Stories from Mahabharata
This is not a recent story. It is a very ancient story, which occurred thousands of years ago.

Shantanu was the king of Hastinapur. He was wise, kind and just. All the citizens loved him and respected him. The river Goddess Ganga was his first wife. Shantanu had met Ganga at the riverbank, fallen in love with her. But then, Ganga had laid down certain conditions to say «Yes» to his proposal and had warned him that whatever she did, he was not counter — question her. So desperate was the to marry her that without a moment’s hesitation, he agreed to obey her conditions.

Ganga was a beautiful woman. She was also a devout wife and looked after the king with love and affection. They were so happy that Shantanu even forgot that a year had already passed. He also forgot about his promise to Ganga. Meanwhile Ganga gave birth to a baby boy. The kings happiness knew no bound as he fondly look at his heir. But his joy was short-lived. The same night Ganga carried the baby and headed towards the river. Shantanu was perplexed. So he followed her. By the time he could realize her intentions she had thrown the baby into the river. Shantanu was about to ask her the reason attitude when he remembered his promise to her at the time of their marriage. He could not question her about anything. Both of them returned to the palace silently.

Even after this incident Shantanu’s love for Ganga did not diminish in any way. But he was perplexed about her behavior. How could she kill her own child? Was she a demon or a woman, he wondered. Nevertheless, he decided to forget about this incident and continued to lead a happy life with Ganga. Subsequently, Ganga gave birth to another baby boy. The baby met a similar fate as the first born, Shantanu turned pale with worry. But still he did not have the courage to question Ganga. He felt very sad and depressed.

Ganga gave birth to seven baby boys, one year after the another. But all the babies were thrown into the river after their birth. And it was none other than their own mother who killed them.

When Ganga gave birth to a baby boy for the eighth time, Shantanu could no longer bear the situation. By then, he had already been a dejected man. When Ganga was about to throw the newborn into the river, Shantanu stopped her and asked her. «Do you know what you are doing? Are you a demon or a devil? You have killed seven sons of ours. I can no longer bear it. I will save at least this child.» He could not control his emotions.

Ganga was angry with Shantanu because he dared question her actions. «I will not live with you even for another moment» she said. Shantanu loved Ganga very much. He was grief-stricken. He begged and pleaded with her not to desert him. But Ganga told the king that she had to return to her abode as she had fulfilled her task upon the earth. She then explained to Shantanu what her task was.

The Vasu on earth
Long ago, there were eight Semi-gods known as Ashta Vasus. Once, out of sheer greed, they wanted to steal Sage Vashista’s cow and the youngest of them, by name Prabhasa had stolen the cow. Vashista was enraged at this and cursed them to be born as human beings upon the earth. When the Vasus sought to be forgiven, the sage relented and laid down that the seven Vasus could live only for a few hours upon the earth but the Prabhasa was to lead his entire life upon the earth. These Ashta-Vasus were the babies born to Ganga. The seven Vasus were thrown into the river and Prabhasa was the only survivor.

Ganga narrated this episode to Shantanu and disappeared after promising him that she would hand over Prabhasa to his care subsequently.

Actual name of Satyawati was Matasyagandha. She was the daughter of King of fisherman ‘Dasaraja’. Matasyagandha used to work on the boat to take the passengers from one side of the river to the other. Although she was not from very high cast or royal blood but she was very beautiful. Once Parashar Muni got into her boat to cross the river. He could not ignore her beauty. He offered his love to her. How she can deny such a valuable proposal! In boat she offered herself to him. Parashar Muni was not an ordinary saint. Matasyagandha gave birth to a baby without any pain. Parashar Muni took the baby and said he will be a great saint and in very critical time he will help you, but now I have to take him with me to educate him.

He blessed Matasyagandha that she will be the queen of a big kingdom. He also blessed her that even though she is a daughter of a fisherman she will small like a flower. Her aroma will be sensed from even 100 mile from her.

From Devavrat to Bhishma
Shantanu was left alone as Ganga took her eighth child. Seven years later, Shantanu witnessed a young lad practicing archery by the riverside. A strong feeling attracted him towards the boy. At that moment, Ganga appeared before the king and told him, » Here is your son Devavrat; He is not an ordinary person. He will earn fame as a great man. Look after him well». She then returned to her abode.

Shantanu was immensely happy. Hugging the child His heart swelled with love and affection. He took the boy to the palace and reared him will. Devavrat grew up to be a brave and courageous boy. Shantanu had appointed a master for him. Devavrat thirsted for knowledge and excelled himself in all fields of education. As a true Kshatriya (worrier), he also perfected warfare and was hailed as the mightiest of all. Truthful and honest, he gained the respect of one and all. At the opportune time, Shantanu crowned Devavrat as the heir prince.

