May 03, 2010

An Alternate Mahabharata

When I was in school, my knowledge about World War II was built up by reading war comics -- or Commando Comics, as they were called in the 1960-70s. This had led me to believe that the British soldiers were all smart and brave whereas the Germans were either fools or cowards and could only shout "Achtung ! Achtung !!" before they were all killed ! It was only much later, when I had come across an English translation of “The Foxes of the Desert” by Paul Carell that I came to realise that the Germans too were equally brave and smart. I also understood that history is generally written by the winners and in such history, the winners always come across with flying colours.

Could this be the case with the Mahabharata ? And in this epic story of the war between Good and Evil, is it that the Pandavas are shown to be righteous and good simply because they won the war and had the luxury of writing the history ?

How honest and righteous were the Pandavas anyway ? Consider the following ...

The four main Kaurava generals were all killed through deceit and chicanery, not through fair and honest combat. Bhisma was killed by Arjuna who used the transsexual Shikhandi as human shield because he knew that Bhisma was gracious enough not to harm women or transsexuals. Drona was killed after he was demoralised by the false propaganda about his son's death propagated by Yudhisthira -- the one man whom Drona thought he could trusted completely. Karna was killed by Arjuna when his chariot was damaged and he was on the ground, even though under the rules of war he had specifically asked for respite. Duryodhana was killed by Bhima in a blatantly illegal blow of the mace that hit him beneath his waist and crushed his thighs. To be fair to the Pandavas, Arjuna's son Abhimanyu too was also killed in an unfair battle, but that does not absolve the Pandavas from the charge of using unfair means.

The Mahabharata tries is apologetic about this dishonesty in the "otherwise righteous" Pandavas when it has the allegedly divine Krisha rationalising that since the Kauravas were evil, the forces of Dharma -- righteousness -- must use dishonest tactics to eradicate evil. To me, this argument is untenable. If you are resorting to dishonesty, then it is no more a great war between Good and Evil -- it is merely a great war between two equally evil ( or equally good ) sides. From this perspective, the moral high ground that the Pandavas claim to occupy crumbles and it is a level playing field once again.

But this is not the only place where the Pandavas are shown in poor light. Karna was supposed to be equal to Arjuna in skill and valour but except for the final battle where Karna's chariot was broken, Arjuna never dared to accept Karna's challenge to a duel -- in each case, whether at the swayamvara of Draupadi, or in the battle of the princes, circumsances were contrived so that he could avoided direct confrontation by referring to Karna's allegedly low birth. In fact Arjuna was so frightened of another "lowly born" individual, Ekalavya, that he prevailed upon Drona to have Ekalavya's thumb chopped off so that he would never have to prove his worth against Ekalavya ever again.

Promiscuity was perhaps par for the course in those days but the level of illegitimacy in the Pandava ( and to a lesser extent in the Kaurava ) bloodline is amazing. The common great-grandmother, Satyabati had an illegitimate child Vyas, through a pre-marital affair, and it was Vyas who impregnated the two wives of Satyabati's legitimate child Bichitrabirya to give birth to the blind Dhritarashtra and the impotent Pandu.

But why should the senior Dhritarashtra be denied the throne in favour of the junior Pandu ? Both had a physical deficiency and should have been considered equally eligible or equally ineligible. Perhaps blindness is more obvious than impotence -- so we have a semi-plausible reason to go along with this decision but the next decision is very difficult to accept.

Since Pandu was impotent, his wives were impregnated by sperm donors -- euphemistically referred to as Gods. So by the principle of jus sanguinous -- right of blood -- Pandu's children, the Pandavas, should have been excluded from the succession. Once again we are told that the practice of niyoga -- or artificial insemination by a donor -- is equivalent to the right of blood and so the Pandavas can continue to be in the running for the throne.

Which brings us to the third point. If we eliminate the blind Dhritarashtra and the impotent, and by now dead, Pandu, who is next in line ? The choice between Dhritarashtra's legitimate first born, Duryodhana and Pandu's quasi-legitimate first born Yudhisthira could have been settled by the principle of primogeniture -- who was born first.

