Ambika gave birth to a son who was
born blind. He was called Dhritarashtra. Ambalika also gave birth to a son who was called
Pandu. Dhritarashtra married Gandhari who gave birth to one hundred sons and a daughter.
These sons were called the Kauravas; the eldest of them was Duryodhana; next to him was
Dusshasana. They were by nature very jealous and cruel.
Pandu married Kunti and Madri. Kunti gave birth to three sons -Yudhishthira,
Bhima and Arjuna; Madri gave birth to two sons - Nakula and Sahadeva. These were called
the Pancha Pandavas.
Dhritarashtra was the elder brother but he was born blind. So Bhishma put Pandu on the
But Pandu did not live long and so Dhritarashtra came to the throne. The Pandavas grew
up under his care.
Bhishma took loving interest both in the Kauravas and the Pandavas. He got them trained
in archery by the famous Acharyas, Drona and Kripa. Arjuna became the favorite pupil of
Drona. Bhima and Duryodhana were equally skilled in wielding the mace. But Bhima was
physically stronger. This made Duryodhana jealous of Bhima and Arjuna. There was yet
another reason, which inflamed his jealousy. Duryodhana attended the Swayamvara of
Draupadi. He failed in his attempt to win her. But Arjuna hit the target in the contest of
archery and won the hand of Draupadi. So Duryodhana came to hate Draupadi, too. And the
very name of Bhima was like poison to him.
Bhishma observed with pain the serious bickering between the Pandavas and the Kauravas.
He wanted to keep them apart, so that there might be no serious clashes. He built a second
capital for the Pandavas at Indraprastha and bestowed on Yudhishthira half the kingdom, so
that the Pandavas might live there in peace. Duryodhana and his brothers ruled at
Hastinavati, the old capital.
Yudhishthira became very popular. He also performed the Rajasuya sacrifice on a grand
scale with the help of Krishna. This made Duryodhana bitterly jealous of the Pandavas. He
wanted to destroy them by fair or foul means. He sought the advice of his uncle Shakuni
who felt that it was not easy to defeat the Pandavas in open combat. Yudhishthira was very
fond of dice. Shakuni advised Duryodhana to invite Yudhishthira to a game of dice and
Yudhishthira lost at dice again and again. He lost all that was staked; he lost his
riches, lost his empire, lost his brothers, lost himself and, finally, lost his wife.
Duryodhana roared with joy. He tried to put Draupadi to shame in the open assembly.
Bhima roared like a lion. He vowed to kill both Duryodhana and Dusshasana and all the
Kauravas if they did not give up their evil designs.
Bhishma, Drona, Dhritarashtra and Gandhari now advised Duryodhana to release the
Pandavas in his own interest. Duryodhana did so most unwillingly. The Pandavas went back
to Indraprastha and lived in peace for sometime.
But Duryodhana's jealousy was burning like wildfire within him. He pressed his father
to permit him to invite Yudhishthira again to a game of dice.
As ill luck would have it, Yudhishthira lost the game again. According to the terms of
the game the Pandavas had to give up their kingdom to Duryodhana. They had to live in the
forest for twelve years. After this period they had to live for one more year without
being traced by any one. If they were discovered in the thirteenth year they had to live
again in the forest for another twelve years and spend a year in hiding.
The Pandavas were honest and truthful. They had faith in God. Krishna was their help.
Many were the troubles they had to face, but Lord Krishna was their savior. And so they
completed thirteen years of exile.
But Duryodhana did not give them back their kingdom. The Pandavas conferred with Sri
Krishna and with their friends. They decided to approach Duryodhana with an appeal to give
them back their kingdom. If he did not heed their words, they decided to fight. Sri
Krishna offered to go as their representative.