas and go into exile for 13 years. After this time the Kauravas refused to return the kingdom. As a result, the Pandavas waged a civil war against their extended family, and this conflict was known as the Kurukshetra War. With the help of the god Krishna, the Pandavas eventually won the war with the death of the Kauravas, albeit at great cost.[1]


      The word Pandava (Sanskrit: पाण्डवा, IAST: Pāṇḍavā) is derived from Pandu (Sanskrit: पाण्डु, IAST: Pāṇḍu) and means "descendants of Pandu". Other epithets given to the Pandavas are:[2]

      • Pāṇḍuputra (Sanskrit: पाण्डुपुत्र) – sons of Pandu
      • Pāṇḍavakumāra (Sanskrit: पाण्डवकुमार) – young Pandavas
      • Kaunteya (Sanskrit: कौन्तेय) – sons of Kunti (Yudhishthira, Bhima, Arjuna).
      • Mādreya (Sanskrit: माद्रेय) – sons of Madri (Nakula and Sahadeva)

      Description of the Pandavas

      The Pandava brothers had a group marriage to Draupadi. In the Section 268 of Vana Parva of the epic, Draupadi describes the Pandavas to Jayadratha after he abducted her forcefully and the Pandavas pursuit them.[3]

      • Yudhishthira was slender, and had a prominent nose, large eyes and a complexion like that of "pure gold". He is also described as a just man, who had correct knowledge of the morality of his own acts and was merciful to surrendering foes.[3]
      • Bhima is described being plump, long-armed and tall as a full grown Sala tree. He is also extolled to be strong, well-trained, endued with great might and his superhuman feats had earned him great renown. In a display of ferocity, he bit his lips, and contracted his forehead to bring the two eyebrows together. Bhima is also described to be frightful, who never forgot a foe and was not pacified even after he wreaked his vengeance.[3]
      • Arjuna is praised as the greatest of archers, intelligent, second to none "with senses under complete control." Neither lust nor fear nor anger could make him forsake virtue. Though capable of withstanding any foe, he would never commit an act of cruelty.[3]
      • Nakula was considered by Draupadi as "the most handsome person in the whole world." An accomplished master swordsman, he was also "versed in every question of morality and profit" and "endued with high wisdom." He was unflinchingly devoted to his brothers, who in turn regarded him as more valuable than their own lives.[3]
      • Sahadeva was heroic, intelligent, wise and no another man was equal unto him in intelligence or in eloquence amid assemblies of the wise. He was the one dearest to Kunti, and intent on doing what is agreeable to Yudhishthira. He is also praised to be always mindful of the duties of Kshatriyas (warrior -class), and would sacrifice his own life than say anything that is opposed to morals.[3]


      Birth and parentage

      Pandu shoots Kindama, who is disguised as a deer.

      According to the Adi Parva of the epic, Pandu was crowned as the king of the Kuru Kingdom despite being younger than his elder brother Dhritrashtra, who was denied the throne for being blind. He married Kunti, a princess of the Yadu clan, and Madri, the princess of Madra Kingdom. Once he was hunting in a forest when he shot a copulating pair of deer. However, they turn out to be a sage named Kindama and his wife, who had used their divine powers to take the form of the animals. Enraged, Kindama berated the king for having killed him before he had finished the act of mating and before dying, he cursed Pandu that he would die the moment he touched his wife intending to make love. After the event Pandu voluntarily renounced royal life as penance, leaving the Kingdom under Dhritarashtra. Kunti and Madri accompanied Pandu and together they lived in a forest.[4]

      Before her marriage, Kunti was blessed with a boon by the sage Durvasa, that she could have a son by any god whom she respects without having any marital affair. After Pandu learned of this, he asked her to perform Niyoga and bear him sons using the boon. The first three of the Pandavas were the sons of Kunti, while the younger two were born to Madri after Kunti shared her mantra with her at Pandu's request.[5] The divine fathers of the Pandavas were:[4]

