Puranic encyclopaedia

by Vettam Mani | 1975 | 609,556 words | ISBN-10: 0842608222

This page describes the Story of Pandu included the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani that was translated into English in 1975. The Puranas have for centuries profoundly influenced Indian life and Culture and are defined by their characteristic features (panca-lakshana, literally, ‘the five characteristics of a Purana’).

Story of Pāṇḍu

Father of the Pāṇḍavas.


Refer to the genealogy of Arjuna.


Śantanu, a King of Candravaṃśa, had two wives, Gaṅgā and Satyavatī. Even while Satyavatī was a maiden she got of the sage Parāśara a son named Vyāsa. But because of the blessing of the sage Satyavatī did not lose her maidenhood. She got of Śantanu two sons, Citrāṅgada and Vicitravīrya. Citrāṅgada died young. Vicitravīrya married the two daughters, Ambikā and Ambālikā, of the King of Kāśī. Vicitravīrya died before any progeny was born to him. To save the dynasty from extinction Satyavatī asked her first son Vyāsa to beget children of Ambikā and Ambālikā. Accordingly Dhṛtarāṣṭra was born to Ambikā of Vyāsa and Pāṇḍu to Ambālikā. (Chapters 63 and 105, Ādi Parva)

How Pāṇḍu got his name.

Vyāsa came to Hastināpura by the command of his mother to beget sons of Ambikā and Ambālikā. Vyāsa was an ugly sage with matted hair and he was dressed in garments of deerskin. Satyavatī that night called Ambikā to her side and in secret commanded her to go and lie with Vyāsa. She was reluctant to have a sexual union with that old and ugly sage. Yet obeying the orders of her mother-in-law she did so shutting her eyes during the whole period. The result was she got a child born blind who became known later as Dhṛtarāṣṭra. The next day Satyavatī ordered Ambālikā to go and lie with Vyāsa. Ambālikā on entering the bed chamber went pale on seeing the ugly Vyāsa and the result was she got a child that was pale white in colour. That child became known as Pāṇḍu. The third day Satyavatī asked her servant-maid to go and lie with Vyāsa. She did it with pleasure and she remained happy and cheerful during the whole period. The result was she got a beautiful child who became an intelligent scholar of great wisdom. He was known later as Vidura. (Chapters 1, 63, and 105, Ādi Parva).

Boyhood and kingship.

Bhīṣma took care of Dhṛtarāṣṭra, Pāṇḍu and Vidura as his own sons. Bhīṣma taught them all the Vedas including Dhanurveda, and all warfare like mace-fight. They were trained in the use of elephants also. Bhīṣma taught them law and acquainted them with all the Itihāsas and Purāṇas. Pāṇḍu became second to none in archery. The people were all happy. When the boyhood was over Pāṇḍu was crowned as Yuvarāja. Pāṇḍu was the most eligible of the three to become King, for Dhṛtarāṣṭra was a born blind man and Vidura was the son of a servantmaid. (Chapter 109, Ādi Parva).

Married life.

Obeying the behest of Bhīṣma, Pāṇḍu married Pṛthā, daughter of the Yādava King Śūrasena. She was the sister of Vasudeva, father of Kṛṣṇa. She got the name Kuntī because she grew up in the palace of King Kuntibhoja. While Kuntī was staying in the palace of Kuntibhoja Durvāsas came and stayed in the the palace as a guest of the King. Kuntī then served the sage with such devotion and patience that Durvāsas at the time of his departure gave Kuntī a divine mantra for begetting children. The mantra was to be used only five times. If she called upon any god repeating that mantra, that god would manifest himself before her and bless her with a son equal to him in glory. Out of impatient curiosity of youth Kuntī tried it before getting married. One morning, seeing the beautiful and brilliant sun in the sky she invoked him by the mantra and instantly the Sun stood in all bewitching brilliance before her and she got of him a son who was known as Karṇa later. Unmarried as she was, Kuntī sent the child afloat in the river nearby.

Even after a child-birth Kuntī remained a virgin by the blessing of the Sun and so got married as a virgin. Many Kings were present for the Svayaṃvara of Kuntī and she put the wedding garland round the neck of Pāṇḍu.

