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Mahabharata Summary

Bharat Varsh
Two sons, Dhritarashthra and Pandu, are born to Vichitravirya, king of Kurus. Dritrashtra is the elder, but
because he is born blind, he is disqualified from becoming king and Pandu takes his place. Dritrashtra is
married to Gandhari, who, out of love and respect for her blind husband, willingly keeps herself
blindfolded day and night. Once, while hunting in the forest, Pandu is cursed by a sage that he will die if
he ever became intimate with a woman. Since he is childless at the time, he leaves the kingdom to his
brother and goes into the forest with his wives to perform penance.
In the forest, Kunti and Madri invoke varous gods to beget five sons - Yudhishthira, Bhima and Arjuna for
Kunti, and the twins Nakula and Sahadeva for Madri. They are known as the Pandavas. Pandu dies
shortly, when the sage's curse took effect as Pandu and Madri, inflamed by passion, embrace. Madri burns
herself on Pandu's pyre and Kunti returns to Hastinapur, the capital of the Kuru clan. Since the Pandavas
are the rightful heirs to the throne of Hastinapur, this is deeply resented by the sons of Dhritarashthra, the
Kauravas, especially Duryodhana the eldest.
Duryodhanas bitterness and hatred boil out when he is just a teenager, and he continuously seeks and
wishes death upon the Pandavas. His hatred is nourished by his slippery uncle, Shakuni. An idea of
Shakunis character can be gathered from his advice to Duryodhana, Duryodhana, God gave speech to
man not to express himself, but to hide what is in his mind. Aided by Shakuni, Duryodhana executes

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many plots to surreptitiously kill the Pandavas, but thanks to their luck, capabilities and some outside
interventions, they escape unscathed. Some of these outside interventions came from unusual quarters.
One such was the revival of a poisoned Bhima by the Nagas or snake people, when they give him
Navapashana, an elixir made of nine deadly poisons mixed together in precise combinations.
Navapashana is still prepared today among the siddhas and yogis of South India.
With hatred and animosity growing between them, the Pandavas and Kauravas grow up in Hastinapur and
learn various martial skills from their teacher Drona. Karna, the eldest son of Kunti who was born to and
abandoned by her when she was just a teenager, also enters the story. Though an exemplary archer,
everyone believes him to be the son of the charioteer who found the baby Karna and raised him as his
own child. No one but Kunti knows the truth and she keeps it to herself out of shame and fear. In fact,
Karna is now the rightful heir to the throne, though no one knows it except Kunti. Karna is befirended by
Duryodhana, who sees his archery skills as a valuable counter to Arjuna's archery.
As the story progresses, the Pandavas are forced into hiding in the forest to escape the Kauravas
assassination attempts. During their time in the forest, Arjuna wins the hand of Draupadi, the child of
Drupada, the powerful king of Panchala. Due to an inadvertant reply from Kunti, Draupadi becomes the
common wife of all the Pandavas. Guided by Krishna, the divine incarnate and the Pandavas' cousin, the
Pandavas slip through the many traps laid by Duryodhana and return to claim one half of the kingdom.
But Yudhisthara, the eldest Pandava, has a weakness for gambling, and Shakuni, a master of the dice
game, tricks him into gambling away his wealth, kingdom and even Draupadi, whom the Kauravas
attempt to dirobe. She is only saved by Krishna's Grace. In shame for allowing such a thing to happen to a
woman's honor, the elders of the court cancel the entire game and return everything to the Pandavas, only
to have Yudhishthira lose it all over again!
Bereft of their wealth and honor, the five brothers, their wife, and mother, are forced into an exile of
twelve years, plus one year incognito (during which they narrowly escape detection), after which they
return to reclaim their half of the kingdom. Of course, the Kauravas refuse. This inevitably leads to
the Kurukshetra war, the mother of all battles where every king in the land had to choose sides. It is just
before the beginning of the war that Krishna imparts the Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna and gives him the
Vishwaroopa Darshana, a glimpse of the divine.
The war lasts eighteen days, each filled with unremitting bloodshed. The Kaurava army has 11 akshaunis
or divisions of soldiers and the Pandavas have 7, making a total of 18. There also happen to be 18
chapters in the epic. The first day belongs to the Kauravas, while the second belongs to the Pandavas. The
third day falls to the Kauravas again as Bhishma (Vichitravirya's brother), the Kaurava commander and
the eldest of the Kuru clan slays many Pandava soldiers. On day four, Bhima slays eight of the Kauravas.
Arjuna's son Iravan is killed on day eight. On day nine, Krishna, who had promised not to take up arms
and would stay as Arjuna's charioteer, loses his temper with Bhishma for using powerful divine weapons
(astras) against common soldiers. He takes his sudarshan chakra to slay Bhishma, but Arjuna pacifies
him. The Pandavas plot to remove Bhishma from the war since his prowess is wrecking havoc on the
Pandava army. Bhishma is a man of many morals and would never raise a weapon when faced by a
woman, so the Pandavas place Shikhandi as a shield in front of Arjuna when he fights Bhishma on the
tenth day.

