Sunday, December 01, 2013

The Pandavas, their Matrimonial Alliances and their Progeny

Pandavas, their birth and "natural" fathers

The Pandavas were sons of Pandu, born to his wives Kunti and Madri through the grace of the Devas (originally initiated to Kunti by Sage Durvasa) :

Yudhistira to Kunti through Yama

Bhima to Kunti through Vayu
Arjuna to Kunti through Indra
Nakula and Sahadeva to Madri through the Ashvini twins

Karna to Kunti through Surya

(Karna was a pre-marital son born to Kunti when she had experimented with Sage Durvasa's boon, and she had given him up at birth. Although Karna is technically not a Pandava, the Pandavas accepted him as their elder brother when Kunti told them the circumstances of his birth after the war (in which Karna was a casualty). Indeed, Krishna himself mentions in a conversation with Karna (just prior to the war, on his (Krishna's) visit to Hastinapura on a peace mission) that 'according to the rules, he (Karna) is the oldest son of Pandu, and hence a Pandava'. Therefore, Karna is mentioned throughout this monograph)

Of Pandavas, their marital situations and progeny

The Pandavas, bound by oath during their sojourn through Ekachakra (after the Wax Palace episode), had collectively married Draupadi, the daughter of Drupada - the king of Panchala (Draupadi was hence also known as Panchali). Meanwhile, all five Pandavas had other 'exclusive' wives as well.


    Devika (Daughter of Govasana of Saivya tribe)
    Hidimba (the rakshasi), 
    Valandhara (Daughter of the King of Kashi)
    Subhadra (Sister of Balarama/Krishna of Dvaraka),
    Chitrangada (daughter of Chitravahana, the King of Manipura), 
    Uloopi (Naga princess)
    Karenumati (Daughter of the King of Chedi (assumed Shishupala), sister of Drishtaketu)
    Vijaya (Daughter of Dyutimati, the King of Madra (Nakula/Sahadeva's maternal uncle))

Other than Hidimba, all other wives are thought to be post-Draupadi in terms of timeline. Draupadi being the first wife of Yudhistira  - the oldest brother, was the queen.

Upapandavas (Draupadi's children with the Pandavas)

Yudhistira: Prativindhya
Bhima: Sutasoma
Arjuna: Shrutakirti
Nakula: Shatanika
Sahadeva: Shrutakarma

It is implied in places that the sons bore likenesses of their respective fathers

Other Children (Male children of the Pandavas through their other wives):


    Yaudheya (from Devika)
    Ghatotkacha (from Hidimba), 
    Sarvaga (from Valandhara)
    Abhimanyu (from Subhadra), 
    Babruvahana (from Chitrangada),
    Iravanta (from Uloopi)
    Niramitra (from Karenumati)
    Suhotra (from Vijaya)

Karna, meanwhile, had 2 wives - Vrishali and Supriya and altogether 9 sons: Vrishasena, Vrishaketu, Chitrasena, Satyasena, Sushena, Shatrunjaya, Dvipata, Banasena and Prasena . It is unclear (to me) which son(s) belonged to which wife.

Strangely enough, no mention is made of female progeny of the Pandavas, although there MUST have been some.

Epilogue: While it is not mentioned in the Vyasa/Vaishampayana Bharata, the remnants of Jaimini Bharata (Ashvamedhika Parva), state of another Arjuna-wedding. During the Ashvamedha ritual the horse is stopped by the queen of Naripura - apparently, a city of women-only residents - where the queen, Parimala, insists that Arjuna forget about the horse and settle down with her. A battle ensues which only ends when the Devatas intervene to request that Arjuna marry Parimala. Arjuna does, but requests Parimala to accompany him back to Hastinapura. 

The next generation 

Abhimanyu's wife was Uttara, the daughter of Virata and Sudeshna of Matsya. Abhimanyu and Uttara's son Parikshita continued the lineage of the Pandavas.

Ghatotkacha's wife was named Ahilavati, and they had two sons named Barbarika (who was cursed with always fighting on the losing side, and therefore did not take the field during the war) and Meghavarna.

Vrishaketu married the daughter of the King of Yavanatha (unclear where this is) during the Babruvahana episode.

The marital status of all the other children is unstated/unclear.

Of Upapandavas and their conduct in the war

During the Kurukshetra war, Prativindhya, the oldest of the Upapandavas, is (estimated) 24 years of age. He killed Karna's son Chitrasena on the fifteenth day of the battle. Presumably, he was the crown prince.

Satanika is the second oldest of the Upapandavas. He was a upa-senapati of the Pandava army during the war.

Sutasoma was the third oldest, and fought and won over Shakuni during the war. He was also instrumental in holding off Drona and Ashwatthama during the course of the 15th day.

Shrutakirti was next and was also involved in the fight against Ashwatthama as well as Dushasana.

Shrutakarma was the youngest of the Upapandavas, He was defeated by Shakuni, but in turn killed Dushasana's son as well as Shala the brother of Bhurshravasa.

All the Upapandavas actually survived the 18 days of war. On the night of the 18th day, during the victory celebrations, they were killed when Ashwatthama set fire to their camp while Kripa and Kritavarma manned the entrances/exits to the camp mowing down any escapees. In most versions, Ashwatthama confuses the Upapandavas to be the Pandavas themselves, because of their likeness to their fathers.