The official version claims that Yudhisthira was born before Duryodhana and so was the natural heir to the throne of Hastinapur but there is a lot of fuzziness in this claim. Pandu's senior wife Kunti summoned her first sperm donor only after she had heard of the pregnancy of Dhritarashtra's wife Gandhari. So logic dictates that Gandhari should have delivered Duryodhana before Kunti could have delivered Yudhisthira ! Which would have meant that Duryodhana ( and the Kaurava's ) had the natural right to the throne of Hastinapur, not Yudhisthira. This is where the official version of the Mahabharata weaves a story that is really hard to believe : Even though Gandhari should have delivered first, her pregnancy runs into a complication, the birth is delayed, the foetus is deformed – or possibly conjoined -- and only after a very complicated surgical procedure is Duryodhana born -- thus leaving the field clear for Yudhisthira claim to the throne.

This is where the story really starts reeking of conspiracy : First Gandhari is in labour in the capital city under the watchful eyes of state whereas Kunti is in labour in the jungle, out of sight. No one quite knows when his son Yudhisthira is born. But she would insist that she delivered first and her first born Yudhisthira is indeed the logical king. There is great scope for manipulation here.

The rest of the story -- the story of Mahabharata -- is well known and there is no point in repeating it here.

But suppose it was otherwise ?

Perhaps it was Duryodhana who was born first and he indeed had the right to the throne of Hastinapur. Perhaps it was Yudhisthira who, aided and abetted by his mother Kunti, put in a false claim for the throne of Hastinapur and in this he was assisted by his mother's nephew Krishna. Then after winning the war using the unfair means suggested by Krishna how would the Pandavas go about re-writing the history ?

First they will introduce the cock-and-bull story about Gandhari's difficult and delayed pregnancy and so justify their own claim to the throne.
Second they will change all references to the Kauravas so that they appear in poor light. Stuff like Duryodhana yelling like a jackal as soon as he was born fall into this category.
Third they will insist that Yudhisthira lost the game of dice because Shakuni was a cheat. Anyone who loses has a natural tendency to claim that the opponent cheated but if you are writing the history it is easy to turn this claim into a fact, while forgetting that you are incompetent.
Then to make things look even blacker for the Kauravas they will throw in the false story of how the menstruating Draupadi was stripped and humiliated by the evil Kauravas.

Fortunately for us, this is where the first crack appears in the Pandava version of the history as documented in the Mahabharata. The Pune Critical Edition, which is universally acclaimed as the most authoritative version, DOES NOT CONTAIN any reference to the stripping of Draupadi in the court of Hastinapur ! It was added later, possibly by the Vaishnavas to establish the divinity of Krishna in his role as a saviour, but possibly there could have been a deeper design.

Once you suspect the credibility of the story of the Mahabharata other possibilities emerge. But if we assume that the Kauravas were the good guys and the Pandavas were the bad guys then quite a few things fall into place. For example why did all the honest, upright characters – like Bhisma, Drona and Kripa fight on the side of the the evil Kauravas ? Would they not have the courage to stand up for the right cause ? Of course they had, and they did fight for the right cause -- the Kaurava cause !
Again how can such basically decent people stand and watch the Pandava Queen being humiliated in public ? Of course they cannot and they did not because no lady was ever assaulted in the court of Hastinapur ! except in the "version" of history written by the Pandavas !

But despite all that rewriting and sanitising of the story, the truth somehow leaks out ! The Mahabharata finally strikes back when it declares that when the hurly-burly is done, and the battle is lost and won, it is the Kauravas who end up enjoying the joys of Heaven and it is the Pandavas who have to go to Hell ! Which ties in neatly with my thesis that the Kauravas were the Good guys and Pandavas were the Bad guys.

Is that how stories should end ? Should it not be that good triumphs over evil ? Of course that is what happens in a story but then the Mahabharata is not a story, it is history ! The Mahabharata gives you a picture of the world and reminds you not to expect the world to be fair.
Unlike the Ramayana – which idolises Rama as the perfect individual, without any flaws – the Mahabharat is more realistic because it shows that there is no one who is perfectly black or white, they are all shades of gray. However the bias in the underlying tone is that the Pandavas were the Good Guys – or at least the better ones. Perhaps it is time to question this bias and explore whether an alternative version could exist.

The last question is whether there is any hard evidence of such an alternate version of the Mahabharata and unfortunately I do not have any answer. All that I can say is that it is likely : Had the Nazi's won the war, I am sure that Commando Comics would have been in German and would have painted a very different picture. The closest analogy to such alternate Mahabharata comes from the story of the Nag Hammadi scriptures where a completely different version of the Christian Bible -- the New Testament -- was found in a  village in Egypt. So I can say that it has happened once in the past, with the Bible and it can happen once again in future with the Mahabharata.
[ post updated on 6th May 2010 ]

Before you accuse me of heresy, please read my original post on the historicity of the Mahabharata.