In the meanwhile, Shantanu had gone on a hunt and near the river saw an extremely beautiful girl. She was the daughter of Dasaraja, a fisherman. Shantanu fell in love with her and sent a messenger to her father asking her hand in marriage.

» I am prepared to have my daughter wed to the king» said Dasaraja, «But I have a condition» he added, » I want my daughter to be the queen and the child born to her as the future king. If your king doesn’t agree to this, ask him to forger about marrying my daughter.

Shantanu was worried. He found this impossible to live without Satyawati, the Dasaraja daughter. But how could he marry her? For he had already crowned Devavrat as the heir to this throne. There were none to equal Devavrat for the throne. So, Shantanu decided not to accept the condition laid down by Dasaraja. But he felt very depressed abort losing Satyawati. He lost interest in the affairs of the kingdom. Even hunting and music or dance did not interest him. Only Satyawati’s immense beauty haunted him.

Devavrat knew his father’s state of mind. So he met Dasaraja and pleaded with him to get Satyawati married to the king. Dasaraja was adamant. » Are you prepared to give up throne for the sake of your father’s happiness?» He asked.

Devavrat did not hesitate. «If it can bring happiness to my father, I do not want the throne. I am prepared to give it up. «I swear», he said. But Dasaraja was not convinced. He asked Devavrat.

«O! Devavrat, it is easy for you to say that you do not want the throne. But you will get married and have children. Later on, your children will also have children. And if they claim their right over the throne, what will be the fate of Satyavati’s children?»

Devavrat agreed with Dasaraja’s thinking. He felt that it was a fair question. He thought for a while and said «Respected sir, have no doubts this. I here by swear that I will be a bachelor throughout my life. I will never get married.»

This decision by young Devavrat to lead his father’s happiness drew appreciation from all the Suras. This vow came to be known as ‘Bhishma’s Vow’. Devavrat was henceforth called as Bhishma.

Devavrat returned to the palace and performed the marriage of the Satyawati to his father. In the presence of hundreds of citizens, he again proclaimed that he was giving up his rights to the throne. Highly pleased with his son’s sacrifice, Shantanu embraced Bhishma and blessed him as ‘Icchha Mrityoo’. «Let not death near you as long as you want it» he wished.

Bhishma has lived through the ages as a great son of India.

Amba’s Revenge
Shantanu married Satyawati and led a happy life. Subsequently Satyawati gave birth to two sons; the eldest was Chitrangadh as the king. After the demise of Shantanu, Bhishma crowned Chitrangadh as the king. But the king died shortly there after. So Bhishma coronated Vichitravirya, the second son, as the king. But since the boy was still young, Bhishma ruled the land on his behalf. There was peace and prosperity everywhere. Several years passed. Vichitravirya was now a young man and was of marriageable age.

The king of Kaashi had three daughters by the names of Amba, Ambika and Ambalika, who were renowned for their beauty. A duel was arranged and the king proclaimed that he would give his daughters in marriage to the winner of this duel. Bhishma heard about this and set forth to Kaashi. He defeated all the other princes and left for Hastinapur along with the three princesses. On the way Shalvaraj challenged him to a war but Bhishma defeated him and reached Hastinapur.

Actually, Bhishma had selected these princesses as brides for Vichitravirya. but Amba wanted to marry Shalvaraj and indicated this to Bhishma. She also requested him to send her to Shalvaraj. On hearing this, Bhishma did not want to force her into an unwilling marriage with Vichitravirya. So he sent her back to Shalvaraj. But Shalvaraj was not prepared to accept her. «You can live with whoever carried you away» he scorned. He had not forgotten his humiliation at the hands of Bhishma. Amba returned to Hastinapur with a heavy heart. Bhishma felt sorry for her. By then Vichitravirya had also decided not to marry Amba. She could not bear the humiliation. So she pleaded with Bhishma to marry her. But how could he? Hadn’t he taken a vow not to marry He said ‘no’ to her.

This infuriated Amba. She held Bhishma totally responsible for her plight. Hatred and revenge filled her thoughts. She sought the help of other kings to wage a war against Bhishma but none supported her. Her anger against Bhishma grew stronger. In desperation, She observed a very strict penance, praying to Lord Shiva. Her sole purpose was to kill Bhishma out of her own hands.

Pleased with Amba’s penance, Shiva appeared before her. But the boon she wanted was against the divine spirit. «Bhishma has the blessings of all the gods and goddesses said Shiva», Hence, nobody can kill him. But all humans on this earth are bound to die sooner or later. You can kill Bhishma, But not now. You can do so in your next birth upon this earth. You will be born as daughter to Drupad, The king of Panchaal. Your wish will then be fulfilled.»

