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Dhritrashtra 

Other names: Dhritarashtra, Dhritharashtra

Dhritarashtra was the son of Ambika, daughter of Kashiraj, and was the father of the hundred Kauravas. There is a famous story about the birth of Dhritrashtra. The king of Kuruvansh was Shantanu. His wife Satyavati gave birth to two sons – Vichitravirya and Chitraganda. Chitraganda died at a young age. Vichitravirya was married to the two daughters of King Kashiraj namely Ambika and Ambalika. But Vichitravirya died soon after marriage, also without fathering any child. After he died, his mother Satyavati sent for her firstborn, Sage Vyasa. As per his mother’s wishes, Vyasa visited both the wives of Vichitravirya to father sons on them. When Vyasa visited Ambika, she saw his dreadful and forbidding appearance with burning eyes and was terrified of him. In her frightened state, she closed her eyes and would not open them. This caused her son, Dhritarashtra to be born blind. Dhritrashtra later got married to Gandhari. Gandhari blindfolded her eyes all her life in order to be an equal companion to her husband.

When Vyasa visited Ambika, she saw his dreadful and forbidding appearance with burning eyes and was terrified of him. In her frightened state, she closed her eyes and would not open them. This caused her son, Dhritarashtra to be born blind. Dhritrashtra later got married to Gandhari. Gandhari blindfolded her eyes all her life in order to be an equal companion to her husband.

As Dhritrashtra was blind, his younger brother Pandu sat on the throne of Hastinapur, but after the death of Pandu, Dhritrashtra had to take over the throne of Hastinapur. Due to his overweening affection for his elder son Duryodhan, Dhritrashtra did not give the Pandavas (sons of his younger brother Pandu) their due. It is because of this fact that the war of Mahabharata ultimately took place.

 

 

 

 

Sanjay, Dhritrashtra’s charioteer, was blessed by Sage Vyasa with the ability to see the past, present and the future, and narrated to the blind king important events of the Kurukshetra war, a war fought between the Kauravas (the sons of Dhritarashtra) and the Pandavas. Dhritarashtra’s sorrow increased day by day as an ever-increasing number of his sons were slain by Bhima. He frequently bemoaned his ineffectiveness in preventing Duryodhan from going to war. Sanjay often consoled the bereaved king, but reminded him every time that dharma was on the Pandava side and a war against Krishna and Arjuna could not be humanly won regardless of the strength of the opposing force. The first stanza of the Bhagavad Gita is in fact a question from Dhritarashtra to Sanjay, asking him to recount the Kurukshetra war to him.

Sanjay often consoled the bereaved king, but reminded him every time that dharma was on the Pandava side and a war against Krishna and Arjuna could not be humanly won regardless of the strength of the opposing force. The first stanza of the Bhagavad Gita is in fact a question from Dhritarashtra to Sanjay, asking him to recount the Kurukshetra war to him.

In spite of being blind, Dhritrashtra was extremely strong. It is said that after the Mahabharata war, Dhritrashtra tried to embrace Bhima (the son of Pandu who killed his son Duryodhan) not with any affectionate intent but with the intention of crushing him to death. If Bhima had fallen into that trap laid by Dhritarashtra, he would have been sure to die, but fortunately Bhima saved himself with his shrewdness.Apart from his hundred sons, Dhritrashtra also had a daughter named Dashala who got married to Jaydrath during the Mahabharata.

Apart from his hundred sons, Dhritrashtra also had a daughter named Dashala who got married to Jaydrath during the Mahabharata.

As all his sons were killed in the war of Mahabharata, Dhritrashtra retreated to a jungle ashram with his wife Gandhari, and both of them died in a forest fire.

Dhritrashtra is the perfect example of wrong parenting. His excessive attachment to his sons and failure to discipline their misdeeds at the right age resulted in a huge bloody war, where thousands were killed, orphaned and widowed.

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