Avijit Das said...

Two other areas of conflict were- 1) if Pandava's anonymity was broken during the Virat war? 2) why Yudhistir had to get Indraprastha even though Dhwritarastra was alive?
But the point if Pandavas were bad guy suffers at this question- why they went to forest (vanavas)? they could have started the war then…

Kind regards.


Calcutta said...


I would suppose they went to Vanavas because they Yudhisthira was so badly embarassed by his incredible imbecility at the dice game that he became the laughing stock of all North India. For the war he would need allies but who would ally with such a studid idiot ? So the only way they could save face was by escaping to the jungle.

Anyway, this needs to be debated at greater length.

Aditya Zutshi said...

Really nice post Sir. There are lots of unanswered questions. A different perspective on the story was more than welcome.

Indira Mukhopadhyay said...

Gone through at a glance! will be back soon. But before i logout i must say


Arvind said...

Very elaborate analysis, Professor!

In Tamil Nadu, we have had the Dravidian/Aryan debate for a long time now & it has shaped our regional politics thus far. And we have had authors like Akilan depicting Raavan as the hero.

Though Krishna's foul plays has been a part of my childhood Mahabharata readings, this is the first time I'm reading 'the Kauravas as heros' angle. Great points!

Unknown said...

Liked your version of Mahabharta. Just to add according to Jain Scriptures, even Krishna went to hell.

Joydeep said...

"Pune Critical Edition" of Mahabharat? Haven't heard of it - any place where to get more details?

Calcutta said...

the Pune Critical Edition is published by the Bhandarkar Institute. Try Google

Unknown said...

Very impressive!! SO You mean to say in world war 2 Hitler was a good guy??

Anand said...

Dear Professor,
read your article and I totally agree to your conclusion that the history is written by the Winners. So it is extremely difficult to understand the right perspective of historical event. In his story Journey to East Herman Hesse (albeit in different context) wrote just about the same complexity of establishing the authenticity of history.

Although I agree to your conclusion, I strongly disagree to the claims in the post. I am writing this comment just because you mentioned the Pune Critical Version of Mahabharata by Bhandarkar Institute, I felt like sharing my thoughts.

The claim that Mahabharata is a battle of good v/s evil itself is a tall claim. It is basically a saga of family trying to sort out its right of property based on the laws prevalent at the time. Their problem was the laws were in presence for a very long time, resulting in extreme variations of its interpretations.

If you claim that the principle of jus sanguinous -- right of blood is of prime importance in establishing the the claim over the throne, then from Dhritarashtra and Pandu the family of Kurus were lost as they were born to Vyas a non Kuru, born to Satyavati and Parashar.

The problem here is nicely explained by S L Bhyrappa in his book Parva is called as Beej Kshetra Nyay. Meaning who is the owner of the crop the farmer who cultivates it or the landlord who owns the land.

In relation to humanity it is concluded as, to whom child belongs, the mother (Kshetra or Bhoomi or the one bears and is the owner of the body that bears) or the father (the beeja or the seed or the owner of the seed that is planted on the kwhetra)

Bhyrappas another book Vanshvruksha also explores this concept very nicely.

In her book Yuganta, Iravati Karve Concludes her commentary on Mahabharata by saying that the end of Mahabharata was the end of a Yug which accepted Niyog (the method in which a fertile womb can get heir to the family without her husband)

I will conclude my commnet by also pointing out the tone in your post which makes the reader believe that the social norms values are timeless and truth, good, evil are the constant concepts. With other posts in your blog I am certain that you don't believe there is one such thing as universal and timeless truth. So criticizing Pandavas by applying yardstick of todays values can only sensationalize the reader, rather than making hims think about the crux of the story.

Please don't think that I am against kauravas or with pandavas. but I would request a more critical method in arriving the conclusion by an excellent blogger.

Warm regards and looking forward to your comment on my commnet:-)

Calcutta said...

@Anand :

Thank you for taking the time to write a detailed post.

First I would like to agree with you that social norms are indeed fluid ( polygamy and caste barriers for example have dissolved over time ) but I would be a little more rigid with Truth, "Good" and "Evil". Though Mahakaal (Time) can dissolve much of what we see around us, it would have a little difficulty in breaking down the barrier between what I define as good and evil -- but that is another debate.