Once Bhīṣma went to the country of Madra. The King of Madra received Bhīṣma with respect and Bhīṣma took Mādrī daughter of Madra as a bride for Pāṇḍu. He brought her to Hastināpura and married her to Pāṇḍu. Pāṇḍu lived with his two wives happily and ruled the country well. Once Pāṇḍu attacked Daśārṇa with a huge army and defeated him. Later he defeated Dīrgha, King of Magadha. Then he conducted a victory march capturing many kingdoms like Kāśī, Mithilā, Suhma and Puṇḍra. Thus many of the Kings of Uttara Bhārata became feudatory princes of Pāṇḍu. In consultation with his brother Dhṛtarāṣṭra, Pāṇḍu gave all the wealth he got by his might to Satyavatī and Bhīṣma. He gave enough riches to Vidura also. Then Pāṇḍu went and stayed with his wives in a forest to the south of the Himālayas. (Chapters 110 to 114, Ādi Parva).

Curse of a sage.

While Pāṇḍu was once walking with his wives in the forest he saw a couple of deer playfully running about and the hunting nature in him made him send an arrow against one of them. The deer was none other than the sage Kindama who in the guise of a deer was having sport with his mate. While falling dead Kindama cursed Pāṇḍu thus "Oh wretched King, you will fall dead the moment you touch your wife in amorous sport." From that day onwards Pāṇḍu could not touch his wives. (For details see under Kindama).

Sannyāsa and death.

With the death of the innocent sage Kindama there occurred a great change in the life of Pāṇḍu. At first he thought of committing suicide. But he changed that decision and started for the Himālayas to perform penance there. Kuntī and Mādrī accompanied him. They gave away all their jewels and ornaments as gifts to brahmins. People followed them to the border of the forests and returned to the country weeping. Pāṇḍu and his wives visited such holy places as Nāgaśatādri, Caitraratha, Kālakūṭa, Himālayas, Gandhamādana and the lake Indradyumna. Then they went to Śataśṛṅga and started performing penance. Once Pāṇḍu and wives along with a few sages went to Brahmaloka to attend a Yāga there. The long travel toiled them much and on the way Pāṇḍu wept thinking of his pitiable state of having no issue. Then Pāṇḍu told them of his helplessness in the matter because of the curse of the sage Kindama hanging over him. Then Kuntī confided in him the secret of the divine mantras in her possession. Pāṇḍu was extremely pleased and with his permission Kuntī got three sons, Yudhiṣṭhira, Bhīmasena and Arjuna. She gave one chance to Mādrī and she got two sons out of it named Nakula and Sahadeva.

Pāṇḍu was living happily with his children in Śataśṛṅga when spring time arrived in the forest with all its blossoming brilliance and fragrance conducive to amorous thoughts in all living beings. Pāṇḍu one day walked alone with Mādrī enjoying the sight of the flowering plants and trees. Bees and Beetles hummed around the flowers and on the branches sat the Cuckoos singing. There was a seductive fragrance all around and Pāṇḍu was excited beyond controllable limits. Pāṇḍu’s resolution broke down under the exhilarating influence of the season and despite repeated protests from Mādrī, Pāṇḍu caught hold of her and embraced her. The curse of the sage took effect instantaneously and Pāṇḍu fell down dead.

The inhabitants of Śataśṛṇga assembled there weeping. In the presence of a huge crowd including the relatives who had come down from Hastināpura the dead body of Pāṇḍu was cremated according to religious rites. Both the wives came forward to end their lives in the funeral pyre of Pāṇḍu. But Kuntī was asked to remain to take care of the children and Mādrī leaving her children to the care of Kuntī jumped into the funeral pyre and ended her life. It was the sage Kaśyapa who performed the funeral rites of Pānḍḍu. (Chapters 115 to 126, Ādi Parva).

After the demise.

Pāṇḍu’s soul is shining in the court of Yama. (Śloka 25, Chapter 7, Sabhā Parva). Pāṇḍu sent a message to Yudhiṣṭhira from Devaloka that Yudhiṣṭhira should conduct a Rājasūya Yajña. The message was carried by Nārada. (Śloka 24, Chapter 12, Sabhā Parva). He lives in Indraloka with Mādrī and Kuntī. (Śloka 15, Chapter 5, Svargārohaṇa Parva).

Synonyms of Pāṇḍu.

Pāṇḍu is known under the following names. Bhārata, Bharatarṣabha, Bhāratasattama, Kaurava, Kauravanandana, Kauravarṣabha, Kauravya, Kauravyadāyāda, Kausalyānandavardhana, Kurūdvaha, Kurukulodvaha, Kurunandana, Kurupati, Kurupravīra, Nāgapurādhipa and Nāgapurasiṃha.

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