      • Dharmadeva, the god of dharma, who fathered Yudhishthira
      • Vayu, the god of wind, who fathered Bhima
      • Indra, the god of rain and the king of gods, who fathered Arjuna
      • The Ashvins, the twin gods of health and medicine, who fathered the twins Nakula and Sahadeva.[6]

      Upbringing and rivalry with the Kauravas

      A few years later after the birth of the Pandavas, Pandu died after trying to have a union with Madri and the latter immolated herself out of remorse. Kunti brought the Pandavas back to Hastinapura, the capital of Kuru, and they were raised together with their cousins, the Kauravas, who were the hundred sons of Dhritrashtra. The Pandavas were guided and taught by Bhishma, Vidura and Kripa.[4]

      Duryodhana, the eldest of the Kauravas, refused to accept the Pandavas as his cousins. This usually led to much tension between the cousins. Insecure and jealous, Duryodhana harbored an intense hatred for the five brothers throughout his childhood and youth and following the advice of his maternal uncle Shakuni, often plotted to get rid of them to clear his path to the lordship of the Kuru Dynasty.[4]

      Pandavas journeying with their mother

      This plotting took a grave turn when Dhritarashtra had to relent to the will of the masses and rightfully appointed his nephew Yudhishthira as crown prince. This went against the personal ambitions of both father and son (Dhritarashtra and Duryodhana) and drove Duryodhana into such a rage that he enthusiastically agreed to an evil ploy by Shakuni to murder Yudhishthira. Shakuni commissioned the construction of a palace in Varnavart, secretly built by incorporating flammable materials like oil, ghee etc. into the structure, most notably the lacquer known as lac. This palace was known as Lakshagraha. Duryodhana then successfully lobbied Dhritarashtra to send Yudhishthira to represent the royal household in Varnavarta during the celebrations of Shiva Mahotsava. The plan was to set the palace on fire during the night while Yudhishthira would likely be asleep. Yudhishthira left for Varnavrata, accompanied by his four brothers and their mother Kunti. The plan was discovered by their paternal uncle Vidura, who was very loyal to them and an extraordinarily wise man. In addition, Yudhishthira had been forewarned about this plot by a hermit who came to him and spoke of an imminent disaster. Vidura arranged for a tunnel to be secretly built for the Pandavas to safely escape the palace as it was set afire.[4]

      Marriages and children

      The Pandavas had polyandrous marriage with Draupadi, the princess of Panchala Kingdom who was prophesied to bring the end of the Kauravas. The Adi Parva narrates that after their flight from the palace, the five brothers lived in the forests for some time disguised as Brahmins. They heard from a group of travelling sages about a contest (Svayamvara) being held in the Kingdom of Panchala that offered Draupadi's hand in marriage to the winner. The Svayamvara turned out to rely on the skills of archery, and Arjuna, who was a peerless archer, entered the competition and won. When the brothers took Draupadi to introduce her to their mother, they jokingly announced to Kunti that they had arrived with excellent alms. Kunti was busy with some work and replied without turning to look at Draupadi (who the alms referred to) ordering the brothers to share the alms equally amongst the five of them. Even when uttered erroneously, their mother's word was supreme for the Pandavas, and they agreed to share the princess, who was subsequently married to all five brothers. To prevent jealousy among the brothers and identify the paternity of Draupadi's children, the Pandavas followed a condition in which one brother was given a year with her and others were forbidden to enter her chamber. If the condition was violated, the brother, who entered the room, had to go on a pilgrimage for a year. Arjuna was the only one to violate this condition.

      Each Pandava had a son with Draupadi and they were collectively referred to as Upapandavas; their names were Prativindhya (fathered by Yudhishthira), Sutasoma (fathered by Bhima), Shrutakarma (fathered by Arjuna), Shatanika (fathered by Nakula), and Shrutasena (fathered by Sahadeva).

