Mahabharata war which lasted eighteen days has seen various great warriors in action. On one side, there were five pandavas with Krishna as their guide, another side was full of great warriors, Bhishma, Drona, Karna and many more.
In the context of Mahabharata, eighteen is an important number. Duryodhana had 11 akshouhini soldiers and Pandavas had 7, making a total of eigtheen. There are eighteen chapters in the epic and last but not the least, the war has lasted for exactly eighteen days.
Day One and Two – The Grandsire’s amazing skills on display
Uttara and Sweta, sons of Virata, were killed on day one of Mahabharata war. Shalya killed Uttara and Bhishma killed Sweta. This day belonged to Kauravas. Second day belonged to Pandavas and Satyaki killed Bhishma’s charioteer. Bhishma dazzled in kurukshetra and Yudhishthira was forced to thinking that how would they conquer this army which has warriors like Bhishma.
Such was the power of Bhishma that even Lord Krishna decided to fight with him though he said that he will not fight in the war.
Day Three – Day Eight (Bhima kills few Kauravas)
On day three, Bhishma killed many soldiers of Pandava army. On fourth day, Bhima killed eight brothers of Duryodhana. Day eight spelled some misery for pandavas, as Arjuna’s son Iravan was killed.
Day Ten (Bhishma’s downfall)
On ninth day, Shri Krishna lost his patience and intended to attack Bhishma. Bhishma so far was proving too much for pandavas army, but Arjuna pacified him. He devises a strategy to cause Bhishma’s downfall. Interestingly, the secret of his downfall was given by Bhishma only. This was made possible by Shikhandi facing him and Arjuna using Shikhandi as shield. (Tenth day). Pandava’s chances only improved after Bhishma was removed from the equation.
Day Twelve and Thirteen – Chakravyuha formation and death of Abhimanyu
On Twelfth day, Susharma engaged Arjuna. Susharma was part of the Duryodhana’s plan to capture Yudhishthir to win the war. On thirteenth day, while Arjuna was fighting Bhagdatta and Susharma, Drona made Chakravyuha formation. Nobody in pandavas knew the key to this apart from Arjuna. Abhimanyu knew how to enter but did not know how to come out of it. Once he entered, Jayadrath ensured that no pandava could follow him. Trapped, Abhimanyu fought valiantly before dying in hands of son of Dushasana, Durmashana.
Abhimanyu killed Brihadbala. He also defeated Duryodhana but let him live because Bhima was under oath to kill him. Seeing this, Karna snaps Abhimanyu’s bow from behind while Drona kills Abhimanyu’s horses and charioteer from the front. Then all Kauravas attacked him simultaneously. Dushasana’s son crushed his skull with a mace. However, Abhimanyu killed him with his own mace before dying. He also killed more than half akshouhini’s of Kaurava’s that day.
Day Fourteen and Fifteen – When Arjuna was close to death and Yudhishthrira spoke a half lie
Next day (fourteenth), Arjuna kills 5 Akshouhini’s of Kauravas and Jayadrath after coming to touching distance of death. This could have doomed pandava’s chances of winning the battle had Krishna not intervened. Karna kills Ghatotkacha with Indrastra, this again ensures that one more factor of Arjuna’s death is taken care of. Satyaki killed Bhurisravas.
on Day fifteen, Drupad and Virata were killed by Drona. This was indeed Drona’s day, as he was decimating pandava’s army with the help of brahmadanda. Bhima killed an elephant, named Ashwaththama, and claimed that Drona’s son was killed. Drona dropped his arms after Yudhishthira confirmed this and was killed by Dhristdyumna.
Day Sixteen and Seventeen
On sixteenth day, Dushashana was killed by Bhima. Bhima tore his arm and drank the blood from his heart. Draupadi could finally tie her hairs with the blood from Dushashana’s heart.
Day seventeenth saw the demise of Karna in hands of Arjuna. He was killed in the same way as Abhimanyu, helpless. Earlier that day, Karna spared Sahdev and Arjuna. Nakula, the most handsome of kuru clan, killed Shakuni’s son Uluka. He took this oath during the gambling loss of killing Uluka. Nakula also killed three of Karna sons, Chitrasena, Sushena and Satyasena. Shalya became the commander of Kaurava’s army on seventeenth day of Mahabharat war.
Final Day – Eighteenth day of Mahabharata war
On final (eighteenth) day, Shalya, who acted as the charioteer of Karna, was killed by Yudhishthir. There was a strange ability to him that he would grew more stronger in a battle as the aggression of his enemies grew. Only Yudhishthir could kill the powerful warrior because the eldest Pandava was not a man of aggression. Sahdev killed Shakuni to avenge the events which followed dice game. Seeing his eminent defeat, Duryodhana sought refuge in a lake. Pandavas found him there and Yudhisthira made a mistake. He offered Duryodhana to pick any of the Pandavas for a duel. Duryodhana chose Bhima. Balrama also watched this great duel between strength and agility. Bhima finally breaks Duryodhana thighs which enrages Balrama as this was against the rules of the war. Incidentally, Bhima vowed after the dice game that he would break Duryodhana’s thighs.
The night of shame – Ashwaththama’s misdeeds
Later in the night, Ashwaththama slays sons of Pandavas while they were sleeping. He also kills Shikhandi and Dhrishtadyumna. Dhrishtadyumna was the commander of Pandavas that day. He also attempted to kill unborn son of Abhimanyu who was saved by Shri Krishna. Ashwaththama was later cursed by Shri Krishna. Ashwaththama was supported by Kritvarma and Kripacharya.
In the epic Mahabharata, there are numerous facts which fascinates us. This is also known as pancham veda or fifth veda. Few people know that the entire epic was narrated as a flashback at the Sarpa Yagna being conducted by Janmejaya, the son of Parikshit (Abhimanyu’s son). There are interesting stories which narrate why the Sarpa Yagna had to be conducted, and who were all the people acting as catalysts for the Yagna.
