Mahabharata –In Short
King of Kurus, Vichitravirya had two sons, Dhritarashtra and Pandu. Dhritarashtra was the elder son but since born blind so was disqualified to become king. Thus Pandu become the king.
Dhritarashtra was married to Gandhari, who, out of devotion, willingly blindfolded herself all the time since her husband was blind.
Pandu had two wives, Kunti and Madri. During hunting,Pandu, mistaking a sage and his wife for deer shoot them with arrows. Before dying the sage cursedPandu that he can never come closer to any woman.
When this incident happened, Pandu was childless. So heappointed Dhritarashtra the king and went to forest with his two wives to perform penance. There they prayed to various gods for children.
In time Yudhishthira, Bhima, and Arjuna were born ofKunti and twins Nakula and Sahadeva ofMadri. They were Pandavas.
Another Brother – Not to be, Could Have Become the King
Here the name Karna had to be mentioned. He was born to Kunti before her marriage because of which she abandoned him.Karna was raised by a charioteer. Kunti knew it but remained silent out of shame. Otherwise Karna was the rightful heir of the throne. Later Duryodhana befriended Karna as Karna was a great archer.
Pandu and Madri diedin the forest. Kunti returnedwith the children to Hastinapur, capital of Kuru clan. Since Dhritarashtra was made king by Pandu before leaving for the forest, Pandava’s were the rightful heirs to the throne of Hastinapur.
This was the major cause of dislike by the sons of Dhritarashtra, the Kauravas. Duryodhanawas the eldest brother and from the childhood Duryodhana hated Pandavas. He wished somehow Pandavasshould be killed. His uncle Shakuni also had a major role in increasing the hatred in Duryodhana.
Kauravas made many schemes and plan to kill the Pandavas but somehow they always survived. Pandavas also knew that they were the major thorn in the eyes of Kauravas because of the kingdom.
During their upbringing in Hastinapur, both the Pandavas and Kauravas learned various fighting skills from their teacher Drona. But it was Arjun who remained Drona’s favorite student.
Arjuna and All Get Married
When the number of assassination attempts increased on Pandavas, they went into hiding in the forest. During this period Arjun won the hand of Draupadi. But because of diplomatic reply from Kunti, Draupadi had to marry all the Pandava brothers, so that the Pandava brothers would remain united for the rest of their life.
Arjuna and Krishna were good friends. Under Krishna’s abled guidance Pandavas always managed to escape the death traps set by the Kauravas, especially Duryodhana. Later Pandavas returned to Hastinapur to claim half of the kingdom.
This didn’t go down well with the Kauravas. They hatched a plan to even take away whatever little Pandavas had. Yudhishthira’s weakness was gambling and uncle Shakuni, who was on Kauravas side, was a master in Dice game. So Kauravas somehow tricked Pandavas into the gamble.
Thus Pandavas lost wealth, kingdom and even Draupadi. Draupadi though was saved by Krishna. What happened during the game shamed all the elders of the court. They canceled the game and returned whatever was lost by the Pandavas. However tricked to play once more, Yudhishthira loses everything again.
Having lost everything, Pandavas along with Draupadi and Mother were forced into exile for thirteen years including one year incognito. A lot of efforts were made by the Kauravas to trace and kill them. They somehow survived because of the skills they had.
After successful completion of the exile period, the Pandavas returned to claim what was rightfully theirs. But the Kauravas refused to give them their fair share.
Strategy – Biggest Miss from Kauravas Was the Biggest Gain for Pandavas
This refusal by Kauravas led to Kurukshetra war. Half of the battle was won by Pandavas because of Duryodhana’s arrogance; he selected the great army of Krishna instead of asking Krishna himself to join him. Krishna’s thinking and tactics were instrumental in defeats of many great warriors who were in Kauravas side.
The Battle – Beginning with Bhagavad Gita
Also before the battle, when Arjuna was confused and fearful, Krishna imparted the Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna and showed him the Vishwaroopa Darshana (Universal Form, Omni-Form).
The Battle – Beginning
For eighteen days the great battle continued. During the course of the battle thousands were killed. In the beginning, few days belonged to Pandavas and few to Kauravas.