      Besides Draupadi, each Pandava had their own wife with whom they a son:

      • Yudhishthira was also married to Devika, the daughter of the king of the Sivi Kingdom, and had a son named Yaudheya.
      • Bhima had two other wives—the Rakshasi (demoness) Hidimbi and Valandhara, a princess of the Kingdom of Kashi. Hidimbi was the mother of Ghatotkacha, while Savarga was the son of Valandhara.
      • Arjuna had three other wives—Uloopi, a Naga woman with whom he had Iravan; Chitrangada, the princess of Manipur, who became the mother of Babruvahana; and Subhadra, the sister of Krishna and the mother of Abhimanyu.
      • Nakula had a wife named Karenumati, daughter of king of Chedi, and had a son named Niramitra.
      • Sahadeva was married to Vijaya, princess of Madra, and had a son named Suhotra.


      When Dhritarashtra heard that the five brothers were alive, he invited them back to the kingdom. However, in their absence, Duryodhana had succeeded in being made the crown prince. Upon the return of the Pandavas, the issue of returning Yudhishthira's crown to him was raised. Dhritarashtra led the subsequent discussions into ambiguity and agreed to a partition of the kingdom "to do justice to both crown princes". He retained the developed Hastinapura for himself and Duryodhana and gave the barren, arid and hostile lands of Khandavaprastha to the Pandavas. The Pandavas successfully developed their land and built a great and lavish city, which was considered comparable to the heavens, and thus came to be known as Indraprastha.

      The game of dice

      Draupadi is presented in a pachisi game where Yudhishthira has gambled away all his material wealth.

      Reeling under the loss of half the lands of his future kingdom, Duryodhana's jealousy and rage were further fuelled by the Pandavas' success and prosperity. Eventually Shakuni sired yet another plot and got Duryodhana to invite the Pandavas over to his court for a game of dice (gambling). Shakuni was a master at gambling and owned a pair of dice which magically did his bidding. Owing to this, bet after bet, Yudhishthira lost all of his wealth, and eventually his kingdom, in the game. He was then enticed by Duryodhana and Shakuni to place his brothers as bets. Yudhishthira fell for it and put his brothers at stake, losing them too. He then placed himself as a bet and lost again. Duryodhana now played another trick and told Yudhishthira that he still had his wife Draupadi to place as a bet and if Yudhishthira won, he would return everything to the Pandavas. Yudhishthira fell for the ruse and bet Draupadi, losing her too. At this point, Duryodhana ordered that Draupadi, who was now a slave to him, be brought to the court. None of the Pandavas fought for their wife's honour. Duryodhana's younger brother Dushasana dragged Draupadi to the royal court, pulling her by her hair, insulting her dignity and asserting that she, like the Pandava brothers, was now their servant. This caused immense anguish to all the great warriors seated in the court, but each of them, namely, Bhishma (grandsire of the clan), Dronacharya (teacher/guru of Kauravas and Pandavas) and Kripacharya except Vidura remained silent. Duryodhana then ordered Dushasana to disrobe Draupadi before everyone, as a slave girl has no rights. The elders and warriors in the audience were shocked but did not intervene. As Dushasana began to disrobe her, she prayed to Krishna to protect her honour. Krishna, using his divine powers, protected her by providing her garments with an unending length. Dushasana, shocked and tired, gave up on disrobing Draupadi. Finally, as the blind king Dhritarashtra realized that this humiliation could prompt Draupadi to curse his sons, he intervened, apologizing to Draupadi for the behaviour of his sons, and turned the winnings of the dice game back over to the Pandava brothers, releasing them from the bondage of slavery.

