Dhritrashtra / धृतराष्ट्र
- Dhritrashtra was the son of Ambika, the elder widow of Vichitravirya, by Vyas and the brother of Pandu and Vidur.
- Since Ambika had shut her eyes at the sight of Vyas, Dhritrashtra was born blind.
- He was married to Gandhari, the princess of Gandhar and had by her a hundred sons, of whom the eldest was Duryodhan.
- Dhritrashtra also had a son named Yuyutsu by a Vaishya woman and a daughter named Duhshala by Gandhari. Due to his blindness, he had to give up his right to the throne and Pandu was installed as king.
- Later, Pandu retired to the forest and Dhritrashtra became king. When the Pandavs came of age, he gave them half of the kingdom. This did not please Duryodhan, who kept taunting his father about it. His love for his eldest son weakened him, and he sent the invitation to Yudhishthir for the game of dice.
- Even after all was lost in the game of dice, Dhritrashtra from fear and shame returned to the Pandavs all that was lost. When Duryodhan threatened to end his life, Dhritrashtra, once again, fell pray to Duryodhan's pleadings, and invited Yudhishthir for the second game of dice. This resulted in the banishment of the Pandavs for thirteen years.
- After the thirteen years exile was over and war was about to break out, for the last time messengers were sent to try for a peaceful solution. Krishna himself went to Hastinapur, spoke to Dhritrashtra and warned him about the destruction of the Kaurav race if he did not restrain his sons.
- Dhritrashtra, once more, tried to reason with Duryodhan and even sent for Gandhari and asked her to talk to Duryodhan. When Krishna revealed his divinity, Dhritrashtra, by Krishna's grace, temporarily regained his sight and was able to see Krishna in his divinity and after having thus seen Krishna, he requested to become blind again.
- The daily report of the killings at Kurukshetra was given to Dhritrashtra by Sanjay, who had been granted celestial vision by Vyas. News of the death of his sons, one by one, at the hands of Bhim, filled him with unbearable sorrow. Duryodhan's death filled the old king with hatred and left him thirsting with revenge.
- After the war, he went to meet the Pandavs and expressed his desire to embrace them. When it was Bhim's turn, Krishna pushed Bhim aside and placed an iron figure before the blind Dhritrashtra. As he hugged the iron figure, Dhritrashtra thought of all his sons who were killed by Bhim and gave vent to his anger by crushing the figure with such force, that it broke into pieces.
- Thus discomfited, he stayed on for sometime at Hastinapur, and then retired to the forest with Gandhari and Kunti, where after some years, they were all killed in a forest fire.
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