Following are the 51 facts, which will surely entertain you.
1. Kauravas had one sister. Her name was Dushala. She was later married to Jayadratha, who was killed by Arjuna to revenge the death of his son, Abhimanyu.
2. Abhimanyu’s wife was Uttara. His son Parikshit later on became the king.
3. Satyawati smelled like a fish. Her name was Matsyagandha. By the boon of sage Parashar, she smelled like a flower. She was also a mother of Sage Vyasa. Satyavati was the daughter of a cursed apsara named Adrika.
4. Drona was born in a vessel. He was sage Bhardwaj’s son.
5. Jarasandh was born in two halves. These two halves were fused by a rakshasi Jara, hence his name Jarasandh. Jarasandh was killed by Bheema.
6. Arjuna defeated the kauravas after the agyaatvaas, which included Drona, Karna and Bhishma. Uttar was his charioteer.
7. By a boon of Gandhari, Duryodhana’s body became impregnable, save for his thighs, where, he, on advice of Shri Krishna, wore a loin cloth.
9. Shri Krishna did not fight the Mahabharata war. His army Narayani vahini, was on Kaurava’s side. Duryodhan and Arjun both went to Dwarka to meet Lord Krishna to seek his support for the war. Duryodhan was first to reach Dwarka. Satyaki informed that Krishna was asleep. Both Arjun and Duryodhan entered Krishna’s room. Duryodhan who entered the room first, sat on Krishna’s bed besides his head. Arjun went to the foot of the bed and stood there with his hands folded. When Krishna woke up he saw Arjun first. But Duryodhan said that since he came first if was only fair for Krishna to support the Kauravas. However, Krishna smiled and said that since he saw Arjun first so it would only be fair if he supported both the sides. So, on one hand was his famous Narayani army and on the other hand was he alone without any weapon. Naive Duryodhana thought that Shri Krishna would not be of use and he decided to have the Narayani Army.
10. Sahadeva (the youngest Pandava) was an excellent astrologer. He knew everything about the future. He knew that a war was going to occur, but he kept silent because he was under a curse that if he revealed anything to anybody he would die. There is also a story of him being a great astrologer. Pandu (Father of Pandavas) wished his sons must eat his flesh post death so that all the knowledge may transfer to them which he had collected after so many years. Only Sahadeva ate a piece; the moment he ate, he was able to see future but stopped by God.
11. Draupadi kept her hair untied after the cheerharan. She vowed that she will tie her hair with Dushashana’s blood. Bheem did the needful.
12. Dhritrashtra crushed the iron statue of Bheema with bare hands. Duryodhana used to practice with the replica. Shri Krishna knew that he would like to kill Bheem, so he switched their places.
13. Pandavas hid their weapons on Sami tree during the agyaatvaas.
14. Ved Vyasa was the father of Dhritrashtra, Pandu and Vidura.
15. Bhishma’s real name was Devvrata. This is because of the vow he took so that his father can marry Satyavati, he was called Bhishma.
16. Arjuna was really a eunuch during the agyaatvaas. He was known as Brihannala. Thanks to a curse from Urvashi. In Indralok, Arjun was propositioned by Urvashi, but he used to address her as ‘mother’ as she had was married to his ancestor, Pururva. Annoyed with Arjun’s rejection, Urvashi cursed him to become a eunuch.
When lord Indra came to know about the curse, he told Arjun that this curse is going to serve as a boon during the one year stay in hiding and after spending that period, he would regain his masculinity. This proved to be true in Agyaatvaas. After spending twelve years in forest, Pandavas spent the 13th year of exile in cognito, in the court of King Virat. Arjuna used his curse and lived as a eunuch named Brihannala and remain undetected as required by the condition of anonymity.
17. Shri Krishna forgave Shishupala hundred times before killing him.
18. Karna’s teacher was Parshurama.
19. Babhruvahana killed Arjuna, his father. Arjuna’s life was restored with the help of a gem, given by Uloopi.
20. Subhadra, Chitrangada and Uloopi were wives of Arjuna. Subhadra was the sister of Shri Krishna.
31. Bhishma himself told Yudhishthir that he can be defeated by a woman. Then Shikhandi came to rescue of Pandavas.
32. Drona killed Drupada.
33. Shalya was killed by Yudhishthir.
34. Shalya wanted to fight the war from Panadavas side, but Duryodhana tricked him to join the war from Kauravas. He finally became the commander, but popularly known as the sarathi of Karna.
35. Due to a boon given by Lord Shiva, Jayadratha was able to keep Pandavas away for a day. This became the reason of Abhimanyu’s demise.
36. Mahabharat war lasted for 18 days.
37. Pandavas rule was followed by their grandson, Parikshit. Pandavas son were killed by Ashwaththama during the Mahabharat war.
38. Abhimanyu learnt the trick of entering Chakravyuha, in his mother, Subhadra’s womb. Arjuna realised that she was asleep. So he did not explain the method of coming out from Chakravyuha, a skill which Abhimanyu could not learn.
39. Bhim killed Hidimb after escaping from Lakshagriha. He later married his sister, Hidimba.
40. Bhim also killed Vakasur, who ate large amount of grains and buffaloes everyday.
41. Vidura helped Pandavas to escape from Lakshagriha.
42. Barbari was the grandson of Bhim. Krishna asked for his head as a gurudakshina, as it was feared that Pandavas would not be able to fulfill their vows, if he fought the Mahabharata war.
43. The Mahabharata has eighteen parvas or chapters.
44. Early life and Draupadi swayambar is written in Adi Parva.
45. The thirteenth parva of Mahabharat is Anushashana parva, where Bhishma tells Yushishthir how to conduct governance.
46. Jarasandha was killed in the same way he born, in two halves. He was killed by Bhima.
47. Kichak, in the Hindu epic Mahabharata, was the brother of queen Sudeshna of King Virata, the king of Matsya. Kichak was slain by Bhima during one year of incognito exile spent by Pandavas at the court of king Virata. King Virata was killed by Drona during the great war.