      Pandava Caves: According to the historical sources Pandavas stayed here during their exile.[7]

      Incensed at the loss of all that he had won, Duryodhana threatened suicide and coerced his father into inviting the Pandavas for one last round of gambling, the terms of which were that the loser would be condemned to 12 years of exile into forests and a 13th year to be spent incognito, and if the cover is blown during the 13th year, another cycle of 13 years would ensue. Obeying their uncle's orders, the Pandavas played the round and again lost to Shakuni's cheating. However, this time, their patience had been nearly pushed to its edge.

      Exile and incognito period

      During the 12 years of exile in the forest, they prepared for war. Arjuna performed penance and won the entire gamut of celestial weapons (Divyastras) as boons from the Gods. They spent the 13th year masquerading as peasants in the service of the royal family of Virata, the king of Matsya. Upon completion of the terms of the last bet, the Pandavas returned and demanded that their kingdom be rightfully returned to them. Duryodhana refused to yield Indraprastha. For the sake of peace and to avert a disastrous war, Krishna proposed that if Hastinapura agrees to give the Pandavas only five villages named Indraprastha (Delhi), Swarnprastha (Sonipat), Panprastha (Panipat), Vyaghrprastha (Baghpat) and Tilprastha (Tilpat)[8][9] if these five villages given they would be satisfied and would make no more demands.[10] Duryodhana vehemently refused, commenting that he would not part even with land as much as the point of a needle. Thus the stage was set for the great war, for which the epic of Mahabharata is known most of all.

      Krishna's help to Pandavas

      Five Pandavas in Wayang form. From left to right: Bhima, Arjuna, Yudhishthira, Nakula and Sahadeva. Indonesia Museum, Jakarta.

      Krishna, being a well-wisher of the Pandavas, helped them in various ways during the time of their ordeals. When the Kurukshetra war was going to be held, both Arjuna on behalf of the Pandavas, and Duryodhana on behalf of the Kauravas, went to Krishna to seek help. Duryodhana reached first and Arjuna was just behind him. They entered Krishna's room and found him sleeping. Duryodhana sat on a raised chair near Krishna's head and Arjuna sat near Krishna's feet closing his hands. When Krishna woke up, he saw Arjuna first and asked him about the purpose of his visit. Then he found Duryodhana sitting next to him, and asked him the same question. Krishna was then told that war was going to be held and Arjuna and Duryodhana had come to him seeking his military help. To this Krishna replied that he had seen Arjuna first and so he would give him priority, and asked what he needed. He gave Arjuna two options – either his army of 100,000 soldiers or Krishna himself who shall not fight in the war. To this Arjuna immediately opted for Krishna for his help and thus Duryodhana was given Krishna's army. Duryodhana was very satisfied to have received a huge army.

      The Kurukshetra War

      The war was intense and lasted 18 days, over the course of which both parties worked around, bent and even broke rules of warfare. In the end, all 100 Kaurava brothers and their entire army was slain, with only three surviving on their side. The Pandavas too lost several allies but the five brothers survived. After having won the war, Yudhishthira was crowned the king.[citation needed] At the end of the war, only 10 survived the war on both sides, namely Ashwatthama, Kripacharya and Kritverma on the Kaurava side and the five Pandavas, Krishna and Saatyakee on the Pandava side.

      Later life

      The Pandavas ruled Hastinapura for 36 years and established a righteous kingdom. Shortly after Krishna left the Earth, they all decided that the time had come for them to renounce the world, as the age of Kali Yuga had started.

      So the five Pandavas and Draupadi left to the path of liberation. For this purpose, they all climbed Mount Kailash, which leads to the Swarga Loka. On their way, all except Yudhisthira slipped and died one by one. Yudhisthira was accompanied by a dog who was none other than God Yama himself.