Of other children of the Pandavas

Ghatotkacha famously fought on the side of the Pandavas, and after wreaking havoc on the Kaurava army, particularly on the night of the 14th day of the war, was killed by Karna's most powerful weapon, Indra's Shakti. This was instrumental in Arjuna being victorious over Karna on the 17th day, for Karna had reserved the Shakti for Arjuna.

Abhimanyu, also famously, broke through the Chakravyuha formation, and was killed (illegally, per war-norms) by six maharathis - Drona, Kripa, Karna, Ashwatthama, Brihadbala and Kritavarma (while Jayadratha and company kept out the Pandava forces supporting Abhimanyu) on the 13th day of the war.

Babruvahana was adopted by his maternal grandfather, did not take part in the war, and only met his father, Arjuna during the Ashvamedha conducted by Yudhistira. During the course of battle with his father, Babruvahana killed him (Arjuna), and was about to kill himself  in repentance, when Uloopi's 'Nagamani' restored Arjuna (and others) killed in the battle.

Iravanta defeated Shrutayusha on the first day of the war, the brothers Vinda and Anuvinda of Avanti on the seventh day, Shakuni's brothers on the eighth day, and was finally killed by the rakshasha Alambasha on the eighth day.

There is no record of Sarvaga having taken part in the war, indeed, it has been noted that Sarvaga did not take part in the war, and therefore survived it.

Likewise there is no mention made of either Niramitra or Suhotra having fought in the war, but failing any other explanation, it has to be assumed that they did fight in the war, and were likely casualties.

Of Karna's sons, Prasena was slain by Satyaki, Shatrunjaya, Vrishasena and Dvipata by Arjuna, Banasena by Bhima, Chitrasena, Satyasena and Sushena by Nakula. Vrishaketu was his only son who survived the war. Vrishaketu was taken under the Pandavas' wing after the war and became a favorite of Arjuna. He was slain by Babruvahana during the Ashvamedha ritual (see Vedasudhe III and Vedasudhe IV on this blog for more detail on Ashvamedha). Krishna revived Vrishaketu with the Nagamani later. It is said that Krishna first revived Vrishaketu and only then went on to revive the others.

Continuation of the Kuru lineage

As noted, the Kuru lineage was continued by Abhimanyu-and-Uttara's Son Parikshita. It is somewhat strange that while Sarvaga and Vrishaketu, even Babruvahana were (likely) alive, the throne went to Parikshita when Yudhistira abdicated prior to the Pandavas' vanaprastha and subsequent swargarohana.

Parikshita was famously killed by Takshaka the snake who came into Parikshita's special palace hidden in a fruit after he was cursed by Sringina because Parikshita, in a fit of anger, had wrapped a dead snake around Singina's father, Samika, the sage.

Parikshita's son was Janamejaya, who performed the Sarpasatra yajna in order to avenge the death of his father, Parikshita, killing all but one snake in the universe (the one that escaped was wrapped around Surya, the Sun's charriot, and threatened to pull the Sun himself into the yajna kunda and plunge the universe into oblivion, before the Devatas intervened on behalf of that snake). 

The Mahabharata was originally narrated to Janamejaya by Vaishampayana on the side-lines of the Sarpasatra. Janamejaya was eventually succeeded by his son Shatanika (obviously not the same as Nakula's son, the Upapandava).

Note: The "War" mentioned throughout this monograph is the 18-day Kurukshetra Dharmayuddha between the Pandavas and the Kauravas, which forms the climax of the great epic, the Mahabharata. 

Bonus: The dynasty of Puru (image credit: Quora, Raakhee V. Menon)


Pradip Bhattacharya said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ravi said...

Pradip Bhattacharya's comment (accidentally deleted):
The Ashvamedha Parva in chapter 32 states that Bhima had a wife who was sister of the royal leader ever inimical to Krishna (Shishupala?) and Sahadeva's wife was Jarasandha's daughter. Their sons are not mentioned. Earlier, Nakula had married the Chedi princess Karenumati. So there would be 2 contenders to the Chedi throne: Bhima's son and Sahadeva's son Niramitra. No purana has any mention of these sons of Pandavas by other wives, which is very strange. Did they not rule at all?

Thitherwards said...

Hey... That was really interesting information about Goddess Draupadi... Please visit my blog for some more information that may interest you... One of the shrines is in Kondal, Mayiladuthurai

Draupadi Amman Thunai

Brikut A said...

Some nice comments on Pandavas here, thanks for sharing. One cannot stop thinking about Draupadi while discussing Mahabharata or Pandavas. She is considered to be 'Kula Devata' and/ or 'Grama Devatha' by many people.

In fact, there are many shrines for Goddess Draupadi, spread in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. One of the shrines, where She is a Grama-Devatha and Kula-Devatha to many, is located in one of the small villages of Tamil Nadu.

If you got time, patience and willingness to know about 'Draupadi', you can visit my blog and comment.

The village is named KONDAL, Mayiladuthurai Taluk, Nagapattinam District, Nidur P.O, Tamil Nadu.

Draupadi Amman Thunai - May you all be BLESSED by HER grace!!