Amba had only one aim in life to kill Bhishma. She was prepared to wait until even her next birth. She therefore headed straight to Dhrupad’s palace and jumped into the sacrificial fire «Yagna» being conducted there. Her body was reduced to ashes.

Amba was born as Dhrupad’s daughter and from the childhood she learned all the lessons of war and fights. She prepared herself as man worrier so that whenever times come she would be able to fight with Bhishma. She was called «Shikhandi» among all worriers and respected as «Maharathi»(the first degree worrier), a worrier who can command a full fledge army. She waited find the opportunity to seek vengeance on Bhishma.

Dhristarashtra and Pandu
Vichitravirya also disappointed Bhishma. He died in very young age without any son to hold his throne. Kingdom can not survive without king. Satyawati asked Bhishma to produce child with Amba and Ambalika so that Kingdom may have the king.

«I vowed to remain Brahamchaari and not marry. I can not accept such a offer» He said. I will protect the kingdom till kingdom will not get the new king. He suggested when such problem occurs in holy books «The Veda» one more variation is given. As Brahman are Devta on earth they can produce king by donating their sperms to the queen.

«He will help you in future» these words strike her mind. Satyawati opened secret to Bhishma that she has a son named «Ved Vyaas» through Parashar Muni and as per variation given in Holy books he is her son as well as a Brahman. Although he lives in Jungle away from civilization and practice yoga, science and spiritualism, on her request he will come.

Ved Vyaas was not a normal yogi. He was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He was full of knowledge and energy. He came on her mother’s request. As external physic was not suitable for the queens, Black, Strong, long hairs and beard, oil all over the body. Eyes bright with energy enough to scare a soft queen.

Amba closed her eyes when he love her and Ambalika become pale with fear. He told her mother Satyawati that none of the queen would have normal child, as during making love they were not normal, peaceful and devoted to him. Satyawati asked Amba to go again to him and this time devote herself with full heart. Amba did not dare and sand her maid second time, maid surrendered to Ved Vyaas with full heart. After that He went back to his place and Amba, Ambalika and the maid.

With the time they gave birth. Ambika gave birth to a blind child named as Dhristarashtra. Ambalika to a sick and pale yellow child named Pandu and the maid gave birth to an intelligent and handsome child named Vidur.

Time runs with leap and bounds and they become young men. Although Dhristarashtra was a born blind he was good in wrestling. Pandu was with poor physic was not that active in warfare but being a Kshatriya he learnt necessary armory education. Vidur being a maid son but intelligent and brother of Dhristarashtra and Pandu learn to be a good courtier and appointed as adviser to the King.

She was the daughter of king of Gandhaar. She was born and brought up in a strong Hindu family. Bhishma asked her hand for Dhristarashtra. Gandhaar was a weak and small country than Hastinapur. Denying Bhishma’s offer may cause tension between them and war. Gandhari’s father was bound to marry his daughter with a born blind. Gandhari accepted this calmly and decided to feel the world like her future husband do feel. She was a great devotee of lord Shiva and of very strong character. She decided to close her eyes with a black cloth strip so she also feels the world from other senses then eyes.

His brother Shakuni, who loves her sister very much, was shocked on her decision. He was deeply shaken and angry on Bhishma that he was the main person who was the cause for all this. He decides to go with her sister to Hastinapur to look after her.

Although Pandu was a sick man he was crowned as the king of Hastinapur. Once he was enjoying hunting in deep in the jungle. He saw a deer couple, he followed them and aim them with his long and sharp arrow, that time that deer couple was making love. When he come near to the prey, he was stunned. There was a Rishi (yogi who lives in jungle and live very simple life) couple, they were extraordinary yogi and able to change their self in any form that time they in deer form when Pandu traced them and killed them during intercourse. Whatever Pandu done he was not aware of this but now it was too late to explain. With anger dying couple cursed him «You will die when ever you will make love to any women». Pandu was the king and was having two wives the eldest was Kunti princess of Matura. And the other was Maadri princess of Madra. Unfortunately Pandu was not having any children till the time of course. He returned with heavy heart to his palace. After this happening he decided to go in jungle and pray, may God give another chance him to have a child.

Kunti and Maadri
Kunti was the first wife of Pandu. She was daughter of the king of Matura. In young age she got the blessing of a saint that she could invite any celestial god and beget a son from him. When Pandu decided to go in jungle she with the second wife Maadri also followed him. During his jungle visit Dhristarashtra took care of his throne on his behalf.

In jungle Kunti came to know about the curse given to him. She told Pandu about the Mantra which Durvasa Muni given her. Pandu agreed to have child through this process. After getting permission from his husband Kunti first summon to Yam, Dharmaraj, The god of Justice. «My child will be the ultimate of truth and justice on earth» he named him Yudhishthir (who remain strong and do not leave the path of truth even during the war).

