Inspirational Mahabharat Story
Listen and share this mythological story of the epic Mahabharat
The Epic of Maha Bharat
The Mahabharat is one of India’s most popular epics in Hindu religion. The Kurukshetra war is depicted in the epic as a historical battle between the two groups of cousins and is considered as one of the most brutal battles ever fought. Mahabharata is considered as one of the the world’s most influential literary works.
Image credit- Wikipedia
The Mahabharata epic discusses the 'Kurukshetra War' and its 'dharma' and 'itihas.'
What is Mahabharata?
Mahabharata, the world’s longest epic, is thought to contain a mix of Hindu mythology and philosophy. According to the legend, the epic was written by the Hindu Lord Ganesh, as the story was being narrated by the renowned sage Ved Vyas.
Besides Ramayana, it is second most popular Indian epic that illustrate the importance of morals and virtues. Mahabharta tells the history of the power battle between two sets of cousins Pandavas and Kauravas that ended in an eighteen-day battle in Kurukshetra, which was eventually won by Pandavas.
Mahabharat Story Overview
Mahabharat narrated the story of never-ending cycle of hatred and vengeance between cousins that results the Kurukshetra’s war. Here is a brief summary of this great epic between Pandavas and Kauravas.
Shantanu, the king of Hastinapur, marries Ganga, the river goddess, and they have Bhishma, a learned and powerful prince. Shantanu later marries Satyavati and have two sons. One of his sons, Vichitravirya, succeeded him as king. Dhritarashtra, Pandu, and Vidur were his three sons. Dhritarashtra, a blind prince, married Gandhari and had 100 sons called as the Kauravas. Pandu had five Pandavas after marrying Kunti and Madri. Kunti was already an unwed mother to Karna, unknown to everyone.
Pandu chose to retire to the forest, leaving Dhritarashtra in charge of the kingdom. But after the death of Pandu and Madri in the forest, Kunti and five Pandavas returned to the Hastinapur. The Kauravas and Pandavas were never friendly. Seeing them as threar, Kauravas attempted to kill them but were unsuccessful. The Pandavas and their mother fled into hiding after one of these conspiracies. Arjun married Draupadi during this time, and they all returned to Hastinapur.
But after loosing a game of dice, Pandavas were exiled to the forest for thirteen years. On their return, Duryodhana (the eldest of the Kauravas) refused to handover their share of the kingdom back to the Pandavas resulting in the greatest war ever. With Lord Krishna’s help, Pandavas defeated Kauravas at the end of the eighteen-day Kurukshetra war and Yudhishthir was crowned King. But this success came at a huge expense of the life of their mentors, teachers, and loved ones.
Mahabharata Story for Kids
List of stories from the Mahabharata
Mahabharata 1: Banishing The Pandavas
Sage Vyasa is known for writing this epic. The Pandavas- Yudhishthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula, and Sahadev, the five brothers, and the Kauravas are the main characters in the Mahabharata. It’s almost like a family feud over land and property.
Pandu, the king of Hastinapur, chose to live in the forest with his two wives, Kunti and Madri, and his 5 sons. Therefore he gave up his throne to his brother Dhritrashtra, who was blind, and went to live in the forest.
In the kingdom of Hastinapur, Dhritrashtra’s wife, Gandhari, gave birth to a hundred sons. Duryodhana was the eldest of them. Bhisma asked Dhronacharya to teach the skills of warfare to both Kauravas and Pandavas when Pandavas returned to Hastinapur after the death of Pandu and Madri.
Kauravas were very jealous of Pandavas and always plotted to harm them. After one such failed attempt, Pandavas went into exile and reached the Kingdom of Panchala. The king of Panchala had a beautiful daughter named Draupadi, and an archery competition was in works to choose the rightful husband for her. Arjuna, who was an unrivalled archer, entered the competition and won.
When they all came back to Hastinapur, Dhritarashtra gave the Pandavas a small piece of barren land, far away from Hastinapur. The Pandavas built a beautiful city there named Indraprastha on it. Soon again, Duryodhana along with his evil uncle Shakuni started plotting and invited Yudisthira to play a dice game with the Kauravas. Yudhishthira not only lost his kingdom and wealth in this game but also his brothers and wife.
After the game when Draupadi was humiliated in the open palace, Dhritrashtra out of fear and consequences returned everything to the Pandavas. But the game did not stop there. In the next round when the Pandavas lost again, they had to go on an exile for 12 years and had to spend another year in disguise.
