Tuesday, August 18, 2009


The two great epic works of the Hindus are Ramayan and Mahabharat. In modern terms the Mahabharat may be said to be realistic and the Ramayan idealistic, in their respective handling of human characters.

Sita in Ramayan is all that a woman could or should be. And is impressive by her sweetness and devotion. Draupadi in Mahabharat, on the other hand maybe any of the high spirited modern women with her anger and brooding for revenge and for that reason more human.

There is greater realistic truth in the full blooded characters of Mahabharat, higher passion, nobler resolve, fierce jealousy and more biting scorn and greater grandeur in many of it's scenes. Yet it is greater spiritual beauty, greater softness and tenderness of emotions in Ramayan. The subject of Mahabharat is men and war, while the subject of Ramayan is women and home.

These epics are regarded as the Vedas of the masses. People in sorrow, in joy and in daily toil turn to these epics for solace and inspiration. In Indian context norms of Epic are set by Ramayan and Mahabharat.

Many more topics were treated in great length by number of line verses or chapters but none equals these two. Interestingly, these two epics have provided canvas or theme for many forms of art, like paintings, sculpture, poems, plays and stories. This epic is written by Krishnadvaipayan Vyas. It was claimed that whatever that can exist in human life is all dealt with by Vyas in Mahabharat and conversely. Whatever that does not exist in Mahabharat can not exist in the world.

It is a story of a dynasty of Kuru that is Kaurav. Later on lineage assigned to Pandu that is dynasty of Pandava.And finally war between the two related families,which involved many small kingdoms throughout the nation.The final version of the epic was formed in the fourth century A.D.There are many Parvas having lacks of Shlokas. The most authentic version of Mahabharat was prepared in 20th century by many researchers under the guidance of Mr. Vaidya in Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute.

The story of Mahabharat has many substories, many plots and subplots hence by spread it is very wide. The epic has also inspired many artists like that by Ramayan. Many plays such as Abhidnyan Shakuntala, by Kallidasa, plays by Bhasa such as Venisamhara, Urubhanga etc. are based on the themes or plots from Mahabharat.The story is believed to have taken place around 1500 years BC.

Interestingly it was mentioned as history while the Ramayan was mentioned as a part of Purana. It was originally written as 'Jay'. It was later on revised as 'Bharata' and it was further expanded as 'Mahabharat'. It consists of story of Dushyant a king and Shakuntala a daughter of heavenly dancer Menaka. Her son was named as Bharat. He later on ascended the throne of Dushyant.

The name of the nation designated by foreigners as India bears his name to the subcontinent as Bharat. Hence the name of the nation is Bharat alias India. If Ramayan is symbolised as ideality and for setting up the norms and standards of ideality, Mahabharat can be considered as depiction of reality.

Ramayan has taught what it should be, whereas Mahabharat has bravely depicted what it generally is. It is story of lust, and renunciation, pious as well as crooks. It speaks of fearless warriors and cowardly behavior of some of them. Of obedience as well as rebels.

Though it is mainly a story of dynasties a character coming as a shepherd brought up as foster son of a chief in a village Mathura is raised to the height of God in the Indian minds. He is the one who is responsible for the final war between the two kingdoms to assert for righteous claim and only he is credited with the out come of the war, the victory of Pandavs.

Mahabharat as a pool of information mirrors society at that time, customs rites and rituals, value system and ethics of the time. It also speaks of political variation in the form of local democratic government to rural form of governance to kings and kingdom. It also reflects racial as well as cultural struggles amongst the different people of India. It has forged the Indian identity as unity in variety of races, languages, religious beliefs etc.


Bhagavata Purana relates the life of Krishna, the enunciator of the Bhagavad Gita in the Mahabharata.

The tale of Krishna is enshrined in the hearts of all, remembering Krishna, the cowherd, as a beloved God and remembrance of his exploits a source of joy to all.

Yadava dynasty had their capital in Mathura on the banks of the Yamuna. The Yadavas were a pastoral group. Ugrasena was a king of this dynasty. Kamsa, who was Ugrasena’s son deposed and imprisoned his own father. Ugrasena’s brother was Devaka. Devaka had a daughter named Devaki who was married to Vasudeva, son of Surasena. Surasena was also a Yadava like Ugrasena.

After the marriage of Devaki and Vasudeva, Kamsa was driving the couple to the bridegroom’s house. As the chariot roared past Mathura, a voice was heard from heaven, addressed to the charioteer, Kamsa: "O fool of a king! You are conducting a lady whose eighth son will grow up to kill you."

Kamsa’s impulsive reaction was to stop the chariot, seize Devaki and kill her on the spot. Vasudeva intervened and promised to put into the hands of Kamsa all the children of Devaki as soon as they were born. Vasudeva implored Kamsa to spare the life of Devaki. Kamsa was satisfied with the arrangement proposed by Vasudeva for dealing with Devaki’s children and drove the chariot on without injuring Devaki. As a measure of abundant caution, Kamsa put both Devaki and Vasudeva in a prison under close guard.

Kamsa started killing every child as soon as the child was born. He had killed six children in succession. Devaki became pregnant for the seventh time. A miracle occurred. The child in her womb got transferred miraculously to the womb of Rohini, another wife of Vasudeva. Rohini, fearing Kamsa, was living at Gokulam on the opposite bank of the Yamuna river. This child conceived in Rohini’s womb was Balarama.

Devaki became pregnant for the eighth time. This eighth child was born at midnight in prison. The Lord appeard in divine form at first and then, the lying-in-chamber in the prison was filled with a dazzling light. Vasudeva and Devaki realized that the born child was no human, but a divine incarnation. They jointly praised the glory of the Lord and counted it a blessing that the Lord had grown in her womb before manifesting Himself. The divine form was shown to the parents and the Supreme Being had assumed the form of a human child.

At the very moment that the Lord was born in the prison cell, the divine Maya or the Power incarnate of the Lord was born, in the Gokulam, as the female child of Yasoda, the wife of Nanda.

A divine prompting came to Vasudeva: "Take your male child across the Yamuna to Gokulam and exchange him for Yasoda’s daughter. Then you can return to prison before anyone learns of the birth of the eighth child of Devaki." Vasudeva took the child in his arms and the prison doors opened automatically, as the guards had been put to sleep by divine intervention. Vasudeva reached the bank of the Yamuna river which was in a spate. The river parted and made way for Vasudeva carrying the divine child. Vasudeva reached the opposite bank of the river safely and found all the inmates of Gokulam fast asleep. Entering the house of Nanda, Vasudeva placed the child on the bed of Yasoda, picked up Yasoda’s female child and returned to Mathura.

Vasudeva laid the female child by Devaki’s side and the prison doors shut automatically. The guards were now awake and were startled by the cries of the female child. The guards ran to Kamsa and announced the birth of the eighth child to Devaki. Knowing that the eighth child would be the cause of his death, Kamsa rushed to prison to execute the child. Devaki pleaded: "O Kamsa, it is only a female child. How can this child do you any harm?" Kamsa ignored Devaki’s pleading, snatched the child from her lap and dashed the child down on a stone slah. The child did not fall down; instead, the child flew up and appeared on the sky as a goddess with eight arms and each arm carrying a weapon, "O fool of a king! You will gain nothing by killing me. The one who will destroy you is elsewhere. Do not kill innocent children, from now on." With these words, the goddess disappeared. Kamsa felt penitent and apologized to Vasudeva and Devaki for the pain he had caused them. He set free Vasudeva and Devaki from the prison.

Meanwhile, there was a great rejoicing in the Gokulam, hailing the birth of a son in Nanda’s household. On the eleventh day of the happy event, priests performed the rites to bless the child and named the child, Krishna. The entire Gokulam wore a festive appearance. The streets were swept clean and all the frontals of all houses were decorated with flags and flowers. Cows were smeared with turmeric and adorned with peacock feathers and garlands. Gopas and Gopis of the Gokulam danced in joy and flocked to Nanda’s house to see the child and offer presents to the Nandas. Rohini was ecstatic and received them all and treated the guests with sweets. The entire Gokulam was rejuvenated and everyone was filled with a sense of oncoming prosperity and joy.

One day, Nanda went to Mathura to pay his tribute to Kamsa. When Nanda met Vasudeva In Mathura, Vasudeva enquired: "How are your two sons, Balarama and Krishna? I hope your newborn child, Krishna and Rohini are in good health." Nanda assured Vasudeva, "Krishna is a source of joy to Rohini and to me and indeed to the entire Gokulam." As Nanda parted company, Vasudeva uttered a warning, the import of which Nanda could not comprehend: "Brother Nanda! Now that you have paid your tribute to Kamsa, get back home promptly. My mind is filled with foreboding that some ominous events are about to occur in Gokulam."

As Nanda returned home, an ominous event had indeed occurred. A she-demon called Putana had been instructed by Kamsa to kill all new-born children in cities, villages and hamlets. Finding that there was a new-born child in Nanda’s household, Putana promptly set about to kill the child. She had the power of assuming any desired form and could fly through air. Putana reached the Gokulam and assumed the form of a beautiful woman. She saw Krishna lying on his bed and smiling at all those who tried to carry him in their arms. Putana went to Krishna, lifted him up onto her lap and began to breast-feed him. She had smeared her breasts with a deadly poison and hoped that the child would consume the poison and die at once. The divine child knew Putana’s tricks; the divine child started sucking the life of the demon along with her poisoned breast-milk. Putana’s vital organs withered, she started rolling convulsively and cried, "Enough! Let me go!" She had suffered so intensely that Putana could no longer conceal her true form. The form of a beautiful faded away and Putana now appeared in her true form as a hideous demon. She died gasping for breath as the divine child lay on her bosom. Gopis who had gathered around were stunned and snatched the child away from the demon’s body. Rohini prayed all the gods for their mercy and grasped the child in her breast. Nanda now understood the meaning of what Vasudeva had told him at Mathura.

