Tuesday, August 11, 2009


In the epic Mahabharata, Ekalavya is a young prince of the Nishadha tribes, and a member of a low caste, who nevertheless aspires to study archery in the gurukul of Dronacharya. After being rejected by Drona, Ekalavya embarks upon a program of self-study in the presence of a clay image of Drona. He achieves a level of skill equal to that of Arjuna, Drona's favorite and most accomplished pupil. Fearful that Ekalavya will excel him, Arjuna begs Drona to take action. Drona goes to Ekalavya and demands that Ekalavya turn over his right thumb as a teacher's fee. The loyal Ekalavya cripples himself, and thereby ruins his prospects as an archer, by severing his thumb and giving it to Drona.
In the Mahabharatha, Ekalavya is introduced as a young prince of the lowly Nishadha tribes. Ekalavya was born to Devashrava (brother of Vasudeva, who was father of Krishna) and was raised by Hiranyadhanus, the leader (King) of the Nishadhas, who was a commander in the army of Jarasandha (the king of Magadha).
Desirous of learning advanced skills of archery, he seeks the tutelage of Drona, the legendary weaponsmaster of and instructor of Arjuna and his brothers. Drona, however, rejects Ekalavya on account of the prince's humble origins.
Ekalavya is undeterred and goes off into the forest where he fashions a clay image of Drona. Worshipping the statue as his preceptor, he begins a disciplined program of self-study. As a result, Ekalavya becomes an archer of exceptional prowess, superior even to Drona's best pupil, Arjuna. One day while Ekalavya is practicing, he hears a dog barking. Before the dog can shut up or get out of the way, Ekalavya fires seven arrows in rapid succession to fill the dog's mouth without injuring it. The Pandava princes come upon the "stuffed" dog, and wonder who could have pulled off such a feat of archery. Searching the forest, they find a dark-skinned man dressed all in black, his body besmeared with filth and his hair in matted locks. It is Ekalavya, who introduces himself to them as a pupil of Drona.
Arjuna fears that Ekalavya may have eclipsed him in skill with the bow. As a result, Arjuna complains to his teacher Drona, reminding Drona of his promise that he would allow no other pupil to be the equal of Arjuna. Drona acknowledges Arjuna's claim, and goes with the princes to seek out Ekalavya. He finds Ekalavya, as always, diligently practicing archery. Seeing Drona, Ekalavya prostrates himself and clasps the teacher's hands, awaiting his order.
Drona asks Ekalavya for a dakshina or deed of gratitude that a student owes his teacher upon the completion of his training. Ekalavya replies that there is nothing he would not give his teacher. Drona cruelly asks for Ekalavya's right thumb, knowing that its loss will hamper Ekalavya's ability to pursue archery. Ekalavya, however, cheerfully and without hesitation severs his thumb and hands it to Drona. For his part, Arjuna is relieved to find that the crippled Ekalavya can no longer shoot with his former skill and facility.
Later, Ekalavya worked as a confidant of King Jarasandh. At the time of Rukmini's Swayamvar, he acted as the messenger between Shishupala and Rukmini's father Bhishmaka, at Jarasandh's behest. Bhishmaka decides that Rukmini should marry Shishupala, but instead Rukmini elopes with Krishna. Ekalavya is later killed by Krishna, who hurls a rock against him, in a conflict against Jarasandh's army.


Dushasana was the second son of the blind king Dhritarashtra and Gandhari in the epic Mahabharata, and the younger brother of Duryodhana.
When Dhritarashtra's queen Gandhari's pregnancy continues for an unusually long period of time, she beats her womb in frustration and envy of Kunti, the queen of Pandu, who had given birth to three of the five Pandavas. Due to her actions, a hardened mass of grey-colored flesh emerges from her womb. Gandhari is devastated, and worships Vyasa, the great sage who had blessed her with one hundred sons, to redeem his words.
Vyasa divides the flesh ball into one hundred equal pieces, and puts them in pots of ghee, which are sealed and buried into the earth for one year. At the end of the year, the first pot is opened, and Duryodhana emerges. The next one to emerge is Dushasana. Dushasana is devoted to his older brother Duryodhana, and is also closely involved in the various schemes and plots to kill the Pandavas.
After Yudhisthira loses his kingdom, his brothers and his wife Draupadi in a game of dice with Shakuni, Dushasana dragged Draupadi down in the assembly at the behest of his brother Duryodhana, and tried to disrobe her. Draupadi prayed to Krishna and he made her sari to be of infinite length, so Dushasana could not take it off. However, the princess was humiliated as she was dragged into court by her hair. Because of this humiliation, Draupadi vows that she will not tie her hair until she washes it with the blood of dead Dushasana.
Bhima also pledges to tear open Dushasana's chest and drink his blood.
In the Kurukshetra War, Bhima kills Dushasana, tears his arm out of his body and drinks his blood, as pledged and helps Draupadi redeem her vow while redeeming his own. Dushasana's death greatly agitated Karna and Duryodhana, and demoralized the Kaurava Army watching Bhima in his ecstasy of wrath