48. Killing of Kichak made Duryodhana to think that Pandavas were hiding at King Virata’s place. After all, there were very few people, who were capable of killing Kichak, Bhima was one of them.
49. After Shri Krishna’s death, Pandavas too lost their interest in life. They started their journey to heaven. All Pandavas have lost their lives during the journey. Only Yudhisthir and a dog made it to heaven. That dog was Dharmaraj.
50. Yudhisthira found his brothers in heaven. A surprising presence there was that of Duryodhana. Narada explained to Yudhisthira that Duryodhana never showed cowardice, he had been a just and good king, he died a brave’s death that too in the holy place. That’s why he is in heaven. Surprising indeed.
51. The Mahabharat war happened because of a lady. It is believed that Draupadi addressed sons of Dhritrashtra as sons of blind. This made Duryodhana to become a staunch enemy of Pandavas.
The epic Mahabharata contains so much of teaching that it is considered to be the fifth veda. Following are some interesting unpopular stories involving mahabharata characters Draupadi, Drona, Karna, Jarasandha, Arjuna and of course, Shri Krishna.
Why was Drona invincible in Mahabharata war?
Drona used a weapon called brahmadanda on fifteenth day of Mahabharata war for the first time in his life. Brahmadanda was Brahmarishi Vashistha’s best weapon and it contained the spiritual powers of the 7 greatest sages (Sapta Rishis). As Drona had not imparted knowledge of this secret weapon to either Arjuna or Ashwaththama, therefore no Pandava, Yadava or Panchala could handle Drona on the 15th day of battle. Therefore the Pandavas were forced to do cheating to kill Drona.
People who saw Shri Krishna in Vishwaroopa form
According to legend, Hanuman is one of the four people to have heard the Bhagwad Gita from Krishna and seen the Vishvarupa form. Other three being Arjuna, Sanjaya and Barbarika. Barbarika was the son of Ghatotkacha. He had Shri Krishna’s boon so that he could watch the Mahabharata war. When Gita was recited, Hanuman was sitting on Arjuna’s chariot and Arjuna himself, the recipient of Bhagwad Gita. At the same time, Sanjaya was narrating the mahabharata war to Dhritrashtra. He saw the divine form of Shri Krishna
Karna killed by Anjalika weapon
Arjuna used the weapon anjalika to behead Karna. The chariot wheel remained stuck and the curse of Parashurama ensured that Karna could not recall the mantras necessary to unleash the more powerful weapons of mass destruction. Krishna reminds Arjuna of Karna’s ruthlessness against Abhimanyu when Abhimanyu was similarly left without a chariot or weapons. All of Arjuna’s tears, pain and anger swelled up within him as he aimed the fatal shaft Anjalika at a desperate Karna and beheaded him.
Draupadi remembered her last seven births
Draupadi, one of the panchkanya’s, alongwith Kunti could remember her past lives. In an earlier birth, she made Shiva happy and asked him to grant him a boon so that her husband has fourteen qualities. He said that it is not possible to have all qualities in one fellow. She insisted and her wish was fulfilled in form of Pandavas.
Brahma givena a boon to Hanuman: “Nobody will be able to kill you with any weapon in war.” This happened when Lord Vayu decided to let people suffer in absence of air after Indra hit him with Vajra astra while Hanuman was approaching to eat sun.
Shishupala was Hiranyakashyap and Ravana in his past lives
He was killed by Dashavataras of Lord Vishnu in past lives and thus fuelling hatred for Lord. During Rajya sooya yagya, he insulted Shri Krishna. He kept silent because he has promised that he will forgive Shishupala’s hundred sins. However, as soon as the count of hundred completed, Lord killed him with the Sudarshan chakra, his favourite weapon.
Fate of Five great warriors
It is said that Bheema, Duryodhana, Keechaka, Jarasandha and Hidimbasura were born in the same cosmic phase. The five great warriors Bakasura, Bheema, Keechaka, Jarasandha and Duryodhana are all born with their fate mingled with each other. As a result of that, the first amongst the five to kill the another,will eventually kill the other three. This secret was known to Krishna alone. This is why he ensured that Bheema kills bakasura on first available opportunity. Bheema ended up killing every other warrior in Mahabharata war.
Kichak was making undue advances towards Draupadi and killed by Bheem in the kingdom of Virat.
Indian or hindu mythology talk about interesting stories of births as well. We find instances where great characters came to earth in different way. One common way is that eating dessert or fruit results in birth of a child.
We find this once in the period of The Ramayana and once in the period of Mahabharata.
Birth of Rama (An incarnation of Vishnu Dashavatar)
Dashrath, the king of Ayodhya, has three queens but he was deprived of children. He resorted to penance and after a dedicated worship and havana, messenger of Brahma offered him divine dessert, which was supposed to give sons to Dasharatha. He distributed the dessert to his queens and they soon became pregnant and later became the proud mothers of Ram, Laxman, Bharat and Shatrughan. This is how, one of the dashavatars of Vishnu, Rama was born.
Birth of Jarasandh
Jarasandha was the king of Magadha. Jarasandh’s father has done severe penance to get a son. His father got a Magical mango from a sage. It was told that the his queen will get pregnant upon eating the fruit. He distributed the fruit in two halves and gave each half to his two wives. Both delivered a half of a baby , born dead.The king ordered the two halves to be thrown. A demon called Jara was wandering nearby and she noticed the pieces and joined them into one. The baby came alive. It was named as Jarasandh in the honour of the rakshasi. The boy became a very strong man. He defeated and captured 86 kings and kept them prisoner, intending to execute all of them in a sacrifice, once the number reached hundred. This will make him invincible and the ruler of world. For the success of Rajasooya yagya, Krishna, Arjuna and Bheema, went to him disguised as Brahmins and asked him to choose one of them to fight him. He rejected Shri Krishna saying that he was of inferior birth. He also denied Arjuna for a fight because he thought he was a child. He chose Bheema as he appeared suitable for a fight. The fight lasted a long time, thirteen days. Finally, acting upon Krishna’s advise, Bheema tore Jarasandha into two pieces, and tossed the pieces (cut lengthwise) facing opposite directions. This is how Jarasandha was killed in the same way he was born. Thus, as a result of killing of ruler of Magadh, Jarasandh, the path of
Rajsooya yagya was cleared. Yudhishthira later completed the Rajsooya yagya. This story is from the times of Mahabharata.