On the first anniversary of Krishna’s birth another miracle happened. Nanda and Yasoda were celebrating the birthday with festivities and feast. A cart was loaded with vessels of milk, cheese and butter. The child Krishna was put to sleep below the cart. Gopis suddenly heard some noises emanating from the cart. Krishna had woken up and shattered the wheels and axle of the cart and the cart was overturned spilling milk, cheese and butter on the ground. Gopis saw in utter disbelief that the little child had so much power as to break and overturn the cart. Yasoda tried to explain away the event as the work of some other demon like Putana trying to injure her dear darling child, Krishna.

Another emissary demon called Trinavrita, sent by Kamsa, came to Gokulam. The demon assumed the form a whirlwind and tried to carry away the child Krishna who was playing in the house. The inmates of the Gokulam ran hither and tither as the whirlwind caused havoc in the area. They frantically started searching for Krishna. The demon had carried Krishna up in the sky but he found the child to be too heavy. Krishna clung to the throat of the demon and crushed the demon to death, while still hanging at the neck of the demon. The body of the demon fell crashing to the ground but the child Krishna was unhurt. The Gopis picked up the child and handed over Krishna to Yasoda.

These happenings made Nanda realize that Vasudeva did convey something by talking about his foreboding. Yasoda had also experienced some extraordinary phenomena. One day, Krishna was playing with other children. The children ran up to Yasoda to report that Krishna had put a handful of earth into his mouth. Yasoda ran up to Krishna, "You mischievous! Open your mouth, let me see what you have in your mouth." Krishna refused and tried to run away from Yasoda. After repeated coaxing, Yasoda made Krishna open his mouth. Behold, Yasoda saw in his mouth the miraculous vision of the entire universe: the earth with its mountains, oceans and continents, the sun, the moon, the stars and all the planets, Yasoda saw her own village there surrounded by the children and Krishna opening his mouth to her. "Am I dreaming?" exclaimed Yasoda and realized that all changing things are rooted in a changeless spirit.

Balarama was fair in complexion and Krishna was dark in complexion. Balarama was strong and Krishna was sprightly and bubbling with energy. The two playful brothers were the darling of the Gopis of the Vraja. The Gopis adored the mischievous pranks of Krishna such as stealing the butter and the cheese from the pots in the kitchen, drinking themilk out of their millkpots and letting the calves loose from their fetters. While they enjoyed such pranks, they also came to Yasoda one day to report against Krishna and his mischievous behavior, "O Mother Yasoda! Your child Krishna is very naughty indeed! He untethers our calves just before milking-time and when we try to beat him up, he just laughs and runs away. He steals the milk from our kitchen and shared the curds with his friends. When he finds the pots empty, he breaks them and runs away. We tried to keep the pots away from his reach by hanging them from the roof. He gets to these pots standing upon a bench or by piercing a hole with a stone thrown at the hanging-pot. As as the milk leaks down from the hole in the pot, he holds the milk in the hollow of his palms and feeds himself and his friends. Look at him, Yasoda; he stands before you as though he is the most innocent child. What a mischievous kid you have brought into Gokulam, Yasoda. We do not how to cope with this mischievous, Krishna."

Making these complaints in a tone of mock-seriousness, the Gopis were adoring at the same time the charm and the lovely lips of Krishna. Krishna started running away, "Now I am going, you can tell everything to mom, without fear of my presence!" Gopis sang in unison, "What a darling you have brought into Gokulam, O Yasoda!"

One day, Yasoda had to tie him up to the mortar with a strong rope to stop his childish pranks of breaking and stealing butter from the pot in her kitchen. Krishna started crawling on all fours and dragged the wooden mortar into the garden. The mortar was caught between two trees and as Krishna tried to pull it through, the two trees fell. Two Siddhas emerged from the fallen trees prostrated at the feet of Krishna, "O Krishna! We are the sons of Kubera, the god of wealth, in our previous birth. We were transformed as trees when we were cursed by Narada to reproach us for our pride in our wealth and power. Now, you have freed us. We will adore the mercy of God."

Incidents like these created a sense of terror in the minds of the inmates of the Gokulam, including Nanda and Yasoda. Extraordinary events had been occurring in the Gokulam which seemed to indicate that demons and evil spirits had settled in the colony threatening the very survival of the Gokulam. Upananda, an old cowherd addressed the inmates:"Let us get out of this place before further calamities strike us. Brindavan forest is nearby. Let us go there." The Gopas and Gopis agreed and moved into Brindavan, located between the Govardhana hill and the banks of the Yamuna river. Krishna and Balarama enjoyed the sylvan tracts of Brindavan. Krishna would play on his flute and both he and his brother would tend the cows and the calves.

One day, the cowherd boys and Krishna were playing on the banks of the Yamuna. It was a hot day. The cowherd boys drank water from the river and at once fell down unconscious. Krishna revived them and learnt that the poisonous snake called Kaliya had released its poison into the river. Even the birds flying over the river fell down dead because of the poison that had entered into the atmosphere. As the cowherd boys and Krishna started in search of Kaliya, they saw a kadamba tree on the banks of the river. Krishna climbed up this tree and dived into the waters of the Yamuna. A huge serpent emerged from the waters with its hundred black hoods and hanging purple tongues. Kaliya, the serpent, coiled himself around the body of the boy, Krishna. The clouds darkened and ominous portents were seen on the sky. The inmates of Brindavan came rushing to the banks of the Yamuna river and saw Krishna struggling with the serpent. An extraordinary phenomenon occurred: Krishna had grown in size and the coils wound round his body became tighter. Krishna’s body had now started crushing the body of the serpent. The serpent could not withstand the force of the growing body of Krishna and had to release him from the coils. Krishna now jumped on to one of the hoods of the serpent and started dancing, holding the serpent Kaliya by his tail. Now the snake was dying and the red blood drops from the snake fell on the feet of Krishna and shone like rubies. The entire brood of snakes of the Kaliya vintage came to the surface and prostrated at the feet of Krishna. Krishna stopped his dance. Kaliya and his brood of snakes were now chastened. Krishna asked them to leave the river and move to the ocean. The serpent colony departed, the river Yamuna was rid of the poison in her waters.

It was the day of worship of Indra, the god of clouds and rain. Krishna suggested to Nanda and other elders of Brindavan that on this day learned men and women should be honored, poor people should be fed, the inmates should take their cattle in a procession round the Govardhana hill which was the main sustenance for the entire colony of Brindavan. These suggestions were accepted and the festivities began. Then, there was thunder and lightning in the sky and a heavy downpour of rain descended on Brindavan. The cowherd felt that this was symbolic of Indra’s anger. The rain became severe and evolved into a tempetuous hail-storm hurling stones at the people of Brindavan. "We have done something wrong by deviating from the traditional forms of worship of Indra," cried the cowherds.

Krishna shouted his command: "All of you go towards the valley where the waters were not too deep." Krishna plunged into the ravine where the waters were very deep and disappeared. After a while, the people of Brindavan were witness to a miracle. The Govardhana hill was rising like an umbrella revealing dry ground. Krishna was seen at the centre of the dry ground, supporting the weight of the hill on an uplifted finger of his hand. The people rushed into the dry ground. Krishna held up the hill on his finger for seven days until the rains stopped and the floods subsided. Krishna asked the people to move into Brindavan and lowered the Govardhana back into its place.

The Vraja country soon realized that Krishna was God in human form. The call of Krishna’s flute was a call to a life divine. Vraja people knew that the highest aim of their lives was to be devoted to Lord Krishna.

Krishnaleela (exploits of Krishna) were now household stories, everyone in Mathura knew of Krishna’s divine deeds in Brindavanam. The people of Mathura also came to know that Krishna was indeed the eighth child of Devaki and as prophesied will be Kamsa’s nemesis in due time. People were suffering under the oppressive regime of Kamsa and knew that Kamsa’s time was up since Krishna was growing in beauty and strength across the Yamuna in the forests of Brindavanam. People were enjoying hearing the stories of Krishna’s mischiefs and exploits and counting the days for their deliverance day when Krishna would take on Kamsa. Kamsa had tried to handle Krishna by sending Putana when Krishna was a mere child. Kamsa also sent other demons in the form of a mighty bull, in the form of a wild horse and all these demon-forms perished at Krishna’s hands and gained their deliverance.

Kamsa sent his messenger Akrura to Brindavan announcing a tournament in the capital. Kamsa had confided in Akrura that the plan was to station a mighty elephant at the entrance to the tournament grounds and to drive the animal towards Balarama and Krishna as soon as they entered and crush them to death under the feet of the elephant. If this strategy fails, two wrestlers, Chanura and Mushtika would challenge the two brothers Krishna and Balarama to a wrestling match and kill the latter in the contest. Akrura was no fool; he hated Kamsa like all other subjects of the kingdom and realized that Krishna was god in human form. Anyway, Akrura went to Nanda and extended the invitation of the king Kamsa; at the same time, Akrura also warned Krishna, secretly, of the evil designs of Kamsa. Krishna and Balarama laughed on learning about the plans and actively encouraged Nanda and other cowherds to accept the invitation to the tourney and prepare for the festivities.