Pandu asked her again to have second son Kunti pray to Pavan Devta, the air god » My son will be the strongest person on the earth no body will be able to beat him face to face war» he named him Bheem.

Pandu still not satisfied he asked once again to call Indra, King of all Devta, «My son will be the excellent worrier and his fame will above all, He will be the closest person of the Lord Krishna, incarnation of Vishnu on earth». He named him Arjun.

Maadri was sad, as she was not having any child also. Pandu asked Kunti to give that Mantra to Maadri also so that she also can have children. Maadri summon to Ashwani Kumar (twin gods, God of medicine and surgery) and god two sons from them. Both were strong and handsome they named them Nakul and Sahdev.

On the other hand Dhristarashtra was happy that Pandu gone to vaanprasth and he may have the chance to be the father of the next king if he got son before Pandu. Gandhari got pregnant, he was the happiest person on earth, but fortune was not in his favour. After a long pregnancy, she gave birth to a meatball. Everyone was shocked.

At that time Ved Vyaas came and told them to cut that ball into 100 pieces and put each of them in separate pots and close their mouth. When time will come, he will tell them to open. But instead of cutting hundred pieces they cut the meatball 100 times and got 101 pieces. Ved Vyaas said that Gandhari will have only 100 sons from this 101st piece she will have a daughter.

Yudhishthir had born first. Dhristarashtra lost his throne again. This pain was not tolerable for him. But he can not say to anybody his feelings. Pandu was the king and his son who was elder then his son Duryodhan had the right over the throne. He forgot his all pain when he listened sweet voice of his first child Duryodhan (Tough Worrier). His second son was Dusashan. He named his daughter as Dushila who was married later to Jayadrath.

Kunti was very beautiful and gorgeous. When she was young, once Durvasa Muni, a saint famous for his anger, visited his father and intended to stay there for some time. His father Kuntal the king of Matura asked Kunti to serve him the best to please him, otherwise Durvasa’s anger may destroy the entire kingdom.

Kunti pledged to serve him the best. Day and night she was ready to obey Durvasa’s command. Durvasa saw her devotion. He was pleased and asked her to say what she wants in her life. «I don’t know what I want in my life, you can see the past, present and the future, kindly give whatever may be required in my future the most.» Kunti replied. Durvasa smiled and said only a wise woman can ask such a thing. He gave her a Mantra. He had indicated to her that by chanting these, Kunti could summon any celestial god and beget a son from him.

Young Kunti was full of joy with the blessing. She was that time not able to understand the seriousness of the present given to her. One morning she saw the bright sun and wishes that if she can have a son from the sun. Out of curiosity she chanted the mantra to invite Sun god. Her room filled with the light and her eyes were not able to see anything. After a moment she saw a handsome, young and bright man, the Sun god, he smiled and said «Kunti I came on your invitation, I will give my son to you.» But I don’t want any son now. I only tested the mantra out of curiosity» Kunti said.

Power of the mantra is not a joke or a game. It should be spelled only when they are required the most, because they bound to give the result after being chanted. I can not refuse to give my child to you, as I am bound by the powers of the Mantra.» Sun god replied.

The very next moment a beautiful son was in hand of Kunti. The child was wearing the war protection cloths as his skin from the birth. «He will be a great worrier and will be famous for his forgiveness and Marcy.» The sun god disappeared left the stunned Kunti alone. An unwanted child! Before marriage Kunti got a child, What will be her position in the society! She will be called a characterless woman. «But how I can throw this child away at least he is my son» Kunti thought. Kunti was in very critical situation. She was not able to decide what is good for her. Durvasa Muni said this mantra is for her future. What will be her future after she will be expelled from the society!

Being a virgin, she feared social outcry against her and placed the baby, Which had been born with a pair of brilliant ears ornaments in a wooden box and gently pushed it into the river. Floating on the river, the box reached the hands of a childless charioteer. He handed the baby to his wife Radha. The couple named the boy as Karna because of his ear ornaments and brought him up with love and affection.

Kaurava and Pandav
Because of curse, Pandu had given up his kingdom and was living in the forest. He did not live for long. He died when his 5 sons were still young. Entreating Kunti to be a mother to all the five sons of Pandu, Maadri burnt herself on the funeral Pyre of her husband. On hearing about the death of Pandu and Maadri, Bhishma and Vidur hastened to the forest and brought Kunti and Pandu sons to Hastinapur. All these five sons Yudhishthir, Bheem, Arjun, Nakul and Sahdev were called Pandav.

Dhristarashtra had one hundred sons by the name of Kaurava. Duryodhan his eldest son, who form a very young age, had nursed a deep hatred for the Pandav that is why he could not tolerate the Pandav in Hastinapur. Pretending to be friendly to them, he plotted devious means of getting rid of them from the kingdom.