      The first to die was Draupadi; she was imperfect because she loved Arjuna more than her other husbands. Then it was Sahadeva, imperfect because he was overconfident about his knowledge in science. He was followed by Nakula, imperfect because he was over-enthusiastic about his good looks. Then fell Arjuna, imperfect because he was proud of his skills—he challenged Hanuman and Shiva. Next was Bhima, imperfect because he killed his enemies brutally—thus enjoyed their sufferings. Only the eldest Pandava, Yudhisthira, reached the door of Svarga Loka (heaven), carried on Indra's chariot. On reaching Heaven, he did not find either his virtuous brothers or his wife Draupadi. Instead, he finds Duryodhana sitting on a divine throne.[11]

      He wanted an explanation from Yama, the lord of death. Yama explained that the Kauravas had been allowed into heaven because they died as warriors on the battlefield. This earned them so much merit and credit that it wiped out all their debts. Yudhisthira demanded to know where his brothers and his wife were. He was then taken to hell. Yama explained that they were experiencing the reactions of their actions but it was temporary. Once the debt had been repaid, they would join them in Swarga. Yudhisthira loyally met his brothers, but the sight and sound of gore and blood horrified him. Though initially he was tempted to flee, he mastered himself and remained after hearing the voices of his beloved brothers and Draupadi calling out to him, asking him to stay with them in their misery. Yudhisthira decided to remain, ordering the divine charioteer to return. He preferred to live in hell with good people than in the heaven of his enemies. Eventually, this turned out to be another illusion to test him. Yama explained to Yudhishtira that it was all illusion created by Yama himself. It was a punishment to Yudhishtira to feel sad and soak tears on seeing his beloved ones being punished. It was because Drona felt sad on hearing fake news that his son was dead. Yudhishtira told the message incompletely due to which Drona felt sad and cried in grief. Because of this, Yudhishtira had to feel sad in a similar manner. Hence Yama created this illusion. In reality, Pandavas and Draupadi reached heaven just after their deaths. Yama explained everything and Yudhishtira reached heaven with his mortal body.Pandavas were the incarnation of previous Indra's.[12] After the Duration, the lifespan of Indra, is completed Krishna assures Pandavas of offering them Moksha for their Devotion and purity. [citation needed]

      In art

      Harivamsa Purana (8th century CE) narrates the Jain version of their story.[13] In the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, there has been a long tradition of villagers performing the Pandav Lila, a ritual re-enactment of episodes from the Mahabharata through singing, dancing and recitation. In the performance, the actors spontaneously break into a dance when, it is believed, they become "possessed" by the spirits of their characters.[14]

      See also


      1. F4mr98Rl20wC.
      2. Bonnefoy, Yves. Asian Mythologies. translated under the direction of Wendy Doniger. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press. 1993. pp. 180–183. ISBN 0-226-06456-5
      3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "SECTION CCLXVIII – The Mahabharata – Book 3, Vana Parva – Draupadi-harana Parva". sacred-texts.com. Retrieved 3 January 2023.
      4. 1 2 3 4 5 "Pandava". Puranic Encyclopedia: a comprehensive dictionary with special reference to the epic and Puranic literature. Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi. 1975. p. 562.
      5. Vyas, Ved. Mahabharat. c.4000–826 BCE.
      6. "The five Pandavas and the story of their birth". aumamen.com. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
      7. "These places in India have distinct Mahabharata, Ramayana connections". cnbctv18.com. 22 January 2020. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
      8. "Geeta Jayanti 2019 Pandavas had asked these five villages from Kauravas Know about these". Nai Dunia. 5 December 2019. Retrieved 13 January 2020.
      9. Jain, Ashok Kumar (1994). The cities of Delhi. Management Pub. Co. ISBN 978-81-86034-00-2.
      10. Journal of Indian History. Department of Modern Indian History. 1964.
      11. Menon, Ramesh. The Mahabharata: A Modern Rendering, Vol 2. ISBN 978-0-595-40187-1.
      12. "according to Mahabharata all five Pandavas were previous Indras". The Hindu. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
      13. Upinder Singh 2016, p. 26.
      14. Sax, William Sturman (2002). Dancing the Self: Personhood and Performance in the Pāṇḍava Līlā of Garhwal. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195139150.


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