Birth of Drona
Drona was born in a vessel. Sage Bhardwaj produced reproductive fluid after seeing an apsara Ghritachi. He preserved this is a vessel (droon). Drona was thus developed from this fluid. Drona would later boast that he had sprung from Bharadwaja without ever having been in a womb. Even Drona’s wife, Kripi, was gestated outside a womb. Kripi and her brother Kripacharya were the children of the great archer, Shardwan. Indra felt threatened by him and sent an apsara to lose his control over his brahmacharya, thus saving his throne. This story is again from the times of Mahabharata.
Birth of Kauravas
Few people know that Kauravas birth was unnatural as well. Gandhari longed for hundred sons, and Vyasa granted her a boon that she would have these. She was unable to have any children for a long time and she eventually became pregnant, but did not deliver for two years, after which she gave birth to a lump of flesh. Vyasa cut this lump into a
hundred and one pieces, and these eventually developed into a hundred boys and one girl, Dushala.
Birth of Karna and Pandavas
Kunti was the mother of first three pandavas. When she was young, the sage Durvasa told her a mantra with which Kunti could summon any deva and have a child by him. When Kunti asked why he gave her this mantra, he told her that it would be useful to her later in life. Kunti, out of curiosity tried the mantra before her marriage and became the mother of Karna. She had to let her son go and he was brought up by Adhirath.
Later, after marriage, she bore three more sons and shared the mantra with Madri, who became the mother of Nakula and Sahdev.
One wonders that what kind of gurudakshina Arjuna offered to his teacher, Drona. Drona gone to great lengths to ensure that Arjuna becomes the best archer in the world. We find only one story, and that too was a gurudakhina by all pandavas, when the captured Drupad, once a close friend of Drona. Drona returned his half kingdom and kept half for himself. Probably, the gurudakshina was to fight his teacher in the battle of Mahabharat. Arjuna, after Shri Krishna’s advise, fought with his Guru, Drona alongwith Bhishma and others.
Going back to the question, why was Arjuna so blessed that everyone worked for his cause. We know for sure that Karna was better, but we also know that, he was on the wrong side. But what was the problem with Ekalvya? We don’t know of any wrongdoing done by him, yet Drona, his “teacher”, wanted his thumb.
But why thumb, he could have asked straightaway that Ekalavya should leave archery. Why the poor soul has to loose a limb? Why was Drona so cruel to him? We will never get an answer to this, but one thing is certain, Indian culture may be famous for the pupils showing respect for their teacher, but here we find that teacher has not set a good example.
There is not enough information that what gurudakshina Bheeshma has given to his teachers, Parshuram and Brihaspati, but his character is such that he would not have missed this.
In another incident involving teacher and pupil, Shri Krishna has asked Barbarik to give his head as gurudakshina, which he promptly obliged. He had three arrows, who had the power to defeat anyone in the world. Before decapitating himself, Barbarik told Krishna of his great desire to view the forthcoming battle and requested him to facilitate the same.
Krishna agreed and placed the head on top of a hill overlooking the battlefield. From the hill, the head of Barbarika watched the entire battle. Barbarik is also known as khatushyam jee. Barbarik is one of the three persons who has watched Shri Krishna in his virat avatar. Others are Sanjay and Arjuna.
Shri Krishna was fortunate, as he had the powers to bring back his teacher, Sage Sandipani’s son. Imagine, if he was asked for his finger, then who would have wielded the Sudarshan chakra?
Yudhishthira has never lied in life save for one incident. Due to this, his chariot always floated a few inches above the ground. At the Mahabharat War, he told a half lie that “aswathama hatha kunjara” which led to Drona’s demise.
As a result of this, his feet and chariot, both descended to the ground immediately in the war of Mahabharat. Here one should note, that Yudhisthira could not tell a lie. Because, he is a man who has never ever lied in his life. But on the instructions of Lord Krishna ( Krishna tells Yudhishthira: “Under such circumstances, falsehood is preferable to truth. By telling a lie to save a life, one is not touched by sin” ) he utters a half truth, and no sooner he utters “aswathama hatha kunjara” both Yudhisthira’s feet and chariot descend to the ground immediately. But did Yudhisthira utter a false-hood? Technically no but his convincing Drona was tantamount to telling a lie. That is why the chariot of Yudhishthra which used to always float in the air and never touch the ground falls to the ground after this lie.
Birth of Drona
The son of Rishi Bharadwaja, it is widely believed that Drona was not conceived in the womb of any woman, but in the Droon, a vessel made of clay. In fact the modern day Dehradoon, is closely associated with Drona because it is said that the place where Drona was born, came to be known as Dehradoon. And the land which King Dhritarashtra, donated to Drona, is known as Guru(ka) Gaon- the modern day Gurgaon. As Drona was not conceived in a womb, there is no mother to him.
Brihannala – The eunuch
During their Vanvasa, the pandavas were required to spent one year in disguise. Arjuna spent this period as an eunuch and he was indeed an eunuch during this period. This was due to a curse from and apsara, who became very angry with Arjuna when he was learning Divyastras as he rejected citing her as his mother. After the intervention of Devas, he was allowed to practice this whenever he wanted to practice eunuchness. This helped him in agyatvaas where he spent his time as a eunuch preceding to Mahabharata war.