If we tolerate the fluidity of social norms then we can debate on the legality of surrogate children and their claims to the throne ...

and that is precisely the point of blog post : debate.

I would like a debate on the relative "goodness" of the Kauravas and the Pandavas .... not the current smug finality of the situation today where we have been led to believe that the Pandavas were the good guys who had been wronged by the evil Kauravas.

I would also agree with you that the Mahabharata was never intended to be a treatise on Good and Evil. It was a family saga where the protagonists, both Kauravas and the Pandavas, were normal natural feuding family members with good and bad traits.


after the Pandavas won the battle, they -- and their sycophants -- started tailoring the story to show the winners in a glorious light and that is when the family saga started becoming a treatise on good and evil.

windwheel said...

The Mbh commands our interest because it focuses on 2 key concepts- viz. karma and dharma. It abounds in symmetries and is non-dissipative (even at the price of psychological plausibility) so that karma and dharma behave like lawful or conserved properties of the system (Noether's theorem).
However, no Indian soteriology has an absolute, as opposed to instrumental (vyavahaika) commitment to either karma or dharma- so the fact that tragic (or socially satirical) aporias in these concepts crop us all the time adds an enjoyable rasa to this art work.
Mbh is interesting for economists because it shows that the Just King must learn probabilistic game theory as, it turns out, morality is not single-valued but that there are a range of evolutionarily stable strategies which, so to speak, form a moral ecology.
In Western lit. theory, harmartia or character flaw is the driving force in tragedy. Consequently Western scholars thought Mbh a chaotic work marred by stupid pundits. Later, a naive historicism took root in India such that 'intellectuals' took the Epics to depict an idealized caste-based patriarchy- which it was their duty to criticize.
Now, if people ignorant of Mathematics take this approach- who can blame them? But Indian mathematics economists too are taking the same tack.
This is a pity.

Calcutta said...

Just came across and read - in one sitting - Mahabharater Maharanye by Protiva Bose (1997). She too strongly supports my thesis that the Kauravas were the "good guys".

windwheel said...

Since Kauravas were of the blood-line of Ved Vyas, some people think the name 'Jaya' for the book is ironic.
In Pashtu, the word for enemy can be cousin in this sense 'the worst fight is between cousins.' Basically, people who want to divide the family will take sides in a war between brothers or cousins. The nice part of MBh is that it shows all those people getting killed off rather than being able to take over Bharatvarsha.
I have blogged on this in more detail here

Ankit Pandey said...

Your "thesis" lacks enough evidence...It should be "hypothesis" as of now...
A chapter in Hindi which i read in class 9th titled "Mahabharat ki ek saanjh" presented the similar argument as yours...
I believe that the sole aim of writing Mahabharat was to enlighten mankind with the "Bhagvad Gita" (which is "still" undebatable...I don't know till when it remains so...for some "Proud pseudo-logical Maverick" might be ready to refute it)

Prateek said...

At first I would like to thank you for giving us the food for thought and indulge ourselves in the mystery of what might be the "other side of the story".
I am very new to the epic an my interest in the great story began when I saw the whole season of the great show by B.R. Chopra. I have begun to read and learn more about the epic and that's how I came across this blog. There is one point that I would like to know more about. Well actually there are a lot of points that I would like to know more about.
- Was Pandu impotent or cursed by Sage Kindam to not be able to embrace a woman?
- I read that Raja Bharat gave the throne to some one more deserving than his own son. Is this correct? If this is correct then the whole concept of jus sanguinous is nullified as only the deserving should be get the throne. This was the ethic in Bharatvansha right? Now the whole point of debate should be who was more deserving of the throne: Duryodhana or Yudhishthira?

(Is there any place where I can get a hand on the translation of Original Mahabharata in a not so tough a language? A link would be appreciated)
Great post! Enjoyed reading it.

indranil said...

Roshmi Sinha said...

There was nothing called as “illegitimate children” – in the Vedic era or in the Dvapar Yug. There were many types of marriages; Swayamvara was only one of the many types. There was another kind of marriage – Gandharva Vivaha.

I do not think Kunti “abandoned” Karna after his birth; have already mentioned why I think so in my blog.

The Mahabharata is the comprehensive itihasa (history) of the third era (the Dvapar Yug). It is NOT a battle of good over evil or righteous over non-righteous. That is a later day (mis)interpretation.

We do not have a concept of “evil”; it is an alien concept and clearly a later-day add-on.