Arjuna is one of the heroes of the Hindu epic Mahabharata. Arjuna is a central figure in Hindu religion whose name means 'bright', 'shining', 'white' or 'silver'. Arjuna is thus "The Peerless Archer". The third of the five Pandava brothers, Arjun was one of the children borne by Kunti, first wife of Pandu.

Arjun or Partha was a master archer and played a central role in the conflict between the Pandavas and their adversaries, the sons of Dhritarashtra known as the Kauravas. To begin with, Arjun was reluctant to take part in battle because of the slaughter he knew he would cause in the enemy ranks, which included many of his own relatives. He was persuaded by his charioteer and close friend Lord Krishna, to change his mind. Their dialogue about issues involved in war—courage, a warrior’s duty, the nature of human life and the soul, and the role of Gods—forms the subject of the Bhagavad Gita, one of the key episodes in the epic Mah�bh�rata. He also played the key role in killing Karna, his arch-rival, in reality an unknown brother, on the side of the Kauravas.

It is asserted by some sources that the legend of "Ārash, the Parthian Archer" in Persian mythology bears some resemblance to that of Arjuna; this is cited by some as being reminiscent of a shared Indo-Iranian heritage. However, Arjun is an integral part of the Mah�bh�rata and one of its lead characters. The other central characters in the story are not mentioned in the story of Arash. Lastly, Indian scientists have discovered what they claim to be Dwaraka, or Krishna's city, indicating that the Mah�bh�rata may indeed have a link to actual events in Indian history, as opposed to being a mythological tale.

He bears a total of ten names: Arjun, Phalgun, Jishnu, Keeriti, Shwetvaahan, Vibhatsu, Vijaya, P�rth, Savyasachinn (also referred as Sabyasachi), and Dhananjaya. When he is asked to say his ten names as a proof of his identity:

"My ten names are - Arjun, Phalgun, Jishnu, Keeriti, Shwetvaahan, Vibhatsu, Vijaya, Parth, Savyashachee and Dhananjaya. I was called Dhanajaya when I conquered all the kings at the time of R�jsooya Yajna and collected wealth from all of them. I always fight till the end and I always win, that is why I am called Vijaya. My horses which were given to me by Agni Dev are white, that is why I am called Shwetav�hana. My father Indra gave me a beautiful crown when I was with Him, that is why I am called Kiriti. I have never fought by unfair means in any battle that is why I am called Jishnu. I never frighten my enemies by meanness, I can use my both hands when I shoot my arrows, that is why I am called Savyashachee. My complexion is unique like the Arjun tree, and my name is stainless, that is why I am named Arjun. I was born on the slopes of Himvaan in a place called Satsring on a day when the Nakshatra Uttara Phalgunī was in ascent, that is why my name is Phaalgun. I am called Vibhatsu because I am terrible when I am angry. My mother's name is Prithaa, so I am also called Paarth. I have taken an oath that I will destroy that person (and his kinsmen) who hurts my brother Yudhishthira and spills his blood on Earth. I cannot be defeated by anyone." (Mahabharat)

Pandu was unable to sire a child. His first wife Kunti had, in her maiden days, received a boon from sage Kindamb, which enabled her to invoke any deity of her choice and beget a child by such deity. Pandu and Kunti decided to make use of this boon; Kunti invoked in turn Yama Dharmaraja, Vayu and Indra and gave birth to three sons. Arjuna was the third son, born of Indra, king of the demi gods (devas).

Arjuna is depicted as a wholesome and well-rounded personality, a healthy mind in a healthy body, a person whom any mother, wife and friend would cherish and be proud of. The son of Indra, Arjuna is said to have been well-built and extremely handsome; he married four times, as detailed here. Arjuna was also true and loyal to his friends (his best friend was the great warrior Satyaki); he enjoyed a life-long rapport with his cousin and brother-in-law, Sri Krishna. He was also sensitive and thoughtful, as demonstrated by his misgivings about the Kurukshetra war, which caused Sri Krishna to impart the Gita to him. His sense of duty was acute; he once chose to go into exile rather than refuse to help a brahmin subject, a story detailed elsewhere.

It is as a warrior that Arjuna is best known. The foundation for his career as a warrior was laid young; Arjuna was an outstanding and diligent student, learning everything that his guru Dronacharya could teach him, and early attaining the status of "Maharathi" or outstanding warrior. Guru Dronacharya once decided to test his students. He hung a wooden bird from the branch of a tree and then summoned his students. One by one, he asked his students to aim for the eye of the wooden bird and be ready to shoot; then, when they were ready, he would ask the student to describe all that he was able to see. The students generally described the garden, the tree, flowers, the branch from which the bird was suspended and the bird itself. Guru Dronacharya then asked them to step aside. When asked what he could see, Arjuna told his Guru that he could only see the bird's eye. Another story says that Arjuna once noticed brother Bheema, who was a voracious eater, eating in the dark as though it was daylight, and realized that if he could practice archery in the dark he would become vastly more proficient.

His skill in archery was to have an unlikely utility; it won him the hand of Draupadi, his first wife, the daughter of Drupada, king of Panchala. A contest was held by Drupada to choose a suitable match for his daughter. A wooden fish was suspended high above a pool of water; furthermore, the fish rotated in a circle. Contestants were required to string a heavy bow and then use it to hit the eye of the rotating fish. They were allowed to take aim at the eye of the fish only by looking at its reflection in the pool of water. Many princes and noblemen vied for the hand of the princess of Panchala. Some (including Karna, another hero of the Mah�bh�rata) were disqualified on grounds of supposedly low birth. However, although the Pandavas and their mother were in hiding at that time, Arjuna had prudently dressed as a high-caste Brahmin and was allowed to compete. This was just as well, since it was eventually Arjuna, the peerless archer, who alone was able to accomplish the set task; he won the hand of Draupadi.

All the five Pandava brothers had attended the tournament without informing Kunti, their mother, about it. They returned home in triumph, bringing the princess Draupadi with them. From outside the house, they shouted out to their mother: "Mother, you will never believe what we have got here! Make a guess!" Busy with her work, Kunti refused to be baited. "Whatever it is, share it between yourselves equally, and do not quarrel over the matter," she said. So seriously did the brothers take even this casual statement of their mother, that they resolved upon making Draupadi their common wife. It says something about the magnanimity of Arjuna that, having won his bride single-handedly, he 'shared' her with all his brothers willingly. One possible reason he took this action was to prevent any breach or jealousy arising between the brothers. However, despite marrying all five brothers, Draupadi loved Arjun the most and always favoured him. And Arjun loved Draupadi the most out of his four wives. There is another story about Draupadi, which mentions the boon she received in her previous birth of having five of the most desired men, as her husbands. Initially Draupadi's parents didn't agree to her marriage to all the Pandavas. But when he was told about this boon she had, King Drupad agreed.

The brothers agreed upon a protocol governing their relations with Draupadi, their common wife. An important point of this agreement was that no brother would disturb the couple when another brother was alone with Draupadi; the penalty for doing so was exile for a year. Once, when the Pandavas were still ruling over a prosperous Indraprastha, a brahmin came in great agitation to Arjuna and sought his help: a pack of cattle-thieves had seized his herd, he had recourse to none but Arjuna for a remedy. Arjuna was in a dilemma: his weaponry was in the room where Draupadi and Yudhishthira were alone together, and disturbing them would incur the penalty agreed upon. Arjuna hesitated for but a moment; in his mind, coming to the aid of his subject in distress, especially a brahmin, was the raison d'etre of a prince. The prospect of exile did not deter him from fulfilling the duty of aiding the brahmin; he disturbed the conjugal couple, took up his weaponry and rode forth to subdue the cattle-thieves. Upon finishing that task, he insisted, in the teeth of opposition from his entire family, including the two people whom he had disturbed, upon going away on exile.

Apart from Draupadi, Arjuna was the husband of three other ladies, namely Chitrangada, Uluchi and Subhadra. All of these events occurred during the period when he went into exile alone after having disturbed Draupadi and Yudhishthira in their private apartments.

Chitrangada: Arjuna travelled the length and breadth of India during his term of exile. His wanderings took him to ancient Manipur in the eastern Himalayas, an almost mystic kingdom renowned for its natural beauty. Here he met the gentle Chitrangada, daughter of the king of Manipur, and was moved to seek her hand in marriage. Her father the king demurred on the plea that, according to the matrilineal customs of his people, the children born of Chitrangada were heir to Manipur; he could not allow his heirs to be taken away from Manipur by their father. Arjuna agreed to the stipulation that he would take away neither his wife Chitrangada nor any children borne by her from Manipur, and wed the princess on this premise. A son, whom they named Babruvahana, was soon born to the happy couple--he would succeed his grandfather as King of Manipur.

