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Dhritraashtra is a Mahaabhaarat character. He was the grandson of Raajaa Shaantanu and Satyavatee and the eldest son of Maharshi Ved Vyaas [otherwise of Vichitraveerya] from Ambikaa. When Chitraangad was killed by a Gandharv named also Chitraangad, and Vichitraveerya also died very early with a disease, both Ambikaa and Ambaalikaa remained childless widows. So Satyavatee was very much worried about the lineage of Kuru Vansh and the heir for Hastinaapur. She requested Bheeshm to produce children from them but he politely refused reminding his vow to Daash Raaj.

Birth of Dhritraashtra, Paandu and Vidur
Then she remembered her first-born son Ved Vyaas Jee. She asked Bheeshm to call Ved Vyaas Jee and bring him there. Bheeshm Jee went and brought Vyas Jee. Satyavatee told him her problem and asked him to produce children from her two widow daughters-in-law. Vyaas Jee said, "In fact I just woke up from my Samaadhi and came here as you called me. But for this work give me some time, about one year, then I will be able to obey your orders. I am not in a presentable condition."  At this Satyavatee told that she did not have time. Then Vyaas Jee had to obey her at the same time and he asked Satyavatee to send Ambikaa to him.

Ambikaa went to Vyaas Jee but got frightened seeing him, she closed her eyes. Vyaas Jee told Satyavatee whatever had happened. He also told that he had already told her to wait for some time but she did not listen to. Now since Ambikaa closed her eyes seeing his terrible look, this child will be born blind. Satyvatee was not happy with this episode. Vyaas Jee asked her to send Ambaalikaa to him. So Satyavatee asked Ambaalikaa to go to Vyaas Jee. She went there, but seeing Vyaas Jee she went yellow with fear. Vyaas Jee came to Satyavatee and said, "This time everything is all right. She did not close the eyes but she went yellow seeing me, so the child will not maintain good health." Satyavatee said, "Son, give me one chance more."

So she again asked Ambikaa to go to Him, but she was so frightened that she was not willing to go to him at all, so she sent her chief maid to VYaas Jee. The maid felt very fortunate with this offer. She was happy and not frightened at all, rather she received him very coolly. Vyaas Jee came to Satyvatee and said, "This time she sent her maid to me. But this time the son will be perfect, very religious, ethical and people will remember him for long time. Satyavatee got very sad on this whole episode, but could not do anything.

When the time came Ambikaa gave birth to a blind son - Dhritraashtra, Ambaalikaa gave birth to a yellow complexioned son Paandu and the maidservant gave birth to a healthy beautiful boy named Vidur. When they grew up Bheeshm took them for education and they returned only when they had finished their education. On Vidur's advice Paandu was appointed the King of Hastinaapur, because a person whose any body part was not in proper order, could not be appointed as King. Since that day Dhritraashtra felt that his blindness was a curse to him, because only because of being blind he could not be appointed as King, otherwise this kingdom was his. And this knot got tighter and tighter everyday.

Dhritraashtra's Youth
He was married to Gaandhaaree, princess of Gaandhaar Desh of Baloochistaan (now in Paakistan). Gaandhaaree was a very pious, Pativrataa and logical intelligent woman. She tied a strip of cloth on her eyes the day she chose Dhritraashtra as her husband. She said, "Why I should see that world which my husband cannot see." They had 100 sons who  were called Kaurav; and had a daughter named Dushalaa who was married to Jayadrath.

Dhritraashtra: the Representative of King Paandu
Events took turn and Paandu went to extend the borders of the country the day he was married to Kuntee - daughter of Raajaa Shoorsen given to his friend Kuntibhoj as he was childless. He did get victory over many kingdoms and came back  winning many countries. He brought another princess Maadree of Madra Desh. After the victory tour Paandu was sent for a vacation and in his absence he appointed his elder brother Dhritraashtra as the representative of King of Hastinaapur.

Once Dhritraashtra got the taste of the throne, he got mad after it. In fact he had the desire of being King even before, but this course of events blazed the fire of his desire of being King much more than before. In the meantime Gaandhaaree's brother Shakuni also came to live there and he kept this fire burning in his brother-in-law's heart that, "This is your Crown, it is your right only. So do not lose it." and later in Duryodhan's heart also that "after your father this Crown is yours." Gaandhaaree tried her best to do right things but nobody listened to her.

Another event: When Paandu was on vacation, he killed Kindam Rishi by mistake, so he had to do Praayashchit for that. When he came back from his vacation, he handed over his kingdom to Dhritraashtra in his absence as his representative and went to forest for Praayashchit and thus he went to Van along with Kuntee and Maadree. Although Dhritraashtra loved Paandu very much but at the same time he did not want to leave the Crown also. So once again the Crown remained with him and he was very happy.

Another event: Dhritraashtra was older to Paandu and was married before than Paandu so it was expected that if he had a child before Paandu had his, then at least his son could take this kingdom. But unfortunately although conceived before Kuntee, Gaandhaaree could not deliver the child before Kuntee's two sons - Yudhishthir and Bheem. And that was the beginning of a great dissatisfaction in Dhritraashtr'a heart. Among his 100 sons his two sons are most known - Duryodhan and Dushaasan.

All these events forced Dhritraashtra to wear the crown but not as a proper King, but only as a representative of King. Now he was afraid of Yudhishthir, because the day he will come to the age of being King, the crown will go to him which he never wanted, and then how his own son Duryodhan will take it?

