By Swami Harshananda
Pāndavās (‘sons of Pāndu’)
The chief characters of the voluminous epic, the Mahābhārata, the Pāṇḍavas were five in number.
They were: Yudhiṣṭhira (or Dharma-rāya), Bhīma, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva.
Pāṇḍu, the king of the Candravamśa (lunar race), was their father. Hence the name ‘Pāṇḍavas’.
Pāṇḍu had two wives—Kuntī and Mādrī. Due to the curse of a ṛṣi—Kindama by name—he could not beget children in his wives. However, since Kunti had been
blessed by the great sage Durvāsas (whom she as a girl had served with fervour and
devotion) with a special mantra (sacred formula) by chanting which she could invite a divine being and give birth to a worthy son, she did so now, with the permission of her husband. The first three—Yudhiṣṭhira, Bhima and Arjuna— were born by the grace of Yama (or Dharma), Vāyu and Indra respectively. Mādrī too, with the help of the same mantra, got the twins Nakula and Sahadeva, by propitiating the Aśvinidevatās.
The Pāṇḍavas were greatly devoted to Kṛṣṇa—their friend, guide and philosopher—as also to their mother Kuntī.
See under each of the names for more details.
See also PĀNDU and MAHĀBHĀRATA.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore