Pandavas

Pandavas

Pandavas were the five powerful and skilled sons of Pandu, the King of Hastinapur and his two wives Kunti and Madri. Hastinapur is equated with the current modern Indian state of Haryana, south of New Delhi. The Pandavas - Yudhistira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula, and Sahadeva - are the central characters in the most applauded epic in Hinduism, the Mahabharata. The brothers were famously involved in the Kurukshetra War with their cousins the Kauravas over who would control the throne of Hastinapur, and were, ultimately, victorious.

The birth of the Pandavas is supposedly traced back to 3229 BCE when Yudhistira was born, and to 3226 BCE when Nakula and Sahadeva were born. The most engaging story of the Pandavas can never be dissociated from the formation of social structures and political decisions of current India, due to the influence it has had in the way of functioning and inheriting the values of Dharma established during their reign. The story of the Pandavas influences many cultures, especially of India, in the way many Hindu households makes decisions, assess and implement the moral conclusions of their actions.

Birth of THE Pandavas

The story of their birth is rather interesting and beyond the general notions of belief. Pandu had two wives, Kunti and Madri. A king was legally allowed to have multiple wives in those times. Interestingly, while hunting in the forest of Hastinapur, Pandu happened to hit with an arrow a copulating deer couple, who were in fact humans disguised as deer in order to enjoy making love in the open. The male deer was Rishi Kidamba who, having being pierced by the arrow, cast a curse on Pandu that he would die the moment he advanced to be intimate with a women. This seriously affected the two wives who were then not able to bear a biological child of their own through Pandu. Pandu then renounced his kingdom and lived in the forest as an ascetic, after giving the throne to his cousin/brother Dhritarashtra, the father of the 100 Kauravas, with whom the Pandavas would wage a war later.

All five Pandavas inherited divine qualities from their celestial fathers.

Surprisingly, Kunti had received a boon in her early adulthood from a fierce and renowned Rishi Durvasa that she could call any of the divine Gods and bear a child. This proved to be very useful and, through the use of mantras given to her by Durvasa, Kunti called upon Yama, the God of Death and Dharma, through whom she gave birth to Yudhistira. She then invoked the Wind God, Vayu, through whom she brought Bhima to the world, later she called Indra, who gave her Arjuna as another Pandava. She then felt pity for Madri, who would otherwise have no child if she did not help her, so with the help of the mantras Madri called upon the twin Ashvins, who bore her Nakula and Sahadeva. Thus, the five Pandavas were born through the combined grace of the curse on Pandu, the boon to Kunti, and the coming of the Gods who helped the two wives bear five children. All the Pandavas inherited divine qualities from their celestial fathers.

Contest For Draupadi

The Pandavas were human in nature but had divine qualities which they nurtured and built with the help of their preceptor Guru Drona, a Brahmin Rishi, who was the head teacher of all their education, along with those of the 100 Kauravas, the cousins of the Pandavas. Lord Krishna, who was the son of Kunti's brother, plays an equally central role in supporting the Pandavas during their exile imposed cunningly by the Kauravas. During the Pandavas exile, the King of Drupada organised a contest, called Swayamvar, where his daughter, Draupadi, would marry the one who won the contest. The contest was to hit the eye of the circularly rotating fish in the sky - an imaginary construction - with a bow and string, by looking down on the image of the fish in a water pond below. To add a surprise, there was a sixth Pandava, Karna, who had been born when Kunti, while being single, had called the Sun God Surya to test the mantra, who gave her this magnanimous son. But being single and to save her identity from being maligned, Kunti reluctantly had to abandon Karna who was picked up by a childless couple who worked as a charioteer in Hastinapur. Karna was unmatchable in vigour, knowledge, deeds, charity, and skills of all kinds. Arjuna was the only match for him. Karna too turned up at the contest, but having been denied entry by Draupadi for being a son of unknown parents and a son of a charioteer, Arjuna was the only one to accomplish the feat and win the contest.

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Yudhistira

Yudhistira's name indicates steadfastness at all times, even at war when things are most difficult. As he was the son of Yama, he was the most righteous and steadfast, a follower of Dharma in all walks of life, and shining like the brilliant sun in the knowledge of law, ethics, and morality. He was the most righteous of the brothers never having spoken a lie in his life, except during the final war where he was made to suppress the loud truth through neutrality. He was such a steadfast man of righteous deeds that his chariot while moving would remain a few inches above the ground. Unfortunately, due to this fondness for righteousness, he was duped during a game of dice with the Kauravas to gamble his wife Draupadi and lost her. His deeds are enormous and he is the only one of two examples (the other is Lord Rama) off the practice of righteousness in all modes and conditions of life, even if that meant killing oneself.

Bhima

Bhima was the son of the Wind God Vayu, indicating the fierce force and braveness that he inherited. He was the mightiest of the brothers, both in physical prowess and in skill and speed. He was fond of eating and often took the lion's share of the shared meals of the Pandavas. He was fond of cooking, was a great cook and employed himself as a chief cook in the last year of the Pandavas exile where they were to supress their identity and live unknown to the world. He was the one who took an oath to kill the 100 Kauravas as a result of losing the game of dice and watching helplessly their only wife, Draupadi, getting disrobed by Dushashana, younger brother of Duryodhana.

Arjuna

Arjuna was the mightiest in skills, matchless in knowlegde, skills, and saintly temper, possessed of divine weapons, and the major responsibility of winning the Kurukshetra war was given to him, as he had Lord Krishna as his charioteer and adviser. His divine weapons, when used, vanquished even the most renowned and skilled warrior. He was the best pal of Lord Krishna, and the recipient of the divine knowledge from Krishna, often called the Bhagavad Gita. During their exile, he endured the most severe austerities and sacrifices and pleased Lord Shiva to appear, who willingly presented him with a divine weapon for his war.

Nakula

Nakula, being the son of the Ashvins, was the most skilled with animals, especially horses and elephants. He was compared to the Lord of Love (Cupid) Kamadeva as he looked beautiful and a woman-charmer. He was steadfast in his conduct, had superior knowledge of health and cures for many of life's threatening diseases. He, along with Sahadeva, saved Karna's life during the war on Kunti's request, when Karna donated his chest weapon to Indra, Arjuna's father in an act of charity. He was an excellent sword fighter, equipped with the best of knowledge pertaining to sciences, warfare, and unusual weapons.

Sahadeva

Sahadeva was the second son of the Ashvins and Madri, and he was the wisest and most mysterious character of the Pandavas. Pandu, while on his deathbed, requested him to eat his flesh so that he could get all his knowledge, and thus Sahadeva was then able to foresee the future with diminished clarity and saved the Pandavas lives on many occasions. He was the best in cattle prevention and their growth, was a great sword fighter like Nakula, and had acquired all requisite knowledge of Dharma and righteousness.

Karna

Karna was the eldest of the Pandava brothers and the sixth Pandava, discovered only at his deathbed in the war by his younger brothers. He was matchless in skill, weapons, charity, and could remain undefeated even by the gods. He took his training from Lord Parasurama, a fierce Brahmin and the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Karna was the son of the Sun God and likewise was most brilliant and outstanding, both in knowledge and warfare. He was the only one who could see through the Sun for hours without disturbance, being his son. He could have been undefeated in the war, but only the cunning advice of Lord Krishna to Arjuna to kill him while being disarmed brought his life to an end. Throughout his life, he was called a Suta putra or a child with unknown parents, and Radha adopted him when he grew up. He was incomparable in charity and once also gave his entire palace away to be burned down to help the citizens of his kingdom. Such was his merit that his power to giveaway never vanished and prosperity never left him.


Pandavas - History

In the Mahabharata a Hindu epic text the Pandavas are the five acknowledged sons of Pandu, by his two wives Kunti and Madri. Their names are Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula, Sahadeva, and Yudhisthira. All five brothers were married to the same woman, Draupadi. (Each brother also had multiple other wives.)

The story begins with the introduction of the brothers' parents. Among the primary enemy was Duryodhana the eldest of the Kauravas and the Pandavas' cousin. He was the eldest of the 100 brothers known as the Kauravas, who were born to the blind king of Hastinapura Dhritarashtra and his queen Gandhari (princess of Gandhara).

The Pandavas were born to Kunti and Madri after Pandu's voluntary renunciation of royal life to do sacrament for having accidentally killed the sage (Rishi) Kindama and his wife. After the death of Pandu, Kunti brought the Pandavas back to Hastinapura. As children, the Kauravas and Pandavas often played together. However, Bhima (one of the Pandavs) was always at odds with the Kauravas, mainly Duryodhana who refused to accept the Pandavas as his relative. This generally led to much tension between the cousins. Insecure and jealous, Duryodhana harboured extreme hatred for the five brothers throughout his childhood and youth, and following the evil advice of his maternal uncle Shakuni, often plotted to get rid of them to clear his path to the lordship of the Kuru Dynasty.

This plotting took a crucial turn when Dhritarashtra had to surrender to the will of the masses and rightfully appointed his nephew Yudhisthira as crown prince. This went against the personal ambitions of both father and son (Dhritarashtra and Duryodhana), and drove Duryodhana into such an anger that he eagerly agreed to an evil plan by Shakuni to murder Yudhisthira. Shakuni commissioned the construction of a palace in Varnavata, secretly built by incorporating flammable materials into the structure, most notably lacquer, known as Lac. This palace was known as Lakshagraha.

Duryodhana then successfully lobbied with Dhritarashtra to send Yudhisthira to represent the royal household in Varnavata during the celebrations of Shiva Mahotsava. The plan was to set the palace on fire during the night while Yudhisthira would likely be asleep. As Yudhisthira left for Varnavata, accompanied by his four brothers and mother Kunti, luckily for the Pandavas, the plan was discovered by their paternal uncle Vidura, who was very loyal to them and an extremely wise man. In addition, Yudhisthira had been warned about this plot by a solitary person who came to him and spoke of an imminent disaster. Vidura arranged for a tunnel to be secretly built for the Pandavs to safely escape the wax palace as it was set afire.

After their flight from the wax palace, the five brothers lived in the forests for some time, in the mask of Brahmins. They heard from a group of traveling sages about a contest (Swayamvara) being held in the Kingdom of Panchaal that offered the princess Draupadi's hand in marriage to the winner. The Swayamvara turned out to rely on the skills of archery, and Arjuna, who was a superior archer, entered the competition and won. When the brothers took Draupadi to introduce her to their mother, they announced to Kunti that they had arrived with an excellent "alms". Kunti was busy with some work, and replied without turning to look at Draupadi ordering the brothers to share the "alms" equally amongst the five of them. Even when uttered inaccurately, their mother's word was supreme for the Pandavas, who then agreed to "share" the princess, who was then married to all five brothers.

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 Yudhisthira'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 lavish and great city which was considered comparable to the heavens, and thus came to be known as Indraprastha.

Reeling under the loss of half the lands of his future kingdom, Duryodhana's jealousy and rage were further fueled by the Pandavas' success and prosperity. Eventually, Shakuni sired yet another ploy 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 and produced numbers desired by him. Owing to this, bet after bet, Yudhisthira lost all of his wealth and finally his kingdom in the game. He was then enticed by Duryodhana and Shakuni to place his brothers as bets. Yudhisthira fell for it and put his brothers on stake, losing them too. He then placed himself as a bet and lost again. Duryodhana now played another trick and told Yudhisthira that he still had his wife Draupadi to place as a bet, and if Yudhisthira won, he would return everything to the Pandavas.

Yudhisthira fell for the ruse and bet Draupadi, losing her too. At this point Duryodhan ordered that Draupadi, who was now a slave to him, be brought to the court. 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 huge anguish to all the great warriors seated in the court, but each of them, namely, Bhishma (the grandsire of the clan), Dronacharya (the teacher/guru of Kauravas and Pandavas) and others like Kripacharya and Vidura remained silent.

Duryodhana then ordered Dushasana to undress Draupadi before everyone as a slave girl has no human rights. The elders and warriors in audience were shocked but did not intervene. As Dushasana began pulling Draupadi's sari off, she silently prayed to Krishna to protect her honour, and amazingly, regardless of how much of it Dushasana pulled off, Draupadi's sari kept growing in length as if the fabric had no end. Thus Krishna saved Draupadi. Finally as the blind king Dhrithrasthra realized that this embarrassment could prompt Draupadi to curse his sons, he intervened, apologizing to Draupadi for the behavior of his sons and turned the winnings of the dice game back over to the Pandava brothers, releasing them from the bondage of slavery.

Incensed at the loss of all that he had won, Duryodhana threatened suicide and persuaded 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 secretly and if the cover be blown during the 13th year, another cycle of 13 years would follow. 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. During the 12 years of exile in the forest, they prepared for war.

Yudhisthira was crowned, and after ruling peacefully for many years, the Pandava brothers and their wife departed for the heavens, taking a long journey through the Himalayas.

The Pandava brothers were collectively married to Draupadi. On one occasion, Draupadi was kidnapped and kidnapped from a hermitage in the forest by the immoral king Jayadratha. When her husbands learned of the crime, they came in hot pursuit. Seeing them approach, Jayadratha asked Draupadi to describe them. Angrily, Draupadi told the king his time was up, and that the knowledge would do him no good. She then proceeded to give the description.

Yudhisthira
According to Draupadi, Yudhisthira possessed a "complexion like that of pure gold, possessed of a prominent nose and large eyes, and endued with a slender make." Master of the spear. He was just, had a correct sense of morality, and was compassionate to surrendering rivals. Draupadi adviced Jayadratha to run to Yudhisthira and to beg for forgiveness.

Bhima
Draupadi described Bhima as tall and long-armed. In a display of cruelty, he was "biting his lips, and contracting his forehead so as to bring the two eyebrows together." The master of the mace, his superhuman feats had earned him great renown.

Arjuna
Arjuna she admired as the greatest of archers, intelligent, second to none "with senses under complete control." Neither desire nor fear nor anger could make him forsake virtue. Though capable of withstanding any enemy, he would never commit an act of cruelty.

Nakula
Nakula, said Draupadi, was "the most handsome person in the whole world." A talented master swordsman, he was also "versed in every question of morality and profit" and "endued with high wisdom." He was courageously devoted to his brothers, who in turn regarded him as more valuable than their own lives. The name Nakula generally means full of love and the male characteristics implied by the name are: Intelligence, Handsomeness, Attractiveness, Focus, Hard-Work, Health, Success, Popularity, Respect, and unconditional Love.


The Pandavas hailed and mourned their victory after the Mahabharat War simultaneously. Yudhisthira became the crowned Emperor of Indraprastha and they all ruled happily ever after… Right? Wrong! Let us now learn a lesson in Mythology: The Aftermath of The Great War.

After the War, Yudhisthira ruled Indraprastha for 36 long years and during his efficient reign, he established peace and discipline in the state.

On the other hand, Gandhari’s curse started to take its toll on Krishna. His tribe men started fighting among themselves and slowly destroyed the entire Yadava clan. After being wounded by a hunter’s arrow himself, Krishna left his mortal body for his journey towards the heavenly abode.

After Krishna’s passing away, the Pandavas also lost interest in life. So, after crowning Parikshita (their grandson) as King, the five brothers with their wife Draupadi left for their last journey to the Himalayas.

The Journey Towards Salvation

As they climbed the Himalayas, Draupadi fell down. Bheem, in utter shock, asked Yudhisthira:

To which Yudhisthira calmly responded:

“She cannot enter the Heaven with us. Her vices pulled her down. She was married to five of us, but she never treated us equally. She was always partial to Arjun, she did not show affection for you and lusted for Karna. Partiality and lust are two of the worst vices. Hence, she fell.”

The next to take the fall was Sahadeva. Bheem looked at Yudhisthira curiously. Yudhisthira merely smiled and replied:

“Sahadeva was proud of his intelligence. He considered every other being less intelligent than him. Pride is again a vice that brings your downfall.”

Then it was Nakula who couldn’t continue the climb. This time, before Bheem could react in any way, Yudhisthira said:

“Nakula was proud of his beauty. He thought that no one was as handsome as he is. Pride again.”

Next in line to leave the group was Arjun. This time, Bheem merely waited for Yudhisthira to explain.

“Bheem, Arjuna was vain and he did not keep his promise of killing all the thousand Kauravas in a single day. He also took immense pride at his archery skills. A warrior’s mind should be free of vanity. But his was not. Hence, he cannot accompany us any further.”

After a while, Yudhisthira turned to Bheem and smiled:

“You are next to go down, my brother.”

“What is my vice?” he asked, his eyes wide open.

“Your vice is gluttony. You ate and ate without thinking about other’s needs or wants. You also thought about yourself first in everything you did. Hence, you cannot continue the journey with me.”

These were the last words Bheem heard before he fell into the depths of the valley.

As for Yudhisthira, he did enter heaven as he did not have any vice.

Well, this is just one theory about the aftermath of the Mahabharat War out of the million ones out there. But, it does sound amusing, doesn’t it?


Arjuna of the Mahabharata

Arjuna was one of the five Pandava brothers of the Mahabharata epic. He was born to Kunti and and king Pandu with the energy of Indra, the leader of the gods. At a very young age he got acclaim for his sincerity and skill in archery. He was known for his steadfastness and single mindedness in pursuing his goals. He was instrumental in winning Draupadi in a contest for himself and his brothers as their joint wife. He also married Subhadra the sister of Krishna and Balarama and kept his friendship with them for ever. Lord Krishna became his mentor and guide for the rest of his life.

He was known by different namesm or rather titles, such as Phaalgun, Keerti, Paartha, Savyashachee, Dhanajaya and so on. During his sojourns to far away places in the subcontinent, he married Chitrangada, daughter of the king of Manipur and Ulupi, a naga princess. Two brave warrior sons were born to him. They were Abhimnyu through Subhadra and Bhabhruvahana through Chitrangada. Both his sons played an important role during the Mahabharata war.

He had a powerful bow by the name Gandiva, which helped him enormously in slaying his enemies. He got it from Varuna, the Vedic god of rain through Agni the god of fire. He also received a divine golden chariot from the latter as a gift which helped him to fight battles with Indra, his godfather and later with the Kauravas his cousins.

During the exile, when all the Pandava brothers had to leave behind their kingdom and wander in the forests for twelve years as a part of their agreement with the Kauravas, Arjuna had a strange encounter with Lord Siva from whom he got Pasupatha. During the same period he met with Indra and other gods in the heavens from whom he received training and also helped them in return by slaying some asuras. While he was in the heavens he displeased Urvashi, the heavenly nymph, by turning away her advances. She cursed him out of anger to turn into a eunuch for a year in his life as chosen by him.

Apart from archery, he also excelled in the arts of dancing, singing and acting which enormously helped the Pandavas when they had to stay in the court of Virat in total disguise as a part of their agreement with the Kauravas in the thirteenth year of their exile. Arjuna took advantage of the curse he got from Urvashi and turned himself into Brihannala, a eunuch and acted as dance master for the royal household, especially Uttara, the daughter of Virat. At the end of the one year stay, he helped king Virat by fighting a battle with Kauravas who invaded his kingdom. After realizing that the five people who working in his court were indeed Pandavas in disguise, king Virat offered to marry his daughter to Abhimanyu the son of Arjuna in return for the services rendered by the brothers, a marriage that proved crucial in the post mahabharata period as the son borne out of the wedlock was the only surviving member of the Pandava clan.

By virtue of his inner purity and his loyalty to Lord Krishna, Arjuna had the fortune of receiving the divine knowledge of the Bhagavad-Gita. In the Mahabharata war he played a very crucial role by slaying such warriors as Bhishma, Karna, Dronacharya and Jayadhrata. The character of Arjuna symbolizes purity, integrity, loyalty and valor. He had many temptations and dilemmas in his life but always chose to remain on the side of God and with his brothers in their trials and tribulations.

He could have been a great king in his own right, but he remained loyal to his elder brother Dharmaraj who ascended the throne of Hastinapur by virtue of being the eldest in the family. After the battle of Mahabharata, he assisted his brother greatly in expanding their empire by annexing several outlying kingdoms and defeating warring tribes. Strangely after the passing away of Lord Krishna, he forgot most of his skills as an archer and spent the rest of his life in humility and devotion. Arjuna serves as an example of a great human being, a dutiful householder, a loyal brother, a great warrior, a devout husband and a sincere devotee of God.


Mahabharata, The

One of the major epics of India and the longest poem in the world, the Mahabharata is a sacred Hindu text. It consists of many legends and tales revolving around the conflicts between two branches of a mythical family. The stories—which involve deities, demigods, and heroes—contain elements of cosmology, philosophy, and religious doctrine. A section of the epic called the Bhagavad Gita is the most important religious text of Hinduism.

Origin, Setting, and Background. Although tradition holds that an ancient sage, or wise man, called Vyasa wrote the Mahabharata, it was almost certainly composed by a number of different poets and then collected into a single work sometime between 400 B . C . and A . D . 200. The epic reached its present form about 200 years later. It contains nearly 100,000 verses and is divided into 18 sections called parvans.

The Mahabharata is set in the kingdom of Kurukshetra on the northern plains of India along the Ganges River. The opening parvans explain the ancestry of the major characters and provide background for the central conflict of the work. That conflict begins when the rightful heir to the throne of Kurukshetra, a blind prince named Dhritarashtra, is passed over in favor of his younger brother Pandu. Instead of taking the throne, however, Pandu goes to the Himalaya mountains to live as a hermit, leaving Dhritarashtra on the throne after all.

Rivals for Power. Before Pandu left Kurukshetra, his two wives gave birth to five sons, who became known as the Pandavas. They lived at the royal court with their cousins, the 100 sons of Dhritarashtra known as the Kauravas.

When the Pandavas came of age, the eldest, Yudhishthira, demanded the throne from his uncle, claiming that he was the rightful heir. A feud broke out between the two branches of the family, and the Kauravas eventually forced the Pandavas into exile in the forest.

While in exile, the Pandavas entered a tournament to win the hand of a beautiful princess named Draupadi. The Kauravas also entered the contest, but the Pandava brother Arjuna won the princess, who became the common wife of all five Pandavas.

epic long poem about legendary or historical heroes, written in a grand style

deity god or goddess

demigod one who is part human and part god

cosmology set of ideas about the origin, history, and structure of the universe

doctrine set of principles or beliefs accepted by a group

After the tournament, King Dhritarashtra called the Pandavas back to his court and divided the kingdom among them and his own sons. Unhappy with this settlement, the Kauravas challenged the Pandavas to a game of dice and won back the entire kingdom by cheating. Once again, the Pandavas were forced into exile.

War and Aftermath. After many years of wandering, the Pandavas returned to reclaim the kingdom, but the Kauravas refused to give up control and both sides prepared for war. The god Krishna, a relative of both the Pandavas and Kauravas, supported the Pandavas. Although he took no part in the fighting, he served as charioteer for the Pandava brother Arjuna and gave him advice. Their conversations make up the section of the Mahabharata known as the Bhagavad Gita.

The Pandavas and Kauravas met in a series of battles on the plains of Kurukshetra. In the end, the Pandavas emerged victorious after killing all their cousins. The Pandavas gained the kingdom, and the oldest brother, Yudhisthira, took the throne.

The Pandavas ruled peacefully, although their uncle Dhritarashtra mourned the loss of his sons and frequently quarreled with his nephews. Dhritarashtra eventually went to live in the forest and died there. Some time later, Yudhisthira gave up the throne and went with his brothers and their wife, Draupadi, to live on Mount Meru, the heaven of the god Indra.

Other Tales and Impact. The conflict between the Pandavas and Kauravas makes up only a portion of the Mahabharata. The work includes many other tales about deities and heroes and covers an enormous range of topics. The stories present complex philosophical ideas that form the basis of the Hindu faith—codes of conduct, social duties, and religious principles.

The Mahabharata became immensely popular in India and throughout Southeast Asia. The work inspired many ancient works of art, such as Indian miniature paintings and the elaborate sculptures of the ancient temples of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thorn in Cambodia. Today the Mahabharata remains the most important Hindu epic and continues to serve as the foundation for religious faith and mythology.