Even things like "lowly born" individual would have crept in later on. ‘Coz we must remember that even Maharshi Valmiki was a brigand before he received enlightenment. The societies of yore were different from how they are now, and the humans too were very different from modern humans – in all respects.

Satyavati was a matshya-kanya (fisher-woman) but even the king (Maharaj Santanu) bowed to her wish. And Crown-Prince Devavrata (future Bheeshma) too accepted her conditions.

Maharshi Vedavyasa was not “illegitimate” – this is a word that has appeared in our collective vocabulary much later, perhaps due to the translations of our ancient texts – by aliens.

Vedavyasa was born as a result of a “Gandharva Vivaha” between “matshya-kanya Satyavati and Maharishi Parashar.

I don’t think he “impregnated” Vichitravirya’s wives. There are references to very advanced medical science in the Mahabharata; and perhaps the modern world is still not aware of many of them.

As for the birth of Duryodhana: In the Mahabharat, when they talk about the birth of the Kauravas, or more precisely when the manner of their birth is described, (I think) they are referring to a very advanced medical science, where babies need not be gestated in the womb of the mother or a surrogate mother. It can happen outside the body!

So, unless they were aware of such medical wonders, they could not have written about it.

Jayadrata, Kansh and Shishupal were not good rulers; therefore, one need not shed tears for them.

One has to look at Yudhistira and the Pandavas’ qualities and those of Duryodhana. The latter does not listen to good counsel, not even to his parents or elders, and his treatment of his sister-in-law Draupadi – their “Kul-Vadhu” was most shameful. If such a man ascended the throne, what values would prevail in society?

Also too much is made of Duryodhana’s generosity towards Karna. A Suta is not a “low-born” (as such a word was not prevalent then). A “Suta” is the offspring of a mixed marriage, more precisely one between a Kshatriya-Brahmin. So “Suta” is and cannot be an “insult”; it was just a manner of addressing someone and that was a common norm in that era. Even Krishna is referred to as “Kshatriya-Shresht”.

Having said that, the Pandavas were (to my mind at least) minor characters.

We are assuming that Bheeshma, Drona and Kripa were upright characters. Bheeshma was someone too attached to his vows (it was a be-all and end-all for him) and he did not quite understand/foresee the threat from Jayadrata. So, although he may have been a great warrior, but he was clearly not a great planner or strategist. Shakuni had his own reasons for doing what he did.

As for “hell”, I am not sure whether such a concept existed in our ancient culture or was added on later.

As for “sanguineous birth” etc that you have mentioned, even in the Treta Yug (the 2nd era) one can see the manner in which Shri Ram and his siblings were born, and draw certain conclusions. These were eras where women had a very different position within a family, within a clan or in society at large – than what we see today.

Jyoti said...

I'm not sure about some of the points being made in your post:
1. If we treat Mahabharata as history, I don't see any virtue in arguing about the birth dates of Yudhisthir and Duryodhan. I didn't understand why the blogger is harping so much about it either. It's not like all children are born exactly on the 270th day of conception anyway.
2. I didn't get what you meant by this statement:
Jayadrata, Kansh and Shishupal were not good rulers; therefore, one need not shed tears for them.
If one is not a good ruler, he's a worthless piece of God's creation? Or did you mean it in some other sense?
3. While nothing justifies the actions of the Kauravas (if they indeed did all that), Draupadi's taunts, the injustice to Dhridrashtra and various other factors did fuel their aggression.

On the other hand, I agree with most of your viewpoints: especially the one about Bhishma and his compulsive obsession with his vow. Good points to ponder on

Jyoti said...

I'm not sure about some of the points being made in your post:
1. If we treat Mahabharata as history, I don't see any virtue in arguing about the birth dates of Yudhisthir and Duryodhan. I didn't understand why the blogger is harping so much about it either. It's not like all children are born exactly on the 270th day of conception anyway.
2. I didn't get what you meant by this statement:
Jayadrata, Kansh and Shishupal were not good rulers; therefore, one need not shed tears for them.
If one is not a good ruler, he's a worthless piece of God's creation? Or did you mean it in some other sense?
3. While nothing justifies the actions of the Kauravas (if they indeed did all that), Draupadi's taunts, the injustice to Dhridrashtra and various other factors did fuel their aggression.

