Kaurava (Sanskrit: कौरव) is a
Sanskrit term, that refers to
the descendants of Kuru, a legendary king who is the ancestor of many
of the characters of the Mahābhārata. The well-known Kauravas are
Duryodhana, Dushasana, Vikarna,
Yuyutsu and Dussala.
2 Birth of Kauravas
3 Children of Dhritarashtra
4 List of Dhritarashtra's children
5 In literature
6 See also
9 External links
The term 'Kaurava' is used in the
Mahābhārata with two meanings:
The wider meaning, is used to represent all the descendants of Kuru.
This meaning, which includes the
Pandava brothers, is often used in
the earlier parts of popular renditions of the Mahābhārata.
The narrower but more common meaning, is used to represent the elder
line of the descendants of King Kuru. This restricts it to the
children of King Dhritarashtra, as his line is the older line of
descent from Kuru. It excludes the children of the younger brother
Pandu, who founds his own line, the Pandava.
The rest of this article deals with the
Kaurava in the narrower sense,
that is, the children of
Dhritarashtra by Gandhari. When referring to
these children, a more specific term is also used –
Dhārtarāṣṭra (Sanskrit: धार्तराष्ट्र), a
derivative of Dhritarashtra.
Birth of Kauravas
After Gandhari was married to Dhritarashtra, she wrapped a bandage
over her eyes and vowed to share the darkness that her husband lived
in. Gandhari's brother
Shakuni came to live with them to look after
the interests of Gandhari. Once Sage
Vyasa came to visit Gandhari in
Hastinapur. She took great care of the comforts of the great saint and
saw that he had a pleasant stay in Hastinapur. The saint was pleased
with Gandhari and granted her a boon. Gandhari wished for one hundred
sons who would be as powerful as her husband.
Vyasa granted her the
boon and in due course of time Gandhari found herself to be pregnant.
But two years passed and still the baby was not born. Meanwhile, Kunti
received a son from god Yama whom she called Yudhishthira. After two
years of pregnancy, Gandhari gave birth to a hard piece of lifeless
flesh that was not a baby at all. Gandhari was devastated as she had
expected a hundred sons according to the blessing of Rishi Vyas. She
was about to throw away the piece of flesh when Rishi Vyas appeared
and told her that his blessings could not have been in vain and asked
Gandhari to arrange for one hundred jars to be filled with Ghee(oil).
He told Gandhari that he would cut the piece of flesh into hundred
pieces and place them in the jars, which would then develop into the
one hundred sons that she so desired. Gandhari told Vyas then that she
also wanted to have a daughter. Vyas agreed and cut the piece of flesh
into one hundred and one pieces and placed them each in the jars.
After two more years of patient waiting the jars were ready to be
When the first jar was opened the first baby was born and was named
Suyodhana who was later called
Duryodhana (for his bad deeds)which
means the unconquerable one or difficult to fight with. As soon as the
baby started crying all the beasts of the jungle started howling and
many signs of ill omen were seen.
Vidura spoke then saying that the
child would have to be abandoned as the omens at his birth spelt doom
for the Kuru clan. He said, "The scriptures clearly state that for the
good of the clan an individual can be sacrificed, for the good of the
village a clan can be sacrificed, for the good of the country a
village can be sacrificed and for the development of the soul, even
the earth can be sacrificed." So for the good of the clan and of the
country and of humanity, please sacrifice this son of yours. But both
Gandhari and Dhritrashtra were adamant that a baby could not cause any
harm and much against Vidura's wishes kept the baby. At the same time
Bhima was born to
Kunti in the forest. Another son of Dhritarashtra
was from a Vaishya servant Sukhada named
Yuyutsu was born on the same
Bhima and Duryodhana.The other children of Gandhari were taken
out of the jars and now Gandhari had one hundred sons and a daughter
called Duhsala. All the children grew up to be strong and
This story should be read in view of the dispute over the succession
to the throne of the kingdom. It attributes a late birth to
Duryodhana, the eldest son of Dhritarashtra, despite his father's
early marriage. This legitimises the Yudhishthira's claim to the
throne, since he was the eldest of his generation.
Children of Dhritarashtra
The children of
Dhritarashtra by Gandhari are also referred by a more
specific and frequently encountered term - Dhārtarāṣṭra, a
derivative of Dhṛtarāṣṭra(Dhritarashtra).
According to the epic, Gandhari wanted a hundred sons and Vyasa
granted her a boon that she would have these. Another version says
that she was unable to have any children for a long time and she
eventually became pregnant, but did not deliver for two years, after
which she gave birth to a lump of flesh.
Vyasa cut this lump into a
hundred and one pieces and these eventually developed into a hundred
boys and one girl.
The birth of these children is relevant to the dispute over succession
of the kingdom's throne. It attributes the late birth of Duryodhana,
the eldest son of Dhritarashtra, despite his father's early marriage
and legitimizes the case for his cousin
Yudhishthira to claim the
throne, since he could claim to be the eldest of his generation. All
the sons of
Dhritarashtra excluding Yuyutsu(born of Dhritarashtra's
marriage with a Vaysya woman, thus a half-brother of Duryodhana) were
killed in the great battle at Kurukshetra.
Quote from Mahabharata, Sambava jayesh, Section CXV:
"And during the time when Gandhari was in a state of advanced
pregnancy, there was a maid servant of the Vaisy class who used to
attend on Dhritarashtra. During that year, O king, was begotten upon
her by the illustrious
Dhritarashtra a son endued with great
intelligence who was afterwards named Yuyutsu. And because he was
begotten by a Kshatriya upon a Vaisy woman, he was subject to the
constant taunts of the Kaurava.
Thus were born unto the wise Dhritarashtra, a hundred sons who were
all heroes and mighty chariot-fighters, and a daughter over and above
the hundred and another son
Yuyutsu of great energy and prowess
begotten upon a Vaishya woman."
List of Dhritarashtra's children
Harivamsa Purana (8th century CE) narrates the Jain version of their
^ Mahabharat Chapter 6 - Birth of Pandavas and Kauravas
^ The Birth of the Pandavas and Kauravas
Upinder Singh 2016, p. 26.
Singh, Upinder (2016), A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India:
From the Stone Age to the 12th Century, Pearson Education,
Persons and Stories from Mahabharata