In the Hindu epic the Mahābhārata, Duryodhana (दुर्योधन) is the eldest son of the blind king Dhritarashtra by Queen Gandhari, the eldest of the one hundred Kaurava brothers, and the chief antagonist of the Pandavas. He was an avatar of the demon Kali who had bewitched the soul of Nala, forcing him to gamble away his kingdom.
When Dhritarashtra's queen Gandhari's pregnancy continued for an unusually long period of time, she beat her womb in frustration, at the envy of Kunti, the queen of Pandu who had given birth to Yudhisthira, the eldest Pandava. Due to actions of Gandhari, a hardened mass of grey-colored flesh produced from her womb. Gandhari was very shocked and upset.She worshiped Vyasa,the great sage who had blessed her with one hundred sons,to redeem his words.
Vyasa divides the flesh ball into one hundred equal pieces, and puts them in pots of ghee, which are sealed and buried into the earth for one year. At the end of the year, the first pot is opened, and Duryodhana emerges.
Literally, Duryodhana means "hard to conquer". His chariot bore a flag depicting a hooded cobra.
Dark omens surround his emergence from the pot, which are construed by royal brahmins to be the warning signs of a great disaster. Dhritarashtra's half-brother Vidura tells him that when such omens surround the birth of a child, it signals the violent end of that dynasty. Both Vidura and Bhishma counsel the king to abandon the child, but Dhritarashtra is unable to do so out of love and emotional attachment to his first-born.
Duryodhana's body is said to be made out of thunder, and he is extremely powerful. He is revered by his younger brothers, especially Dushasana. Learning martial skills from his gurus, Kripa, Drona and Balarama, he was extremely powerful with the mace weapon, and the equal of Bhima, the powerful Pandava in its use
At the martial exhibition where the Kaurava and Pandava princes demonstrate their skills before their elders, their guru Drona and the people of the kingdom, a great and effulgent warrior, Karna appears and challenges Arjuna, who is considered by Drona to be the best of the warrior princes. But Karna is humiliated when Kripa asks him to ascertain his caste, as it would be inappropriate for unequals to compete.
Duryodhana immediately defends Karna, and makes him king of Anga so that he is regarded as Arjuna's equal. Karna pledges his allegiance and friendship to Duryodhana, as Duryodhana had rescued him from the source of continuing humiliation and hardship for him. Neither of them know that Karna is in fact Kunti's eldest son born to Surya.
A very intense bond of friendship develops between the two, and Duryodhana becomes very close to Karna. It is held that if there was one good quality in Duryodhana, it was his deep affection for his friend Karna.
In the Kurukshetra War, Karna is Duryodhana's greatest hope for victory. He earnestly believes that Karna is superior to Arjuna, and will inevitably destroy him and his four brothers. While devoted to Duryodhana, Karna knows that even though his skills are as good as, if not better than Arjuna's, he is incapable of killing Arjuna as he is protected by Lord Krishna. When Karna is killed, Duryodhana mourns his death intensely.
Although loved by all his family, Duryodhana and most of his brothers are seen as inferior to the Pandavas in their adherence to virtue and duty, and respect of elders. Duryodhana is mentored by his maternal uncle Shakuni, who desires the elevation of his sister's children at the expense of the Pandavas. Shakuni masterminds most of Duryodhana's plots to humiliate and kill the Pandavas.
Duryodhana is especially jealous of the Pandavas, knowing that Yudhisthira is his rival to the throne of Hastinapura. He also bore a deep hatred of Bhima, who dominates the Kauravas in sport and skill, with his immense physical power and strength.
Duryodhana attempts to murder Bhima by feeding him a poisoned feast, but Bhima survives due to his immense physical capacity and blessings from celestial Nagas. Duryodhana then plots with his evil counselor Purochana to set ablaze a house where the Pandavas were staying. Purochana is himself killed in the fire, but the Pandavas manage to escape.
When the princes come of age, Yudhisthira is given half the kingdom and made king of Indraprastha, so as to avoid a clash with the Kaurava princes over the whole Kuru kingdom. Duryodhana becomes the prince regent of Hastinapura, and owing to the age and blindness of his father, he accumulates much control and influence, managing the state affairs himself with a coterie of his advisors that include his uncle Shakuni, brother Dushasana and friend Karna.
But Duryodhana remains jealous of Yudhisthira, owing to Indraprastha's prosperity and fame exceeding Hastinapura's. When Yudhisthira performs the Rajasuya sacrifice that makes him emperor of the World, Duryodhana is unable to contain his anger, which is intensified when Yudhisthira's queen Draupadi makes fun of him when he slips into a pool of water in the court.
Knowing that the Kauravas cannot rival the Pandavas in martial power, Shakuni devises a scheme to rob Yudhisthira of his kingdom and wealth by defeating him in a game of dice, which Shakuni is an expert at and Yudhisthira a complete novice. Unable to resist the challenge, Yudhisthira gambles away his entire kingdom, his wealth, his four brothers and even his wife, in a series of gambits to retrieve one by staking another.
The first time, the king Dhritarashtra and Vidura make Duryodhana re-establish Yudhisthira. But when the plot is repeated, Shakuni sets the condition that Yudhisthira and his brothers must spend thirteen years in exile in the forest before they may receive their kingdom back. The thirteenth year must be passed incognito, or else they would be condemned to repeat the term of exile.
Duryodhana encourages his brother Dushasana to drag Draupadi into the court and strip her clothes, as she is now his property as Yudhisthira had gambled everything away to him. Dushasana attempts to strip Draupadi, who is mystically rescued by Krishna, who gives her an inexhaustible supply of sari.
Nevertheless, due to this action Bhima swears that at the end of the exile, he would break Duryodhana's thigh (as Duryodhana asked Draupadi to sit on his thigh).
During the exile, Duryodhana attempts to humiliate Yudhisthira by flashing his wealth and prowess in their forest of exile. He is however caught in a conflict with the Gandharva king Chitrasena, who captures him. Yudhisthira asks Arjuna and Bhima to rescue Duryodhana, who is humiliated. Setting his mind to die, Duryodhana pledges to fast unto death.
During his fast, Duryodhana is mystically taken to a gathering of powerful Daitya and Danava beings, who inform him that he was born as a result of their tapasya, and his mission was to destroy the purpose of the Devas and Krishna upon earth. The demonic beings assure him that powerful demons had been incarnated as his allies, making his defeat impossible. Encouraged, Duryodhana returns to Hastinapura.
Karna now embarks upon a worldwide military campaign to subjugate kings and impose Duryodhana's imperial authority over them. Bringing tribute and allegiance from all the world's kings, Karna helps Duryodhana perform the Vaishnava sacrifice to please Vishnu, and crowns himself World emperor, as Yudhisthira did with the Rajasuya.
At the end of the exile term, Duryodhana refuses to return Yudhisthira's kingdom, despite the counsel of Bhishma, Drona, Vidura and even Krishna, whom he attempted to kidnap. Although Dhritarashtra criticizes his son, he tacitly desires that Duryodhana, and not Yudhishitra remain Emperor.
Making war inevitable, Duryodhana gathers support from powerful kings and armies. The most legendary warriors - Bhishma, Drona, Kripa, Ashwathama, Shalya, even though most of them were critical of him - are forced to fight for Duryodhana. He ends up amassing a larger army than his rivals.
In the war, Duryodhana repeatedly eggs on the invincible Bhishma and Drona to forward his cause, even though his main hope is Karna. He asks Drona to capture Yudhisthira alive, so that he may blackmail the Pandavas into surrender, or force Yudhisthira to gamble again. He also participates in the brutal and unethical murder of Arjuna's son Abhimanyu.
But he is repeatedly frustrated when the Pandavas succeed in downing the two Kuru legends, and is emotionally distraught when Arjuna slays over one million Kuru soldiers in one day and kills Jayadratha, the king of Sindhu over the killing of Abhimanyu. And all along, Bhima is steadily slaying his brothers, increasing his misery and bringing him closer to defeat.
Duryodhana's hopes are finally shattered when Karna is killed by Arjuna after an intense and legendary battle. After making some final desperate efforts, he flees the battlefield and hides in a lake, within which he survives by his mystic powers of yoga. He re-emerges after Ashwathama and Kripa encourage him to face his destiny with courage.
Queen Gandhari is distraught when she hears that all her sons save Duryodhana have been slain. Despite knowing that Duryodhana was wicked and his cause unrighteous, she decides to help him win. Asking him to bathe and enter her tent naked, she prepares to use the great mystic power of her eyes, blind-folded for many years out of respect for her blind husband, to make his body invincible to all attack in every portion.
But when Krishna, who is returning after paying the queen a visit, runs into a naked Duryodhana coming to the tent, he mockingly admonishes him for his intent to appear so before his own mother. Knowing of Gandhari's intentions, Krishna criticizes Duryodhana, who sheepishly covers his groin before entering the tent.
When Gandhari's eyes fall upon Duryodhana, they mystically make each part of his body invincible. She is shocked to see that Duryodhana had covered his groin, which were thus not protected by her mystic power.
When he faces the Pandava brothers and Krishna alone, Yudhisthira offers him the option of fighting any of the Pandava one-on-one. If he defeated that Pandava, Yudhisthira would hand the kingdom to Duryodhana, despite having won the wider war.
Out of pride, Duryodhana picks his archnemesis Bhima instead of any of the other Pandava brothers who would have been overwhelmed by his skill at fighting with the mace. Both possessed exceptional physical strength and had trained under Balarama in mace fighting and wrestling to the same level of prowess. After a long and brutal battle stretching many days, Duryodhana begins to exhaust Bhima.
At this point, Krishna, who is observing the fight, motions to Bhima, reminding him of his oath to crush Duryodhana's thigh. Bhima viciously attacks Duryodhana with a mace and strikes at his thigh which is not protected by Gandhari's blessing, and Duryodhana finally falls, mortally wounded.
Although Duryodhana bemoans that he was slain by unfair means, given that it was illegal to attack below the waist according to the rules of mace-fighting, Krishna points out to the dying prince that his humiliation of Draupadi, murder plots and cheating of the Pandavas and the killing of Abhimanyu did not comply with dharma or the norms of battle either. It was useless thus, for Duryodhana to hope that religious values would protect him, when he had honored them not once in his whole life.
Duryodhana dies slowly, and is cremated by the Pandavas. When Yudhisthira himself ascends to Swarga, he sees Duryodhana there upon a throne. He is angry that Duryodhana is enjoying a place in heaven despite his sins, but Indra explains to him that he had served his time in hell, and had also been a good and powerful king.