On the other hand, I agree with most of your viewpoints: especially the one about Bhishma and his compulsive obsession with his vow. Good points to ponder on

Anonymous said...

are mahabharat was nt writn by pandavas..
Maharshi Vyas was the 1 who did tel it tu his shishya and den he told it tu Janmejaya who was grand son of abhimanyu..
And d reason why he told d story was to turn his mind against war which he declared against naga community..
nd Arjuna defeated Karna 2wice b4 the last batl 1c at virat rajas batl n 1c ven 1 yaksha defeated karna n imprsn him, arjuna did rescue him
evn bhim defeated him on the vry same day ven hi died..
And as far as claim for the hastinapur is cncrned..
It was the eldr son of the previous king of the empire who shuld b the king n dats Yudishthir bcoz Pandu was the king n nt dhrutrashtra. Infact that is why bhishma himself decleared him to be the Youraj..
Nd b4 u comment anythng on history plz read the official version of mahabharata..
It is the most unbised vrsion n is almost free of 'Prakshep'..
Nd ech point u raised has d answer nyways..
Why cnt we accept as it is..
Theres s nthng like hero n other stuff..
Its our history dats it..

Anonymous said...

1st of all thakfully in those days men were not foold enough to consider blood relations supremee... so Niyog a born children were legitimate heirs to father's property in those days... as were adopted children... in fact the mahabharata talks of 12-14 types of legal children....

But even if we says that Niyoga born children should not have right to the throne... then even Dhritarashtra and Pandu have no reight to the throne for they are Niyoga born as well ... by Vyasa on Vichitravirya's widwos... so kaput goes Duryodhana's claim to the throne...

If we go further back in history... Bhumanyu , tyhe son of Bharat who inherited the throne from Bharta is a Niyoga born son as well... and therefore the whole Kuruvansh is inelligible to the throne...

If we even go back further the origin of Chandravansh happens with Budha who is the bastard sonm of CHandra born to his Guru's wife Tara... and thus Chandravansha is a vansh of bastards... and in those days that did not matter at all...

Problem is half eductaed people of today read interpretation of Mahbahrata by half-eductaed authors and make their own interpretations for cheap gimmicks... sadly they are no good.

Anonymous said...

I have written a play "SUTAPUTRA" in which Krishna is unable to convince Arjuna that it is his duty (dharma) to fight against his kinsmen and advises Yudhisthira to accept the mediation of family matriarch Bhishma. Thus mine is Mahabharata without Kurukshetra. Any one interested can get a free soft copy by sending a request to

Anonymous said...

Was going through something and found this.Your Alternate Mahabharata caught my attention.The way you tried to see it from Kaurava's side was good.I think one thing which we have missed out the Dishonor to a Lady by her own family members.The war took place because of that.1.Bhisma was always bothered about only his Dharma.He never raised a question against the dishonor done to Princess Amba.nor did he question about his 'Kul Vadhu' Shouldnt he be punished?They say a Saint's silence is more harmful than a cruel man's gibberish talk.2.Same goes for Dronacharya,Drona never uttered a single word against dishonour to Draupadi.3.Karna who always wanted justice for himself,called Draupadi a prostitute,Was that right?Karna is the one who finally decapicated Abhimanyu.a boy who was unarmed and on the verge of losing life.Was that Fair?4.Bhima killed Duryodhan in a wrong way..Agreed..but did Druyodhan give him any other option.If you have forgotten his body was turned to Vajr..Only then did he enter the battle.Wasn't it Karna who exclaimed to Arjun in Brahmin getup in Draupadi's Swayamvar.'Who are you one other than the great Arjun and Indra himself who could stand me in a fight'.But when the same Karna was defeated by Gandharva,Arjun had to help him and Duryodhan.Duryodhan himself was pleased by this and gave Arjun a boon that he would give Arjun whatever he asks for.And also when from the Agytavas,Arjun comes before the Kauravas.nobody could stand his rage.Wasn't that Arjun who captivated everyone with his Sammohanastra.ThoseKauravas included Bhism,Drona and Karna also.I think Ekalavya's story was generally half-told.Only till the place when he gave his guru dakshina.But he later joined Jarasandha's army.After Jarasandha's demise, Ekalavya sought to avenge him by campaigning to destroy Kuntibhoja and every Yadava in Dwarka. During the attack, he is slain by Krishna.Imagine the rage he had and without that finger itself he could do so much damage.A Yodha should have even patience not just valour.

Unknown said...