Uluchi: While Arjuna was in Manipur, Uluchi, a Naga princess of otherwise noble character, became infatuated of him. She caused him to be abducted after he had been intoxicated with potent concoctions; she had him conveyed to her realm in the netherworld. Here, uluchi induced an unwilling Arjuna to take her for wife. Later, the large-hearted Uluchi restored Arjuna to the lamenting Chitrangada. Uluchi later did much to further the comfort and happiness not only of Arjuna, but also of Chitrangada and the young Babruvahana. She played a very major part in the upbringing of Babruvahana; she enjoyed much influence over him, and was eventually also to restore Arjuna to life after he was slain in battle by Babruvahana.

Subhadra: Arjuna decided to spend the last portion of his term of exile in an orchard near Dwaraka, the residence of his cousins Balarama, Krishna and Subhadra, who were the children of his maternal uncle Vasudeva. Here, he and his cousin Subhadra fell in love with each other. This matter was abetted by Krishna, who had always been particularly attached to Arjuna, and wished nothing but the best for his sister Subhadra. Knowing that the entire family would view with disfavour the prospect of Subhadra becoming the fourth wife of her cousin Arjuna, Krishna facilitated the elopement of the couple and their departure for Indraprastha. In a twist to the tale, at Krishna's advice, it was Subhadra who drove the chariot from Dwaraka to Indraprastha. Krishna used this fact to persuade his family that Subhadra had not been abducted; on the contrary, it was she who had kidnapped Arjuna.

A single son, Abhimanyu, was born to Arjuna and Subhadra. Parikshita, son of Abhimanyu and Uttar�, born after Abhimanyu was killed in the battlefield, was destined to be the sole surviving dynast of the entire Kuru clan, and succeeded Yudhistra as the emperor of the Pandava kingdom

Shortly after his return to Indraprastha, Arjuna visits the Khandava forest with Krishna. There they encounter Agni, the fire-god. He has become wan from consuming too much ghee as a result of one king who is performing far too many 'yagnas' (ritual invocations with fire), and feeding ghee to Agni. He asks for Arjuna and Krishna's help in consuming the forest in its entirety to restore him to health. Takshaka the serpent-king, a friend of Indra's, resides in it and Indra thus causes rain whenever Agni tries to burn this forest. Arjuna tells him that while he has training in the divine weapons, to withstand the power of Indra's astras he must have an exceptionally powerful bow, an unbreakable one. Agni then invokes Varuna, and then gives Arjuna the Gandiva, an incredibly powerful bow, which gave its user sure victory in battle. This bow plays a great role in Arjuna's battles to come. Additionally, he also gives Arjuna a divine chariot, with powerful white horses that do not tire, and are unwounded by normal weapons.

Arjuna tells Agni to proceed, and fights a duel with his father in the process, a battle that lasts several days and nights. A voice from the sky proclaims Arjuna and Krishna the victors, and tells Indra to withdraw.

In the burning of the forest, Arjuna chose to spare one Asura, named Maya, who was a gifted architect. In his gratitude, Maya built Yudhishtra a magnificent royal hall, unparalleled in the world. It is this hall, which triggers the pinnacle of Duryodhana's envy, causing the game of dice to be played.

After Arjuna's return to Indraprastha, several crucial incidents described in the Mah�bh�rata took place, culminating in the exile of all the five Pandava brothers and of their common wife Draupadi. Arjuna's training during this period is particularly significant in the war to come.

Pashupata: During the fifth year of their exile, Arjuna leaves the others and proceeds to the Himalayas to do tapas to Lord Shiva, to obtain the Pashupata, Shiva's personal astra (i.e. "weapon"), one so powerful as to lack any counter-astra. Arjuna performs penance for a long time. Shiva, pleased with his penance, decides to test him further. He causes an asura in the shape of a large wild boar to disturb Arjuna's penance. Incensed at the boar, Arjuna chases it, and shoots an arrow at it to kill. At the same instant, another arrow from the bow of a rude hunter (Shiva) also hits the boar. The hunter and Arjuna, with the pride of warriors, argue about whose arrow killed the boar. This leads to an intense duel between the two. The hunter soon deprives Arjuna of all his weapons. Arjuna, who feels ashamed at this defeat, turns to the Shivalinga, that he has been worshipping during his penance, and offers it some flowers in prayer, only to find that the flowers have magically appeared on the body of the hunter instead. Arjuna realizes the hunter's identity, and falls at Shiva's feet. Shiva subsequently grants him knowledge of the Pasupata.

After obtaining this astra, he then proceeds to Indraloka (heaven), spending time with his biological father Indra, and acquiring further training from the devas. Additionally, he destroys the Nivatakavachas and Kalakeyas - two powerful asura clans that resided in the skies, and menaced the gods. The clans had obtained boons from Brahma as to be undefeatable by gods. Arjuna, being a mortal man, could destroy them with his training.

Urvashi's curse: While in Indraloka, Arjuna was propositioned by the apsara (celestial danseuse) Urvashi. Urvashi had once been married to a king named Pururavas, and had borne a son named Ayus from that liaison; Ayus was a distant forbear of Arjuna, hence he regarded Urvashi as a mother. Arjuna reminded Urvashi of this connection while rejecting her advances. Another belief says that since Indra was Arjuna's father and Urvashi was an apsara in Indra's court, so Urvashi is more like a motherly figure for him. Urvashi got annoyed at this rejection, saying Arjuna has insulted by spurning her advances. Urvashi rebuked Arjuna and told him that a danseuse is not concerned with earthly relations of any sort. Yet Arjuna could not overcome his scruples; "I am a child in front of you," he said. Chagrined at this response, Urvashi cursed Arjuna with impotence. Because Indra told her to reduce the curse, she modified her curse to last only one year, and Arjuna could choose any one year of his life during which to suffer the life of a eunuch. This curse proved fortuitous; Arjuna used it as a very effective disguise for the period of one year when he, his brothers and Draupadi all lived incognito while in exile.

After spending 12 years in the forest, the Pandavas spent the thirteenth year of exile incognito, as stipulated by their agreement with the Kauravas. This year is spent by them in disguise at the court of King Vir�ta. Arjuna made use of the curse put on him by the apsara Urvashi and chose this year in which to live the life of a eunuch. He assumed the name Brihannala. At the end of one year, Arjuna single-handedly defeated a Kaurava host that had invaded Vir�ta's kingdom. In appreciation of this valour, and being appraised of the true identity of the Pandavas, King Vir�ta offered the hand of his daughter Uttar� to Arjuna. Arjuna demurred on grounds of age as well as that Uttar� was like a daughter to him, owing to his having been (as a eunuch) her tutor in song and dance. He proposed that Uttar� should marry his young son Abhimanyu. This wedding duly took place; the posthumous son born of that union was destined to be the sole surviving dynast of the entire Kuru clan.

In addition to the guidance of and personal attention from Krishna, Arjuna had the support of Hanuman during the great battle of Kurukshetra.

Arjuna entered the battlefield with the flag of Hanuman on his chariot. The incident that led to this was an earlier encounter between Hanuman and Arjuna; Hanuman appeared as a small talking monkey before Arjuna at Rameshwaram, where Sri Rama had built the great bridge to cross over to Lanka to rescue Sita. Upon Arjuna's wondering out aloud at Sri Rama's taking the help of "monkeys" rather than building a bridge of arrows, Hanuman (in the form of the little monkey) challenged him to build one capable of bearing him alone. Unaware of the monkey's true identity, Arjuna accepted the challenge. Hanuman then proceeded to repeatedly destroy the bridges made by Arjuna who became depressed and suicidal, and decided to take his own life. Vishnu then appeared before them both, chiding Arjuna for his vanity, and Hanuman for making the accomplished warrior Arjuna feel incompetent. As an act of 'penitence', Hanuman agreed to help Arjuna by stabilizing and strengthening his chariot during the then-likely great battle.

Upon finishing the period of their exile, the Pandavas seek the return of their kingdom from the Kauravas, who refuse to honour the terms of the agreement. War breaks out.

The Bhagavad Gita:

Krishna's elder step brother Balarama, ruler of Dwaraka, decides not to take sides in the war, as both Kauravas and Pandavas are kinsmen of the Yadavas. However, Krishna in his personal capacity decides to be near Arjuna and protect him. Krishna becomes Arjuna's personal charioteer during the 18-day war and protects Arjuna upon numerous occasions from injury and death. The term "Charioteer" in connection to Krishna is interpreted as "One who guides" or "One who shows the way"; apart from protecting Arjuna from all mishap, Krishna also showed Arjuna the righteous way by revealing the Bhagavad Gita to him in the hours immediately preceding the start of battle.

This happened thus: As the two armies fell into battle-formation and faced each other on the battlefield, Arjuna's heart grew heavy. He saw arrayed before him his own kinsfolk; the elders of his clan on whose knees he had once been dandled as a child; the very guru Dronacharya who first taught him to wield the bow all those decades ago. Will it be worthwhile, he asked himself, to annihilate his own kindred for the sake of a kingdom? Arjuna sees his spirit faltering at this crucial juncture just as the war is about to begin; he resorts to Krishna for guidance.

It is at this juncture that Lord Krishna reveals the Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna. This is one of the most revered of Hindu texts. In it, Krishna deems it Arjuna's duty to struggle to uphold righteousness, without consideration of personal loss, consequence or reward; the discharge of one's moral duty, he says, supersedes all other pursuits, whether spiritual and material, in life.