Karna never turned away anyone in his life. He gave his Kavach and Kundal to Indra which ultimately led to his demise despite knowing that the beggar was Lord Indra. He was even tested of this virtue on his death bed when he was asked for alms. His teeth were of gold and he readily given them to the bhagwan who came to him as a beggar. Karna was the most tested character in Mahabharata but he never failed. This is the reason he commands respect.
Five sons of Kunti – Karna’s greatness
This tale tells about Karna’s greatness once again. He promised Kunti before the mahabharata war that she will have five sons. He had the chance to kill all the four pandavas save Arjun. but he let them go because of his promise to Kunti. Eventually he died of when and Arjuna killed him when he was trying to extricate the wheels of his chariot. Thus, the most deserving warrior of Mahabharata met his death.
Bhishma made Krishna break his promise
Shri Krishna vowed that he would not use any weapon and not fight in the battle of Mahabharata. Bheeshma fought with such ferociousness that Krishna got hold of a chariot’s wheel and charged after Bheeshma. Seeing this, Bheeshma put his bow and arrow down and Krishna also realized his mistake.
Karna as ardharathi
Bhishma never liked Karna and used to rebuke him saying that he is an Ardharathi. Karna hence decided not to fight the war under his leadership. Only after when Bhishma was incapacitated, Karna fought the Mahabharata war as Duryodhana’s commander.
Drona – A respectable teacher and a fearsome warrior from Mahabharata
I am going to write something about another important character from Mahabharata, Drona. Drona was the Guru (Teacher) of Kauravas and Pandavas. He was a well known warrior of his times and being his disciple was a matter of pride. Though he has his flaws, for example he was partial towards Arjuna as when he met an equally gifted archer in form of Ekalavya, he did not hesitate and asked for his thumb as Gurudakshina, to ensure that Arjuna remains the best archer in their times.
Nevertheless, prowess of Drona as a warrior or fighter cannot be quetioned, such was his effect that Krishna resorted to some less than honourable tactic to render him useless on fifteenth day of the Mahabharata war. This also led to the only blemish on Yudhisthir, who lied(partially) only once in his lifetime. Drona was particularly fond of his son Ashwatthama and Krishna used his name as bait for Drona. Here is the full story of Drona, The great warrior.
In the epic Mahabharata, Drona or Dronacharya is the royal guru (teacher) to the Kauravas and the Pandavas. He was a master of advanced military arts, including the devastras. Arjuna was his favorite student. Drona’s love for Arjuna was only second to his love for his son Ashwatthama.
Drona was born a brahmin, son of Bharadwaja, in modern day Dehradun (a modification of dehra-dron, a clay pot), which implies that he was not gestated in a womb, but outside the human body in a Droon (vessel).
Birth of Drona
The story of Drona’s birth is recounted dramatically in Mahabharat, Book I: Adi Parva, Sambhava Parva, Section CXXXI. Sage Bharadwaja went with his companions to the Ganges to perform his ablutions. There he beheld a beautiful apsara named Ghritachi who had come to bathe. The sage was overcome by desire, causing him to ejaculate and captured the fluid in a vessel called a drona, and Drona himself sprang from the fluid thus preserved. Drona would later boast that he had sprung from Bharadwaja without ever having been in a womb.
Drona spent his youth in poverty, but studied religion and military arts together with the then prince of Panchala, Drupada. Drupada and Drona became close friends and Drupada, in his childish playfullness, promised to give Drona half his kingdom on ascending the throne of Panchala.
Drona married Kripi, the sister of Kripa, the royal teacher of the princes of Hastinapura. Kripi and Drona had Ashwathama as son.
Learning that Parshurama was giving away his fruits of penance to brahmanas, Drona approached him. Unfortunately by the time Drona arrived, Parasurama had given away all his belongings to other brahmanas. Taking pity upon the plight of Drona, Parasurama decided to impart his knowledge of combat to Drona.
For the sake of his wife and son, Drona desired freedom from poverty. Remembering the promise given by Drupada, he decided to approach him to ask for help. However, drunk with power, King Drupada refused to even recognise Drona and humiliated him by calling him an inferior person.
In the Mahabharata, Drupada gives Drona a long and haughty explanation of why he is rejecting him. Friendship, says Drupada, is possible only between persons of equal station in life. As a child, he says, it was possible for him to be friends with Drona, because at that time they were equals. But now Drupada had become a king, while Drona remained a luckless indigent. Under these circumstances, friendship was impossible. However, he said he would satisfy Drona if he begged for alms befitting a Brahmin rather than claiming his right as a friend. Drupada advised Drona to think no more of the matter, and to be on his way. Drona went away silently, but in his heart he vowed revenge.
Dronacharya’s legend as a great teacher and warrior exceeds Hindu mythology by strongly influencing Indian social traditions. Drona inspires great debates about morality and dharma in the Mahabharata epic.
Drona, the teacher
Drona went to Hastinapura, hoping to open a school of military arts for young princes with the help of the king Dhritarashtra. One day, he saw a number of young boys, the Kauravas and Pandavas gathered around a well. He asked them what the matter was, and Yudhisthira, the eldest, replied that their ball had fallen into the well and they did not know how to retrieve it.
Drona laughed, and mildly rebuked the princes for being helpless over such a plain problem. Yudhisthira replied that if he, the brahmin, could retrieve their ball, the king of Hastinapura would provide all the basic necessities to him for life. Drona first threw in a ring of his, collected some grass blades, and uttered mystical Vedic chants. He then threw the blades into the well one after another, like spears. The first blade stuck to the ball, and the second stuck to the first, and so on, forming a chain. Drona gently pulled the ball out with this rope of grass.
In a feat that was even more amazing to the boys, Drona then chanted Vedic mantras again and fired a grass blade into the well. It struck within the center of his floating ring and rose out of the well in a matter of moments, retrieving Drona’s ring. Excited, the boys took Drona to the city and reported this incident to Bhishma, their grandfather.
