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Pandavas
About Pandavas

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

Together, the brothers fought and succeeded in a great war against their cousins the Kauravas, which came to be known as the Battle of Kurukshetra. However, one could say that there were six pandavas instead of five, the eldest being Karna who was abandoned by his mother, Kunti before her marriage. Karna was told by Kunti that according to the ethics and laws he is the first son of Kunti making him the eldest Pandava. The five unknowingly fought their eldest brother Karna.

 
Story

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

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

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

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

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

When Dhritarashtra heard that the five brothers were alive, he invited them back to the kingdom. However, in their absence, Duryodhana had succeeded in being made the crown prince. Upon the return of the Pandavas, the issue of returning Yudhisthira's crown to him was raised. Dhritarashtra led the subsequent discussions into ambiguity and agreed to a partition of the kingdom "to do justice to both crown princes".

He retained the developed Hastinapura for himself and Duryodhana, and gave the barren, arid and hostile lands of Khandavaprastha to the Pandavas. The Pandavas successfully developed their land and built a lavish and great city which was considered comparable to the heavens, and thus came to be known as Indraprastha.

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

Yudhisthira fell for the ruse and bet Draupadi, losing her too. At this point Duryodhan ordered that Draupadi, who was now a slave to him, be brought to the court. Duryodhana's younger brother Dushasana dragged Draupadi to the royal court, pulling her by her hair, insulting her dignity and asserting that she, like the Pandava brothers, was now their servant. This caused huge anguish to all the great warriors seated in the court, but each of them, namely, Bhishma (the grandsire of the clan), Dronacharya (the teacher/guru of Kauravas and Pandavas) and others like Kripacharya and Vidura remained silent.

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

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

Arjuna performed sacrament and won the whole gamut of celestial weapons (Divyasatras) as boons from the Gods. The 13th year was spent masquerading as peasants in the servitude of the royal family of Virata, the king of Matsya. Upon completion of the terms of the last bet, the Pandavas returned and demand their kingdom to be rightfully returned to them. Duryodhana refused to turn Indraprastha over. For the sake of peace, and to prevent a disastrous war, Krishna proposed that if Hastinapura agrees to give the Pandavas only five villages, they would be satisfied and would make no more demands. Duryodhana violently refused, commenting that he shall not part even with land as much as the point of a needle. Thus, the stage was set for the great war, for which the epic of Mahabharata is known most of all.

 
The War of Mahabharata

The war was intense and was fought for 18 days over the course of which both parties worked around, bent, and even broke rules of fighting. At the end all 100 Kaurava brothers and their entire army was slain, with only four surviving on their side. The Pandavas too lost several partners but the 5 brothers survived. After having won the war, they returned to Hastinapura and Dhritarashtra surrendered the kingdom.

Pandavas Journey to Heaven

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

On this journey, one by one, Draupadi and the four younger brothers fell to their deaths, due to their various shortcomings. Only Yudhisthira, who had never discarded sacredness and had always upheld his Dharma (in fact, some people say only thumb of Yudhisthira fell down, because he lied just once to Drona in the battlefield) completed the journey. Nevertheless, after completing a disciplinary separation, the four brothers and Draupadi were join up with Yudhisthira in the heavens.

Parents of the Pandavas

The first three of the Pandavas were the sons of Kunti,( Pandu's first wife) and the younger two were the sons of Madri (Pandu's second wife). Since Pandu had been cursed to die if ever he had intercourse with a woman, the actual fatherhood of the children is traditionally attributed to various gods, in virtue of a boon that Kunti had received from Durvaasa and had transferred to Madri. Thus, Yudhisthira was the son of Dharma, the god of righteousness; Bhima the son of Vayu, the wind-god; Arjuna the son of Indra, the sky-god; and Nakula and Sahadeva the sons of the Ashwini Gods. Karna was also born of Kunti Devi, and was the son of Surya, the Sun God.

Pandavas description as per wife Draupadi

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

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

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

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

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

Sahadeva
Finally, Sahadeva was the youngest of the brothers, and like the others formidable in war and observant of morality. Master of the swords "Heroic, intelligent, wise and ever wrathful, there is not another man equal unto him in intelligence or in expressiveness amid assemblies of the wise."

 
 


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