Drona was a poor Brahman. He was student of Bharadwaj Muni. He and his friend Drupad who was the prince of Panchaal were among very good students. In Ashram Prince of Panchaal promise him to be his friend always even though he will become the king. After ashram life they got separate.

Drona got married to Kripi, sister of Kripacharya, the main Priest and teacher for Hastinapur’s royal family. As Drona was always very ambitious and energetic he was never satisfied with an ordinary jobs. Once he listened that Parashuram is giving up his belongings to other Brahman. He also rushed to him.

«You are quite late. I already gave my all belongings except these weapons which no Brahman wants to take». Parashuram said. «I will be grateful to you if you give your weapons and their working technique» Drona said.

When he returned home, he saw his son crying and asking for milk. Kripi gave him mixture of rice powder and water. She was not able to provide normal milk to Ashvtthama, her son. Ashvtthama threw the pot and said that he wants the milk as all his friends drink. Kripi was not able to stop tears in her eyes.

Drona decided to go Panchaal, visit to his friend to seek some help from him. «Your friend want to meet you ‘O’ King» courtier said. Drupad saw a poor Brahman with a woman and a child in torn cloths entering in court. He could not tolerate to be called as a friend of such a person.

«Who are you» Drupad asked. «I am your friend Drona. We were in the same ashram under Bharadwaj Muni.» Drona replied. «I don’t remember you. How you can be my friend? I am a king, you are a poor man. Only a king could be a friend of a king. If you want some money, take and go away.» Drupad said in very insulting tone.

I will remember you words always. Next time when we will meet, we will be equal. Drona left the court in anger.

It is very important for the Kshatriya that is the warrior clan to be proficient in archery and sword fencing. We already know that the Pandav and the Kaurava were being and brought up together by Bhishma. He always showed keen interest in their education and proficiency in warfare. He therefor wanted the best among the tutors to train Pandav and Kaurava in archery and sword fighting.

One day all the princes were playing the ball game together and the ball fell into a dilapidated well. How to take out the ball was their problem. Just at that time, the spotted a Brahman. He was a thin person but his bright eyes and the glow on his face indicated a brilliant man. The Brahman listened to the children and said in a teasing voice, You are from a warrior race and still you do not know how to take out the ball from the well!» The children were surprised. What is the relationship between the ball and the warrior race, they wondered. They raised this doubt with the Brahman. He replied, «Let me show you.»

The Brahman was not an ordinary person. He pulled out a blade of grass and after chanting a mantra, threw it into the well. The grass hit the ball with lot of force and the ball bounced out of the well. The princes realized that he was an extraordinary man. They wanted to know his name. But Brahman smiled and said «Go to your grandfather Bhishma and narrate this incident to him. He will know who I am».

It didn’t take long for Bhishma to know the identity of this Brahman. He was non other than Dronacharya. Bhishma had known that no one could match Drona’s skill in archery in the entire land of Bharat. So Bhishma hastened to meet Dronacharya and appointed him as the tutor for the princes. All the princes felt happy and proud that they were Dronacharya’s disciples.

Among all the princes, Arjun was Dronacharya’s favorite disciple. Arjun always aimed his bow very well. He always respected his Guru. And though the other princes received good training from their master, it was Arjun who excelled himself in archery.

Dronacharya thoroughly taught all of them. He never forgot the incident happened in Drupad’s court. Ever science this incident, Drona waited for an opportunity to teach lesson for Drupad’s arrogance. With brave Arjun, With Duryodhan who was good at the mace, with the powerful Bheem and with courageous Yudhishthir as students, Drona felt that the time was right for him to seek his revenge against Drupad. So, first of all, he ordered Duryodhan to wage a war against the Panchaal king and drag him b the hair through the battlefield. But Duryodhan was no match for Drupad and was easily defeated by him. Disappointed Drona entrusted this task to Arjun.

It did not take long for Arjun to defeat Drupad. He imprisoned the King and produced him before Drona. Drupad felt punished. All the insults that he had heaped on Drona flashed through his mind. He stood before Drona with a bowed head.

Since Drupad was defeated in the war, Drona had the right to claim the entire kingdom as his own. But he was an unselfish person. So he told Drupad «My friend, let one half of the kingdom be with you. I will retain the other half so that both of us can be equals. Then you will have no hesitation in accepting me as your friend.»

This generous attitude of Drona made Drupad feel all the more humiliated. But instead of being grateful to him, a feeling of revenge grew strong in Drupad.

Draupadi and Dhrishtdumn
Drupad secretly conducted a Yagna so that he can get a son who will kill Dronacharya. A strong and handsome man occurred from the fire and the fire god told «he will kill the Dronacharya. His name will be Dhrishtdumn». As the boy came out of the fire the fire god spoke again «She will be the cause of destruction of Kaurava. Her name will be Draupadi.» The very next second a bright and glorious girl came out of fire. Drupad was full of joy for the two children he got from the fire god.