Duhsala was the sister of Duryodhana in the Indian epic Mahabharata. She was married to Jayadratha the king of Sindhu and Sauvira. Jayadratha was slain by Arjuna in the Kurukshetra War. Dussala had a son named Suratha. Her grandson battled with Arjuna, when he came to the country of Sindhus after the Kurukshetra War, to collect tribute for Yudhisthira's Aswamedha sacrifice. Arjuna considered Duryodhana's sister as his own sister. Due to love for his sister Arjuna spared life to Suratha's son and left the country of Sindhus.


In the epic Mahabharata, Drona or Dronacharya is the royal guru to the Kauravas and the Pandavas. He was a master of advanced military arts, including the devastras. Arjuna was his favorite student. Drona's love for Arjuna was only second to his love for his son Ashwathama.
Drona was born a brahmin, son of Bharadwaja, in modern day Dehradun (a modification of dehra-dron, a clay pot), which implies that he was not gestated in a womb, but outside the human body in a Droon (vessel).
The story of Drona's birth is recounted dramatically in Mahābhārata, Book I: Adi Parva, Sambhava Parva, Section Bharadwaja went with his companions to the Ganges to perform his ablutions. There he beheld a beautiful apsara named Ghritachi who had come to bathe. The sage was overcome by desire, causing him to ejaculate and captured the fluid in a vessel called a drona, and Drona himself sprang from the fluid thus preserved. Drona would later boast that he had sprung from Bharadwaja without ever having been in a womb.
Drona spent his youth in poverty, but studied religion and military arts together with the then prince of Panchala, Drupada. Drupada and Drona became close friends and Drupada, in his childish playfullness, promised to give Drona half his kingdom on ascending the throne of Panchala.
Drona married Kripi, the sister of Kripa, the royal teacher of the princes of Hastinapura. Kripi and Drona had Ashwathama as son.
Learning that Parasurama was giving away his fruits of penance to brahmanas, Drona approached him. Unfortunately by the time Drona arrived, Parasurama had given away all his belongings to other brahmanas. Taking pity upon the plight of Drona, Parasurama decided to impart his knowledge of combat to Drona.
For the sake of his wife and son, Drona desired freedom from poverty. Remembering the promise given by Drupada, he decided to approach him to ask for help. However, drunk with power, King Drupada refused to even recognise Drona and humiliated him by calling him an inferior person.
In the Mahabaratha, Drupada gives Drona a long and haughty explanation of why he is rejecting him. Friendship, says Drupada, is possible only between persons of equal station in life. As a child, he says, it was possible for him to be friends with Drona, because at that time they were equals. But now Drupada had become a king, while Drona remained a luckless indigent. Under these circumstances, friendship was impossible. However, he said he would satisfy Drona if he begged for alms befitting a Brahmin rather than claiming his right as a friend. Drupada advised Drona to think no more of the matter, and to be on his way. Drona went away silently, but in his heart he vowed revenge.
Dronacharya's legend as a great teacher and warrior exceeds Hindu mythology by strongly influencing Indian social traditions. Drona inspires great debates about morality and dharma in the Mahābhārata epic.
Drona went to Hastinapura, hoping to open a school of military arts for young princes with the help of the king Dhritarashtra. One day, he saw a number of young boys, the Kauravas and Pandavas gathered around a well. He asked them what the matter was, and Yudhisthira, the eldest, replied that their ball had fallen into the well and they did not know how to retrieve it.
Drona laughed, and mildly rebuked the princes for being helpless over such a plain problem. Yudhisthira replied that if he, the brahmin, could retrieve their ball, the king of Hastinapura would provide all the basic necessities to him for life. Drona first threw in a ring of his, collected some grass blades, and uttered mystical Vedic chants. He then threw the blades into the well one after another, like spears. The first blade stuck to the ball, and the second stuck to the first, and so on, forming a chain. Drona gently pulled the ball out with this rope of grass.
In a feat that was even more amazing to the boys, Drona then chanted Vedic mantras again and fired a grass blade into the well. It struck within the center of his floating ring and rose out of the well in a matter of moments, retrieving Drona's ring. Excited, the boys took Drona to the city and reported this incident to Bhishma, their grandfather.
Bhishma instantly realized that this was Drona, and his prowess exemplified, asked him to become the Guru of the Kuru princes, training them in advanced military arts. Drona then established a school near the city, where princes from numerous kingdoms around the country came to study under him.
Of all the Kaurava and Pandava brothers training under Drona, Arjuna emerges as the most dedicated, hard-working and most naturally talented of them all, exceeding Drona's son Ashwathama as well. Arjuna assiduously serves his teacher, who is greatly impressed by his devoted pupil.
Arjuna surpasses Drona's expectations in numerous challenges. When Drona tests the princes' alertness and ability by creating an illusion of a crocodile attacking him and dragging him away, most of the princes are left dumbfounded. But Arjuna swiftly fires arrows that slay the illusionary animal, and Drona congratulates Arjuna for passing this test. As a reward, Drona gifts Arjuna the super-powerful divine weapon of Brahma known as BRAHMASIRIVAS.However, he tells Arjuna not to use this irresistible weapon against any ordinary warrior. This weapon had a sharp edge surrounded below by 3 heads of Lord Brahma. In another challenge, Drona gives each prince a pot to fill with water and swiftly return. Whoever returns fastest would receive instruction in some extra special knowledge. He gives his son Ashwathama a wide-necked pot unlike the other's narrow-necked ones, hoping he will be the first to return. But Arjuna uses his knowledge of a mystical water weapon to fill his pot swiftly and returns first.
In a great challenge, Drona sets up a wooden bird upon a tree, and from across the adjacent river, asks the princes to shoot it down by striking its eye. When prince Yudhisthira tries first, Drona asks him what he saw. Yudhisthira replies he saw Drona, his brothers, the river, the forest, the tree and the bird. Drona replies that Yudhisthira would fail and asks another prince to step forward. The others give the same reply, and Drona is disappointed with all. But when Arjuna steps forth, he tells Drona that he sees only the eye of the bird and nothing else. When Drona excitedly asks him to continue, Arjuna replies that he saw only the bird's eye. Drona asks him to shoot, and Arjuna strikes the bird down in the eye.
Drona had advised the chefs of the palace not to serve food to Arjuna in the dark. However, one night, it so happened that Arjuna was served food in the dark. He subtely observed that he was able to eat food in dark. By practice, hands would reach one's mouth even in darkness. This striked Arjuna to practice archery in darkness. He begins training by night to use his weapons in absolute darkness, and steadily achieves a great level of skill.
Drona is greatly impressed by Arjuna's concentration, determination and drive, and promises him that he will become the most powerful warrior on earth. Drona gives Arjuna special knowledge of the devastras that no other prince possesses.
