Episode9 Part1

Created by Jijith Nadumuri at 15 Jun 2010 09:00 and updated at 18 Aug 2010 05:47

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Birth of the Pandavas and the Kauravas


The 9th episode of Mahabharata we see that Pandu accidentally kills a sage named Kindama while hunting. As a penance, Pandu renounced the kingdom and became an ascetic. While he was living as an ascetic five sons were born to his wives Kunti and Madri. Meanwhile hundred sons were born to Dhritarashtra and Gandhari.

References in Mahabharata Wiki


Research and Analysis

The enigma of the birth of the Kauravas

We have the following passage from Mahabharata, describing the birth of Duryodhana and his brothers:-

Gandhari conceived and she bore the burden in her womb for two long years without being delivered. And she was greatly afflicted at this. It was then that she heard that Kunti had brought forth a son whose splendour was like unto the morning sun. Impatient of the period of gestation which had prolonged so long, and deprived of reason by grief, she struck her womb with great violence without the knowledge of her husband. And thereupon came out of her womb, after two years' growth, a hard mass of flesh like unto an iron ball. When she was about to throw it away, Dwaipayana, learning everything by his spiritual powers, promptly came there. Let a hundred pots full of clarified butter be brought instantly, and let them be placed at a concealed spot. In the meantime, let cool water be sprinkled over this ball of flesh' Vaisampayana continued, That ball of flesh then, sprinkled over with water, became, in time, divided into a hundred and one parts, each about the size of the thumb. These were then put into those pots full of clarified butter that had been placed at a concealed spot and were watched with care. The illustrious Vyasa then said unto the daughter of Suvala that she should open the covers of the pots after full two years. Then in time, king Duryodhana was born from among those pieces of the ball of flesh that had been deposited in those pots. Within a month, were born a full hundred sons unto Dhritarashtra and a daughter also in excess of this hundred.

Alien technology?

The narration of the birth of Kauravas is one of the most enigmatic narration found in Mahabharata. It is shrouded in mystery. Myth-makers had extensively made use of the mysteries of their birth. The narration has the tell-tale signs of birth of babies though artificial means as it is done in 20th and 21st centuries like babies born from test-tubes or like babies born through cloning. I am working on a different-research thread which explains certain strange incidents (birth of Kauravas is one among them) mentioned in Mahabharata from a perspective that is different from the one that can be noticed in my recent articles. This different perspective is based on the possibility of alien-intervention into the ancient world, when the text of Mahabharata was being formed, and the possibility that this alien civilization might have transfered technologies to the ancient world that became familiar to us only in the 20th and 21st centuries. This research-thread tries to explain the technology behind the celestial-weapons possessed by the warriors mentioned in Mahabharata. It also tries to explain the technology used for creating babies in artificial environments beyond the womb of a women (like how the Kauravas were born). Attempt is made to explain the concept and technology behind the Vimanas (flying machines), the other inhabited planets (some times mentioned as three in number, other times as fourteen and some other times as uncountable), other universes and inter-stellar travel; all of which were often mentioned in Mahabharata. Finally it also tries to explore the possibility that certain tribes like the Devas and Asuras were themselves aliens who thus interacted with human society or that they were human tribes who had close proximity with these aliens, who disappeared or left Earth after the period of Mahabharata or reduced interactions with human society once humanity became more and more interconnected and sophisticated and became capable enough to study and understand the alien's own civilization.

Once this research-thread is completed I will publish it in this web-site as separate articles centered around alien-intervention theory.

Another approach is the possibility that these technologies were developed by humans themselves. This advanced human society however disappeared from Earth due to reasons unknown, probably on their own will, or due to factors like a catastrophic disaster natural or self-created (Mahabharata War?) or once again due to alien interventions hostile or friendly to this advanced human-society.

However in this article I will stick to the current approach of rationalization using the most probable natural scenario, without depending on anything paranormal.