The Battle – Taking Down Bhishma
Fighting for Kauravas, Bhishma’s skillwas doing a lot of damages to the Pandava’s army. Bhishma had his own rules and one of them was not to harm or kill any female. So on tenth day Pandavas placed Shikhandi as charioteer for Arjuna. Using Shikhandi as shield Arjun managed to take down Bhishma.
Actually Shikhandi was Princess Amba in previous birth. Because of some unfortunate incidence which involved Bhishma, Amba took her own life. But she promised that she will be the main reason for Bhishma’s death. Thus born as Shikhandi, she fulfilled her promise.
The Battle – Killing of Abhimanyu and Arjuna’s Vow to Kill Jayadratha
Abhimanyu, son of Arjuna, died on the thirteenth day by unfair means by many attacking him together. This was against war ethic.
Enraged, on day fourteen, Arjuna took vow to kill Jayadratha before sun set or would kill himself.Jayadratha was one of the many who attacked Abhimanyu. Kauravas took this as an opportunity to remove Arjuna, even if he had to sacrifice his own life.
Jayadratha got every protection possible and was impossible even to reach. And the day was almost ending. Krishna realised Kauravas plan and creates an illusion of sunset by releasing his Sudarshan Chakra which masked the Sun.
Thinking the day was over every soldier who were protecting Jayadratha started rejoicing. At the precise moment when Jayadratha could be seen, Krishna removes his Sudarshan Chakra unmasking the sun. Immediately Arjuna took aim and killed Jayadratha.
The Battle – Killing Drona, Everyone’s Teacher
Day fifteen also belonged to Pandava’s. Drona was decimating the Pandava army. Drona was Pandava’s teacher and a very skilful person. But for Pandava to win, he had to be killed. So Krishna made a plan and asked Bhima to kill an elephant with the name Ashwatthamma. Ashwatthamma was the name of Drona’s son.
Once done, Krishna told Bhima to shout that Ashwatthamma was killed. Upon hearing this Drona approached Yudhishthira to confirm the fact sinceYudhishthira never lied.
Yudhishthira tells that Ashwatthamma had been killed.But when Yudhishthiratried to tell that he was not sure if it was his son or an elephant, on Krishna’s instruction Pandava army started making a lot of noise. Drona loved his son very much and in grieve threw his weapons and started meditating. Seeing the opportunity Drishtadyumnakilledhim.
The Battle – Killing Dushasana and Washing Draupadi’s Hair with Blood
On seventeenth day, Dushasana, the one most involved in trying to humiliating Draupadi and the second eldest among the Kauravas was killed by Bhima. Bhima then drank his blood and also washed Draupadi’s hair with Dushasana’s blood.
The Battle – Karna, A Great but Unlucky Warrior
On seventeenth day Karna was killed by Arjuna. Karna was almost equal to Arjuna.But during the training and practice period he got three curses.Unfortunately for Karna,all the three curses effected on him at the precise same time.
Karna’s chariot wheel got stuck in mud. He got down to remove the wheel but could not since it was held by mother earth. Realising that Arjuna would kill him he tried to remember the sacred chanting’s which can produce celestial weapons but could not remember any. Karna felt helpless, like the Brahmin’s cow which he accidently killed during practice, in front of Arjuna. And thus the end came for Karna.
The Battle – Unethical but Necessary Ending
On the final eighteenth day, Shalya was killed by Yudhishthira. Sahadeva killed Shakuni. Final battle was between Duryodhana and Bhima, in which Duryodhana was getting the upper hand on Bhima.Seeing this Krishna’s signalled Bhima to attack the thigs of Duryodhana. Bhima did that and eventually was able to defeat Duryodhana.
In The End – Emptiness
After the battle, the Pandavas got the entire kingdom. But they had to pay a very heavy price for it. None of Pandavas sons survived in this battle. Many family members and, near and dear ones were killed.
Great people they grew up with like, Bhishma and Drona were killed. They may have fought from the opposite side but they were respected more by Pandavas than by Kauravas. AndPandavas realised that the only thing which was left after the battle was the kingdom.
Hastinapur was ruled successfully and flourished under king Yudhishthira for many years, ably supported by his brothers. At last the Pandavas decided to leave everything behind and go to heaven through Himalaya. They handed over the throne to Parikshit, son of Abhimanyu. And one day the five Pandavas and Draupadi leave the palace for heaven.