Bhishma instantly realized that this was Drona, and his prowess exemplified, asked him to become the Guru of the Kuru princes, training them in advanced military arts. Drona then established a school near the city, where princes from numerous kingdoms around the country came to study under him.
Of all the Kaurava and Pandava brothers training under Drona, Arjuna emerges as the most dedicated, hard-working and most naturally talented of them all, exceeding Drona’s son Ashwathama as well. Arjuna assiduously serves his teacher, who is greatly impressed by his devoted pupil.
Arjuna surpasses Drona’s expectations in numerous challenges. When Drona tests the princes’ alertness and ability by creating an illusion of a crocodile attacking him and dragging him away, most of the princes are left dumbfounded. But Arjuna swiftly fires arrows that slay the illusionary animal, and Drona congratulates Arjuna for passing this test. As a reward, Drona gifts Arjuna the super-powerful divine weapon of Brahma known as BRAHMASIRIVAS.However, he tells Arjuna not to use this irresistible weapon against any ordinary warrior. This weapon had a sharp edge surrounded below by 3 heads of Lord Brahma. In another challenge, Drona gives each prince a pot to fill with water and swiftly return.
Whoever returns fastest would receive instruction in some extra special knowledge. He gives his son Ashwathama a wide-necked pot unlike the other’s narrow-necked ones, hoping he will be the first to return. But Arjuna uses his knowledge of a mystical water weapon to fill his pot swiftly and returns first.
In a great challenge, Drona sets up a wooden bird upon a tree, and from across the adjacent river, asks the princes to shoot it down by striking its eye. When prince Yudhisthira tries first, Drona asks him what he saw. Yudhisthira replies he saw Drona, his brothers, the river, the forest, the tree and the bird. Drona replies that Yudhisthira would fail and asks another prince to step forward. The others give the same reply, and Drona is disappointed with all. But when Arjuna steps forth, he tells Drona that he sees only the eye of the bird and nothing else. When Drona excitedly asks him to continue, Arjuna replies that he saw only the bird’s eye. Drona asks him to shoot, and Arjuna strikes the bird down in the eye.
Drona had advised the chefs of the palace not to serve food to Arjuna in the dark. However, one night, it so happened that Arjuna was served food in the dark. He subtely observed that he was able to eat food in dark. By practice, hands would reach one’s mouth even in darkness. This striked Arjuna to practice archery in darkness. He begins training by night to use his weapons in absolute darkness, and steadily achieves a great level of skill.
Drona is greatly impressed by Arjuna’s concentration, determination and drive, and promises him that he will become the most powerful warrior on earth. Drona gives Arjuna special knowledge of the devastras that no other prince possesses.
Drona and Ekalavya
Ekalavya is a young prince of the Nishadha tribes, who comes to Drona for instruction. Drona rejects him on account of him not belonging to the Kshatriya varna (caste). Ekalavya is undeterred, and entering a forest, begins study and practice by himself, having fashioned a clay image of Drona and worshipping him. Solely by his determination, Ekalavya becomes a warrior of exceptional prowess, at par with the young Arjuna. One day, a dog barks while he is focused upon practice, and without looking, the prince fires arrows that seal up the dog’s mouth while not causing any harm. The Pandava princes see this dog running, and wonder who could have done such a feat. They see Ekalavya, who announces himself as a pupil of Drona.
Arjuna is worried that his position as the best warrior in the world might by usurped. Drona sees his worry, and visits Ekalavya with the princes. Ekalavya promptly worships Drona. Drona is angered by Ekalavya’s unscrupulous behavior, claiming to be Drona’s student despite his rejection. He is also worried that if Ekalavya maintained this level of skill, he would one day become warrior par-excellence than himself. The more important and personal reason seems to have been his partiality towards Arjuna. Drona asks Ekalavya for a dakshina, or a deed of thanks a student must give to his teacher upon the completion of his training. Drona asks for Ekalavya’s right thumb, which Ekalavya unhesitatingly cuts off and hands to Drona, despite knowing that this would irreparably hamper his archery skills.
Drona and Karna
Drona similarly rejects Karna, as he does not belong to the kshatriya caste. Humiliated, Karna vows to exact revenge. He obtains the knowledge of weapons and military arts from Parasurama, by appearing as a brahmin, and challenges Arjuna in the martial exhibition. Thus, Drona inadvertently laid the foundation for the Karna’s great rivalry with Arjuna.
Drona and Drupada – the rivalry
On completing their training, Drona asked the Kauravas to bring Drupada bound in chains. Duryodhana appoints Vikarna, the best warrior among the Kauravas, as the army commander. Then he, Dushasana, Sudarshana, Yuyutsu, Vikarna and the remaining Kauravas attack Panchala with the Hastinapur army. They fail to defeat the Panchala army, whereupon Drona sent Arjuna and his brothers for the task. The 5 Pandavas attacked Panchala without an army. Arjuna captures Drupada as ordered. Drona takes half of Drupada’s kingdom, thus becoming his equal. He forgave Drupada for his misdeeds, however Drupada burnt in the desire for revenge and performed a yagna to have a son who would slay Drona and a daughter who would marry Arjuna. His wish was fulfilled and thus was born Dhristadyumna, the slayer of Drona, and Draupadi, the consort of the Pandavas.
Drona strongly condemns the wicked prince Duryodhana and his brothers for their abusive treatment of the Pandavas, and for usurping their kingdom by sending them into exile. But being a servant of Hastinapura, Drona is bound by duty to fight for the Kauravas, and thus against his favorite Pandavas.
Drona is one of the most powerful and destructive warriors in the Kurukshetra War. He is an invincible warrior, whom no person on earth can defeat, and he single-handedly slays hundreds of thousands of Pandava soldiers with his powerful armory of weapons and incredible skill. After the fall of Bhishma, he becomes the Chief Commander of the Kuru Army.
