The Pandavas and Kauravas
By: Ahana Raghavan, 14 years
Gurukulam- The Online Shloka Learning Center
The Pandavas were the five sons of Pandu, the king of Hastinapura, and his two wives, Kunti and Madri.1 Their names are Yudhistira, Arjuna, Bhima, Nakula, and Sahadeva. However, the Pandavas were not directly sons of Pandu. He was hunting and shot a pair of deer while they were sharing an intimate moment. The male deer was pierced by the arrow and was actually Rishi Kidamba. He cursed Pandu, stating that he would die the minute he was intimate with a woman. For this reason, Kunti and Madri could not naturally have children with Pandu.
The celestial deities helped with this, and the Pandavas acquired unique characteristics from these deities. Pandu renounced the kingdom, and gave it to his younger half-brother, Dhritarashtra. Dhritarashtra was the father of 100 children, who were known as the Kauravas.
The Kauravas were the cousins of the Pandavas and were the sons of Dhritarashtra, like I had stated before. The mother of the Kauravas was Gandhari. When she found out that Dhritarashtra (her to-be husband) was blind, she blindfolded herself. Her life was going well, until she found out that Kunti had 5 divine sons. She hit her abdomen very hard, and after a 2-year-long pregnancy, instead of birthing a child, she simply had given birth to a lump of flesh. However, in her earlier days, she had prayed so much to Lord Shiva, that she was given a boon to bear 100 children. And she did. Lord Vyasa split the flesh into 100 pieces and placed them into individual pots. She then had 100 sons. She also had one daughter.
The Pandavas and Kauravas battled for the throne of Hastinapura, which is why they came into conflict many times. The most famous conflict was the Kurukshetra War, which was finally won by the Pandavas. There were a lot of heart-shattering losses through the course of the battle, but in the end, the righteous Yudhistira was placed as king of Hastinapura.
I stated that there were only 5 Pandavas. However, as later revealed in the Mahabharata, which narrates their tale, when Karna dies, Arjuna asks why Kunti is weeping so heavily over the loss of an enemy. She then states that Karna was their eldest brother. So, in actuality, there were indeed 6 Pandavas.