Pandava gotra Jats are found in Gujranwala district in Punjab. Β]

According to James Todd Γ] The origin of every family, whether of east or west, is involved in fable. That of the Pandu is entitled to as much credence as the birth of Romulus, or other founders of a race. Pandu not being blessed with progeny, his queen made use of a charm by which she enticed the deities from their spheres. To Dharma Raj (Minos) she bore Yudhishthira  by Pavan (Aeolus) she had Bhima  by Indra (Jupiter Coelus) she had Arjuna, who was taught by his sire the use of the bow, so fatal in the Great War  and Nakula and Sahadeva owed their birth to Aswini Kumar (Aesculapius) the physician of the gods.

Such traditions were probably invented to cover some great disgrace in the Pandu family, and have relation to the story already related of Vyasa, and the debasement of this branch of the Harikulas. Accordingly, on the death of Pandu, Duryodhana, nephew of Pandu (son of Dhritarashtra, who from blindness could not inherit), asserted their illegitimacy before the assembled kin at Hastinapura. With the aid, however, of the priesthood, and the blind Dhritarashtra, his nephew, Yudhishthira, elder son of Pandu, was invested by him with the seal of royalty, in the capital, Hastinapura.

Duryodhana's plots against the Pandu and his partisans were

[p. 59]: so numerous that the five brothers determined to leave for a while their ancestral abodes on the Ganges. They sought shelter in foreign countries about the Indus, and were first protected by Drupada, king of Panchala, at whose capital, Kampilanagara, the surrounding princes had arrived as suitors for the hand of his daughter, Draupadi. Drupada was of the Aswa race, being descended from Bajaswa (or Hyaswa) of the line of Ajamidha. But the prize was destined for the exiled Pandu, and the skill of Arjuna in archery obtained him the fair, who " threw round his neck the (barmala) garland of marriage."

The disappointed princes indulged their resentment against the exile  but by Arjuna's bow they suffered the fate of Penelope's suitors, and the Pandu brought home his bride, who became the wife in common of the five brothers : manners decisively Scythic. The manners of the Scythae described by Herodotus are found still to exist among their descendants : "a pair of slippers at the wife's door " is a signal well understood by all Eimauk husbands (Elphinstone's Caubul, vol. ii. p. 251).

The deeds of the brothers abroad were bruited in Hastinapura and the blind Dhritarashtra's influence effected their recall. To stop, however, their intestine feuds, he partitioned the Pandu sovereignty  and while his son, Duryodhana, retained Hastinapura, Yudhishthira founded the new capital of Indraprastha  but shortly after the Mahabharata he abdicated in favour of his grand- nephew, Parikshita, introducing a new era, called after himself, which existed for eleven hundred years, when it was overturned, and Indraprastha was conquered by Vikramaditya Tuar of Ujjain, of the same race, who established an era of his own.

On the division of the Pandu sovereignty, the new kingdom of Indraprastha eclipsed that of Hastinapura. The brothers reduced to obedience the surrounding nations, and compelled their princes to sign tributary engagements <>

Yudhishthira, firmly seated on his throne, determined to

[p.60]: signalize his reign and paramount sovereignty, by the imposing and solemn rites of Asvamedha and Rajasuya.

The Asvamedha. — In these magnificent ceremonies, in which princes alone officiate, every duty, down to that of porter, is performed by royalty.

The ' Steed of Sacrifice ' was liberated under Arjuna's care, having wandered whither he listed for twelve months  and none daring to accept this challenge of supremacy, he was reconducted to Indraprastha, where, in the meanwhile, the hall of sacrifice was prepared, and all the princes of the land were summoned to attend.

The hearts of the Kurus burned with envy at the assumption of supremacy by the Pandus, for the Prince of Hastinapura's office was to serve out the sacred food. Duryodhana, as the elder branch, retained his title as head of the Kurus  while the junior, Yudhishthira, on the separation of authority, adopted his father's name, Pandu, as the patronymic of his new dynasty. The site of the great conflict (or Mahabharata) between these rival clans, is called Kurukshetra, or ' Field of the Kurus.'

The rivalry between the races burst forth afresh  but Duryodhana, who so often failed in his schemes against the safety of his antagonists, determined to make the virtue of Yudhishthira the instrument of his success. He availed himself of the national propensity for play, in which the Rajput continues to preserve his Scythic resemblance. Herodotus describes the ruinous passion for play amongst the Scythic hordes, and which may have been carried west by Odin into Scandinavia and Germany. Tacitus tells us that the Germans, like the Pandus, staked even personal liberty, and were sold as slaves by the winner [Germania, 24]. Yudhishthira fell into the snare prepared for him. He lost his kingdom, his wife, and even his personal liberty and that of his brothers, for twelve years, and became an exile from the plains of the Yamuna.

The traditional history of these wanderers during the term of probation, their many lurking places now sacred, the return to their ancestral abodes, and the grand battle (Mahabharata) which ensued, form highly interesting episodes in the legends of Hindu antiquity.

To decide this civil strife, every tribe and chief of fame, from the Caucasus to the ocean, assembled on Kurukshetra, the field

[p. 61]: on which the empire of India has since more than once been contested and lost. On it the last Hindu monarch, Prithwiraja, lost his kingdom, his liberty, and life.

This combat was fatal to the dominant influence of the " fifty-six tribes of Yadu." On each of its eighteen days' combat, myriads were slain  for " the father knew not the son, nor the disciple his preceptor."

Victory brought no happiness to Yudhishthira. The slaughter of his friends disgusted him with the world, and he determined to withdraw from it  previously performing, at Hastinapura, funeral rites for Duryodhana (slain by the hands of Bhima), whose ambition and bad faith had originated this exterminating war. " Having regained his kingdom, he proclaimed a new era, and placing on the throne of Indraprastha, Parikshita, grandson to Arjuna, retired to Dwarka with Krishna and Baldeva : and since the war to the period of writing, 4636 years have elapsed.(Rajatarangini. The period of writing was A.D. 1740).

Yudhishthira, Baldeva, and Krishna, having retired with the wreck of this ill-fated struggle to Dwarka, the two former had soon to lament the death of Krishna, slain by one of the aboriginal tribes of Bhils  against whom, from their shattered condition, they were unable to contend. After this event, Yudhishthira, with [51] Baldeva and a few followers, entirely withdrew from India, and emigrating northwards, by Sind, to the Himalayan mountains, are there abandoned by Hindu traditional history, and are supposed to have perished in the snows.