Events since Pandu ascended the throne

In the previous episode we saw that Pandu spent the first year after becoming king in reorganizing his kingdom and army. In the second year he marched to Dasarna and defeated that kingdom. In the same year he married Kunti and returned to Hastinapura. Leaving Kunti there he immediately set forth for the second expedition towards east. The third year he spent for this military expedition reaching up to Suhma and Pundra in the eastern sea shore (Bay of Bangal in Bangladesh). Most of the fourth year was spent with Kunti. Since he remained childless Bhishma made him marry Madri towards the end of the fourth year. Dhritarashtra remained bachelor for all these four years. Had he married Gandhari before Pandu married Kunti, he would already have had three to four years to beget a child and Duryodhana would have been born before Yudhisthira. Hence Dhritarashtra married Gandhari when Pandu married Madri. Gandhari soon became pregnant, but Kunti and Madri remained childless. Pandu might have left to the forest when Gandhari's pregnancy reached six months. That was the first half of the fifth year since Pandu ascended the throne.

Sequence of births

Duhsala, Yudhishthira and the ball of flesh

The next half of the year too Pandu could not beget a child in his two wives while staying in the forest. That would be the end of the fifth year. By this time Gandhari should have given birth to a child. Who was that child? Was it the ball of flesh mentioned in Mahabharata? I guess not. I presume it was a girl. It was Duhsala! Probably this news might have given Pandu a new hope. Since it was a girl, Dhritarashtra might have wanted another child quickly. Hence, by the start of the sixth year, another child started developing inside Gandhari. Pandu then urged his wife Kunti to beget children through the practice of Niyoga. Kunti became pregnant through Niyoga, while Gandhari's second pregnancy was probably two months old. By the end of the sixth year Yudhisthira was born to Kunti by Niyoga. Around the same time Gandhari should have given birth to another child. What happened? Since Gandhari became pregnant again soon before a healthy gap of three to six months since her first pregnancy, it would have been a complicated pregnancy right from the beginning. This could be the case of a prolonged pregnancy (pregnancy beyond 42 weeks ie beyond 9 months and 3 weeks). It is a known fact that on rare occasions pregnancy may prolong beyond ten months. It is possible that Kunti's pregnancy was a short but healthy one (37 weeks or 8 months and 3 weeks). Gandhari's pregnancy on the other hand might have prolonged to 11 months. When the news came that Kunti's child Yudhishthira was born, Gandhari might have stuck her stomach hard making a forced delivery. What came out was the lump of flesh as mentioned in Mahabharata. The reason for this prolonged pregnancy could be due to this deformity of the baby. This complication probably arose due to the unhealthy conception of the second child soon after the first child (Duhsala) was born, Gandhari's anxiety, her urge to give birth to the next heir for the throne before Kunti delivers a child, anxiety of husband Dhritarashtra and his (and probably also brother Sakuni's) constant persuasion to get a male child to sit in the throne of Hastinapura.

Duryodhana, Bhima, Duhsasana, Arjuna, Nakula, Sahadeva, Vikarna

In the seventh year, after a healthy gap of six month since the birth of Yudhisthira, Kunti conceived again through Niyoga. Similarly after a gap of six month since the delivery of the lump of flesh, Gandhari conceived again through Dhritarashtra. Both Kunti and Gandhari delivered healthy babies after a normal period of pregnancy. Thus Duryodhana was born to Gandhari and Bhima was born to Kunti. As Mahabharata mentions Duryodhana could be one day elder to Bhima. After a healthy gap of six months, since the birth of Bhima, Kunti conceived again. Similarly Gandhari conceived again, almost at the same time through Dhritarashtra. Both again delivered healthy babies. This time Gandhari gave birth to Duhsasana and Kunti gave birth to Arjuna. Duhsasana could be elder to Arjuna by a few days. After Madri the second wife of Pandu delivered the perfect twins viz. Nakula and Sahadeva, Gandhari gave birth to yet another healthy baby named Vikarna. Vikarna could be younger to Nakula and Sahadeva. This was because Madri need not wait for conceiving through Niyoga, while Kunti bore in womb Arjuna and delivered him. Hence the age-gap between Arjuna and the twins need not be 1.5 years but can be 8 months, assuming that Madri conceived just before Arjuna was born to Kunti, when Kunti's pregnancy was 8 months old. Thus Vikarna was younger than Nakula and Sahadeva.

Assuming healthy pregnancies and healthy gap between delivery and conception, the gap between Yudhisthira and Bhima was 1.5 years; that between Bhima and Arjuna was 1.5 years. Similarly gaps between Duryodhana and Duhsasana was 1.5 years and that of Duhsasana and Vikarna was 1.5 years.