The Bhagavad Gita is a record of the conversation between Lord Krishna and Arjuna. The relationship between Arjuna and Krishna is representative of what is ideal for all mankind: Man guided by God. The Bhagavad Gita records the Lord comforting and guiding a mortal who is facing a terrible moral crisis, and is an important scripture in Hinduism.

The Kurukshetra war:

Thus fortified in his belief of the righteousness of his chosen course of action, Arjuna takes up arms and essays a vastly important role in the winning of the war by the Pandavas.

Arjuna killed his uterine brother Karna, another formidable warrior who was fighting in aid of the Kauravas against the Pandavas. This act of fratricide was committed by him while in ignorance of the relationship. Karna and Arjuna form a terrible rivalry when Karna seeks to revenge himself upon Arjuna's guru and the princely order for casting him out and humiliating him. Arjuna is further provoked when Karna insults Arjuna and the other Pandava's wife Draupadi and has an indirect role in the murder of Arjuna's son Abhimanyu in battle. They both bring this terrible and personal rivalry to a climactic battle of terrifying proportions. For a long, long time, powerful weapons are discharged by the two warriors at terrifying pace without relent. The prowess and courage of both is marvelled by the millions of other soldiers. Karna knowing that he cannot kill Arjuna by any means he takes out his snake arrow to kill Arjuna. He uses this snake arrow against arjuna but snake aswasena whose mother was killed by arjuna enters that arrow and tries to kill Arjuna. But the Lord Krishna saves his friend and devotee Arjuna at this crucial juncture. Then Arjuna becomes mad with anger and shame and rains innumerable arrows at Karna and wounds him .Then Arjuna is urged by Lord Krishna to kill Karna when he is attempting to raise his chariot, reminding him of Karna's own apparent lack of mercy and regard for the rules of war in the killing of Arjuna's son Abhimanyu in a terrible and brutal fashion. Arjuna thus kills Karna. In the end Karna's sins doom him, marking another instance in the Mah�bh�rata of how an individual's actions serve to mark his destiny, and the need to lead a virtuous life.

In another memorable battle, it was Arjuna who annihilated a whole akshouhini, or hundreds of thousands (109,350) of Kaurava soldiers in one day to avenge the terrible murder of his son Abhimanyu, who was killed by all of the strongest warriors of the Kaurava Army, attacking simultaneously and especially when Abhimanyu was exhausted and deprived of weapons and trapped in a formation impossible for anyone save the Kuru general Drona, Arjuna, Krishna and Krishna's son Pradyumna to escape from. Having pledged to enter the fire if he failed to kill the Sindhu king Jayadratha, whom he held principally responsible, by the end of the day, Arjuna in the process kills an entire akshauhini, or more than hundreds of thousands of soldiers. In the climactic moment, the sun is close to setting and thousands of warriors still separate Arjuna and Jayadratha. Seeing his friend's plight, the Lord Krishna, his charioteer, raises his Sudarshana Chakra to cover the Sun, faking a sunset. The Kaurava warriors rejoice over Arjuna's defeat and imminent death, and Jayadratha is exposed in a crucial moment, where upon the Lord's urging, Arjuna sets loose a powerful arrow that decapitates Jayadratha. This note of the act of protection of Krishna of his righteous friend and disciple will be incomplete without adding that Jayadratha's father, the old and sinful king Vridhakshtra had blessed his son that anyone who caused his head to fall to the ground would cause his own head to burst. Jayadratha's head is carried by the arrow to his own father's hands, who was meditating near the battlefield; who in his shock drops the head and himself dies of his own blessing.

After the conclusion of the war, the Pandavas take charge of Hastinapura, the undivided realm of their ancestors. Their great victory, the wide support they gained for their cause and the defeat of the many kings who had supported the Kauravas, all unite to make them feel that the time is right to hazard a further venture: the performance of the Asvamedha Yagna, or "horse sacrifice", whereafter the title of Chakravarti ("Emperor") may be assumed. The sacrifice required that after preliminary rituals, a horse is let loose to wander where it will. The kings upon whose lands the horse wanders all have a choice: they may either accept the master of the horse (in this case, Yudishthira, eldest of the Pandavas) as their own leige lord and offer their submission to him, or they may offer resistance and wage war. Arjuna led the armed host which followed the horse around its random wanderings. He had occasion to receive the submission of many kings, either without or following an armed confrontation. He was thus instrumental in the expansion of the Pandava domains.

His war campaign into the Uttarapatha resulted in the reduction of over thirty tribes/Kingdoms including those of Pragjyotisha, Uluka, Modapura, Vamadeva, Sudaman, Susankula, Northern Uluka, Puru kingdom of Viswagaswa, Utsava-Sanketa, Lohita, Trigarta, Darava, Abhisara, Kokonada, Ursa, Simhapura, Suhma, Sumala, Balhika, Darada, Kamboja. Thence after reducing the robber tribes of the mountains, Arjuna landed into Transoxiana region (Sakadvipa or Scythia) and conquers the Lohas, Parama Kambojas, Northern Rishikas (or Parama Rishikas), Limpurushas, Haratakas, Gandharvas and the Uttarakurus etc.

In course of time, the Pandava brothers decide, at an advanced age, to renounce the world. They entrust the kingdom to Parikshita, the son of Abhimanyu and grandson of Arjuna. The Pandavas, including Arjuna, then retire to the Himalayas and eventually depart the world


Mahabali was a great king of the Asuras(demons). Once he performed a big ritual during which he gave away lots of gifts to all the people who visited him. He was proud of himself and gave more and more to the people who were arriving. At the end of the ritual, a small boy visited him. The Asura king asked him what he wanted as a gift. The boy told him that he only wanted to have a small piece of land about the size of his small feet. The king was surprised about the humble request but anyway offered to give the boy what he wanted. In those days if a king gave his word on something he was duty-bound to do it. As soon as the king gave his word, the boy suddenly started growing size. He was growing so fast and so huge that with one foot he covered the whole earth. He told the king that he had covered the whole earth and did not have any place left for his second foot. The proud and arrogant king realized that the boy was none other than God himself who had come in the form of a boy to humble him. He realized that this was the time to seek refuge in God and offered his own head for the boy to place his second foot. God placed his second foot on the king's head and the king reached the heavens because of God's grace.

The above story is from the Dasavatharam, or the story of God's Ten Incarnations from the Hindu mythology.


Yuyutsu in the Hindu epic Mahabharata, was the son of King Dhritarashtra, and one of the palace maidservants. He was a half-brother to Duryodhana and the other Kauravas. Disgusted by the treatment of the Pandavas by the Kauravas, he joined the side of the Pandavas in the Kurukshetra war and was the only son of Dhritarashtra to survive the war. He was younger to Duryodhana but elder than Dushasana


In the great Hindu epic Mahabharata, Yudhisthira was the eldest son of King Pandu and Queen Kunti, king of Hastinapura and Indraprastha, and World Emperor. He was the principal protagonist of the Kurukshetra War, and for his unblemished piety, known as Dharmaraja (Most pious one). Some sources describe him to be an adept warrior with the Spear.

Yudhisthira's father Pandu, the king of Hastinapura, soon after his marriage accidentally shot a Brahmin and his wife, mistaking them for deer, while the couple were making love. Before he died, the Brahmin cursed the king himself to die at once, the minute he engaged in intercourse with one of his two wives. Due to this curse, Pandu was unable to father children. In additional penance for the murder, Pandu also abdicated the crown to his blind brother Dhritarashtra.

Yudhisthira therefore was conceived in an unusual way. His mother, Queen Kunti, had in her youth been granted the power to invoke the Devas by Rishi Durvasa. Each god, when invoked, would place a child in her lap. Urged by Pandu to use her invocations, Kunti gave birth to Yudhisthira by invoking the Lord of Righteousness, Dharma. Being Pandu's eldest son, Yudhisthira was the rightful heir to the throne. However, this claim was contested by the Dhritarashtra's son, Duryodhana.

Yudhisthira's four younger brothers were Bhima, (born by invoking Vayu); Arjuna, (born by invoking Indra); and the twins Nakula and Sahadeva, (born by invoking the Ashwini Gods). If Karna, the son of Kunti born before her marriage by invoking Surya is counted, Yudhisthira would be the second-eldest of five Pandava brothers.

Yudhisthira was trained in religion, science, administration and military arts by the Kuru preceptors Kripa and Drona. He was a master of the spear weapon, and a maharatha, capable of combating 10,000 opponents all together at a time.

Yudhisthira is also known as Bharata (Descendent of the line of Bharata) and Ajatashatru (One Without Enemies).

Yudhisthira's true prowess was shown in his unflinching adherence to satya (truth) and dharma (righteousness), which were more precious to him than any royal ambitions, material pursuits and family relations.

Yudhisthira rescued Bhima from Yama, and all of his four brothers from death by exemplifying not only his immense knowledge of dharma but also his very own way of understanding the finer implications of dharma, as judged by Yama, who was testing him in the guise of a Crane and a Yaksha.

Yudhisthira's dharma was markedly distinct from that of other righteous kings. He married Draupadi along with his four brothers, he had Bhima marry an outcast Rakshasi, he termed "prayer" as "poison", he saw an uneventful life with no credit and a belly full of food at the end of the day as happiness, he denounced casteism, saying a Brahmin is known by his actions and not his birth or education--thus portraying the real changeable dharma, the dharma that modifies itself to suit the times.