Having ventured to surmise analogies between the Hercules of the east and west, I shall carry them a point further. Amidst the snows of Caucasus, Hindu legend abandons the Harikulas, under their leaders Yudhishthira and Baldeva : yet if Alexander established his altars in Panchala, amongst the sons of Puru and the Harikulas, what physical impossibility exists that a colony of them, under Yudhishthira and Baldeva, eight centuries anterior, should have penetrated to Greece ? Comparatively far advanced in science and arms, the conquest would have been easy. When Alexander attacked the ' free cities ' of Panchala, the Purus and Harikulas who opposed him evinced the recollections of their ancestor, in carrying the figure of Hercules as their standard. Comparison proves a common origin to Hindu and Grecian mythology  and Plato says the Greeks had theirs from Egypt and the East. May not this colony of the Harikulas be the Herachdae, who penetrated into the Peloponnesus (according to Volney) 1078 years before Christ, sufficiently near our calculated period of the Great War ? The Herachdae claimed from Atreus : the Harikulas claim from Atri. Eurysthenes was


The story of Draupadi

Drupada had been defeated by Arjuna on behalf of Drona, who subsequently took half his kingdom to humiliate him. To gain revenge on Drona, he performed a great sacrifice to beget a powerful son who could kill him. Having been struck by Arjuna's valour, Drupada also prayed at the sacrifice for an exceptionally beautiful daughter to give to his, as a token of his appreciation. Draupadi thus emerged with Drishtadyumna from the sacrificial fire.

Upon Draupadi's emergence a divine voice said she would be the reason for the destruction of the Kauravas. When Draupadi grew to be a young woman she was considered very beautiful, mainly for her glowing dark skin, large dark eyes and graceful figure.

It is believed that Goddess Kali had given a part of her powers to her, for the destruction of the Kauravas. As Drupada was the ruler of the kingdom of Panchala, Draupadi was also known as Paanchali. She was named by Brahmanas as "Krsnā" due to her radiant dusky skin

Drupada intended that Arjuna alone win the hand of his daughter. Upon hearing of the Pandavaas' supposed death at Varanavata he set up a swayamvar for Draupadi intending to bring Arjuna out into the open. The princes vying for Draupadi's hand had to shoot 5 arrows at a revolving target, while looking only at its reflection in a bowl. Drupada was confident that Arjuna alone could accomplish this task. Arriving with his brothers disguised as brahmins, Arjuna successfully tackles the target. He and his brothers also defeat the other suitors who attack them, enraged at a brahmin winning a Kshatriya princess's hand.

While in exile, Kunti, mother of the Pandavas often advised her sons that they share everything they have (or obtain through Bhiksha i.e. alms) equally amongst themselves. Upon returning home with Draupadi, Arjuna addresses his mother first "Look mother, I have brought Bhiksha (alms)!". Kunti, unmindful of what Arjuna was referring to, unassumingly asked her son to share whatever it is with his brothers. Thus, in order to obey their mother's order all five accepted Draupadi as their wife. This is fraternal polyandry.

According to another source, when Sage Vyasa visits the family, he explains to Draupadi that her unique position as the wife of five brothers results from a certain incident in her previous birth. She had in that lifetime prayed to Lord Shiva to grant her a husband with five desired qualities. Lord Shiva, pleased with her devotion, tells her that it is very difficult to get a husband with all five qualities that she desired. But she sticks to her ground and asks for the same. Then Lord Shiva grants her wish saying that she would get the same in her next birth. Hence she gets married to five brothers each who represents a given quality.

None of the Draupadi's children survive the end of the epic. Parikshit, grandson of Subhadra and Arjuna, is the sole Kuru dynast who survives, at the end of Mahabharata.

Draupadi’s Cheer-Haran, literally meaning stripping of one’s clothes, marks a definitive moment in the story of Mahābhārata. It is the central reason of the Mahābhārata war, the rivalry between Pandavas and Kauravas being the more general cause.

Yudhishthira and his four brothers were the rulers of Indraprastha under the sovereignty of Emperor Dhritarashtra. Dhritarashtra’s son Duryodhana who resided in the capital of the empire Hastinapur was always jealous of his cousins. Together with his brothers, his friend Karna and maternal uncle Shakuni, he conspired to call the Pandavas at Hastinapur and win their kingdoms in a game of gambling. Shakuni was an inveterate gambler and very skilled at winning by unfair means. The idea was that Shakuni will play against Yudhishthira and win at the gambling table what was impossible to win at the battlefield.

As the game proceeded, Yudhishthira lost all his wealth and kingdom one by one. Having lost all material wealth, he went on to put his brothers at stake one by one and lost them too. Ultimately he put himself at stake, and lost again. All the Pandavas were now the slaves of Kauravas. But for the villain Shakuni, the humiliation of Pandavas was not complete. He plods Yudhishthira that he has not lost everything yet. Yudhishthira still has Draupadi with him and if he wishes he can win everything back by putting Draupadi at stake. Yudhishthira walks into the trap and to the horror of everybody present, puts Draupadi as a bet for the next round. Shakuni rolls the dice and gleefully shouts "Look, I have won”. Duryodhana commands his younger brother Dushasana to forcefully bring her into the forum. Dushasana barges into the living quarters of Draupadi who had just finished her bath and was drying her loose hair. Dushasan grabs her by the hair and brings her into the court dragging her by the hair.

Unable to withstand the distress of his wife, an emotional Bhima even threatens to burn up Yudhishthira’s hands with which he placed Draupadi on stake. Arjun tries to help Draupadi but Yudhistira forbids him. Bhima vows to cut off Dushasana's hands one day in battle. Arjun vows to kill Karna for insulting his wife

Now in an emotional appeal to the elders present in the forum, Draupadi repeatedly questions the legality of the right of Yudhishthira to place her at stake when he himself had lost his freedom and as a consequence did not possess any property in the first place. Everybody remains dumbfounded. Bhishma, the patriarch of the Kaurava family and a formidable warrior, has only this explanation to offer to Draupadi - "The course of morality is subtle and even the illustrious wise in this world fail to always understand it.” He now commands the Pandavas to strip themselves in the manner of slaves. They obey by stripping off their upper garments.