Ekalavya is a young prince of the Nishadha tribes, who comes to Drona for instruction. Drona rejects him on account of him not belonging to the Kshatriya varna (caste). Ekalavya is undeterred, and entering a forest, begins study and practice by himself, having fashioned a clay image of Drona and worshipping him. Solely by his determination, Ekalavya becomes a warrior of exceptional prowess, at par with the young Arjuna. One day, a dog barks while he is focused upon practice, and without looking, the prince fires arrows that seal up the dog's mouth while not causing any harm. The Pandava princes see this dog running, and wonder who could have done such a feat. They see Ekalavya, who announces himself as a pupil of Drona.
Arjuna is worried that his position as the best warrior in the world might by usurped. Drona sees his worry, and visits Ekalavya with the princes. Ekalavya promptly worships Drona. Drona is angered by Ekalavya's unscrupulous behavior, claiming to be Drona's student despite his rejection. He is also worried that if Ekalavya maintained this level of skill, he would one day become warrior par-excellence than himself. The more important and personal reason seems to have been his partiality towards Arjuna. Drona asks Ekalavya for a dakshina, or a deed of thanks a student must give to his teacher upon the completion of his training. Drona asks for Ekalavya's right thumb, which Ekalavya unhesitatingly cuts off and hands to Drona, despite knowing that this would irreparably hamper his archery skills.
Drona similarly rejects Karna, as he does not belong to the kshatriya caste. Humiliated, Karna vows to exact revenge. He obtains the knowledge of weapons and military arts from Parasurama, by appearing as a brahmin, and challenges Arjuna in the martial exhibition. Thus, Drona inadvertently laid the foundation for the Karna's great rivalry with Arjuna.
On completing their training, Drona asked the Kauravas to bring Drupada bound in chains. Duryodhana appoints Vikarna, the best warrior among the Kauravas, as the army commander. Then he, Dushasana, Sudarshana, Yuyutsu, Vikarna and the remaining Kauravas attack Panchala with the Hastinapur army. They fail to defeat the Panchala army, whereupon Drona sent Arjuna and his brothers for the task. The 5 Pandavas attacked Panchala without an army. Arjuna captures Drupada as ordered. Drona takes half of Drupada's kingdom, thus becoming his equal. He forgave Drupada for his misdeeds, however Drupada burnt in the desire for revenge and performed a yagna to have a son who would slay Drona and a daughter who would marry Arjuna. His wish was fulfilled and thus was born Dhristadyumna, the slayer of Drona, and Draupadi, the consort of the Pandavas.
Drona strongly condemns the wicked prince Duryodhana and his brothers for their abusive treatment of the Pandavas, and for usurping their kingdom by sending them into exile. But being a servant of Hastinapura, Drona is bound by duty to fight for the Kauravas, and thus against his favorite Pandavas.
Drona is one of the most powerful and destructive warriors in the Kurukshetra War. He is an invincible warrior, whom no person on earth can defeat, and he single-handedly slays hundreds of thousands of Pandava soldiers with his powerful armory of weapons and incredible skill. After the fall of Bhishma, he becomes the Chief Commander of the Kuru Army.
Drona had been the preceptor of most kings involved in the war, on both sides.
On the 13th day of battle, the Kauravas challenge the Pandavas to break a wheel shaped battle formation known as the Chakra Vyuha (see Wars of Hindu Mythology). Drona as commander forms this strategy as he knows that only Arjuna and Krishna know how to penetrate it. He asks the king of the Samshaptaka army to distract Arjuna and Krishna into another part of the battlefield, allowing the main Kuru army to surge through the Pandava ranks.
However, Arjuna's young son Abhimanyu is able to penetrate the formation. However, he is trapped when Jayadratha, the king of Sindhu holds the Pandava warriors following him at bay. Abhimanyu does not know how to get out of the Chakra Vyuha, but goes upon an all-out attack on the Kuru army, killing tens of thousands of warriors single-handedly. He even holds Karna and Drona himself at bay. Amazed at his prowess and courage, he is likened by the Kurus as his father's equal in greatness.
However, his army facing decimation, Drona asks Karna, Dushasana and others to simultaneously attack Abhimanyu, to strike down his horses, his charioteer and to disable his chariot from different angles. Left without support, Abhimanyu begins fighting from the ground, whereupon all the Kuru warriors simultaneously attack him. Exhausted after his long, prodigious feats, Abhimanyu is weakened and grabs one of the wheels of his chariot and blocking all the attacks, but is eventually killed with the stabbing of seven swords, simultaneously.
All this was an extreme violation of the rules of war, whereby a lone warrior may not be attacked by more than one, and not at all if he is disabled or without chariot. This devious murder of his son enrages Arjuna, who swears to kill Jayadratha, whom he sees as responsible for his son's death. If he failed to do so the next day, he would step into fire and commit suicide.
Drona lines up the entire Kuru army, with millions of its soldiers in front of Arjuna to thwart his mission. But Arjuna exhibits his full prowess, and by the end of the day has killed more than a million warriors single-handedly. With the help of Krishna, he slays Jayadratha in the nick of time. But on the whole, Arjuna devastates the entire Kuru army dramatically in just one day of fighting.
In the war, Yudhisthira is targeted by Drona to be captured. For this plan to be successful, Duryodhana invites King Bhagadatta, son of the great asura Narakasura to fight against the Pandavas. Bhagadatta was the king of Prajokiyatsa, modern day Burma. As Krishna had killed Narakasur, Bhagadatta agreed to join the Kauravas. But, in spite of Bhagadatta's support, Drona fails to capture Yudhistra alive. The Kuru commander and preceptor is however killing hundreds of thousands of Pandava warriors and thus advancing Duryodhana's cause.
On the 15th day of the Mahabharata war, Drona, instigated by King Duryodhana's remarks of being a traitor, uses the Brahmadanda. This spiritual divine weapon contained the power of the 7 greatest sages of Hinduism. Drona had neither imparted the knowledge of this divine weapon to either Ashwattama or Arjuna. Thus, he proves unconquerable on the 15th day of war. Krishna asks Yudhisthira to proclaim that Drona's son Ashwathama has died, so that the invincible and destructive Kuru commander would give up his arms and thus could be killed. Bhima proceeds to kill an elephant named Ashwathama, and loudly proclaims that Ashwathama is dead.
Drona knows that only Yudhisthira, with his firm adherence to the truth, could tell him for sure if his son had died. When Drona approaches Yudhisthira to seek to confirm this, Yudhisthira tells him that Ashwathama is dead..., then, ..the elephant, but this last part is drowned out by the sound of trumpets and conchshells being sounded as if in triumph, on Krishna's instruction.
Yudhisthira cannot make himself tell a lie, despite the fact that if Drona continued to fight, the Pandavas and the cause of dharma itself would lose. When he speaks his half-lie, Yudhisthira's feet and chariot descend to the ground momentarily. Drona is disheartened, and lays down his weapons. He is then killed by Dhristadyumna.
It is said that Drona's soul, by meditation had already left his body before Dhristadyumna could strike. His death greatly saddens Arjuna, who had hoped to capture him alive.