Due to his piety, Yudhisthira's feet and his chariot do not touch the ground, to symbolize his purity.

Yudhisthira and his brothers were favored by the Kuru elders like Bhishma, Vidura ,Kripa and Drona over Duryodhana and his brothers, the Kauravas, due to their devotion to their elders, pious habits and great aptitude in religion and military skills, and all the necessary qualifications for the greatest of the kshatriya order.

Yudhisthira married the Panchali princess Draupadi, who bore him his son Prativindya.

When the Pandavas came of age, King Dhritarashtra sought to avoid a conflict with his sons, the Kauravas, by giving Yudhisthira half the Kuru kingdom, albeit the lands which were arid, unprosperous and scantily populated, known as Khandavaprastha.

But with the help of Yudhisthira's cousin Krishna, a new city, Indraprastha, was constructed by the Deva architect Viswakarman. The Asura architect Mayasura constructed the Mayasabha, which was the largest regal assembly hall in the world. Yudhisthira was crowned king of Khandavaprastha and Indraprastha. As he governed with absolute piousness, with a strict adherence to duty and service to this people, his kingdom grew prosperous, and people from all over were attracted to it.

Yudhisthira performed the Rajasuya sacrifice to become the Emperor of the World. His motives were not to obtain power for himself, but to establish dharma and defend religion all over the world by suppressing the enemies of Krishna and sinful, aggressive kings.

Arjuna, Bhima, Nakula and Sahadeva led armies across the four corners of the world to obtain tributes from all kingdoms for Yudhisthira's sacrifice. At his sacrifice, Yudhisthira honored Krishna as the most famous and greatest personality. This incensed Sisupala, who proceeded to hurl several insults at Krishna and the Pandavas for selecting a "cowherd" for the great honor. When Sisupala's transgressions exceed the hundred pardons that Krishna had promised his mother, Krishna summons the sudarshana chakra to behead him. Following which, the yajna is completed successfully.

Yudhisthira was unable to refuse when Duryodhana's maternal uncle Shakuni, challenged him to a game of dice. Thanks to Shakuni's cheating, Yudhisthira lost each throw, eventually gambling away his kingdom, his wealth, his brothers and finally his wife. Owing to the protests of Vidura, Bhishma and Drona, Dhritarashtra returned all these losses. However, Shakuni challenged Yudhisthira one more time, and Yudhisthira once more lost. This time, he, his brothers and his wife were forced to discharge the debt by spending thirteen years in exile, with the condition of anonymity in the last year, in the forest before they could reclaim their kingdom.

Yudhisthira was criticized by Draupadi and Bhima for succumbing to temptation and playing dice, an art he was absolutely unskilled at, making the Pandavas prey to Shakuni and Duryodhana's evil designs. Yudhisthira reproached himself for weakness of mind, but at the time he argued that it was impossible to refuse a challenge of any nature, as he was a kshatriya and obliged to stand by the kshatriya code of honour.

During the thirteen years, he was repeatedly tested for staunch adherence to religious values in face of adversity.

The conditions of the debt required the Pandavas to disguise themselves and not be discovered during the last year of exile. Yudhisthira learned dice play from Narada Muni and assumed the guise of a brahmin courtier and dice player in the Matsya Rajya of king Virata.

When the period of exile was completed, Duryodhana and Shakuni nevertheless refused to return Yudhisthira's kingdom. Yudhisthira made numerous diplomatic efforts to retrieve his kingdom peacefully; all failed. To go to war to reclaim his birthright would mean fighting and killing his own relatives, an idea that appalled Yudhisthira. But Krishna, Yudhisthira's most trusted advisor (whom he recognized as the Avatara of Vishnu, the Supreme Godhead, Brahman), pointed out that Yudhisthira's claim was righteous, and the deeds of Duryodhana were evil. If all peace efforts failed, war was therefore a most righteous course. There are many passages in the Mahabharata in which Yudhisthira's will to fight a bloody war for the sake of a kingdom falters, but Krishna justifies the war as moral and as the unavoidable duty of all moral warriors.

In the war, the Kuru commander Drona was killing of thousands of Pandava warriors. Krishna hatched a plan to tell Drona that his son Ashwathama had died, so that the invincible and destructive Kuru commander would give up his arms and thus could be killed.

The plan was set in motion when Bhima killed an elephant named Ashwathama, and loudly proclaimed that Ashwathama was dead. Drona, knowing that only Yudhisthira, with his firm adherence to the truth, could tell him for sure if his son had died, approached Yudhisthira for confirmation. Yudhisthira told him: "Ashwathama has died". However Yudhisthira could not make himself tell a lie, despite the fact that if Drona continued to fight, the Pandavas and the cause of dharma itself would have lost and he added: "naro va kunjaro va" which means he is not sure whether elephant or man had died.

Krishna knew that Yudhisthira would be unable to lie, and had all the warriors beat war-drums and cymbals to make as much noise as possible. The words "naro va kunjaro va" were lost in the tumult and the ruse worked. Drona was disheartened, and laid down his weapons. He was then killed by Dhristadyumna.

When he spoke his half-lie, Yudhisthira's feet and chariot descended to the ground. However, Yudhisthira himself killed Shalya, the king of Madra and the last Kuru commander.

At the end of the war, Yudhisthira and the Pandava army emerged victorious, but Yudhisthira's children, the sons of Draupadi, and many Pandava heroes like Dhristadyumna, Abhimanyu, Virata, Drupada, Ghatotkacha were dead. Millions of warriors on both sides were killed.

Yudhisthira performed the tarpana ritual for the souls of the departed. Upon his return to Hastinapura, he was crowned king of both Indraprastha and Hastinapura.

Out of his piousness, Yudhisthira retained Dhristarashtra as the king of the city of Hastinapura, and offered him complete respect and deference as an elder, despite his misdeeds and the evil of his dead sons.

Yudhisthira later performed the Ashwamedha yagna (sacrifice) to re-establish the rule of dharma all over the world. In this sacrifice, a horse was released to wander for a year, and Yudhisthira's brother Arjuna led the Pandava army, following the horse. The kings of all the countries where the horse wandered were asked to submit to Yudhisthira's rule or face war. All paid tribute, once again establishing Yudhisthira as the undisputed Emperor of the World.

Upon the onset of the Kali yuga and the death of Krishna, Yudhisthira and his brothers retired, leaving the throne to their only descendant to survive the war of Kurukshetra, Arjuna's grandson Parikshita. Giving up all their belongings and ties, the Pandavas made their final journey of pilgrimage in the Himalayas.

While climbing the peaks, one by one Draupadi and each Pandava in reverse order of age fell to their deaths, dragged down by the weight of their guilt of few, but real sins. But Yudhisthira reached the mountain peak, because he was unblemished by sin or untruth.

The true character of Yuddhisthira is revealed at the end of the Mahabharata. On the mountain peak, Indra, King of Gods, arrived to take Yudhisthira to heaven in his Golden Chariot. As Yudhisthira was about to step into the Chariot, the Deva told him to leave behind his companion dog, an unholy creature not worthy of heaven. Yudhisthira stepped back, refusing to leave behind the creature who he had taken under his protection. Indra wondered at him - "You can leave your brothers behind, not arranging proper cremations for them...and you refuse to leave behind a stray dog!"

Yudhisthira replied, "Draupadi and my brothers have left me, not me [them]." And he refused to go to heaven without the dog. At that moment the dog changed into the God Dharma, his father, who was testing him...and Yudhisthira had passed with distinction.

Yudhisthira was carried away on Indra's chariot. On reaching Heaven he did not find either his virtuous brothers or his wife Draupadi. Instead he saw Duryodhana and his evil allies. The Gods told him that his brothers were in Naraka (hell) atoning their little sins, while Duryodhana was in heaven since he died at the blessed place of Kurukshetra.

Yudhisthira loyally went to Naraka (hell) to meet his brothers, but the sights and sounds of gore and blood horrified him. Tempted to flee, he mastered himself and remained on hearing the voice 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..preferring to live in hell with good people than in a heaven of evil ones. At that moment the scene changed. This was yet another illusion to test him on the one hand, and on other hand to enable him to atone for his sin of using deceit to kill Drona. Indra and Krishna appeared before him and told him that his brothers were already in Heaven, along with his enemies, for earthly virtues and vices don't hold true in heavenly realms. Krishna yet again hailed Yudhisthira for his dharma, and bowed to him, in the final defining moment of the epic where divinity bowed down to humanity.


Virata, in the Hindu epic Mahabharata, was a king in whose court the Pandavas spent a year in concealment during their exile. Virata was married to Queen Sudeshna and was the father of Prince Uttara and Princess Uttar�. He finally gets killed by Drona during the great war along with his three sons, named Uttara, Shveta and Shankha


Vidura was half-brother to Dhritarashtra and Pandu. He was a son of a maid-servant who served the queens of Hastinapura, Ambika and Ambalika. In some accounts, he was an incarnation of Yama or Dharma Raja, who was cursed by the sage, Mandavya, for imposing punishment on him that exceed the sin.

Both queens were married to King Vichitravirya of Hastinapur, who died childless. Vichitravirya's mother Satyavati was anxious to ensure that the royal line was carried on. She called upon her other son Vyasa, to go to the beds of the two queens to father children. Vyasa was a hermit, and came to the palace, unkempt as he was. He went to Ambika who closed her eyes when she saw him, and to Ambalika who became pale. Hence the children they bore were blind and weak.