Then Kauravas demand the same from Draupadi, who remains crying. Then to the horror of everybody present, Dushasana proceeds to strip Draupadi of her sari. Seeing her husbands unable or unwilling to help her, Draupadi prays to Lord Krishna to protect her modesty. Lord Krishna now works a miracle so that as Dushasana unwraps layers and layers of her sari, her sari keeps getting extended. Seeing Draupadi being violated so brazenly, Bhima in a roaring rage, vows to tear open Dushasana’s breast one day and drink his blood. Finally, a tired Dushasana backs off without being able to strip Draupadi.

Duryodhana repeatedly challenges Yudhishthira’s four brothers to disassociate themselves from Yudhishthira’s authority and take their wife back. No one dares to denounce their loyalty to their eldest brother. In order to provoke the Pandavas further, Duryodhana bares and pats his thigh looking into Draupadi’s eyes, implying her to sit on his thigh. In impotent rage Bhima vows in front of the entire assembly that one day he will break that very thigh of Duryodhan in a battle.

Finally, the blind monarch Dhritarashtra's conscience is stirred, in part fearing the wrath of Pandavas against his sons. He intervenes and asks Draupadi to wish for whatever she desires. Draupadi asks her husbands the Pandavas to be freed from slavery. Dhritarashtra grants her wish and also restores to Pandavas all they lost in the game of dice. Free from the bondage Bhima, hotheaded as ever, immediately proposes to his brothers to slay all Kauravas present then and there itself. Yudhishthira and Arjuna prevent him from taking any rash action. After many words of reconciliation between Pandavas and Dhritarashtra, Pandavas withdraw to their kingdom along with Draupadi and their entourage.

Shakuni, Karna and Duryodhan later convince Dhritarashtra to invite Pandavas for a new game of dice, with modified rules. It was following the defeat in this new game that Pandavas were sent into exile for 12 years.

However, not pledging her, given that the other Pandava brothers had already been pledged and lost, would also not have resolved the dilemma Yudhishthira faced. The lack of a definite way to resolve the conflict is what has led to this passage being extremely controversial. That the elders like Bhishma, Drona, and Dhritarashtra remained silent spectators of the entire episode adds valuable insight to their personalities too. Vidura was the only one who objected to the whole thing but he did not have the authority to stop it. In any case the passage must be seen in the light of the mores of the times of its writing which lay a few millennia ago.

Krishna treats Draupadi as his sister, pledges his friendship to Draupadi and vows to show the world the greatest example of friendship. This is quite possibly why Krishna helps Draupadi when the Pandavas lose her in a gamble.

As per Narada and Vayu Puranas, Draupadi was composite Avatar of Goddesses Shyamala (wife of Dharma), Bharati (Wife of Vayu), Sachi (wife of Indra), Usha (wife of Ashwinis) and hence married their earthly counterparts in form of Five Pandavas. Enraged at a jest by Parvati and the four goddesses, Brahma cursed them to human birth which the solution Parvati brought about was to be born as one woman, Draupadi and hence share the earthly body for a smaller period of time. Draupadi 's characteristic anger and fight against injustice reflects the Parvati or her Shakti, Kali inhabiting Draupadi 's mortal flesh at times. At other times, Draupadi was docile and even waited to be rescued (as in case of Jayadratha and Jatasura) showing the qualities of other goddesses like Sachi and Usha. Other times, she showed cunning and guile to hide their true identity and still use Vayu putra Bhima to kill Keechaka like Goddess Bharati would. Draupadi was also avatar of Goddess Shree or Wealth who was joint wife to five Indras, aka Five Pandavas. She was to be born several times for imprisoning the Indras. First time was as Vedavati who cursed Ravana (here we find yet another goddess Avatar Swaha, wife to Agni). She then came again as Maya-Sita especially to take revenge from Ravana while Agni hid the real Sita. Third one was partial either Damyanti (whos ehusband Nala was equivalent to Dharma, Vayu, Indra just like the Pandavas) and her daughter Nalayani. She married Sage Mudgala. Fifth Avatar was Draupadi herself. So we find in Draupadi, a composite avatar of Kali, Parvati, Sachi, Shyamala, Usha, Bharati, Shree, Swaha, the eight goddesses.

Krishna calls Draupadi his sakhi, or friend. Another story says the reason he helps Draupadi is that she prayed with utmost devotion. When Krishna had cut his finger on the Sudarshan Chakra, she bound it with her Sari, this act being the origin of Rakhi. The another story of origin of Rakhi is Sachi tying thread to Indra. Sachi's avatar is Draupadi.

Also, Krishna is the one who opposes her marriage to Karna and promotes her marriage to Arjuna

Draupadi is the exemplification of bhakti to God. She showed utmost faith to Lord Krishna.


Discourse of Bhagwata Purana

Following this incident, the king handed over throne to his son Janamejaya and spent next seven days listening to the discourses of Sage Śuka dev (son of Ved Vyasa). This book compiled as the Bhagavata Purana.

Having heard the Bhagavata Purana, Parikshit worshipped Sukadeva. He told the sage that he was no longer frightened of being bitten to death by a snake. He had learnt the nature of the atman and the brahman. When Shukadeva left, Parikshit sat down and began to meditate. Takshaka disguised himself as a brahman in order to get near the king. He then bit the king and Parikshit died.


Avial, The Dish Some Say Was Invented By One Of The Pandavas

Highlights

According to food historian K.T. Achaya in his book The Illustrated Foods of India states that "Avial or Aviyal is a vegetable dish of Kerala that uses green bananas, drumsticks, various soft beans and fresh coconut gratings. These are first cooked in coconut milk and then tossed with some aromatic coconut oil and spiced sour curd. The product served as prasadam in the Padmanabhaswami temple in Thiruvananthapuram, does not contain the inauspicious mustard seeds."

There are many stories to the invention of Avial

The Story of the Invention of Avial

There are many stories to the invention of Avial, though the one related to Prince Bhima seems to be most popular. According to Virata Parva, one of the 18 books of The Mahabharata, during the 13th year of their exile, the Pandavas lived in the kingdom of King Virata in disguise to avoid being detected by the Kauravas. As per the terms of the exile, if the Pandavas were detected they would be exiled again for another 12 years. To conceal their true identity, Yudhisthira took the role of a game entertainer to the king, Bhima as a cook called Ballava, Arjun as a eunuch dance and music teacher, Nakula as a caretaker of horses, Sahadeva as a cowherd and Drapaudi as a queen's maid.

