From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia
By Jit Majumdar
- difficult to fight; difficult to encounter
- invincible; irresisable; undefeatable
- one of the central characters of the Mahābhārata epic, who was the eldest prince of the House of Kuru, the eldest son of Dhŗtarāşţra and Gāndhārī, the husband of Bhānumati, the father of Lakşmaņ and Lakşmaņā, and the crown-prince and would-be inheritor through Dhŗtarāşţra of the Kuru throne. He became the arch enemy of the Pāndavas because of the latters’ claim that their eldest, Yudhişţhira – who was born on an unknown and unproven date and without any living witness (becaue of the sudden and unexplainable death of Pāndu and Mādrī) to his legitimacy as truly born in Pāndu’s khşetra (before his death and with his probvable consent) through Kunti away from the palace and society – was elder to Duryodhana by one year, and hence was the legitimate inheritor of the Kuru throne, and because of the second Pāndava Bhīma’s physical bullying and torture of the Kaurava brothers in their preteen and adolescent years by his brute strength which poisoned his mind against them and specially Bhīma. He was noted for his indomitable spirit, daring and obstinate attitude, his intense hatred for the Pāndavas and their chief ally, advisor and strategist Kŗşņa, specially for the latter’s crooked and manipulative strategies, but also equally for his legendary and inspiring friendship with the heroic and noble Karņa, who brought out the best in him just as the Pāndavas and Kŗşņa brought out his worst. He is acknowledged in the epic as an able and successful sovereign monarch who satisfied and pleased his subjects and brough them happiness and prosperity under his rule by his own merits and qualities and with the military might of his friend Karņa. He was acknowledged as the greatest living expert in the use of the mace (gada) after his guru Balarāma of whom he was the favourite and most accomplished disciple, and was seen as undefeatable in man-to-man mace fighting, even by his adversaries such as Kŗşņa. He is noted for never giving up till the last in the Bharata War, and for not taking recourse to illegitimate and dishonourable means or breaking the rules of warfare – even after losing all his great warriors one by one to the often dishonourable, illegal, and crooked strategies of Kŗşņa on behalf of the Pāndava camp, and was finally killed illegally by Bhīma in their last mace duel that was the decisive and final encounter of the Bharata War (M. Bh.); the son of Suvīra, the grandson of Durjaya who was the husband of Narmadā and the father of Sudarśanā (M. Bh.).