Read or listen to the next episode of the Mahabharata story on “Indian Epics & Puranas: Mythological Stories For Kids” podcast below.a
Mahabharata 2: Beginning Of The Exile
As the story progressed, all of the sages wished to accompany them as the Pandavas left the kingdom. But Yudhishthira was concerned how we will be able to feed everyone since he had lost all his wealth. One of the sages approached him and urged him to pray to Lord Surya, the Sun God, while he was profoundly frightened and disturbed.
Yudhishthira did that with all his devotion and sincerity. The Sun God, pleased with his prayers, bestowed upon him the Akshaya Patra which was a mystical bowl. This patra, according to Hindu mythology, was a magical jar that will provide an endless supply of food until Draupadi had eaten for the day.
Then Pandavas came upon a demon named Kirmira, Bakasura’s brother, on their way to the forest. Bhima defeated the Kirmira monster and rid the jungle of the evil spirit. In the wilderness, the Pandavas felt helpless, and even Draupadi felt led down. Draupadi is consoled by Lord Krishna, who assures her that it will pass as well. Many storytellers visited the Pandavas frequently during their exile and told them various stories. Once, the Pandavas were visited by Sage Markandeya who told them tale of Lord Rama, Lord Vishnu’s seventh avatar. Yudhistira’s heart and mind calmed after hearing the story, and he was filled with bravery.
While Yudishthira was fascinated by the stories, Draupadi and Bhima never failed to feed Yudisthira’s mind with vengeance against the Kauravas. But he kept his cool and told Draupadi and Bhim to wait for the appropriate moment because defeating the Kauravas in a fight without superpowers and divine weapons would be difficult. And it was Arjuna who was tasked by the Pandavas to collect these powers.
Mahabharata 3: Bhima Meets Hanuman
As the story continued, Arjuna reached the Himalayas and started to pursue penance. One day, a wild boar surged towards him and was about to attack. Arjuna being alert, pulled his bow and shot the boar. At the same time, another bow also hit the boar. Surprised Arjuna saw a hunter standing with a bow. Both of them started arguing about who hit the prey first.
Arjuna wondered who the hunter was, so he decided to pray to Lord Shiva. He then noticed that all the flowers which Arjuna offered to Lord Shiva were around the hunter’s neck. The Hunter, indeed, was Lord Shiva in disguise to test Arjuna’s strength. Lord Shiva blessed Arjuna with one of the most powerful weapons, the Pashupatastra. He also got several other celestial weapons from Lord Shiva. Arjuna had become invincible after obtaining all the divine and celestial weapons.
Arjuna was then invited by Indra, the King of gods and also Arjuna’s divine father. Urvasi, one of the apsaras, cursed Arjuna to become a eunuch, i.e. neither a man nor a woman, for dismissing her and not paying attention to her. But Lord Indra explained to Arjuna that this curse was a boon that would help him during the year.
While Arjuna enjoyed his stay in Indraloka, his brother and wife Draupadi were missing him. They spent many years without Arjuna. One day a sage called Brihadaswa visited them and narrated a story of King Nala, who also lost everything in a game of dice just like the Pandavas. But in the end, he emerged victorious, regaining his kingdom, his wife, and also his health. This story helped Yudhishthira to gain his confidence and look forward to better days. They all visited many sacred places and heard many mystical stories.
During their travel, Bheema had an encounter with a huge monkey. He tried to frighten the monkey by shouting but instead, the monkey warned Bheema not to go any further since it was the path of the gods. Angry Bheema demanded the monkey to move out of his way. Bheema thought to pull the monkey out of the way by pulling its tail but to his amazement, he could not move it even an inch. He tried his best, exerted himself, put all his strength, strained every muscle, but still could not move the monkey.
It was then that the monkey revealed its true identity. The huge monkey was none other than the great Hanuman- Son of the wind god. He gave his parting blessing to his brother that he would be present on the flag of the chariot of Arjuna. He blessed Bheema and assured him that they would be victorious in the forthcoming battle.
Mahabharata 4: The Enchanted Lake
Pandavas are ready to go into their secret year of exile after completing the 12 years of normal exile. As they are wandering through the forests, they end up in a deep forest while chasing a deer.
When the brothers and Draupadi are thirsty, the brothers start to look for some water source and end up at an enchanted lake. And this turned out to be one of their scariest and fascinating experience of their exile. The lake was controlled by divine power and when the brothers, one at a time, come over with the intention to drink water from the lake, a divine voice called out and asked them to answer a few questions before drinking a drop of water. When the brothers kept ignoring this warning, they immediately fell on the ground lifeless.
