The Court of Dhritarastra
 
 
In the time of Krishna, the blind King Dhritarastra headed the lunar dynasty in Hastinapur. His wife, Queen Gandhari, had one hundred sons called the 
 
Kauravas, the oldest of whom was Duryodhana. Also in the royal palace were Grandfather Bhisma, the king's uncle, and Queen Kunti and her five sons. 
 
Kunti's late husband, Pandu, was King Dhritarastra's brother, so the Kauravas were her nephews. 
 
Krishna was also Kunti's nephew, because her brother, Vasudeva, was Krishna's father. She grew up away from her family, in the palace of Kuntibhoja, her 
 
cousin. When she was a child, Kunti had pleased the powerful sage Durvasa Muni, who gave her a mantra that would allow her to conceive five sons from 
 
the demigods. She tested the mantra and the Sun God gave her Karna, whom she secretly set afloat in a river. Karna grew up to become a great warrior for 
 
the Kauravas, and Kunti later revealed that she was his real mother. 
 
When Kunti married Pandu she used the mantra to have three more sons: Yudhistira, Bhima and Arjuna. Pandu was cursed to die if he ever tried to have sex 
 
with his wives, so he was glad Kunti could obtain sons from the demigods. He asked her to give the last chance to his other wife Madri, who subsequently 
 
had twins, Nakula and Sahadev. These five children were the Pandava brothers. 
 
Eventually, Pandu attempted to have sex with Madri and immediately died from the curse. Madri killed herself in the funeral pyre but Kunti lived on to care 
 
for the children. She and her sons moved into the palace of Dhritarastra, provoking scorn and jealousy among the hundred Kauravas. Her son Bhima 
 
caused problems with the other children, because he was a bully. In retaliation, the Kaurava brothers once tied him up and threw him in the ocean, but 
 
Bhima returned with added siddhis (yogic powers), annoying them all the more. 
 
At this time Grandfather Bhisma enrolled the Pandava and Kaurava brothers in archery training under the renowned archer, Drona. At the end of their 
 
lessons, Arjuna ranked first place in Drona's tests, and this was another factor to incite jealousy in the Kauravas. As a final request to his students 
 
(guru-dakshine), Drona asked them to arrest a neighboring king, Drupada, and bring him there for justice. The Kauravas failed, but Arjuna succeeded, 
 
increasing the Pandava's status. 
 
When their training as princes ended, Dhritarastra acknowledged Yudhistira, Kunti's oldest son, as the heir-apparent to the throne. Dhritarastra's move was 
 
an indirect insult to his oldest son, Duryodhana, whom he considered a buffoon. This angered the Kauravas and moved the family deeper into conflict that 
 
would eventually erupt in the devastating war, which was the basis of the most fundamental books of the Hindu religion: Mahabharata and Bhagavad-gita. 
 
 
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