In the epic Mahabharata, Draupadi is the daughter of King Drupada, originally known as Princess Krishnaa (due to her dark complexion) and becomes the wife of the five Pandavas. When Yudhisthira becomes the king of Hastinapura, Indraprastha and the Emperor of India at the end of the war, Draupadi again becomes Queen.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 {the Lord Krishna was also dark-skinned) and is very often referred to and addressed by this name in the Mahābhārata.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 wifeNow 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 ArjunaDraupadi is the exemplification of bhakti to God. She showed utmost faith to Lord Krishna.

Monday, August 10, 2009


In the Mahabharata, Dhritarashtra was the son born to Vichitravirya's first wife Ambika. He was fathered by Vyasa. This blind king of Hastinapura was father to a hundred children by his wife Gandhari. These children came to be known as the Kauravas. Duryodhana and Dushasana were the first two sons.

After Vichitravirya's death his mother Satyavati sent for her first born, Vyasa. According to his mother's wishes, he visited both the wives of Vichitravirya to grant them a son with his yogic powers. When Vyasa visited Ambika, she saw his dreadful and forbidding appearance with burning eyes. In her frightened state, she closed her eyes and dared not open it. Hence her son, Dhritarashtra was born blind. His brother Pandu, ruled the kingdom for him due to his blindness. After Pandu's death, he became king of Hastinapura.

At the birth of his first son Duryodhana, Dhritarashtra was advised by Vidura and Bhishma to abandon the child due to bad omens surrounding the child but his love for him stopped him. Dhritarashtra was advised by his elders to be fair to the Pandavas, who were returning from the forest with their mother, Kunti.

Duryodhana was focused on making sure that the he would be the next heir for the kingdom. The king himself wanted his son to be his heir but he was also forced to consider the eldest Pandava, Yudhisthira who was older then Duryodhana.

Against his will, he named Yudhisthira his heir which left Duryodhana frustrated. As a solution Bhishma suggested the partition of Hastinapur. Trying to maintain peace, Dhritarashtra gave Yudhisthira half the Kuru kingdom, albeit the lands which were arid, unprosperous and scantily populated, known as Khandavaprastha. He purposely kept the better half of the kingdom for himself so that his son may one day rule his half of the kingdom.

Dhritarashtra was one of the many men present when Yudhisthira lost the dice game against Shakuni, Duryodhana, Dushasana and Karna. With each throw, the king lost everything gambling away his kingdom, his wealth, his brothers and finally his wife. Dhritarashtra was silent when Dushasana tried to disrobe Draupadi (the Pandavas wife) in front of the court. Finally, the blind monarch conscience was stirred, in part fearing the wrath of Pandavas against his sons. Fearing retribution from the five brothers he returned all the things they lost in the dice game.

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 fourteen years in exile in the forest before they could reclaim their kingdom. Dhritarashtra was warned by many that the Pandavas will not forget their humiliation. He was constantly told by many that he needed to remember that his responsibilities as king must be placed before his affection as a father.

Sanjaya, Dhritrashtra’s charioteer was blessed by Sage Vyasa with the ability to see the past,present and the future, narrated important events of the Kurukshetra war, a war fought between the Kauravas (the sons of Dhritarashtra) and the Pandavas, to the blind king. Dhritarashtra's sorrow increased day by day as an ever increasing number of his sons were slain by Bhima. He frequently bemoaned his ineffectiveness in preventing Duryodhana from going to war. Sanjaya often consoled the bereaved king but reminded him every time that dharma was on the Pandava side and a war against Krishna and Arjuna could not be humanly won regardless of the strength of the opposing force.

At the end of the great battle, Dhritarashtra was overcome with grief and rage at the loss of his hundred sons. When the blind king met the Pandavas who had come to seek his blessing prior to ascending the throne, he embraced all of them. When it was Bhima's turn, Krishna knew that the king was blind and possessed the strength of a hundred thousand elephants from the boon granted by Vyasa. He was quick to move Bhima aside and push an iron figure of Bhima into Dhritarashtra's embrace. When the thought entered Dhritarashtra's mind that the man in his embrace had killed every one of his hundred sons without mercy, his anger rose to such a pitch that the metal statue was crushed into powder. Thus, Bhima was saved and Dhritarashtra composed himself and gave the Pandavas his blessing.

Yudhisthira was crowned king of both Indraprastha and Hastinapura. The war had killed many great warriors and millions of soldiers were killed on each side. Yudhisthira once again showed his kindness when he decided that the king of the city of Hastinapura should be Dhristarashtra. He offered the blind king complete respect and deference as an elder, despite his misdeeds and the evil of his dead sons. After many years as the ruler of Hastinapura, Dhristarashtra along with Ghandhari, Kunti and Vidura left for their final journey into the forest. They died in a forest fire in the Himalayas.


