The image on the left shows the five Pandava children and the Ashwini Devas while the image on the right shows Dronacharya and Kripi with Ashwathama (Image Credit: The Mahabharata Part I Comic Book from

Table of Contents (The Complete Condensed Mahabharata in Simple English)

Previous Post: Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa’s Birth

Note: This post is a short and quick account of how the main characters of the Mahabharata were born. I have mentioned the circumstances of everyone’s birth but summarised the character description provided in the unabridged Mahabharata. You can read the full character descriptions here.

Bhishma was born to Devi Ganga and the King Shantanu.

Karna was born from the union of Kunti and Surya Deva. He was born with natural armour and bright earrings.

Sri Vishnu, the all-pervading soul, himself was born to Devaki and Vasudeva in the race of Andhaka-Vrishnis for the benefit of all the creatures in the three worlds.

Satyaki and Kritivarma were born in the Vrishni race. Satyaki’s father was Satyaka while Kritivarma’s father was Hridika. Both of them were strong, well-versed in all branches of knowledge and always obeyed Sri Krishna.

Drona was born from the seed of the great rishi Bharadwaja. The seed was kept in a pot and that’s how Drona (the pot born) got his name.

The twins, Kripi and Kripa were born from sage Gautam’s seed which had fallen on a clump of reeds.

Ashwatthama was born to Kripi and Drona.

Dhrishtadyumna was born from the sacrificial fire in a yagna organised by King Drupada. He was born with a bow in his hand and he was destined to destroy Drona. 

The excellent and beautiful Draupadi (also known as Krishnaa) was born from the same sacrificial fire. 

From King Drupada and his wife was born a daughter called Sikhandin who later transformed into a male with the help of a Yaksha named Sthuna.

Sakuni was born to Suvala. Cursed by the gods, he worked against virtue and was the cause of death for many people. 

Gandhari was also born to Suvala. Both Gandhari and Sakuni were knowledgeable in the art of acquiring worldly profit.

Dhritarashtra was born to Ambika (Vichitravirya’s wife) and Rishi Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa. 

Pandu was born to Ambalika (also Vichitravirya’s wife) and Rishi Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa. 

Vidura was born from the union of Ambika’s maid (called Parishrami) and Rishi Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa. He was an incarnation of Dharma but he was born to a maid due to the curse of a brahmin who was falsely accused of theft because of the way Dharma’s law worked on earth. 

The Pandavas were born to Pandu and his two wives (Kunti and Madri). Yudhishthira was born to Kunti and Dharma (the god of justice). Bhima was born from Kunti and the God of wind (Marut). Arjun was born from the union of Kunti and Indra Deva. The twins, Nakula and Sahadeva) were born to Madri and the Ashwins.

Dhritharashtra and Gandhari gave birth to a hundred sons, with Duryodhana as the eldest. Another son called Yuyutsu was born from Dhritharashtra and a Vaishya woman. out of the 101 sons, 11 were maharathas.

Amoung the Pandavas’ children, Abhimanyu was born from Subhadra (Sri Krishna’s sister) and Arjuna. Draupadi and Yudhishthira had a son called Pritivindhya. Draupadi and Bhima had a son called Sutasoma. Draupadi and Arjuna had a son called Srutakirti. Draupadi and Nakula had a son called Satanika. Draupadi and Sahadeva had a son called Srutasena. Bhima had one more son with Hidimba called Ghatotkacha.

Note: Arjuna also had children from Ulupi (a Naga princess) and Chitrangada (the princess of Manipura). However, these progeny are not mentioned at this point, in the Mahabharata. I have mentioned it here for completeness.

Next Post: Why Did The Celestials Take Birth On Earth As The Pandavas And other Beings

Image of Surya Deva by Ravi Verma Press

Table of Contents (Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Previous Post: Why Surya Deva Wanted to Destroy the World

Note: In the previous post, we read why Surya Deva felt let down by the other gods, and, consequently, decided to destroy the world. In this post, we’ll read about how the world was saved from his wrath.

After the sun set in the western direction, he began to radiate immense heat for the destruction of the world. 

When the rishis perceived the heat, they approached the gods and said, “the heat radiated by Surya in the middle of the night is terrifying. It will destroy all three worlds.”

Concerned about the impact of Surya Deva’s wrath, the rishis and devas met Brahma Dev and said, “Surya has not yet risen, but still a great heat is emanating from him. It is creating much panic in the world. This being the situation when he has not yet risen, it is certain that the world will be destroyed when he rises.”

Brahma Dev replied, “Indeed, I am aware that Surya will burn and destroy everything in the world when he rises tomorrow, but I have thought of a remedy. Aruna, the intelligent son of Kasyapa, has a huge body and great splendor. He will stay in front of Surya and be his charioter. Aruna will also shield the earth from Surya’s excess heat. This will ensure the safety of the worlds, rishis, and the denizens of heaven.”

Aruna agreed to Brahma Deva’s command and Garuda appointed him as Surya Deva’s charioter. The next day, when Surya rose, the world was protected by Aruna who stayed in front of Surya.

Note: There is a possibility this story of Surya increasing his heat is symbolic of an astronomical event.

In the next post, we will return to the story of Vinata’s slavery to her sister, Kadru.