A post shared by @rairinrei on Dec 5, 2017 at 10:25am PST

There are various ways in which Avial is preparedAccording to myth, Bhima or Ballava under his new role started carrying out various tasks in the kitchen, such as cleaning and chopping vegetables and helping in the preparation of the meals. One day, after everyone had finished their meal, an unexpected guest arrived at the palace. It was Rishi Durvasa, who was known for his ill temper and the habit of cursing if not offered the best hospitality. Bhima had the task of cooking up a delicious meal for the Rishi to avoid his rage, but there wasn't much food in the kitchen other than a handful of vegetables.

With hardly having any time at hand, Bhima quickly got down to preparing a dish using whatever ingredients that were available in the kitchen and created Avial. Luckily, Rishi Durvasa was immensely pleased with the meal and left the palace satisfied. The dish soon started being raved about, becoming hugely popular in no time.

There are some, however, who do not support this story, and instead give credit to the King of Travancore for instigating the idea of creating Avial. It is said that a grand feast was held by the king for his people, and everyone across the kingdom came for it. Soon the kitchen was running out of food, miscalculating the huge turnout. When the King inspected the kitchen, he found that various parts of vegetables were wasted while chopping. He ordered his cook to collect those pieces and quickly make a curry to serve the people, and thus Avial was invented by his cook.

AvialWhatever maybe the theory, food lovers are grateful that the novel idea struck someone and resulted in creating one of the most nourishing curries in India, which has the power to please one instantly with its simple flavours. Team it with rice and it is soul food.

How to Prepare Avial

There are various ways in which Avial is prepared. A variety of vegetables can be used as per one's linking, such as eggplant, beans, yam, pumpkin, raw banana, drumsticks, gourds, carrots, cucumber, etc. The addition of coconut milk lends to its creamy texture while the tempering of curry leaves adds a distinctive favour to the vegetarian dish. Of course some also like to add in other spices like black pepper, cumin, green chillies, mustard seeds, among others.

If you would like to try your hands at preparing this legendary dish at home, here's a favourite recipe

Recipe by Chef Ambili Kurian

Savour the simple flavours of this traditional dish from Kerala using seasonal vegetables.


Pandavas after Mahabharata war

What happened to Pandavas after the Mahabharata war? It was nothing like Shri Ram ruled Ayodhya after defeating Ravana. But this era was more of Lord Krishna, rather than of Pandavas.

Gandhari’s curse and end of Yadavas

At the end of Mahabharata war, in the Mausala Parva of the epic Mahabharata, Gandhari curses Shri Krishna. This chapter begins with the visit of Lord Krishna to Gandhari. In a fit of grief over the death of her sons and the soldiers of her kingdom, Gandhari curses Krishna with the death of all Yadavas in a manner similar to the death of her sons. She blames Krishna for his inaction and believes that he could have stopped the war if he wanted to. Krishna explains how he had tried many times to mediate peace, how Duryodhana refused even a point of land when all that the Pandavas had expected was five small villages, and how Duryodhana and his uncle had tried many times to destroy the Pandavas. However, the lord also explains that he believes that the Yadavas would be destroyed by internal strife and conflict if left unchecked, so he thanks Gandhari for solving his dilemma and accepts the curse as a blessing.

Hunter Jara and Shri Krishna

In this chapter, death of Shri Krishna is detailed by a hunter Jara. Jara accidentally shoots Krishna in the heel , which he confuses with a deer while Krishna is meditating. Shri Krishna consoles Jara and enters a nearby temple where the deity within him is seen, and so he merges with the image of Lord Vishnu.

Crowning of Parikshit and Pandavas leaving for their journey to heaven

After Shri Krishna (the onset of Kali Yuga), Pandavas lost their interest in worldly matters. They crowned Parikshit (Arjuna’s grandson) and leave for a pilgrimage to various places in India before moving towards heaven.

After the great battle of Kurukshetra, the Pandavas started ruling the kingdom of Hastinapur. They meanwhile decided to renounce everything and proceed for Pilgrimage. In the Mahabharata, an apt description of the five Pandavas leaving for the Himalayas is found. They went clad only in rags and retired to the Himalaya and climbed towards heaven in their bodily form. A stray dog also accompanied them during their travels. Unfortunately while on the journey, one by one, each Pandava and Draupadi met their end however leaving Yudhishtira and the stray dog.

Death of Draupadi and other Pandavas

As each one stumbled, Yudhishtira gave the rest the reason for their fall. Draupadi was partial to Arjuna, whereas Nakula and Sahadeva were proud of their looks, whereas Bhima and Arjuna were proud of their strength and archery skills, respectively. Yudhishtira did not stumble as he was the only virtuous and righteous person.

Dharmaraja and Yudhisthira

Finally the dog who travelled with Yudhishtira revealed himself to be the god Yama or Yama Dharmaraja.

The God took Yudhishtira to the underworld where he found his siblings and wife. Yama explained Yudhishtira about a test which he had succeeded and took him back to heaven. According to Yama it was necessary to expose Yudhishtira to the underworld for the one lie which he had said during his entire life in the battle field of Kurukshetra. The five Pandava brothers thus came face to face with their doom.

Prior to the incident of their retirement to heaven, five brothers and Draupadi once had to face a similar situation where apparently end of Pandavas was revealed. The event demonstrates a situation that killed all the Pandava brothers except Yudhishtira. While drinking water from a lake. The virtuous Pandava was promised by the Yaksha if he would answer each of his questions. Gradually Yudhishtira satisfied the Yaksha and acknowledging his wisdom the Yaksha helped in reviving the dead Pandavas .

Death of Parikshit

After the end of the Pandavas and their final retirement to heaven, Arjuna’s grandson Parikshita came of age after ruling Hastinapur for quite a long time also faced an eventual end as he was bitten by a snake.

Janamejaya, Parikshita’s son was ferocious and decided to perform a snake sacrifice,in order to destroy the snakes. With an end of Pandavas a curtain was drawn to a significant chapter in Mahabharata.


Watch the video: Pandavas entry in Mahabharata. Veero ke veero ki song