Significance of Vikarna

Why among the many sons of Dhritarashtra only Vikarna is considered as the son of Gandhari, apart from Duryodhan and Duhsasana? This is because among all the Kauravas, only Vikarna was mentioned in Mahabharata with considerable importance, apart from Duryodhan and Duhsasana. He supported the Pandavas on many occasions and even voiced his opinion against the disrobing of Pandava's wife Panchali in the Kuru assembly. Thus he had a different identity and was different from his elder brothers viz. Duryodhana and Duhsasana. In the Kurukshetra war he supported Duryodhana since it was his duty to support his elder brother. He was slain by Bhima. It is mentioned in Mahabharata that after killing Vikarna, Bhima was afflicted with grief and wept.

Why stop at Vikarna? Why Gandhari cannot have more sons? There were others like Chitrasena though not as popular as Vikarna among the Kauravas, but popular than many other Kauravas. Why can't he be a true son of Gandhari, a fourth son? My guess is this:- Six months after the birth of Nakula and Sahadeva, Pandu died, while trying to beget another son upon Madri. Vikarna was born to Gandhari soon after that. Since Pandu was already dead, the race for begetting children ended. Dhritarashtra no longer needed any more sons.

Myth of inauspiciousness of Duryodhana's birth

It is mentioned that when Duryodhana was born many evil omens occurred. I guess it is an allusion to the inauspicious second delivery of Gandhari, that resulted in the birth of the ball of flesh. Some myth-makers allied to the Pandavas probably made use of this event, by saying that Duryodhana was born from this ball of flesh. The full two years of wait-period mentioned as required for the pieces of flesh in each pot to become babies, is probably the two (and a half) years of gap between the birth of Duhsala and Duryodhana, on account of the abnormal pregnancy and delivery in between Duhsala and Duryodhana. Apart from this, if we take this 2 year period at face-value, this will make Duryodhana, younger than Bhima, which is not true. Then what is the explanation for the two long years of pregnancy of Gandhari which ended in the delivery of the ball of flesh? It was probably an exaggeration of Gandhari's prolonged pregnancy (which could have lasted around 11 months).

Birth of Yuyutsu

Mahabharata clearly mentions the following at Mbh.1.115 about the birth of Yuyutsu:-

During the time when Gandhari was in a state of advanced pregnancy, there was a maid servant of the Vaisya class who used to attend on Dhritarashtra. During that year was begotten upon her by the illustrious Dhritarashtra a son endued with great intelligence who was afterwards named Yuvutsu. And because he was begotten by a Kshatriya upon a Vaisya woman, he came to be called Karna.

I find no problem in accepting this information at face value. But we saw that Gandhari became pregnant five times. Which was the pregnancy in which time Dhritarashta beget Yuyutsu upon the Vaisya women? I guess it was during the third pregnancy when Gandhari was carrying Duryodhana in his womb. Thus Yuyutsu was born as second son of Dhritarashtra after Duryodhana and before Duhsasana. This is also confirmed by references in Mahabharata. Probably Dhritarashtra felt insecurity since Gandhari delivered a girl in her first delivery and a lump of flesh in her second delivery. Perhaps he wanted to increase the chances of getting a son while Gandhari was carrying Duryodhana in her third pregnancy. Perhaps he was never sure a healthy baby would be ever born to her and that baby, if at all healthy, would be a son. Apart from this, Dhritarashtra might have compared himself with Pandu who had two wifes. Hence Pandu had chances to beget more children in a shorter duration. He might have wanted to be equal to Pandu in terms of the number of wives. But unlike Pandu, Dhritarashta was blind and even though he was then the temporary king of Hastinapura , no king in any kingdom will give their daughters to him in marriage. Hence he opted to beget a child in the Vaisya servant of Gandhari. Thus was Yuyutsu born as the second son of Dhritarashtra. Among all the sons born to Dhritarashtra, upon women other than Gandhari, he was the eldest. Among all sons of Dhritarashtra only Duryodhana was elder than him.

The other name of Yuyutsu viz. Karna (on account of him being the son of a Viaisya women) needs investigation. This may have impact on the analysis of the other Karna viz. the closest friend of Duryodhana and the first son of Kunti. This will be discussed in another article.