Shakuni's Role And Dhritraashtra's Weaknesses
Now Shakuni started instigating Dhritraashtra as well as Duryodhan about their right on the kingdom. Paandu, eventually had five sons. They were called Paandav. Paandu died in the forest, Maadree became Satee with him and Satyavatee and Bheeshm called Kuntee and Paandav to live in the palace as it was their right to live there.

Now both Kaurav and Paandav started growing together, were educated together by Dronaachaarya. Duryodhan, from the beginning, was very proud, of quarreling nature, and of dominant type. While Paandav were friendly, soft spoken and kind. When Dronaachaarya was appointed their Guru, Duryodhan was always naughty, and Drone had to scold him several times; while Arjun was favorite of Drone, because he used to obey his Guru and was attentive to his education, rather he was always ready to learn.

Duryodhan and Bheem's enmity was also growing with time under Shakuni's guidance. Duryodhan was always busy in making evil plans to trouble Paandav especially Bheem. He had special enmity with Bheem. Dhritraashtra always justified his actions with some baseless logic.

Several such events took place. In childhood, once Duryodhan mixed poison in sweets and fed it to Bheem and when he got fainted, he threw him in the river. Luckily Bheem didn't drown but went down and down and arrived in Naag Lok. Kuntee was a Naag Kanyaa so as Bheem arrived there and Naag came to know that he was Kuntee's son, they welcomed him and empowered him with a great power (10,000 elephants strength) and sent him back to shore. So Duryodhan's planning to kill him got failed, rather he returned with a lots of power.

In another event when they had grown up, and Yudhishthir had been appointed as the Crown prince: there used to be an annual fair in Baaranaavat which the Crown Prince used to attend. But for some time there was no Crown Prince so Raajaa himself had been attending it. Only recently Dhritraashtra had to declare Yudhishythir the Crown Prince, so Vidur Jee and Bheeshm suggested that this time Yudhishthir should be sent there so that people could know their would be King. Dhritraashtra agreed but Duryodhan's evil mind planned for a Laakshaa Grih (in Baaranaavat) for them in which he planned to burn all of them. He made it a fun affair and managed to send all Paandav and Kuntee there. But all Paandav with Kuntee escaped with Vidur's help.

All blamed Dhritraashtra for all these events, but he point blankly refused to accept anything about this plan, although everybody knew that either he was encouraging Duryodhan by covering him, or he was also a part of those conspiracies. Although he never said anything to anybody, rather he was showing his sorrow to others, but in the bottom of his heart he was happy, although all showed all kinds of signs of sorrow about their death.

Paandav Found Alive and Division of Kingdom
After the Baaranaavat incident Vidur kept Paandav in hiding so that Duryodhan could believe that they had died in its fire. Vidur wanted to see their reaction too. He found everybody was happy except Bheeshm, Dronaachaarya and Kripaachaarya. But when Paandav won Draupadee in Swayamvar, this secret was no secret and Vidur noticed that nobody was happy to hear the news of their being alive except Bheeshm. He was so happy that he could not resist saying to Dhritraashtra that he should welcome Paandav and his daughter-in-law in palace.

Dhritraashtra had to call them to palace, show his happiness and ask them to stay in the palace. In fact he also wanted the same things which Duryodhan wanted to do with Paandav but he himself could not do it to them; so although he was not directly part of their planning but indirectly was encouraging them to do the same thing. On Duryodhan's threat to die if Paandav lived in the same kingdom, the kingdom was divided, and a non-arable land of Khaandav Van was given to them. But they inhabited it beautifully with the help of Indra. Then Yudhishthir did a Raajsooya Yagya. Many kings were invited including all relations and Guru from Hastinaapur. Duryodhan got very jealous to see Paandav's riches and glory and Draupadee's palace etc, so he again conspired to take their riches. Besides, Bheem also insulted him by laughing at him while he was visiting their royal court, so he wanted to take revenge for that also.

Dhritraashtra Invites Paandav for Dice Game
Then once again on Shakuni's advice, Duryodhan forced Dhritraashtra to invite Paandav to play Chausar (dice game). Paandav lost everything including their wealth, brothers and Draupadee with Shakuni's cunningness. Later  Duryodhan asked Dushaasan to bring Draupadee in the royal court. Dushaasan brought her pulling by her hair in the court and pulled her dress to make her naked by Duryodhan's orders. But Dhritraashtra sat there just like that and didn't say anything to his son. Krishn saved her. Unfortunately Dhritraashtra had to return everything Paandav lost in this game.

Now Duryodhan was very angry with all this, as this intervention had spoiled his already won game. So he again forced Dhritraashtra to ask Paandav to stay back to play another Chaucer game, Dhritraashtra shamelessly did so again, and Duryodhan again won with Shakuni's cunningness and sent them for 12 years of exile and one year of A-Gyaatvaas (living in the society without being recognized,  incognito). (This was the condition of the game.)

But still Dhritraashtra never asked his son to stop all these unjustified actions. All people, Vidur Jee, Bheeshm Pitaamaha, Gaandhaaree advised him, tried to guide him to act like a King not like a father, but he could not do so and this led to Mahaabhaarat war.



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Created by Sushma Gupta On 5/27/04
Modified on 03/13/13