The Mahabharata is a popular epic in India and highly revered in Hinduism. In the story there are popular characters such as Karna, Duryadhan, Arjun and Krishna. It is respected as a sacred book in Hinduism.
Pandu and Dhritarastra were the two princes of the state of Hastinapur. Pandu became the king as Dhritarastra was born blind. The five sons of Pandu were together called Pandavas, and the hundred sons of Dhritarastra were called the Kauravas.
Kunti was the wife of Pandu and the mother of the Pandavas, whilst Gandhari was the devoted wife of Dhritarashtra. She put a bandage to her own eyes in sympathy with her husband who was blind. Dushashana and Duryadhan were the most famous among the hundred sons of Dhritarashtra.
The Pandavas were successful in every field. In jealousy, the Kauravas made several attempts to kill the Pandavas. After failing in their vicious schemes, they went to their uncle Shakuni for help. Shakuni had an evil plot in mind.
Yudhisthira, the eldest Pandav, was invited to play a game of dice against the Kauravas. Yudhisthir accepted the terms of the game. After losing the game, Yudhisthir had to surrender everything to the Kauravas, including their common wife, Draupadi. The Kauravas undressed Draupadi in the open court. The rivals continued playing the game and the Pandav's continued losing. As agreed, they went into exile. When they returned after exile, Duryadhan didn't allow them to enter Hastinapur and the mighty war of Kurukshetra began.
Lord Krishna helped the virtuous Pandavas. He tried to persuade them to avoid going to war. He pleaded with Duryadhan to grant five small plots of land to the Pandavas, but Duryodhan refused and the war became inevitable.
The Kauravas had many great warriors including Dronacharya, the teacher of both the Kauravas and the Pandavas, Bhishma Pitamha, who was the son of Shantanu and Ganga (and had the boon that he could select his time of death), Karna, the son of the sun (who could never be defeated if he had his magical amulet with him) and Ashwatthama, the son of Dronacharya, who was helped by Lord Shiva himself. Against these mighty foes the Pandavas had only Shri Krishna who served as their charioteer.
The battle, fought in Kurukshetra, continued unabated for eighteen days. Then, at last, the Kauravas were defeated. Bhima, the second Pandava, killed Duryodhan and Dushashan. Arjuna killed his brother, Karna. Arjuna also lost his son Abhimanyu in the war. The fierce battle restored peace in Hastinapur with Yudhisthir as the king.
The battle at Kurukshetra is a symbolic war - a war against un-holiness in which only the virtuous and pious emerged victorious.
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