Birth of other Kauravas

Mahabharata mentions Dhritarashtra, had hundred sons apart from the Vaisya born Yuyutsu. Who where those? A clue lies in the birth of Yuyutsu when Gandhari was carrying Duryodhana. These sons were probably born during the pregnancies of Gandhari, when she bore Duryodhana, Duhsasana and Vikarna. Knowing that Dhritarastra impregnated the Vaisya women while his sister Gandhari was carrying Duryodhana, his brother-in-law Sakuni might have brought from Gandhara, Kshatriya ladies to be impregnated by Dhritarashtra. This is possible because Sakuni played a key role in ensuring that Dhirtarshtra remain the king of Hastinapura so that he would have greater power at Hastinapura. In the subject of power and politics, Sakuni and his sister Gandhari were opposed to each other. They both pulled Dhritarashtra in two directions. While Gandhari was a noble lady who was not very keen on becoming queen or grabbing power, Sakuni wanted power. Sakuni wanted Dhritarashtra to defeat Pandu in terms of the number of sons, knowing that Dhritarashtra had already lost the race for the eldest son (when Yudhisthira was born and Gandhari was yet to deliver Duryodhana). He also brought Kshatriya ladies to Dhritarashtra, since he knew that Yuyutsu will be given a second status in the palace, due to his birth from a Vaisya women.

Gap between Duryodhana and Duhsasana was 1.5 years assuming healthy pregnancy and healthy gap between pregnancy. Similarly gap between Duhsasana and Vikarna too can be assumed to be 1.5 years. Thus Dhritarashtra probably engaged for three years begetting children upon the Kshatriya ladies from Gandhara who were brought by Sakuni as servants of Gandhari, while Gandhari bore the three sons of Dhritarashtra viz. Duryodhana, Duhsasana and Vikarna. Gandhari probably knew all these but could not do anything since her brother Sakuni was the supporter of this acts. Bhishma would have objected to this practice if Dhritarashtra was not the king at that time. But since Dhritarashtra was then officially the king he could not do much to oppose this move of Sakuni, being only the commander-in-chief of the Kuru army. Remember that he could not prevent Pandu's marriage with Kunti when Pandu was the king, though it was against the plan of Bhishma. It was also probably the time when Sakuni got more power in Hastinapura compared to Bhishma and Vidura. Gandhari probably adopted all of the sons born to her husband upon other woman as her own sons, thus generating the myth that Gandhari was mother to a hundred sons.

Exact number of the sons of Dhritarashtra

It is not sure how many sons were born to Dhiratarashtra. May be it was close to hundred. Maybe not. This is because not all of the people mentioned in the list of the hundred Kauravas and battled in Kurukshetra war were actually the sons of Dhritarashtra. I have analyzed the list of hundred sons of mentioned in Mahabharata at two different chapters. They differ each other in names. The names also differ when they are mentioned as being killed by Bhima during Kurukshetra War. Some names also were mentioned as allies of Duryodhana in the war, and they were king of their own right. Prominent among them were Vinda and Anuvinda of Avanti kingdom. They were mentioned as among the 100 Kauravas as well as separate kings. Some Kaurava names were also mentioned as names of brothers or relatives of Karna the friend of Duryodhana. Some were also mentioned as brothers or sons of Sakuni. Some were also found in the list of Naga kings who were 1000 in numbers. thus we can conclude that not all of the 100 people mentioned were sons of Dhritarashtra. At least some of them were independent kings allied to Duryodhana in the war, and some were kins of Karna and Sakuni and some others were Naga kings allied to Duryodhana. Duryodhana had support of the Nagas during the Kurukshetra war, since Arjuna destroyed the Naga city in the forest of Khandava while expanding Indraprastha, the capital city of the Pandavas.

Alternate view about the Kauravas

An alternate view about the hundred Kauravas is that except Duryodhana and probably Duhsasana, all others were members of allied tribes of the Kurus spread in a territory spanning from Gandhara kingdom (around Peshawar) in the west, represented by Sakuni and Anga kingdom (around Bhagalpur, Bihar) in the east represented by Karna. Some of them were kings and others were heroic warriors or chiefs. All of them allied with Duryodhana in Kurukshetra war and thus in a sense brothers (a sort of warrior-brotherhood) of Duryodhana. Some times the term Kauravya is used to denote all these tribes, that probably included the Kauravas, the Gangeyas, the Pandavas and some Naga tribes. Obviously some of them sided with the Pandavas and some with the Kauravas. Arjuna's wife Ulupi belonged to a Kauravya Naga tribe and thus allied with the Pandavas.