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Shikhandi was a princess Amba in a previous birth and was abducted by Bhishma along wiht her sisters to
marry Vichitravirya. However, Amba had sworn to marry only king Shalya, and so Bhishma returns her to
Shalya's kingdom. However, Shalya loses interest in Amba after her abduction and spurns her. Amba goes
weeping to Bhishma and demands that he make up for his rash abducion by marrying her. Bhishma will
have nothing of the sort since he has taken a vow of celibacy. Amba, distraught and broken, takes her life,
promising to bring death Bhishma in her next life. Using Shikhandi as a shield, Arjuna takes Bhishma
down, thus fulfilling Shikhandi/Amba's vow.
On the thirteenth day, Abhimanyu, Arjuna's son is killed unfairly, when he is attacked by many warriors at
once, a ploy that is against the rules of conduct in battle. Both sides begin to drop all codes of conduct
from this point and the war turns increasingly ruthless and unscrupulous. On day fourteen, Arjuna takes a
vow that he will kill Jayadratha - one of those responsible for Abhimanyu's death - before the sun sets, or
take his own life. The Kauravas rally around Jayadratha and prevent Arjuna from coming anywhere near
him. As the day ends, Krishna creates an illusion of sunset by raising a dust storm, deceiving the
Kauravas into thinking that they have managed to protect Jayadratha. However, the sun is still up, and
while the Kauravas are busy rejoicing, Arjuna takes Jayadratha's head off. On Day fifteen, Drona
decimates the Pandava army, and Yudhisthara, the ever-truthful, is forced to lie to Drona that Ashwathama
(Drona's son) has been killed. Drona drops his arms in grief and sits in meditation, and Drishtadyumna
(Draupadi's brother and son of Drona's sworn enemy Drupada) beheads him.

Bheeshma
arrows.

lies on a bed of

Dushasana,
the second
eldest among
the Kauravas
and the one
most involved in
trying to
disrobe
Draupadi, is
killed by Bhima.
On day
seventeen,
Karna is
killed by Arjuna.
On the final
and eighteenth
day,
Yudhisthara kills
Shalya and Shakuni is killed by Sahadeva. Bhima breaks Duryodhana's thighs and leaves him for dead.
The war is won by the Pandavas but it is not much of a victory. Many of their family and friends are dead,
in fact none of their sons survive the war. The story winds down with the aftermath of the battle, and the
kingship of Yudhisthara.
Mahabharat Stories
Karna A Great Being Gone Bad
Karna is among the most popular yet tragic heroes of the epic. What was it that tied Karna to the
Kauravas side despite his noble and honorable character?

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Duryodhanas Big Mistake


This story relates a situation when Krishna was approached to become an ally, by both Duryodhana and
Arjuna, as they were building up great armies before the battle at Kurukshetra. Duryodhanas attitude and
choice cost him dearly, though he doesnt immediately realize his folly.
No Black and White in Life
Sadhguru looks at Krishnas offer to Duryodhana to illustrate dharma and adharma, and that there is no
black and white in life.
Treachery at Kurukshetra
One of the most confusing aspects of Krishna is his use of deceit during the war. We look at the basis
behind these actions through some vividly narrated incidents from the battle.
Krishnas Game of War
Among the lesser known of the many Mahabharata stories, this short South Indian tale features a king
from Udipi and Krishnas penchant for peanuts.
The Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga of Devotion
Sadhguru looks at the essence of the Gita, and what it means to be a devotee.
Why Is Krishna Blue?
Blue is one aspect of the legend of Krishna that has remain unchanged through time and geography. What
is behind this blue magic?
CHARACTERS
Yudhisthira:
Yudhisthira is a terribly troubled yet harmless-soul character of the worming epicMahabharata.
Also known as Dharmaraj, Yudhisthira has a great attachment with morality, truth, commitment
and righteousness. His innocent and non-aggressive traits are indeed eye-catching, but it is a matter
of fact that he cant take even the slightest political decision by his own because he lacks the
decision-making prowess and is tremendously addicted to the consultations offered by Krishna,
Arjuna and Bhima. He gambled like a slack and cheerfully-irresponsible player, and lost his entire
kingdom as well as Draupadi to the Kauravas; yet he enjoys our respectfulness.