Drona had been the preceptor of most kings involved in the war, on both sides.
On the 13th day of battle, the Kauravas challenge the Pandavas to break a wheel shaped battle formation known as the Chakravyuha. Drona as commander forms this strategy as he knows that only Arjuna and Krishna know how to penetrate it. He asks the king of the Samshaptaka army to distract Arjuna and Krishna into another part of the battlefield, allowing the main Kuru army to surge through the Pandava ranks.
However, Arjuna’s young son Abhimanyu is able to penetrate the formation. However, he is trapped when Jayadratha, the king of Sindhu holds the Pandava warriors following him at bay. Abhimanyu does not know how to get out of the Chakra Vyuha, but goes upon an all-out attack on the Kuru army, killing tens of thousands of warriors single-handedly. He even holds Karna and Drona himself at bay. Amazed at his prowess and courage, he is likened by the Kurus as his father’s equal in greatness.
Drona’s role in death of Abhimanyu in mahabharata
However, his army facing decimation, Drona asks Karna, Dushasana and others to simultaneously attack Abhimanyu, to strike down his horses, his charioteer and to disable his chariot from different angles. Left without support, Abhimanyu begins fighting from the ground, whereupon all the Kuru warriors simultaneously attack him. Exhausted after his long, prodigious feats, Abhimanyu is weakened and grabs one of the wheels of his chariot and blocking all the attacks, but is eventually killed with the stabbing of seven swords, simultaneously. This was a low moment in the Mahabharata, which paved the way for many more incidents where Dharma was not followed.
All this was an extreme violation of the rules of war, whereby a lone warrior may not be attacked by more than one, and not at all if he is disabled or without chariot. This devious murder of his son enrages Arjuna, who swears to kill Jayadratha, whom he sees as responsible for his son’s death. If he failed to do so the next day, he would step into fire and commit suicide.
Drona lines up the entire Kuru army, with millions of its soldiers in front of Arjuna to thwart his mission. But Arjuna exhibits his full prowess, and by the end of the day has killed more than a million warriors single-handedly. With the help of Krishna, he slays Jayadratha in the nick of time. But on the whole, Arjuna devastates the entire Kuru army dramatically in just one day of fighting.
In the war of Mahabharata, Yudhisthira is targeted by Drona to be captured. For this plan to be successful, Duryodhana invites King Bhagadatta, son of the great asura Narakasura to fight against the Pandavas. Bhagadatta was the king of Prajokiyatsa, modern day Burma. As Krishna had killed Narakasur, Bhagadatta agreed to join the Kauravas. But, in spite of Bhagadatta’s support, Drona fails to capture Yudhistra alive. The Kuru commander and preceptor is however killing hundreds of thousands of Pandava warriors and thus advancing Duryodhana’s cause.
Drona, Brahmadanda and death
On the 15th day of the Mahabharat war, Drona, instigated by King Duryodhana’s remarks of being a traitor, uses the Brahmadanda. This spiritual divine weapon contained the power of the seven greatest sages of Hinduism. Drona had neither imparted the knowledge of this divine weapon to either Ashwattama or Arjuna. Thus, he proves unconquerable on the 15th day of Mahabharat war. Krishna asks Yudhisthira to proclaim that Drona’s son Ashwathama has died, so that the invincible and destructive Kuru commander would give up his arms and thus could be killed. Bhima proceeds to kill an elephant named Ashwathama, and loudly proclaims that Ashwathama is dead.
Drona knows that only Yudhisthira, with his firm adherence to the truth, could tell him for sure if his son had died. When Drona approaches Yudhisthira to seek to confirm this, Yudhisthira tells him that Ashwathama is dead…, then, ..the elephant, but this last part is drowned out by the sound of trumpets and conchshells being sounded as if in triumph, on Krishna’s instruction.
Yudhisthira cannot make himself tell a lie, despite the fact that if Drona continued to fight, the Pandavas and the cause of dharma itself would lose. When he speaks his half-lie, Yudhisthira’s feet and chariot descend to the ground momentarily. Drona is disheartened, and lays down his weapons. He is then killed by Dhristadyumna. This was the only incident in Mahabharat, when Yudhisthira spoke a lie. This caused his chariot to touch the ground, otherwise it always remain above the ground.
It is said that Drona’s soul, by meditation had already left his body before Dhristadyumna could strike. His death greatly saddens Arjuna, who had hoped to capture him alive. Thus the great teacher from Mahabharata, has met his end.
In Indian mythology, we find mention of stories which are not only interesting, but also serve a message/ purpose. Mahabharata is one such epic, where we find these types of topics in abundance. Here are seven captivating stories from the epic Mahabharata from Indian mythology.
Arjuna as an eunuch
In Indralok, Arjuna was propositioned by apsara Urvashi, but Arjuna addressed her as ‘mother’, Urvashi was annoyed with the rejection and cursed him that he would become a eunuch. When Indra came to know about the curse, he told Arjuna that the curse would serve him as a boon during the one year stay in hiding and after spending that period he would regain his masculinity.
This proved to be significant in the war of Kurukshetra. After spending 12 years in forest, Pandavas spent the 13th year of exile in cognito, in the court of king Virat. Arjuna made use of the curse and lived as a eunuch named Brihannala.
Five golden arrows
As Kauravas were losing the battle of Mahabharata, Duryodhana approached Bhisma one night and accused him of not fighting the Mahabharata war to his full strength because of his affection for Pandavas. Bhisma greatly angered, immediately picked up 5 golden arrows and chanted mantras declaring tomorrow he will kill 5 pandavas with the 5 golden arrows. Duryodhana not having faith in his words asked Bhisma to give custody of 5 golden arrows saying that he will keep them and will return them next morning.