Pandavas too had their share of grief.All the upapandavas,Shikandin and Dristadyumn were ruthlessly killed in their sleep.Aswathama tried killing the unborn child of Abhimanyu.Was that fair?Agreed to the fact that so much of illegitamacy was shown.Wasn't it the fact that because there was no proper Fatherly head behind Pandavas,due to which they had to go through lots of injustice.including Kaurava's planning to have them killed in the Lacgruh.Pandu was not impotent.according to Vyasa Mahabharata,he was born pale.but he was later cursed by Rishi Kindama.Its Bhisma who decides that A Blind King may not be a proper King because he cannot witness evrything.Somebody in the previous post rightly said that 'Bharata' always told that it should be the righteous people who had to be throne and a throne cannot be inherited.'Here,What if Pandu dint go to the forest and got the curse.He would have continued as King.then his son Yudhistir would have been born and then Yudhistir would have been prince again.But it dint go that way because Life is Not So Easy.Why can't we accept that.Duryodhana would have got his throne if he was less Egoistical.Bhism,Drona,Kripa and everyone stood with Kauravas army because its their Kingdom which is fighting with another kingdom.So do you think the 'Dishonor for a girl is So Less.that You forget that completely.'What Krishna does is not rationalizing.he tried getting justice for the pandavas.He promises Draupadi that 'He would fight for Draupadi's Justice'..He acted more as a lawyer.showing the wrong things about the chiefs of Kauravas.It is Bhisma who tells Arjun to get a Woman to the war so that he will stop fighting.For being what he was,wasn't Krishna cursed by Gandhari which tells us that if we do something wrong it would come back to us as 'Karma'.Even Krishna couldnot escapeit.Thats the reason it was originally named 'Jaya'.because everyone has won in someway or the other.and it is the way of Life.

Brikut said...

Some nice comments on Pandavas here, thanks for sharing. One cannot stop thinking about Draupadi while discussing Mahabharata or Pandavas. She is considered to be 'Kula Devata' and/ or 'Grama Devatha' by many people.

In fact, there are many shrines for Goddess Draupadi, spread in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. One of the shrines, where She is a Grama-Devatha and Kula-Devatha to many, is located in one of the small villages of Tamil Nadu.

If you got time, patience and willingness to know about 'Draupadi', you can visit my blog and comment.

The village is named KONDAL, Mayiladuthurai Taluk, Nagapattinam District, Nidur P.O, Tamil Nadu.

Draupadi Amman Thunai - May you all be BLESSED by HER grace!!

Anonymous said...

Anyone interested in Alternative Mahabharata can get a soft copy of my play "SUTAPUTRA" by sending an email to

Sudharshan said...

Well Yudhisthira wasn't a stupid idiot and left alone. Coz the whole Panchala kingdom was with him. In fact a more legitimate version says that the Mahabharata was just a small part of teh civil war that was created by the massive conflict between the most powerful rebels Panchalas with the seat of power which was now with Kurus. That explains how out of nowhere Dirshtadyumna son of Drupad was chosen as general of Pandavas instead of Arjuna. That explains why Bhisma was willing to fight for Kauravas after all he swore to protect the empire and the world feared his wrath. But by the time Mahabharata he was already old and they could challenge his authority. Pretty certain kingdom of Kashi, Matsya and Panchalas were the ones who joined hands to overthrow Kurus while Anga (since they were at the mercy of Karna backed Kauravas fully), Magadha (after what Pandavas did to Shishupala), Vidarbha (for their hate for Krishna not because Krishna had given away his army).

KT said...

It is commendable the imagination of the author of this great epic. The story is indeed incredible and challenges our present life

Anonymous said...

I had often thought along the same lines as you. Duryodhana did have all his brothers and Karna and several other kings stand by him during the war. So he couldn’t have been all that bad, right? He wasn’t lacking in courage nor skill, had shrewdness and rajathanthiram to make a smart(if not good) king too. However, what we need to keep in mind here is that all the characters in the Mahabharata had their own grievances, had their own arguments on why they were right, and were all flawed including the pandavas. And the epic doesn’t refrain from describing that or the adharmic deeds of the Pandavas during the war. If the winners decided to rewrite their history, why would they do that? The fact that several thousand years later we are still debating the merits of the each character’s case is a testament to the broad authenticity of the story as described that is arming us with enough evidence in favor of the defeated too. A contrived story would have been a lot more one sided. While the epic does take a tone favoring one side, the events described don’t seem contrived to favor any one side.