Dhristadyumna was the son of Drupada and brother of Draupadi and Shikhandi in the classic epic Mahābhārata. He is appointed Commander of the Pandava Army, and is responsible for the killing of Drona.

The king of the Panchalas, Drupada undertakes a putrakami yagna, a sacrifice to please the Gods and obtain offspring by their blessing. Drupada desires a son who can kill Drona, the Kuru martial guru who had humiliated him in battle and taken half his kingdom, even though it was Drupada who had reneged a promise made to his childhood friend Drona, that he would share his kingdom with him.

With the help of two brahmins, Drupada undertakes the sacrifice. After his wife takes the sacrificial offerings, out of the fire a fully grown powerful young and armed man before their very eyes. He is already bestowed with great martial and religious knowledge.

Even though he is the prophesied killer of Drona, he is accepted by Drona to join his school for young princes, where he learns the advanced military arts.

When his sister is bethrothed to a young brahmin of five, who wins the martial contest at her swayamvara, Dhristadyumna secretly follows the five brahmins and his sister, only to discover that they are in fact the five Pandavas: Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva.

Taking the advice of Lord Krishna and Arjuna, Dhristadyumna is installed as the Commander in Chief of the Pandava Army.

At a point when Drona, as the Kuru commander is killing vast numbers of Pandava troops, Krishna advises Yudhisthira to adopt a plan to kill the preceptor now. As it is known that as long as Drona has raised his weapons he is invincible to all other warriors, Krishna advises that it be proclaimed that Drona's son, Ashwathama has just died in the battle. It is known that out of the grief of such an eventuality, Drona will at least temporarily drop his arms.

Krishna justifies this lie to Yudhisthira as necessary to the victory of morality in the war. As Yudhisthira continues to hesitate, his brother Bhima kills a known elephant in the Kuru legions named Ashwathama and celebrates shouting "Ashwathama is dead! Ashwathama is dead!".

Shocked with disbelief when the news reaches him, Drona seeks out Yudhisthira to ascertain the news, knowing that the son of Dharma would never speak a lie. Yudhisthira tells him that Ashwathama is dead, but mutters "(I wonder) whether the man or the elephant...." ( Aswathama Hatah... naro waa Kunjarovaa)in an inaudible voice to prevent telling a whole lie or as another version tells us that he said it equally loud but Shri Krishna had planned to blow his conch at that exact moment so that Drona is unable to hear that part.

Now convinced, Drona lays down his arms and sits in meditation. It is actually said in the epic that Drona's soul has already left his body through his mediation, but Dhristadyumna takes this opportunity, swings onto Drona's chariot, and lops off his head.

Dhristadyumna is verbally abused by Satyaki and Arjuna, who were devoted students of Drona, but is defended by Krishna.

After the war is over, Ashwathama treacherously attacks the Pandava camp during the night, killing Dhristadyumna and the sons of Draupadi in revenge for his father's death and the defeat of the Kurus.


Chitrāngadā in the Hindu epic Mahabharata, is one of Arjuna's wives. 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. There, he met Chitrāngadā, the daughter of the king of Manipur, and was moved to seek her hand in marriage. Her father demurred on the plea that, according to the matrilineal customs of his people, the children born of Chitrāngadā 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 Chitrāngadā 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 couple. Babruvahana would succeed his grandfather as king of Manipur.

Rabindranath Tagore took the story of Chitrāngadā and turned it into a dance drama, very much like a modern day musical with the story put to music and with the characters acting out the parts in dance. Tagore's story differs a bit from the story of Chitrāngadā in the Mahābhārata. He expands on the character and gives her new life. In Tagore's story, Chitrāngadā is the only child of the King of Manipur. Being the heir to the throne, she dresses like a man and is the protector of the land. Her people look to her to keep them safe. One day, she meets Arjuna and seeing him in action as he hunts in the forest, she falls in love with him. Arjuna is impressed by her fighting abilities but all along believes her to be a man. Chitrāngadā falls madly in love with Arjuna but believes he could never love her the way she is. She receives a boon from a sage and transforms herself into a beautiful ladylike woman. When she meets Arjuna again, he can't help but fall in love with her. Though she believes that she has everything she wants in life, deep down she wishes that he could love her for her true self. When marauders come into her kingdom to take over the villages, Arjuna learns from the people of the kingdom that their Princess is the greatest warrior around and they wonder why she isn't there to help protect them now. Arjuna is impressed by the story of this woman who seems to be his equal when it comes to fighting and longs to meet her. Chitrāngadā appears and saves her kingdom before revealing her true self to Arjuna. No longer in love with her just for her beauty, Arjuna marries Chitrāngadā.


Bhishma is one of the central characters of the Mahabharata. Bhishma was born as Devevrata and is the grand sire of the heros and villans of the epic mahabharata.

Once the eight Vasus visited Vashishta's ashram with their wives, one of the wives took a fancy to Nandini and asked her husband Prabhasa, to steal it from Vashishta. Prabhasa the vasu,stole it with the help of the others, and was cursed by Vashishta to be born in the world of men. The seven Vasus who assist in stealing Nandini have their curse softened to be liberated from their human birth as soon as they are born, but Prabhasa, due to his being instrumental in the theft, is cursed to endure a longer life on the earth, though the curse is softened so that he becomes one of the most illustrious men of his times.

The youngest brother is born as Bhishma the youngest son of Shantanu by his first wife Ganga (the holy River), The other 7, were born as the older siblings of Bhishma, who were drowned by their mother Ganga as soon as they were born, thus fulfilling the softened curse on them.

Shantanu was the 12th king of a line starting from Dushyanta and Bharata, though the vansh (family or progeny) is said to have started with Bharata the great.

Bhishma learnt political science from Brihaspati, the guru of the Devas, Vedas and Vedangas from rishi Vasishta, and archery from Parashurama, also known as Bhargava, thus becoming an exceptionally skilled administrator, as well as an undefeatable warrior. His banner in battle was a golden palm tree.

He was known as 'Bhishma Pitamaha' (i.e., Bhishma, the grandfather or grandsire) among the Pandavas and the Kauravas. Bhishma is considered to be one of the greatest examples of a dutibound officer.

'Bhishma' means 'He of the terrible oath', referring to his vow of life-long celibacy. Devavrata became known as Bhishma because he took the bhishan pratigya — the vow of life-long celibacy and of service to whoever sat on the throne of his father (the throne of Hastinapur). This was because when his father Shantanu wanted to marry a fisherwoman Satyavati, her father refused, on the grounds that his daughter's children would never be rulers as Shantanu already had a son (Devavrata). This made Shantanu despondent. To placate Satyavati's father, Devavrata promised that he would never stake a claim to the throne, implying that the child born to Shantanu and Satyavati would become the ruler after Shantanu. At this, Satyavati's father retorted that even if Devavrata gave up his claim to the throne, his (Devavrata's) children would still claim the throne. At this, Devavrata, to make his father happy, took the terrible vow, thus sacrificing his 'crown-prince' title and denying himself the pleasures of intercourse. This gave him immediate recognition among the gods and his father granted him the boon of Ichha Mrityu (control over his own death — he could choose the time of his death, but not, as may be suggested, one of immortality).

