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Chapter 25: Birth of Dhritarashtra, Pandu and Vidura

Vichitravirya died early in his life before he could father any children. Satyavati’s dream of being the mother of kings was shattered. Thus there is only one way for her to get the grandsons’ through the law of Niyoga.

According to Niyoga cited in the texts of dharma, the child born for her widowed daughters-in-law from any man should belong to their deceased husband if they not married any other man. So Satyavati asked Bhishma to make the widowed queens pregnant. But Bhishma is not ready to break his pledge and simply refused her. Satyavati then thought of his first son, Krishna Dwaipayana (Vyasa) to carry out her wish. Having received approval from Bhishma, Satyavati called her first born son Vyasa.

Vyasa, after hearing the crisis of their family decided to carry out his mother’s wish. He who lived as an ascetic in the forest for over fourteen years is now seen like a man with gaunt features. His hair is matted and his skin is coarse and he believed that the queens will scare on seeing him. So he asked his mother to give him one year for preparing himself to become a good looking man. But Satyavati was impatient and she informed Vyasa to perform his task immediately. Not wanting to disobey his mother, Vyasa went to Vichitravirya's first wife Ambika. But she became terrified at the sight of the sage and kept her eyes closed for the entire duration of the encounter. As a result, the child that conceived in her womb would become a blind. Satyavati disappointed with Vyasa’s prediction of child becoming blind. So she now sent Vyasa to Vichitravirya's second wife, Ambalika. She grew pale on seeing Vyasa. Vyasa then informed Satyavati that the child that conceived in Ambalika’s womb would be a pale.

The disappointed Satyavati then returned Vyasa to forest by taking a promise from him that he will return after Ambika’s delivery for impregnating her once more to get a brave child with eyesight. In time both queens Ambika and Ambalika gave birth to their sons. As per Vyasa’s prediction, Ambika gave birth to a blind child, whereas Ambalika gave birth to pale one. Ambika’s son was named as Dhritarashtra, while Ambalika’s son was named as Pandu. Vyasa later went to Satyavati to keep his promise. This time, Satyavati warned Ambika to be careful. But Ambika sent his maid that night to share bed with Vyasa. The maid made her love to him fearlessly. Next day, Vyasa told Satyavati that last night he shared bed with the Satyavati’s maid and she will beget a healthy and wise child who would be a replica of dharma. In time, the child was born and is later named Vidura. Vidura became the half-brother to the heirs, Dhritarashtra and Pandu of Hastinapura. Vidura was none other than Yama, the god of death incarnated in earth due to a curse.

The curse that led Yama to incarnate in earth is explained below.

Once, a set of robbers took shelter in the hermitage of sage Mandavya after robbery. Mandavya who was at that time lost in penance, totally unconscious of robbers’ presence in his hermitage. King’s guards found the robbers in Mandavya’s hermitage. So Mandavya was accused for protecting robbers by the guards, despite being unknown. They punished the sage and was tortured and impaled. But after the renounce of sage from world, he appeared before Yama, lord of death. Yama inquired about his sufferings on earth. The sage told his tortures for wrong reason. But the Yama said that his suffering was repayment for torturing birds and bees in his childhood. Mandavya protested the Yama’s taking on crimes committed in childhood. But Yama made the verdict by saying that it is due to law of karma. An angry Mandavya then cursed Yama that he would take birth as a man and suffer the fate of becoming a king, despite having all the qualities of a king. Thus Vidura was later born in Hastinapuri and he would not become the king even though wiser than his half-brothers.

Dhritarashtra, Pandu and Vidura received education under the guidance of Bhishma. Dhritarashtra was strong, Pandu was good at archery and Vidura was ever wise. Bhishma eventually had the task of choosing brides for them. Yadava council in Mathura was ruled by the descendents of Yadu. It is located on the banks of the river Yamuna and also south to Hastinapuri. King Kuntibhoja, belonging to Kunti Kingdom adopted a daughter called Pritha from Shurasena of Yadava council. Kuntibhoja renamed Pritha to Kunti. When Kunti was of marriageable age, her adopted father Kuntibhoja conducted a swayamvara for his daughter. Kunti chose Pandu as her husband, who was also present at the event.

Around the same time, Dhritarashtra wedded Gandhari, who belongs to Gandhara Kingdom. At first she did not knew that her husband was blind, but after realized his blindness, she decided to marry him without any hesitation. She then blindfolds herself to pay the respect to her husband and also to share his sufferings. According to the laws, one can marry for second if his first wife was infertile. Believing that Kunti is infertile, Pandu marries once again to Madri, who was the sister of Shalya. Kunti had proof of his fertility, since she had secretly given birth to a child before marriage. But Kunti remained silent for the fulfillment of her husband’s wish to marry second and also to avoid her premarital liaison.

Dhritarashtra was the eldest of Vichitravirya’s children for becoming the next king. But he was forbidden from sitting on the throne, since he is blind and the rules did not allowed him to become the king due to this physical defect. So Pandu was made king instead, just as earlier Shantanu succeeded over Devapi. Dhritarashtra who was hurt with the decision, but he never expressed his protest and obeyed the laws. At the night of Pandu’s succession to the throne, Dhritarashtra expressed his feelings to his wife. He then told his wife to make a son quickly before Pandu makes one, so that he can regain the lost kingdom from his brother.


This post first appeared on Trivandrum Attractions, please read the originial post: here

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Chapter 25: Birth of Dhritarashtra, Pandu and Vidura

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