When Satyavati asked Vyasa to go to Ambika's bed again, to ensure that there would be children, she placed her maid-servant instead in her bed. The maid-servant was not frightened. Hence her son was not born flawed like his half-brothers. Thus, Vidura was born who was raised as brother of Dhritarashtra and Pandu.

With his half-brothers he was raised and educated by Bhishma, whom they called father.

As he had no royal blood, he was never considered for, or had any chance of obtaining the throne of the kingdom. He served his brothers as a minister.

After Krishna, he was the most trusted advisor to the Pandavas and had warned them repeatedly about Duryodhana's plots. In particular, he warned the Pandavas from Duryodhana's plan to burn them alive in a house of wax he had made for them. He was known for speaking the truth and for his intelligence.

Vidura is famous also for being a true devotee of Lord Krishna. When the latter visited Hastinapura as a peace missary of the Pandavas, he shunned Duryodhana's offer to stay in his stately guesthouse, instead choosing the humble dwellings of Vidura.

In protest against the Mahabharata war, Vidura resigned from the post of minister.

After the great battle, he helped Yudhishtira when he became ruler. Later, he accompanied Dhritarashtra, and his sisters-in-law Gandhari, and Kunti, when they left on their last journey to the forest. He died before his companions, on the banks of the Ganga.


Vichitravirya in the Hindu epic Mahabharata is the younger son of queen Satyavati and king Santanu. His elder brother, Chitrangada, succeeded king Santanu to the throne of Hastinapura. But when he died childless, Vichitravirya became a king.

Vichitravirya was still a child when he was crowned king, thus Bhishma ruled as his regent. When the young king became at proper age to marry, Bhishma searched for him for a suitable bride. And he heard the king of Kasi was holding a swayamvara for his three daughters. Since Vichitravirya himself was yet too young to stand any chance of being chosen by the young women, Bhishma himself went to the swayamvara.

Bhishma won the swayamvara and brought the Princesses Amba, Ambika and Ambalika to marry Vichitravirya. But Amba had already given her heart to another, therefore Ambika and Ambalika were married to Vichitravirya.

Unfortunately, shortly after his marriage, Vichitravirya died of consumption tuberculosis. As he died heirless, Vyasa was summoned to subsequently father Pandu, Dhritarashtra and Vidura.

Vyasa came to help Ambika and Ambalika have children with his Yogic power. Vyasa told that they should come alone near him. First did Ambika, but because of shyness and fear she closed her eyes. Vyasa told Satyavati that the child will be blind. Later this child was named Dhritarashtra. Thus Satyawati sent Ambalika and warned her that she should remain calm. But Ambalika's face became pale because of fear. Vyasa told that child will suffer from anaemia, and he will not be fit enough to rule the kingdom. Later this child was known as Pandu. Then Vyasa told Satyavati to send one of them again so that a healthy child can be born. This time Ambika and Ambalika sent her maid in the place of themselves. Maid was quite calm and composed during the Yogic process, and so she got a healthy child later named as Vidura.


Uttara, the princess, married Arjuna's son Abhimanyu. She was widowed at a very young age when Abhimanyu was killed in the Kurukshetra war. Her son, Parikshita, was the sole surviving dynast of the Kuru clan and eventually became king of Hastinapura.It is also believed that Uttara had learnt dance from Arjuna as a princess during the 14th year of exile of the Pandavas when Arjuna lived a life of a eunuch and practiced his art of dance learnt from the apsaras in heavens.It is during this phase that Arjuna admired Uttara's qualities and later proposed her marriage to his son Abhimanyu.


Uloopi(or Uloochi), in the Hindu epic Mahabharata, was one of Arjuna's wives. While Arjuna was in Manipur, the Naga princess bAecame infatuated with him. She caused him to be abducted after he had been intoxicated with potent concoctions and had him conveyed to her realm in the netherworld. There, Uloopi induced an unwilling Arjuna to take her for a wife. She was the mother of Iravan. She later restored Arjuna to the lamenting Chitrangadaa, one of Arjuna's other wives. She played a major part in the upbringing of Arjuna and Chitrangada's son, Babruvahana. She was also able to restore Arjuna to life after he was slain in battle by Babruvahana. When Arjuna was given a curse by the Vasus, Bheeshma's brothers, after he killed Bheeshma in the Kurushtra war, she redeemed Arjuna from thier curse.


Subhadra is an important character in the Mahabharata, a Hindu epic. She is the half-sister of Krishna, wife of Arjuna (third of the Pandava brothers), and mother of Abhimanyu.

Subhadra is the only daughter of Vasudeva, born to him by his wife Rohini Devi. She is born after Krishna rescues thier father, Vasudeva, from prison and is thus much younger than both her brothers. Subhadra therefore grows up in comfort as the princess, and escapes the travails that haunted her family before her birth.

Arjuna, the Pandava, once spends 1 year in exile for breaking a vow. He spends the last portion of this exile in Dwaraka, at the residence of his cousins Krishna, Balarama and Subhadra. They are his cousins because their father, Vasudeva, was the brother of Arjuna's mother Kunti. During his sojourn at Dwaraka, a romance ensues between Arjuna and Subhadra. This matter was abetted by Krishna, who had always been particularly attached to Arjuna, and wished nothing but the best for his sister Subhadra.

As the period of Arjuna's exile draws to a close, and his departure homeward becomes imminent, Arjuna proposes marriage to his cousin, and she acquiesces. Knowing that the entire family would view with disfavour the prospect of Subhadra becoming the fourth wife of her much-married cousin Arjuna, Krishna facilitates the elopement of the couple and their departure for Indraprastha. He gives the couple a crucial piece of advice related to their elopement: it was Subhadra, and not Arjuna, who drove the chariot away from Dwaraka and towards Indraprastha. Krishna later uses this fact to persuade his family that Subhadra had not been abducted; on the contrary, it was she who had kidnapped Arjuna!!

Subhadra and Arjuna soon have a son, the valiant Abhimanyu. Not long afterwards, the celebrated game of dice ensues between the Pandavas and the Kauravas. The Pandavas leave Indraprastha to spend 13 years in exile. It is decided that Subhadra and her infant son must spend the period of exile in Dwaraka, so that Abhimanyu may profit from receiving Krishna's tutelage and gain a suitable education, that would prepare him for the struggles and responsibilities that he, Abhimanyu, is expected to bear in later life.

At the end of the period of exile, Arjuna sends for his wife and son. Abhimanyu is wed to Uttara, daughter of king Virata. To Subhadra's great grief, the young Abhimanyu is killed during the Kurukshetra war which ensues soon afterwards. Uttara is pregnant at that time and is later delivered of a son, who is named Parikshita.

Parikshita is destined to become the sole surviving dynast of the entire Kuru dynasty, Pandavas and Kauravas combined. When he comes of age, the Pandavas (being his grandfather Arjuna and four grand-uncles) anoint him king of their realm and retire to the Himalayas. Subhadra remains behind to guide and mentor her grandson.


Shikandi is a character in the Hindu epic, the Mah�bh�rata. The son of Drupada, he fought in the Kurukshetra war on the side of the Pandavas.

He had been born in an earlier lifetime as a woman named Amba, who was rejected by Bhishma for marriage. Feeling deeply humiliated and wanting revenge, Amba carried out great prayers and penance with the desire to be the cause of Bhishma's death. Amba was then reborn as Shikhandini.

From her birth, a Divine voice told her father to raise her as a son. So Shikhandini was raised like a man, trained in warfare and eventually married. On her wedding night, her wife insulted her on finding out the truth. Contemplating suicide, she fled Pancala, but was saved by a Yaksha who exchanged his sex with her. Shikhandi came back a man and had a happy married life with his wife and had children too. After his death, his masculinity was transferred back to the Yaksha.

In the battle of Kurukshetra, Bhishma recognised him as Amba reborn, and not wanting to fight 'a woman', lowered his weapons. Knowing that Bhishma would react thus to Shikhandi, Arjuna hid behind Shikhandi and attacked Bhishma with a devastating volley of arrows. Thus, only with Shikhandi's help could Arjuna deal a death blow to Bhishma, who had been virtually invincible until then. Shikhandi was finally killed by Ashwatthama on the 18th day of battle.


Shantanu is the father of Bhishma and a king of Hastinapura in the great epic of the Mahabharata. He is a descendant of the Bharata race, of the lunar dynasty and the ancestor of the Pandavas and the Kauravas. He was the youngest son of King Pratipa of Hastinapur and had been born in the latter's old age. The eldest son Devapi suffered from leprosy and abdicated his inheritance to become a hermit. The middle son Bahlika devoted his life to conquer the old Aryan territoties near Balkh and hence, Shantanu become the King of Hastinapur by default.

Shantanu and Ganga

Once while strolling on the banks of the river Ganga, Shantanu saw a maiden of exceeding beauty. So enthralled was he by her charm, that he asked her to be his wife. She agreed, but put forth a condition, that at no stage shall the king question her actions, or she would leave him. He agreed to her condition and their marriage was solemnised.

In due course she bore him a child, but at its birth she flung the baby into the river Ganga and returned smiling to the king. Pained and bewildered as he was by her action, he did not question her, for fear of her leaving his side. This act, of drowning their babies continued for six more children.

