Pandu had been cursed by a rishi that he would not be able to father children. When he was in the forest with his two wives, news came to them that Gandhari, the wife of Dhritarashtra, was pregnant. It was at this time that Kunti told Pandu of the boon she had received from Rishi Durvasa - she knew a mantra to invoke any god and be blessed with his child.
Kunti first called the invincible Dharmaraja, the law giver or the god of death. In a beautiful plane that shone like the Sun, the God of Law came to Kunti and asked what she wanted. She told him that she wanted a son. Their meeting was then consumed and a son was born to Kunti. It was an auspicious birth; the moon was in ‘Jyeshta’ or Alpha Sorpi, the star Vega or ‘Abhijit’ was in the eighth house, the Sun was in the mid-heavens and it was the very auspicious fifth day after the new moon. From the skies a voice proclaimed his birth and said that this was Pandu’s eldest child, one who would know all the paths of ‘Dharma’, one who would be victorious, truthful, and would rule the world. He would be called Yudhisthira because he had the power of ‘Sankalpa’ or will.
Pandu then told Kunti to ask for a son with immeasurable strength. Kunti invoked Vayu, the God of the wind. He came on a deer or ‘mrig’. He asked what her wish was and she expressed her want of a very strong son with a large body, one who would break the ego of others. So the great Bhimasen was born. On being born, he fell from Kunti’s lap onto a rock which broke up into small fragments showing what great strength he was born with. Again there was a voice from the heavens which said that this child would be the strongest of the strong. He was wolf-bellied and had a voracious appetite and was also called ‘Vrikodara’.
Now, Pandu wanted a son who would be the greatest among warriors – one who could war with even the gods? He decided to please Indra, the Lord of the Gods, by practising severe austerity. He reasoned that if Indra favoured him with a child, that child would be the greatest among men. He sat in deep meditation from sunrise to sunset, with all his attention focussed on Indra. After a long period of time Indra appeared. Indra told him that he would give him a son who would be known in the three worlds as the saviour of Brahmins, cows, and friends. He would also be the nemesis of the evil, would bring happiness to his family, and be the destroyer of his enemies. After Indra had told Pandu this, he went to his wife Kunti and told her to invoke Indra so they could have a son from him. Kunti used her mantra to call Indra who came to her and Arjuna was born. The skies trembled with thunder and lightning and a great voice sounded and resounded across the skies. The voice said that this child would have the strength of ‘Kartaveerya’, the destroying power of Shiva, and the invincibility of Indra. He will carry on the lineage of the Kurus and would be as lovable as the God Vishnu. He would conquer many countries and help the god Agni quench his thirst by burning the forest called Khandava. As Kunti was hearing this astonishing heavenly voice, all the Gods, all the great rishis and all the divine beings gathered and showered the newly born Arjuna with flowers. It was a sight to behold.
Pandu still wanted another son and so he went to Kunti asking her to use her mantra again but she refused saying it is not right to ask for a fourth child and he being wise should be aware of this. Pandu had another wife and her name was Madri. She had been a silent witness to the fact that his senior wife now had three children; she longed for a child and so approached her husband the king Pandu. He went to his wife Kunti and asked her if she would allow Madri to use her mantra. Kunti agreed to allow her to use it once and guided her to concentrate on a God and invoke him with the use of this mantra.
Madri agreed but because she could use the mantra only once she slyly put her attention on the twin gods called the Ashwinikumars. The twins came and through them, the twins Nakula and Sahdeva were born. A heavenly voice welcomed the twins saying that they would be the most handsome among men, their auras would shine with a divine lustre and they would be even more endowed then the twin gods who begot them.
The rishis of the forest all got together to perform the rites for the naming ceremony. Even though the five were born at intervals of a year each, they were all named together. Seeing his wonderful children the king Pandu felt deep satisfaction that despite his curse, he had such beautiful and great sons. Even though he had five children, he requested Kunti to ask her to let Madri use the mantra one more time but Kunti felt cheated that even though she had allowed Madri the use of the mantra for one child, she had slyly invoked two, and so she refused.
Previously in one of our articles, we had compared the five Pandavas to the five centres in our body-brain system. That is the thinking, feeling, moving, instinctive and sex centres. In our next article, we will see the hidden meaning in this story of the birth of the five princes.