Real Education
All the princes took education under Dronacharya and Kripacharya. The first lesson started, » Always speak truth. Do not be angry. Help others». Next day teacher asked «Do every one learned the lesson»? Every one learned the lesson except Yudhishthir. Do learn the lesson tomorrow, teacher said,

«Still I am not able to learn the lesson teacher» Yudhishthir said the next too. Teacher gave him one more day.

Teacher lost his temper » what a fool you are. In three days you are not able to learn three lines». He punished him. «Still I am not able to learn the lesson teacher» Yudhishthir said the next too. Teacher was very unhappy and among all princes he was punishing Yudhishthir. «He knows the lesson well. He taught this lesson us at home» all the Pandav told the teacher.

«I learned only the words but still I can not follow them. I get angry some time. Sometime I tell lie. That is why I said, I still not able to learn the lesson». Kripacharya was very impressed with his answer. This was a great truth that we learn only the words not the lesson itself. He lost his temper during teaching them this lesson. He blessed Yudhishthir that he will be known for his love for the truthfulness for long.

Duryodhana’s Plot
Right from the day the Pandav entered Hastinapur, the Kaurava and especially Duryodhan disliked them intensely. He was also extremely jealous of the Pandav for they had earned the love and respect of the entire kingdom. By some means or the other, he wanted to kill the Pandav. Especially Bheem, But Duryodhan was fully aware that it would be not possible to kill Bheem through a wrestling match or with the mace. So Duryodhan had a sinister plot in mind.

One day, Duryodhan invited the Pandav for a holiday by the riverside. How could the Pandav know Duryodhan’s devious mind? Thinking about all the enjoyment, they readily agreed. And what a lot of fun it was! Horse-riding, boating, campfire etc. On the ultimate day, Duryodhan had arranged for a royal feast. Bheem, who was a glutton, could not resist the many mouth- watering delicacies and sweet dishes, Happily, he ate and he ate but didn’t know that a deadly poison had been mixed with his food.

In the night when the others were fast asleep, the Kaurava tied the hands and legs of Bheem and threw him into the river. The next morning Yudhishthir found Bheem missing from his bed. Presuming that he had loitered away, the other Pandav returned to the palace along with Kaurava.

Bheem who had sunk to the bottom of the river had lost consciousness but was not dead. Seeing his inert body on the riverbed, the king of «Naglok»(A serpent world under the earth) treated him against the poison. The king knew of Duryodhan and hid brothers. He gave him to drink a medicine, that in future no poison will have effect on him as well as he will be strong as ten elephants. Bheem, on recovering his strength and power, thanked the residents of Naglok for their hospitality and returned to Hastinapur.

Dharmaraj, Kunti and the Pandav who were immensely worried about Bheem strange disappearance were very happy to see him back. But Duryodhan not. He was baffled that Bheem had survived such a strong poison.

Certain about Duryodhan’s hatred and jealousy, Bheem warned his brothers and mother about the danger posed by the Kaurava. This incident made Duryodhan all the more determined to kill the Pandav, as he knew that they were the rightful heirs to the throne of Hastinapur.

It was under these circumstances that Duryodhan met Karna.

Eklavya the legedry Student
Once when Dronacharya was teaching use of different weapons to their royal students one urban boy came. He bowed him and said ‘O’ respected teacher I am son of Hiranyadhanu, king of Nishada. I will be very grateful if you teach me I will be your the best student in archery. Dronacharya looked upon him he was well built confident and obedient looking boy. «Son of Nishada king, Nishada are born hunter. If I will teach him he will definitely be the best archer in the whole country. But I promised Arjun that he will be the best archer in the whole country. Thus I can not teach him».

«No, I do not teach accept royal blood and Kshatriya students». Eklavya smiled and said respected teacher who is that boy learning archery among those princes. «He is Ashvtthama, My son» Drona replied. He is neither prince nor Kshatriya.

Disappointed Eklavya returned with heavy heart. He then made a statue of Drona in mud and installed it at the place where he usually practiced archery. Everyday he prostrated before the stature and practiced archery. His concentration was so high that he could gain mastery over archery. He acquired immense knowledge about it also.

One day, Drona took his pupils to the forest to teach them hunting. It was the same forest where Eklavya practiced archery. Inside the forest Drona observed bow marks on the tree barks indicating archery practice. Just then, a hound standing near Drona stated barking. Within the moment the hound’s mouth was covered by seven arrows. Drona was astonished to find that someone had used his bow in the right direction and the exact place just by listening to the barking sound. Drona was therefore very curious to now more about this archer who had even excelled his own disciple.