Males 106, Female 1; A case of skewed sex ratio?

For 106 males (the five Pandavas, Yuyutsu and the hundred Kauravas) only one female (Duhsala) was born. Some consider this as a skewed sex ratio in the society of the ancient world that resulted in five men (the Pandavas) marrying a single women (Panchali). But I guess that among the many children born to Dhritarashtra many were females, only that their names were not mentioned in Mahabharata, as it was a document of the deeds of the warriors who were all males. So I guess there were no skewed sex ratio during the time of Mahabharata among the Kurus.

Table of the Kauravas and the Pandavas

Thus the conclusion is that Yudhisthira, Bhima and Arjuna were the three sons of Kunti, Nakula and Sahadeva were the two sons of Madri and finally Duryodhana, Duhsasana and Vikarna were the three sons of Gandhari. Duhsala was a daughter of Gandhari elder to both the Pandavas and the Kauravas. She was one year elder to Yudhisthira and two and a half years elder to Duryodhana. Other Kauravas were born to Dhritarashtra upon the servants of Gandhari, while Gandhari bore Duryodhana, Duhsasana and Vikarna in her womb. Among them, Yuyutsu was born of a Vaisya servant of Gandhari. Others were born of Kshatriya women who were probably brought by Sakuni from Gandhara to perpetuate the race of Dhritarashtra. Yuyutsu got a second status because all other sons of Dhritarashtra was born to Kshatriya ladies while he alone was born of a Vaisya lady.

Based on our analysis the table of Kauravas and Pandavas is as follows:-

Pandava Kaurava
Kunti Madri Gandhari Vaisya Lady Kshatriya Ladies Time (Years)
Duhsala 0.00
Yudhisthira 1.00
Ball of Flesh 1.01
Duryodhana 2.50
Bhima 2.51
Yuyutsu Other-Kauravas 2.75
Duhsasana Other-Kauravas 4.00
Arjuna Other-Kauravas 4.01
Nakula, Sahadeva Other-Kauravas 4.70
Vikarna Other-Kauravas 5.50

Clearing the doubt on Duhsala

Mbh.1.115:- Within a month, were born a full hundred sons unto Dhritarashtra and a daughter also in excess of this hundred. Mbh.1.116:- Here is one part in excess of the hundred, intended for giving thee a daughter's son. This part shall develop into an amiable and fortunate daughter.

Based on the references mentioned above, the reader may point out that Duhsala is mentioned as youngest of all the hundred Kauravas as per Mahabharata. I guess if we can reject the myth that all the Kauravas were born from the ball of flesh divided into a hundred parts and Duhsala was born from the remnant portion, we can as well reject the information that Duhsala was the youngest. There is no reference in Mahabharata were Duhsala is addressed as a younger sister by any of the Kauravas. On the contrary, there are several references in Mahabharata where Duhsala is referred by Arjuna as an elder sister. One may argue that Arjuna was younger to Duhsala, since the 100 Kauravas and Duhsala were born within 2 years and 30 days and so all of them were elder to Arjuna. But this also depend on the myth of the division of the ball of flesh and the gestation (after 2 years) of 101 babies from it within a month. Apart from this, Mahabharata has two references where Duhsala is not mentioned as the youngest, but as the fifth in number. At Mbh.1.67 and Mbh.1.117 we have Duhsala, mentioned as the 5th among the list:- Duryodhana, Yuyutsu, Duhsasana, Duhsaha, Duhsala, , …... But at Mbh.1.117 after mentioning the names of all the Kauravas (which include names of Duhsala and Yuyutsu), Duhsala is mentioned again like this:- Besides these hundred sons, there was a daughter named Duhsala. She was then married to Jayadratha the king of Sindhu. I assume this Duhsala to be the eldest offspring of Dhritarashta.

Niyogas that lead to the birth of the Pandavas

Due to the size of subjects covered, the remaining part of this article is continued to next page:- episode9-Part2

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