Among the two greatest epics of the Hindu religion, one is Mahabharata. Mahabharata is the story of virtue and dharma. It is the story of the feud between Pandavas and Kauravas for sovereignty over the Kuru kingdom, the throne of Hastinapur.
Mahabharata is the longest epic poem known to mankind with 18 parvas and 200,000 verses. The epic was authored by Maharishi Veda Vyasa and transcribed by Lord Ganesha. One of the most important Hindu texts, the Bhagavad Geeta is also a derivative of Mahabharata.
The tale has been told time and again with the message to live abiding by the rules of dharma. Recently a Ukrainian ambassador also evoked Mahabharata to seek help from India. This event shows us the popularity of the epic around the globe. Hence, we will be presenting you with some facts about Mahabharata.
Sahadeva knew the war was to occur:
The youngest of the Pandavas, Sahadeva was a great astrologer and knew about the Kurushetra war beforehand. However, due to his promise to Lord Krishna, he was to never tell anyone about what he knew.
Many believe that Sahadev could see the future after he ate his father, Pandu’s flesh. However, some of the devotees argue that this event was not present in the authentic version of Mahabharata.
Arjuna saved Duryodhana once:
During the 10th year of the exile of the Pandavas, Duryodhana to mock the Pandavas living in poverty used to hunt around jungles where the Pandavas lived. Duryodhana teased them and showed off his riches.
In a similar event, Duryodhana visited the forest the Pandavas were residing. At the same time, Chitrasena, a Gandharva was also there with his party. When Duryodhana came upon the Gandharva and the two began fighting due to some trivial matters. Chitrasena and his party overwhelmed the kuru army and captured Duryodhana.
After the Pandavas came to learn of this event, Yudhishthira ordered his brothers to rescue their cousin. Despite their reluctance, the four brothers went to help Duryodhana. Arjuna won against Chitrasea and rescued Duryodhana. The Kaurava prince had then offered a boon to Arjuna.
Dhritarashtra and Gandhari resided in the forest after the war:
15 years later the coronation of Yudhishira as the king of Hastinapur, Kuru kingdom, Dhritarashtra, and Gandhari retired to the forest. The reason for the couple to do so was the constant taunting of Bhima which greatly hurt and depressed them.
Original names of the Kauravas:
Kauravas were all misnamed due to their bad reputation. Initially, Duryodhana was named Suyodhana which means good warrior but was renamed Duryodhana which meant bad warrior. In a similar fashion, Dusshasana meaning bad ruler was previously Suhaasana meaning good ruler.
The reason why Lord Krishna supported Arjuna:
Both, Arjuna and Duryodhana had gone to Lord Krishna seeking his help and it was Duryodhana who arrived earlier. However, at that time, Lord Krishna was sleeping and the cousins waited for him to wake up.
Duryodhana sat at the head of the bed while Arjuna waited at the foot of the bed. Upon waking up, Lord Krishna saw Arjuna waiting and hence, said that he will be supporting Arjuna in the war. However, he did grant his army to Duryodhana.
Ekalavya was Lord Krishna’s cousin:
Ekalavya was the son of Devshrava, brother of Vasudeva. At a young age, he got lost in the forest and was found by Hiranyadhanu, the chief of Nishada. He was later adopted by Hiranyadhanu and became a student of Dronacharya.
However, upon the completion of his education, Dronyacharya asked for his right thumb which Ekalavya cut off and gave to his teacher. Later, he died during Rukmini haran.
Lord Krishna blessed Ekalavya that he would reincarnate and extract revenge against Dronyacharya. He reincarnated as Dhrishtadyumna, the twin brother of Draupadi who later killed Dronyacharya.
The Kauravas who didn’t want war against Pandavas:
Among the 100 Kauravas, Yuyutsu and Vikarna were the ones who didn’t approve of Duryodhana’s actions. Yuyutsu was the son of Dhritarashtra and Gandhari’s maid while Vikarna was the third son of Dhritarashtra and Gandhari.
Vikarna was the follower of dharma and was the most reputable of the Kauravas. During the Draupadi’s vastraharan, only Vikarna protested against the wrong deed. He was against the dice game and the mistreatment of his sister-in-law.
Yuyutsu was the only Kaurava who fought alongside the Pandavas during the war. Vikarna fought alongside his brother, Duryodhana. When Bhima met Vikarna on the battlefield, he was saddened having to kill a man of dharma.
Vidura was the incarnation of Yamaraj:
Vidura was the brother of Dhritarashtra and Pandu and served as the prime minister of the Kuru kingdom. He was also the incarnation of Yamaraj or Dharmaraj who was cursed to be born as a human by Rishi Mandpal.
Rishi Mandpal was punished unjustly by a king who accused him of helping the thieves steal. Later, when the king realized his mistake he asked the rishi for his forgiveness. Rishi Mandpal forgave him but after that, he went to Yamaraj. He asked Dharmaraj the reason for the unjust punishment.
Yamaraj told the rishi that during his childhood, he had killed an insect that meant no harm to him. Enraged by the answer, the rishi replied that the punishment was still unjust as he had been punished for a crime he had done when he had no understanding of Dharma and Adharma.
He then cursed Yamaraj to be born as a human and that he would be stuck in situations where he can’t decide what Dharma and Adharma are.
Lord Krishna reminds Arjuna of the unfulfilled boon:
Bhishma, the grandfather of the Pandavas and Kauravas who fought alongside the Kauravas. When the Kauravas were on the verge of losing the war, Duryodhana accused him of fighting the war half-heartedly.
Angered by the accusation, he filled five golden arrows filled with mantras and declared that the Pandavas will die tomorrow. However, Duryodhana not trusting Bhishma’s words, took custody of the arrows.
Lord Krishna knew about the arrows and also the fact that the arrows could indeed kill the Pandavas. He reminded Arjuna of the boon given to him by Duryodhana. Lord Krishna told Arjuna to ask Duryodhana for the five golden arrows.
When Arjun asked for the five golden arrows from Duryodhan, he was shocked but he gave away the arrows to fulfill his words.
Dhritarashtra’s Karma from his previous lives:
King Dhritarashtra was a tyrant king, his previous birth. One day, he came upon a lake with a swan surrounded by hundreds of cygnets (young swans). He ordered to poke out the swan’s eyes and also to kill all the hundred cygnets just for fun. It was due to his actions then, that in his next life he was born blind and all his sons died.
In another version, Dhritarashtra in his previous birth was a ruthless hunter who had once thrown a burning net on a tree full of birds. The fire killed 100 young birds and those who managed to escape lost their vision. What he received in his life as Dhritarashtra was his karma from his previous life.