There was twist in the tale. Long back before the Mahabharata war, Pandavas were living in exile in a forest. Duryodhana placed his camp on the opposite side of the pond where Pandavas were staying. Once while Duryodhana was taking bath in that pond, the heavenly prince Gandharvas came to take bath Duryodhana could not tolerate this and had a fight in which Gandharva captured him. On request of Yudhisthir, Arjuna saved Duryodhana and set him free. Duryodhana was ashamed but being a kshatriya, asked Arjuna what benediction of boon would he like Arjuna replied he would ask for the honour gift later when he needed it.
Duryodhana again went to Bhisma and requested for another five golden arrows. To this Bhishma laughed and replied this is not possible and will of Lord is Supreme and undeniable and whatever happens tomorrow in the Mahabharata war is written long before.
Birth of Drona
In Mahabharata, we find strange ways of people being born (see related article). Drona was not gestated in a womb, but outside the human body in a droon (vessel). Bhardwaja went with his companion to the Ganga to perform his ablution. There he beheld a beautiful apsara named Ghritachi who had come to bathe. The sage was overcome by desire, causing him to produce reproductive fluid. Bhardwaja captured the fluid in a vessel called a drona and Dronacharya sprung from the fluid thus preserved. Drona would later boast that he had sprung from Bhardwaja without ever having been in a womb. Drona was the teacher of Pandavas and Kauravas and later fought the Mahabharata war from Kauravas side.
Krishna broke his promise
Before the battle of Mahabharata, Lord Krishna promised that he will not pickup any weapon.On other hand, Grandsire Bhishma promised Duryodhana that he will fight like a lion and will kill Arjuna or will make Lord Krishna breaking his promise. There was an intense battle between Arjuna and Bhisma and Arjun being powerful still was no match for Bhisma. When Bhisma shot arrow which cut Arjuna armour and his gandiva bow. Arjuna was helpless before the wrath of Grand sire. As Bhisma was about to kill Arjuna with his arrow Lord Krishna could not tolerate his devotees plight and he immediately threw down the chariot rein and jumped off the chariot onto the battle field and lifted a chariot wheel and charged Bhisma determined to send him to death. Arjuna tried to stop Lord krishna but Lord says that in order to protect my devotee, I must break my own promise.
How Shri Krishna ended up on Pandavas side in Mahabharata war
Duryodhana and Arjuna both went to Dwarka to meet Krishna in order to seek his support for Mahabharata. Duryodhana was first to reach Dwarka. Satyaki informed that Krishna was asleep. Both Duryodhan and Arjuna entered Krishna’s bedroom. Duryodhana who was first to enter the room sat on a seat at the head of the bed on which Krishna was asleep. Arjuna went to the foot of the bed and stood there with hand folded. When Krishna got up he saw Arjuna first who was standing at his foot. Duryodhana said that as he came first so it was fair that Krishna should join Kauravas.
On this, Krishna smiled and said as he saw Arjuna first when he got up so it is also fair that he should help both Kauravas as well as Pandavas. So on one hand was his famous Narayani army, and on other hand was he himself alone and shall not yield any weapon. Then he added that dharma demands that the younger should have the first choice. So Arjuna was given the first chance, he fell at the feet of Lord Krishna with tears in his eyes he chose him. Duryodhana was very happy with the decision. Shri Krishna later became the Arjuna’s sarathi during the war of Mahabharat.
Yudhishthir firm adherence to truth
Yudhisthir was very well known for his firm adherence to truth. But, in the battle of Mahabharata, Drona, who was Kauravas commander was killing thousands of Pandavas warriors Krishna made a plan to tell Drona that his son Ashwathama has died, so that Drona would give up his arms and could be killed easily.
The plan was set in motion when Bhima killed an elephant named Ashwaththama and loudly proclaimed that Ashwaththama was dead. Drona approached Yudhisthir for confirmation because he was the only person who could tell him the truth.Yudhisthir who could not make himself tell a lie inspite of the fact that if Drona would continue fighting pandavas and the cause of dharma would have been lost. Yudhisthir added ‘praha kunjara ha’ which means he is not sure whether man of elephant has died. Krishna knowing this that Yudhisthir would be unable to tell lie, had all the warrior beat war drum and cymbals to make as much noise as possible so that the words ‘praha kunjara ha’ were lost. Drona was disheartened and laid down his weapons. He was later killed by Dhristadyumna.
After speaking this half lie, Yudhisthir feet and chariot descended to the ground.
End of Jayadrath
Jayadrath was granted a boon by Lord Shiva to hold the pandavas brother at bay for one day in battle – except for Arjun who was protected by Lord Krishna. In Mahabharat war, Jayadradth was fighting from Kauravas side, he using his boon to stop Pandavas from entering the near-impenetrable chakra viyuh battle formation. When Arjun son Abhimanyu enters the formation he was trapped inside and brutally killed. Arjuna vows to kill Jaydradth the very next day and if he failed he would kill himself. Arjuna killed an entire akshauhini during the day’s battle. At a climatic moment the sun had nearly set and thousands of warrior still separates Arjuna and Jayadrath. Seeing his friend’s plight, Lord Krishna send his Sudarshan chakra to mask the sun creating a solar eclipse thus faking a sunset. The Kauravas warriors rejoiced over Arjun defeat and his imminent suicide exposing Jaydradth from his hiding for a crucial moment. Upon the Lord’s urging Arjun shot a powerful arrow that decapitation Jaydradth. Jaydradth father was a sinful king he had pre cursed the killer of his son that anyone who caused Jaydrath’s head to fall on ground would suffer by having his own head exploded. When Arjun recapitulated Jaydrath he faced death but Lord Krishna intervened he asked Arjuna to shoot his arrow that would carry Jaydradth’s head to his father’s lap when he was sitting meditating in his ashram. Arjuna did the same and shot 3 arrows which carried Jaydrath’s falling head to his father’s lap. when he got up after meditation he didn’t see the head in his lap but caused it to fall on the ground so his head exploded as a result.