When, at the birth of their eighth child, his wife left to throw the baby into the river, Shantanu, who had so far bore his children's fates with fortitude to honour his promise, could no longer suppress his anguish. He finally burst out and questioned her as to why she would perform such an act upon the birth of a child. Thus he broke his promise. The maiden revealed her identity. She was Ganga, the goddess of the river. As the king had gone back on his words, she would have to leave him. She told him that she would not kill this 8th child, but would take him with her, and present him to the king in due course.

Shantanu was saddened by her departure and waited many years for the return of his son. As promised, the goddess returned his son, now grown into a young lad. His name was Devavrata and would become famous by the name of Bhishma, a central character of the Mah�bh�rata.

Shantanu and Satyavati

When Bhishma had grown into a young handsome prince, Shantanu came across Satyavati, a ferryman's daughter, and fell in love with her. The ferryman agreed to the marriage on condition that any child Satyavati bore him would inherit the throne.

King Shantanu was unable to give his word on accession as it would be unfair to Bhishma, the rightful heir to the throne. However, Bhishma came to know of this and in a magnificent gesture of renunciation and sacrifice for the sake of his father, gave his word to the ferryman that he would renounce all claims to the throne, in favour of Satyavati's children. To reassure the sceptical ferryman further, he also vowed life-long celibacy to ensure that future generations borne of Satyavati are also not challenged by his offspring.

Shantanu and Satyavati went on to have two sons, Chitrangada and Vichitravirya. After Shantanu's death, Satyavati continued to rule the kingdom with her two sons, with help from Bhishma.


King Shalya was the brother of Madri, the mother of Nakula and Sahadeva and the ruler of Madra-desa or the kingdom of Madra. Thus, he was the maternal uncle of Nakula and Sahadeva and was loved and revered by the Pandavas. When he was young, he entered a competition among princes and nobilities to marry Kunti, but subsequently lost to Pandu. Madri was married off to Pandu as part of a secret deal between Shalya and Pandu. Shalya was a skilled archer and formidable warrior.

The Pandavas had counted on Shalya joining their side with his huge army. On the way to assist the Pandavas in the Kurukshetra War, Shalya was tricked by Duryodhana, who arranged a huge feast for Shalya and his men. When Shalya was impressed by the hospitality of his host who he mistakenly thought to be Yudhisthira, he offered to be at his host's service. Unable to turn down Duryodhana's request to join the Kauravas, Shalya met Yudhisthira and apologized for his error. Yudhishtira knowing that Shalya was a great charioteer and forecasting that Shalya would someday be asked to be the charioteer of Karna, extracted a vow from Shalya to the effect that Shalya will demoralise Karna and dampen his spirits. Yudhishtira, a person of immaculate character, for once, stooped to a low level. It is still unclear as to why Yudhishtira did so. Anyway, Shalya assured the Pandavas that he would do everything possible to demoralise Karna and dampen his spirits.

Shalya reluctantly entered the Kurukshetra war on the Kauravas' side. Shalya served as Karna's charioteer during the latter's battle with Arjuna, while continuously praising the Pandava prince and citing Karna's shortcomings. Shalya took over the leadership of the Kaurava army on the eighteenth and last day of the great battle after the death of Karna when it was becoming rapidly clear that the war was a lost cause, and close to the end of the battle he was killed by Prince Yudhishtira with a spear. Shalya was the second to last Kaurava commander-in-chief and after his death, the Kauravas were left leaderless and broke ranks fleeing from the slaughter despite Duryodhana's best efforts.


The villain Shakuni, an avatar of Dwapara, the personification of Dvapara Yuga, was the brother of Gandhari in the Mah�bh�rata. He was very fond of his nephew Duryodhana. He won the kingdom of the Pandavas' for his nephew, as a wager in a rigged game of dice. The dice that were used were made with Shakuni's father's thigh bones and would always do his bidding.

Some sources say Shakuni had been insulted when his beloved sister has been married to the blind Kuru king Dhritarashtra and swore to destroy the Kaurava clan. He achieved this by poisoning the mind of his volatile nephew, and influenced Duryodhana into instigating the war with the Pandavas, which resulted in the destruction of the Kauravas. Thus, he is seen by many as the ultimate cause of the destructive Kurukshetra War

When the Pandavas were given the arid part of Hastinapura, with their great labor and effort, they managed to convert this arid and barren land into a great city called Indraprastha. Soon word of this fabulous city spred and Duryodhana himself came to see the palace. He mistook water for a floor, and fell into it. Draupadi, the wife of the five Pandavas, burst out laughing and insulted Duryodhana by saying that the son of a blindman can only be a blindman. Enraged, Duryodhana returned to Hastinapur. Reading his nephew's state of mind, Shakuni plotted a clever plan to strip Pandavas of Indraprastha. He invited the Pandavas to a friendly game of dice against Duryodhana, being a pastmaster of the game himself. When the game started, he stoked Yudhisthira's gambling urges by letting him win a few minor victories. Soon however, Shakuni used his skills in the game to good effect, and before Yudhishtir could be persuaded to stop playing, he had already lost all his wealth and kingdom. Then Shakuni suggested that he would return all Yudhistir had lost and more if he would put up his brothers at stake. He also taunted Yudhisthira whenever he hesitated from playing. After two more rounds of play, Yudhisthira lost his brothers and their wife, Draupadi, to Duryodhana, thus ensuring his revenge.

Shakuni took Duryodhana's side in the great war at Kurukshetra. He was killed on the battlefield by Sahadeva, one of the Pandava brothers.


Satyavati is the great-grandmother of the Pandava and Kaurava princes, principal characters of the Mahabharata, one of the principal texts in Hindu mythology. She is nevertheless a commoner, daughter to a ferryman or fisherman. She is also known as Matsyagandha (one who has the smell of fish).

As a young woman, she met the wandering rishi Parashara, by whom she had a son, Vyasa. His birth took place in secret on an island in the river Yamuna. This island in the shallow river Yamuna exists even today, and is enigmatic to say the least. At this point, the east-flowing river actually flows towards the west, giving the locale it's local name --- Pachmani( Paschim being West). This situation has existed for thousands of years, over a vast plain where there is no reason for the Yamuna to flow a tortuous path, rather than straight ahead. No hills or mountains cause the exreme meandering of the flow, and even the times of great floods have failed to alter the path of the river in this area. This strip of land surrounded by water on all sides is ideally located from safety point of view and is known as Manchodri in local parlance. Later, King Santanu of Hastinapura saw her and asked her to marry him. She agreed on condition that their children would inherit the throne. Their children were Chitrangada and Vichitravirya. After Santanu's death, she with her princely sons ruled the kingdom. Although both these sons died childless, she arranged for her first son Vyasa to father the children of the two wives of Vichitravirya (Ambika and Ambalika).


Satyaki, also called Yuyudhana, is a powerful warrior belong to the Yadava-Vrishni dynasty of Lord Krishna, in the Mah�bh�rata epic.

Satyaki is devoted to Krishna and his best friend Arjuna, with whom he trained under Drona in military arts. He was born in the line of Shini of the Vrishni clan, and was a son of Satyaka. He was strongly and passionately favors the cause of the Pandavas over the Kauravas in the Kurukshetra War. Satyaki accompanies Krishna to the Kuru capital with Krishna as the emissary of peace which is ridiculed and turned down by the sons of Dhritarashtra.

In the Kurukshetra war, Satyaki and Kritavarma were two important Yadava heroes who fought on opposing sides. Satyaki fought on the side of the Pandavas, Kritavarma joined the Kauravas. Satyaki was a valiant warrior and on one particular occasion, stunned Drona by allegedly breaking his bow for a successive 101 times. In the course of the fourteenth day of the conflict, Satyaki fights an intense battle with his archrival Bhurisravas with whom he has a long standing family feud. After a long and bloody battle, Satyaki begins to tire, and Bhurisravas batters him and drags him across the battlefield. Arjuna is warned by Lord Krishna of what is happening. Bhurisravas prepares to kill Satyaki, but he is rescued from death by Arjuna, who shoots an arrow cutting off Bhurisravas' arm.

Bhurisrava wails out that by striking him without warning, Arjuna had disgraced the honor between warriors. Arjuna rebukes him for attacking a defenseless Satyaki. He reiterates that protecting Satyaki's life at all costs was his responsibility as a friend and comrade in arms.

Satyaki emerges from his swoon, and swiftly decapitates his enemy. He is condemned for this rash act, but every soldier present realizes that the power of Krishna made Satyaki end Bhurisravas' life, which was going to happen anyway.

Satyaki and Kritavarma both survived the Kurukshetra conflict . Kritavarma is involved in the slaughter of the Panchalas and the sons of the Pandavas in the undeclared night attack with Kripacharya and Ashwatthama. 36 years after the war, the Yadavas, including Satyaki and Kritavarma are involved in a drunken brawl with Satyaki accusing Kritavarma of killing sleeping soldiers and Kritavarma citicizing Satyaki for his beheading of the unarmed Bhurisravas. In the ensuing melee, Satyaki, Kritavarma and the rest of the Yadavas are exterminated, as it was ordained by Gandhari's curse. Krishna desired to remove the Yadava clan from earth at the same time as his Avatara is fulfilled, so that the earth may be free of any possibly sinful and aggressive warriors, which was the wider purpose of the Kurukshetra war.