Finally, when Yudhishthra reached there, he paid heed to the divine voice and answered the questions before drinking any water. Eventually, he was able to convince the divine power, who not only allowed him to drink but also asked him to choose any one of his brothers to be brought back to life. When Yudhishthra chose Sahadev, explaining that since one of Kunti’s son was alive in him, it was fair to also have one of his step mother Madri’s son alive too, the divine power was very pleased and brought all of his brothers back to life. The divine power also blessed the Pandavas that they will go on to win back what was rightfully theirs in the battle with Kauravas.
Read or listen to the next episode of the story of Pandavas and Kauravas on “Indian Epics & Puranas: Mythological Stories For Kids” podcast below.
Mahabharata 5: Pandava's Year of Disguise
Finally, it was the 13th year and Pandavas had to decide where they would hide to complete one year of anonymity exile. They had many kingdoms in mind that would give them shelter agreeing to keep it a secret but unanimously, there all agreed to go to the Matsya Kingdom.
The Pandavas changed their complete appearance in order to stay hidden. Yudhishthira decided to be an advisor to the King by the name of Kanka. Bhima disguised himself as a cook and wrestler, Vallabha. Arjuna as a neuter Brihannala, Nakula as a keeper of horses, Granthika and Sahadeva as a keeper of cattle, Tantipala. Draupadi decided to be a female attendant to the queen, Sairandhri. They hid their weapons under a Shami tree near a crematorium in the form of a corpse so that people won’t touch it and went to the Kingdom to serve the king.
Once there was a huge fest in the Kingdom where the King sent Vallabha (disguise of Bheema) to wrestle with Jimuta. Vallabha not only defeated Jimuta but in a single throw ended up killing him on the spot.
After the completion of the exile year, the Pandavas on the day of Dusshera worshipped this same Shami tree and took back their weapons, and hence even today. leaves of Shami tree are exchanged on Dusshera.
Read or listen to the next episode of the Mahabharat Story on “Indian Epics & Puranas: Mythological Stories For Kids” podcast below.
Mahabharata 6: Revealing Pandava's Secret
Days passed and the Pandavas had completed almost ten months in the Matsya Kingdom. Queen Sudeshna had a brother, Kichaka, the commander in chief of the Virata’s army and extremely proud and vain. King Virata actually was powerless without him. The real ruler was Kichaka. He once saw Draupadi and was smitten by her beauty and wanted her as his queen.
While Draupadi had clearly mentioned to Queen Sudhishna that she was already married to five celestial beings and whoever tried to trouble her would themselves be in trouble, but Kichaka wouldn’t listen. He insisted on having Draupadi as his queen. One day when Draupadi went near Kichaka’s dwelling to perform her household chores, Kichaka started troubling her. She ran from there to the main courtroom but cold Kichaka pushed her down to the ground and insulted her in front of everyone.
No one came to her help. Angry and fuming; Draupadi went to Bhima and insisted that Kichaka should be taught a lesson for his behavior. They came up with a clever plan. They put off all the lights of a dark hall. Bhima wrapped a sari around him and sat there like a woman. Kichaka thought it was Draupadi. As he came near, Bhima pounced on him and there was a fierce fight. Bhima with all his anger and disgust crushed Kichaka.
Draupadi announced to the guards that her Gandharva husbands were angry with Kichaka and they killed him. Everyone knew how powerful Kichaka was and that no one other than Balarama and Bhima had the ability to kill Kichaka. The news spread far and wide and reached Duryodhana, who was waiting for a chance to find the Pandavas and decided to attack the Matsya Kingdom.
As soon as King Virata heard this, he was shaken. He had always depended on Kichaka and without him, he didn’t know what to do. Yudhishthira , the advisor reassured him that he was also a good warrior and could help him. He along with Bhima, Nakul and Sahadev went on to fight with Kaurava’s army.
But Duryodhana’s army attacked the kingdom from a different direction. King Virata’s son Uttara came forward to defend the kingdom and reached the battlefield with Arjuna as his charioteer. In the battle, Uttara was scared to see the massive enemy’s army.
Arjuna took him to the Shami tree and asked to pull out the weapons. As soon as Uttara saw the weapons, he recognized Arjuna. Arjuna told him about the other Pandavas who were at the palace and also the reason why they had hidden there.
They quickly got onto the chariot and approached the army. Arjuna’s teacher Dronacharya and his great grandfather Bhima could immediately make out that the one riding in the chariot was none other than Arjuna himself. Even Duryodhana was jumping with joy thinking that he had found the Pandavas during the anonymous exile year and they will now have to repeat the 13 years of exile again.