Arjun who was standing next to Drona was baffled » I will ensure that none can equal to you in archery» was Drona’s assurance to Arjun. But was he teaching someone else secretly wondered Arjun.

Both Drona and Arjun went in search of the archer. They saw Eklavya and introduced themselves to him. Eklavya was delighted. He felt as he had found a treasure and putting down the bow, prostrated before his Guru. Drona was immensely pleased. He asked Eklavya «son, you are an excellent archer. Who is your Guru»?

His Guru was right in front of him. But instead, Eklavya took Drona to the statue and said «Sir, My Guru is none other than Dronacharya, an expert archer and an unparalleled warrior. I have prepared his statue out of mud and imagining his physical presence, I practice archery» replied Eklavya in a humble voice.

Drona then recalled Eklavya’s earlier request to teach hi, archery. He instructed the boy to exhibit his talent. Eklavya obeyed his instructions and demonstrated his skill with the bow and the arrow. All the princes present there were astonished with his skill.

Drona too could not believe his own eyes. He admired such an achievement by a tribal. He called Eklavya to come nearer and said «Son! I am Drona, I am the Guru you are talking about. Since you say that you learnt from me, shouldn’t you pay me my Gurudakshina (fee offering to Guru)?»

Eklavya in reply said » Respected Sir, I am at your bidding. Whatever you want, I will give it to you». Drona wanted to impair Eklavya’s capability to use the bow and the arrow. This would also remove any challenges to Arjun’s supremacy over the skill. He therefore said «Eklavya, Cut your right thumb and offer it to me as your fee».

Eklavya realized Drona’s intentions, but without any hesitation, he chopped his tight thumb and willingly offered it to Drona. Drona was immensely pleased with Eklavya’s devotion and after complimenting him about this returned to the palace along with his disciples.

The Friendship
Drona had taught the prince everything about warfare. He had also told them about the methods to be followed during a war. He had explained about the right and the wrong, the do’s and don’ts a Kshatriya should follow. Arjun attained excellence in archery under Drona’s training. Dharmaraj was adept at fighting from atop a chariot. Bheem and Duryodhan acquired mastery in using the mace. Nakul and Sahadev were good as horse riders.

Drona wanted the entire Hastinapur to know about the expertise of the princes in waging wars. So he made suitable arrangements for such a day. On the appointed day Hastinapur flocked to the arena of war sports. For, they had an opportunity to watch the princes demonstrate individually, their skill and knowledge. And compete with each other.

Dhristarashtra, Gandhari, Kunti, Vidur, Bhishma, Kripacharya and Dronacharya were seated on the dais. The commoners were also provided with seats. The entire Hastinapur wore a festive look.

Shortly, all the princes that is Dharmaraj with his four brothers and Duryodhan accompanied by his ninety-nine brothers entered the arena. They ere all dressed in a war like fashion and were armed suitably.

The competition began after the Vedic chant by the «Raj Purohit» (Chief priest of the Palace) conches were sounded and drums were beaten to indicate the opening of the games. It was then announced that the princes should exhibit their capabilities. The archers, the fencer, the wrestlers amongst the princes demonstrated their talent. «Bravo Bravo» shouted the excited crowd. Bheem and Duryodhan’s deftness in using the mace also delighted the crowed Nakul, Sahadev and the other Kaurava also drew appreciation from the spectators.

It was now Arjun’s turn. Partha (Arjun) was Drona’s prize student. When he entered the arena, the spectators clapped their hands and cried out «Hail Arjun! Hail Arjun! The warrior demonstrated before the public all that he had learned from his teacher. The crowed applauded each and every feat of Arjun. The only person who could not tolerate this adulation towards Arjun was Duryodhan. He felt restless and agitated that none of his younger brothers could excel Arjun. If he were to score victory over the Pandav, he ought to have a very able person who could defeat Arjun. Otherwise his ambitions to rule Hastinapur would be shattered.

Kunti felt very happy and proud of her son Arjun. Drona announced that Arjun is the most excellent prince in the whole Aryavart (land ruled by the Aryans). Suddenly a man stood up from amongst the spectators and entering the arena proclaimed that he too would like to demonstrate his skill as a warrior and that he could prove himself to be far better than Arjun.

Drona was annoyed that a stranger trespassed into the arena, which is meant for princes only. «Who are you? Identify yourself» Drona, asked with angry voice. Everyone was curious to know about the challenger. His face radiates an inner strength. He had a pair of earring, which dazzled in the sunlight. » I am Karna. I am son of one of your charioteer» the newcomer said. «This arena is meant only for princes. Lower cast are not allowed to compete here» Drona said with a loud voice.