Bhishma was a great archer and a warrior of peerless valour and courage. In the process of finding a bride for the young king Vichitravirya (son of Shantanu and Satyavati) for whom he was the regent, Bhishma challenged the assemblage of suitors at the swayamvar of princesses Amba, Ambika and Ambalika of Kashi (Varanasi) and defeated all of them. Unknown to Bhishma, Salwa, the ruler of Saubala was in love with Amba (the eldest princess) who reciprocated his feelings. On the way to Hastinapura with the princesses, Bhishma was confronted by Salwa who challenged him to a battle for the hand of Amba in marriage. After a hard fight, Salwa was vanquished and admitted defeat. Upon reaching Hastinapur Amba confided in Bhishma that she wished to wed Salwa and no other. When Bhishma sent her back to Salwa, the vanquished ruler turned her down in humiliation of losing the combat. Upon being turned down by Vichitravirya too, as a maiden who had loved another man, Amba was incensed at Bhishma, whose interference she perceived as the root cause of her troubles.

Amba took refuge with Parasurama, the guru of bhisma. Parasurama ordered Bhishma to marry Amba. Bhishma politely refused saying that he is ready to leave his life at the command of the teacher but not the promise that he had made. Upon the refusal Parasurama called him for a fight at Kurukshetra.

At the battlegrounds, while Bhishma was on a chariot, he saw his guru on the ground. He requested Parasurama to be equal to him by taking a chariot and Kavacham (armor). Parasurama blessed Bhishma with the power of divine vision and asked him to look again. When Bhishma looked at his guru with the divine eye-sight, he saw the Earth as Parasurama's chariot, the four Vedas as the horses, the Upanishads as the reins, Vayu as the sarathy (Charioteer) and the Vedic goddesses Gayatri, Savitri & Saraswati as the armor.

Bhishma got down from the chariot and sought the blessings of Parasurama to adhere to his dharma. Parasurama told him that if he would not have behaved in this manner Parasurama would have cursed him. Parasurama advised him to fight to protect his dharma of bramacharya and Prasurama would fight to protect his duty towards the word given to Amba.

They fought for 23 days without any result. Parasurama is a chiranjeev or immortal whereas Bhishma had the boon of death at his wish. On the 22nd night, Bhishma prayed to his ancestors to help him to bring the war to an end. His anscestors gave him a weapon which was not known to Parasurama . They told him that it would put Parasurama to sleep in the battlefield. A person who sleeps in the battlefield is considered to be dead as per Vedas. They advised Bhishma to call back the weapon at the end of day after sunset so that Parasurama will come back to his sense and that shall bring the end to war.

On the 23rd day, when Bhishma took the weapon given by his pitru's, a divine voice spoke to him asking not to use the weapon and insult his guru Parasurama and it told Parasurama that he cannot win over Bhishma in the war. But Parasurama said that he cannot go back from the war when Bhishma is still standing against him in the battlefield. Bhishma in respect of his teacher walked away from the combat and allowed a graceful exit for Parasurama.

Parasurama told amba that he could not win over Bhishma and gave her the boon of "mahakal shiva". Amba did penance to please Shiva. Shiva gave the boon that she will be instrumental for the death of Bhishma. Amba would be born as a princess in the house of king Drupada, and as a consequence of another boon would be transformed into Shikhandi (a male) and be the root cause of Bhishma's death.

He is the one who witnessed the Mahābhārata completely from the beginning since the rule of the Shantanu.

In the great battle at Kurukshetra, Bhishma, bound by his oath to serve the ruler of Hastinapura, fought very reluctantly on the side of the Kauravas; nevertheless, he gave it his best effort. At one stage, his impeccable military prowess, combined with Arjuna's disinclination to fight him, almost made Lord Krishna break His vow of not actually fighting in the war. Krishna charged at Bhishma to kill him with a chariot wheel and was welcomed with folded hands by the grandsire. Then Arjuna pleaded with Krishna to stop and reminded him of the vow.

Bhishma was finally grievously wounded on the tenth day of the battle by Arjuna, who hid behind another warrior Shikhandi, and rained arrows on the grandsire. Bhishma knew that Shikhandi was born a woman and to strike a woman he deemed unworthy of the chivalrous. Thus, the warrior did not resist but merely remarked to Dushasana, "These are Arjuna's arrows, they cannot be Shikhandi's because they tear my flesh as a crab's young ones tear their mother's body." Of all of Duryodhana's commander-in-chiefs, Bhishma had held off the inevitable defeat the longest. He was the supreme commander of the Kaurava forces for ten days compared to Drona's five, Karna's two and Salya on the final day. Bhishma fell, his entire body resting on a pincushion of Arjuna's arrows. After that Drona become the Commander-in-Chief of Kaurav army. After his demise Karna replaced him. Soon after this, Karna, who in the face of Bhishma's criticism had sworn his vow to keep out of the Kurukshetra till the withdrawal of Bhishma, approached the grandsire to seek his blessings. Bhishma reveals to Karna that he always knew the truth of the latter's parentage and implored him to persuade Duryodhana (at this point he also told Karna that he had not allowed to fight him under his command as he did not want the real brothers to fight with each other) to end the carnage that had already resulted in such great slaughter. Upon Karna's refusal and insistence to remain true to Duryodhana, he nevertheless received the grandsire's blessing. He lay on the 'bed of arrows' till the end of the battle, and chose to die only after learning that the Pandavas had won, as he was now assured that the throne of Hastinapura was in safe hands. In his last days before he ascended to heaven, he recited to Yudhisthira the famous hymn to Vishnu, the Vishnu sahasranama. Bhishma also admitted he had been wrong to fight for Duryodhana even though he was the king's employee since one's only allegiance is towards righteousness.


In the Mahabharata, Bhima was the second of the Pandava brothers. He was son of Kunti by Vayu, but like the other brothers, he was acknowledged son by Pandu . He was distinguished from his brothers by his great stature and strength.

His legendary prowess has been mentioned in glowing terms throughout the epic. Eg: "Of all the wielders of the mace, there is none equal to Bhima; and there is none also who is so skilful a rider of elephants. On car, they say, he yields not to even Arjuna; and as to might of arms, he is equal to ten thousand elephants. Well-trained and active, he who hath again been rendered bitterly hostile, would in anger consume the Dhartarashtras in no time. Always wrathful, and strong of arms, he is not capable of being subdued in battle by even Indra himself." Udyoga Parva Chapt XXII.