Shakuni:
Sure enough, Shakuni is one of the most scorned personalities in Hindu mythology. Brother of
Gandhari and a proficient king-maker, Shakuni is considered as the great-grandfather of all
gamblers throughout the existence of planet earth. He is the person who poisoned the mind of his
explosive nephew Duryodhan and fueled-up the destructive war of

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Dhritarashtra:
Dhritrashtra is one of the dominating characters of Mahabharta who has a very low self-esteem and
believes that his blindness is a curse, making him unfit to rule. Its depicted in Mahabharta that
Dhritarashtra has a great envy against his brother Pandu and his paragon advices for the betterment
of Kuru dynasty. It was Dhritrashtras emotional blindness and rapacious look towards the throne
which made his son Duryodhana a hot-headed and egocentric human being.
Mahabharata, thus becoming the cause of the destruction of the Kauravas.
Gandhari:
A blindfolded mother of a hundred sons, a puppet for her blind husband, and a lady who died every
moment she lived; Gandhari is undisputably the wisest female character of the Mahabharata.
Gandhari is a lady of immense natural power and always favors Dharma. One by one, she witnessed
her hundred sons going down like skittles, but she never left the domain of righteousness and
refused her own son to wish victory into the battlefield.
Dronacharya:
The royal guru to Pandavas and Kauravas and a ferocious warrior of tremendous combating
skills, Guru Dronacharya is a significant character of Mahabharata. Committed to protect the
realm of Hastinapur, Guru Dronacharya supported the Kauravas and remained firm like
an inexorable hero in the battle of Kurukshetra where casualties went beyond the human
imagination and corpses got piled up, becoming the food for the birds.

Duryodhana:
Duryodhana is a massively strong leader, a magnificent warrior and an epitome of friendship, but in
Mahabharata, he stands at one side of a gulf which is seemingly unbridgeable between the
parameters of good and evil. Indeed, Duryodhana belongs to the evil side of the gulf, holding the
traits of greed and jealousy to a specific magnitude, but here one must remember
that Duryodhana is known for his hospitality, bigheartedness and benevolence. And these traits are
enough to mark him as a real Kshatriya. Moreover, he cant be labelled with the bad boy term in
the case when Draupadi was disrobed, because in the game of dice, Pandavas were also to blame.

Arjun:
A gallant warrior and a skilled archer, best known for stringing numbers of arrows in a fraction of
second and that with deadly accuracy, Arjun is a Pandava prince as well as the most adorable
disciple of Guru Drona. Enlightened with the cognition of selfless action, the character of Arjun in

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Mahabharata teaches what you should do while confronting an abominable moral crisis. Diverting
our minds from the sensual pleasures of the world, he instructs that rather than celebrating the good
fortune or crying over the bad, you have to be always joyful as it is the very foundation for daily
living.

Krishna:
Apart from being the most lovable of all Gods in India, Lord Krishna can also be seen as the
biggest political reformer from the Mahabharata who can easily beat even the modern-day diplomats
man-to-man. No one can describe Lord Krishna in words; he excels in everything. But if one keeps
his Godly image out and brings him at par to the level of any other human, Krishna remains the
coolest and wittiest character ever. In the Mahabharata, Krishna goes around doing his deeds in a
manner justifying his birth as an avatar and fulfilling the promises he made in upholding
righteousness.

Karna:
Karnathe central character and one of the unsung heroes of the Mahabharatais an invincible
warrior despite of being an ill-fated prince ever since his birth. Throughout the epic he justified his
never-say-die attitude and courageously confronted all the odds of his destiny. His character in
Mahabharata has an everlasting fame because he teaches how can one present himself better than
the destiny and accomplish everything with shatterproof determination.

Bhishma Pitamah:
Sentinel of the prosperity of Hastinapur and a great combatant in classic sense,Bhishma Pitamah is
the most potent character of the Mahabharata as well as the finest illustration of ethics and fairness.
The oldest stalwart of the kingdom of Hastinapur; Bhishma Pitamahs personal life was full of
frustration and solitariness, but for others he was a disciplined spartan and an embodiment of loyalty
and truth. Bhishma Pitamahs peerless statesmanship and other impeccable characteristics still
inspire his ardent followers across the world.

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