Duryodhan felt a hope in the voice of Karna. He was the prince of the Hastinapur. «I crowned him as the king of «Ang», the country which is mine. Now onwards he is a king of Ang. As a king he can participate in the contest and I hope now nobody has objection in this» Duryodhan said. Even though it was not very pleasant to the elders of the family, but now it was the matter of Drona’s reputation Arjun accepted the challenge. When Karna displayed all the feats of Arjun effortlessly. Duryodhan was delighted. «Finally. I have found someone who can combat with Arjun» he rejoiced. He immediately went to Karna and embracing him said, » From now on, you are my brother». Karna promised Duryodhan that as he gave a new life to him by giving him a chance to be a worrier he will fight for him to the end of his life for Duryodhan.

These dazzling earrings also caught the attention of Kunti and she immediately occurred to her that this was her eldest born. She was filled with anguish to see he two children facing each other n a challenge. The contest between Arjun and Karna created a lot of excitement amongst the spectators. They knew that this would be a very significant contest, for both Arjun and Karna were great warriors.

Kunti, the mother for both Karna and Arjun just couldn’t witness the scene. She knew for certain that Karna was the child she had set adrift in the river long ago. Moreover, at close quarters one could make out a striking resemblance between the two brothers. Thinking about the outcome, she fainted. Suddenly an idea occurred to Drona. He decided that he would allow only the princes to take part in this contest. He immediately conveyed this suggestion to Kripacharya. Kripacharya at once entered the arena and told Arjun » Arjun! Dronacharya has agreed to this combat. But prior to this. Both of you have to proclaim about yourselves».

Arjun had no difficulty in proclaiming about his royal origin. It was now Karna’s turn to reply. The warrior told the spectators that his name was Karna. But what next? He did not know, who his real parents were?, what his clan was? Or any other information about himself. Red in the face, Karna felt distressed that fate had cheated him. He felt utterly humiliated. Kripacharya took advantage of this opportunity and spoke again.

«You do not know who you are? You are just and ordinary soldier. So, you do not qualify yourself to take part in a contest meant only for the royal blood. You may leave the arena». He said in an insulting tone. Drona and Kripacharya do not have any grudge against Karna. But to avoid Arjun’s defeat by this warrior. They had to prevent Karna’s participation in the contest.

Karna could not say anything. He did not know who he was, except that he had been brought up by a charioteer. He had no status in the society. Duryodhan too, did not like Karna being humiliated in such a fashion. He desperately needed someone to fight against Arjun. So, he quickly ran up to Karna and said » I am the prince of Hastinapur and upon my authority, I am appointing you as the king of Anga. You are now a king. So I dare anyone to say anything against you». So saying he placed a crown on Karna’s head. He also performed all the necessary rites to bestow the kingdom of Anga on Karna.

Bhishma, Drona and Vidur were speechless. The Pandav found Duryodhan’s behavior very strange. Bheem thought it to be ridiculous. He roared with laughter and said » A charioteer’s son! King of Anga! Ho…Ho…!» But Duryodhan ignored them all and hugging Karna in a friendly way drove away in his chariot.

The contest ended and the crowd dispersed Some praised Arjun, others Karna but none knew that Karna was the eldest among Kunti’s children. From that day onwards Duryodhan and Karna became very close friends and Karna remained loyal to his friend till he died. Karna was a great warrior and a good human being. But his only drawback was that he did not know about his origin. He had learnt archery under Parshurama by representing to him that he was a Brahmin.

Curse to Karna
Parshurama is one of the 10 main incarnations of lord Vishnu. Kshatriya (worrier) killed his parents. As revenge he killed all the Kshatriya 21 times from the earth and donated the earth to Brahmans. He also pledged not to educate arming them. When Dronacharya refused to impart training to him, he decided to try Parshurama, as he was the teacher of Dronacharya. He dressed up as Brahman and took permission to live in his ashram and take training. He was an extraordinary student very soon he achieved place nearer to the Guru, the teacher. Parshurama gave him the knowledge of not only normal armory but Devastra (weapons of Semi Gods) and Divyastra (Weapons of lord Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva) like Brahmastra etc.

Once he was sitting supporting his lap as pillow for his guru. One spider came and set on his led. He ignored the spider so that it does not disturb sleep of his Guru. Spider bates on his lap and it started paining. The bite was such terrible that blood came. Karna hold the breath and kept ignoring pain sot that his Guru does not disturbed. Parshurama felt something and woke up. He saw the scene. He was stunned. He asked with anger that who is he? Brahman can not bear such pain. He is not a Brahman. Angry Parashuram said, «If you will not tell immediately, I will kill you.»

Karna did not know about his origin. He knew only that his father is a simple Sarthi (Driver of kings Vehicle). He accepted that he is not a Brahman and he want to learn fighting. That is why he lied. He also put other arguments but angry Parashuram did not listen and curse him that as he got this all knowledge with abusing the believe and love of the teacher that is why when he will be needing the most his teachings he will forget them.

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