He lived for a time in hiding with his brothers during their first exile. In this period, he came across Hidimba and Hidimbi, a rakshasha brother and sister. Because of the enmity of the rakshasha to the people of the Kuru kingdom, Hidimba asked Hidimbi to lure Bhima to a trap. However, Bhima and Hidimbi were attracted to each other. Bhima fought and killed Hidimba, and lived for a year in the forest with Hidimbi, by whom he had a son, Ghatotkacha.

With his brothers, he was married to Draupadi. After the first return of the Pandavas to the Kuru lands, he challenged the king of Magadha, Jarasandha, to a wrestling bout and killed him, thus making it possible for his brothers to take part in the Rajsuya Yajna.

He was furious when the game of dice between his brother, King Yudhisthira, and Duryodhana reached its final stages. But when Dushasana attempted to strip Draupadi in the court, he swore that he would kill him one day and drink his blood.

During the second exile of the Pandavas, he visited Alakapuri and was blessed by Kubera. At the end of their exile at the court of Virata, he disguised himself and acted as a palace cook.

He was a pivotal figure in the great battle of Kurukshetra, killing six out of the eleven akshaukiNis of the other side(Kauravas). Six akshauNis adds up to the astronomical figure of around 1,705,860 men and 787,320 beasts which is testimony to the portrayal as the character of supreme physical prowess. In the battle, his charioteer was Krishna's son himself. During a majority of the 18 days during which the battle was fought, the kauravas were frightened to face his might and sent elephants to fight him. An entire sub-chapter is devoted to describing the "light chat" or banter that he used to maintain with Krishna's son whilst fighting the enemies - yet another glimpse into the power that VedaVyasa invests in Bhima's persona. Bhima's weapon of choice was the mace - which means he was skilled in close combat. Amongst the most important personalities that he quelled were Baka (head of a cannibalistic race), Kirmira ( Baka's brother), MaNiman ( leader of the anger-demons in Kubera's garden), Jarasandha, Dushasana etc. He also defeated mighty Dronacharya by breaking his chariot eight times while Arjuna was trying to find and kill Jayadratha, defeated and forced the powerful Karna to withdraw from battle in four pitched battles while Karna was trying to save the remaining brothers of Duryodhan. During the battle, he killed the elephant called Ashvatthama, which enabled the Pandavas to spread the falsehood that Ashvatthama son of Drona, had been killed. At the end of the battle, he also fatally wounded Duryodhana in a duel, after striking him a foul blow below the waist. At this time, Balarama criticised Bhima for the foul blow, but was calmed down by Krishna. Bhima refrained from killing any respectable elders in the Kaurava's side out of respect for their virtue. The only elderly person he killed was the king of Bahlika (Bhishma's maternal uncle) - and he does this because the king of Bahlika asks Bhima to kill him to release him from the sin of fighting for the kauravas (Bahlika had to fight with the kauravas on account of Bhishma, his nephew).

He finished his days with his brothers and Draupadi, on their great and final journey toward Vaikunta. He was the last to die on the journey, leaving Yudhisthira alone to complete the journey by himself.

Although there are several instances of Arjuna and others doubting or questioning the will of Krishna, the portrayal of Bhima's devotion to krishna is umblemished in the original Mahābhārata.


In the Mahabharata, Barbarika was the son of Ghatotkacha and Maurvi, daughter of Muru, a Yadava king. That makes him the grandson of Bhima.

Barbarika was originally a yaksha, and was reborn as a man.

He wanted to fight on the Pandava side, but he was forced to stick to his principle of always fighting on behalf of the losing side.

He learnt the art of warfare from his mother. Shiva, pleased with him, gave him the three infallible arrows. Hence, Barbarika came to be known by the appellation Teen Baandhaari, the 'Bearer of Three Arrows.' Later, Agni (the God of Fire) gave him the Bow that would make him victorious in the three worlds.

The omnipresent Krishna, disguised as a Brahmin, stopped Barbarika to examine his strength. He baited Barbarika by mocking him for going to the great battle with only three arrows. On this, Barbarika replied that a single arrow was enough to destroy all his opponents in the war, and it would then return to his quiver. If all the three were used, it would create havoc in the three worlds. Krishna challenged him to tie all the leaves of the peepal tree under which he was standing, with one arrow. Barbarika accepted the challenge, removed one arrow from his quiver and released it from his bow. The arrow tied all the leaves together within moments. However, Krishna had held one leaf under his foot, and the arrow started revolving around it. Krishna then asked the boy whom he would favour in the war. Barbarika revealed that he intended to fight for whichever side appeared set to lose. Krishna knew that the defeat of the Kauravas was inevitable. He judged that if this brave boy joins their side, the result would then tilt in their favour.

The Brahmin (Krishna) then sought charity from the warrior. Barbarika promised him anything he wished. Krishna asked him to give his head in charity. Barbarika was shocked. Perceiving that all was not as it appeared, he requested the Brahmin to disclose his real identity. Krishna showed Barbarika a vision of His Divine Form and Barbarika was thus graced. Krishna then explained to him that before a battle, the head of the bravest Kshatriya needs to be sacrificed, in order to worship/sanctify the battlefield. Krishna said that he considered Barbarika to be the bravest among Kshatriyas, and was hence asking for his head in charity. In fulfilment of his promise, and in compliance with the Lord's command, Barbarika gave his head to Krishna in charity. This happened on the 12th day of the Shukla Paksha (bright half) of the month of Phalguna.

Krishna, pleased with Barbarika's great sacrifice, granted him the boon that when Kaliyuga descends, he would be worshipped by the name of Shyam in his form. His devotees would be blessed just by pronouncing his name from the bottom of their hearts.

Before decapitating himself, Barbarika told Krishna of his great desire to view the forthcoming battle, and requested him to facilitate it. Krishna agreed, and placed the head atop a hill overlooking the battlefield. From the hill, the head of Barbarika watched the whole battle.

At the end of the battle, the victorious Pandava brothers argued amongst themselves as to who was responsible for the victory. Krishna suggested that Barbarika's head, which had watched the whole battle, should be allowed to judge. Barbarika's head suggested that it was Krishna alone who was responsible for the victory: his advice, his presence, his gameplan had been crucial. Barbarika's head said that he had seen the Sudarshana Chakra revolving around the battlefield, hacking the Kaurava army to pieces; and Draupadi, assuming the fearful form of Mahakali Durga, drinking bowl after bowl of blood without allowing even one drop of blood to fall on the earth.

When Barbarika learnt that battle between the Pandavas and the Kauravas had become inevitable, he wanted to witness what was to be the Mahābhārata War. He promised his mother that if he felt the urge to participate in the battle, he would join the side which would be losing. He rode to the field on his Blue Horse (Neela Ghoda) equipped with his three arrows and bow.