Table of Contents (Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Next Post: Vinata and Garuda Serve Kadru and her Snake Sons

1st Century BC image of Surya Deva found at Bhaja Caves

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Previous Post: The Gods Request Garuda to Reduce His Brightness

Note: In the previous post, we read about how the gods praised Garuda with love to request him to reduce his size. In this post, we will find out why Surya Deva wanted to destroy the world.

After reducing his size, Garuda said, let no creature be afraid of me. And having said that, Garuda, that ranger of the skies, took his elder brother, Aruna, and went to his mother, who was on the other side of the great ocean.

Then he placed his brother, Aruna, of great brightness and immense size in the eastern regions, just when the Sun God, Surya, had resolved to burn the worlds with his fierce rays.’

Saunaka Kulapati, the sage of Naimisha Forest, was surprised to hear Sauti’s words about Surya Deva wanting to burn the world. He asked Sauti, “When did the revered Surya decide to burn the world? What provoked his anger?”

Sauti explained the issue to Saunaka Kulapati in these words.

After the gods got the amrit from Samudra Manthan, Surya (the Sun God) and Soma (the Moon God) had pointed out to everyone that the daitya, Rahu, had disguised himself as a Deva to drink the amrit. 

From that day Rahu bore ill will towards Surya and Soma and Rahu decided to devour Surya. 

When Surya reflected upon this matter, he felt that his enmity with Rahu was created because he (Surya) wanted to benefit all the devas by preventing Rahu from drinking the amrit, however, even though everyone benefited from that action, only Surya had to bear the consequences of the enmity with Rahu. All the other devas remained quiet at Surya’s misfortune without getting themselves involved in the matter. This angered Surya, and when he set in the west at the end of the day, he resolved to destroy the world during sunrise on the next day.

Note: In the next post, we will find out how the world was saved from Surya Deva’s anger.

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Next Post: How Aruna Shielded the Earth From Surya Deva’s Wrath

Rahu and other astral figures: Image by Mahesh of Chamba – Self produced scan; from “Pahari masters”, a book by B. N. Goswamy, Public Domain.

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Previous Post: Vishnu’s Mohini Avtaar

Note: In the previous post, we read about how the asuras became desirous of possessing Goddess Lakshmi (the Goddess of abundance and wealth) and the amrit. However, Narayana (in the form of a beautiful woman) prevented them from succeeding.

In this post, we will read about how Rahu tried to disguise himself as a god and tried to drink the amrit and how he was stopped, once again by Narayana.

While the gods were drinking the amrit, a danava called Rahu was also among them. Rahu was disguised as a god and took a sip of the amrit. However, the amrit had barely reached his throat when he was discovered as an imposter by Surya and Soma (the Moon God) who immediately intimated the other gods. Without wasting any time, Narayana instantly used his discus to cut off the danava Rahu’s head because he had taken the amrit without permission.

Rahu’s separated head which was like a mountain rose up to the sky and uttered dreadful cries. His headless trunk fell on the ground and started rolling, making the entire earth tremble.

From that time, Rahu’s head has been in a state of quarrel with Surya and Soma, whom he swallows from time to time.

Note: According to astronomy and astrology, Rahu and Ketu denote the points of intersection of the paths of the Sun and the Moon as they move in their respective orbits. The incident of Rahu swallowing Surya and Soma refers to solar and lunar eclipses.

In the next post, we will read about the battle that ensued between the devas and asuras.

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Next Post: The Battle Between Danavas (Asuras) and Devas After Samudra Manthan

Sculpture of Mohini: Image by Nomu420 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Previous Post: Neelkantha Mahadev Saves the World From the Kalakuta

Note: In the previous post, we read about the emergence of Goddess Lakshmi, Soma, Uchchaihsravas (the celestial horse), Airavata (the double-tusked elephant), the Kaustubha gem, Dhanwantari with the pot of amrit, and the deadly poison Kalakuta from the ocean as it was churned. Mahadev drank the Kalakuta and held it in his throat to save the world.

In this post, we will read about what happened when the asuras decided to fight the gods in order to possess Goddess Lakshmi and the amrit.

The asuras were filled with despair when they saw all the wonderful things and beings that had emerged from the ocean. They wanted to possess Goddess Lakshmi (the Goddess of wealth and abundance) and the amrit (nectar), therefore, they prepared for a battle with the devas. 

Narayana understood what was going on in the asuras’ minds. He immediately used his power of illusion and transformed himself into a graceful and beautiful woman called Mohini. This is the Mohini avtaar of Narayana. 

Mohini approached the asuras and stunned them with her exquisite beauty and grace. And when she started flirting with them, the asuras totally lost their senses. They themselves placed the pot of amrit in Mohini’s hands as they prepared to fight with the gods.

While the asuras were fighting with the gods, Narayana (still in the form of Mohini) took help from Nara to deceive the asuras and quickly left the camp of the asuras with the pot of amrit and took it to the gods.

While still engaged with the asuras in battle, the gods (although frightened) drank the amrit, which they had just received from Narayana’s hands, with great delight.

Note: In the next post, we will read about what happens when Rahu tries to deceive the gods and drink the amrit without permission.

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Next Post: Rahu Tries to Drink the Amrit by Deceit