Sambhava upa parva is the seventh upa parva within the Adi mahaparva in Mahabharat. The story of the birth of various characters is narrated in this section. Starting from the creation of the universe, from Brahma onwards, till the education of Pandavas were narrated in these chapters.

Soldiers visiting Mandavya rishi's hermit
Soldiers visiting Mandavya Rishi’s hermit

The old names of Yayati and Nala Damayanti have been narrated since the generations had crossed them, and reached till king Shantanu. Santanu had looked after Bhishma and Kripa as own children since they had been received as orphans. Later, after marriage of Satyavati by king Shantanu, they got the children. They were named as Chitravirya and Vichitra virya. On receiving education, Chitravirya had started assisting his father, being the eldest son, and one day he had visited forest for hunting. In the deep forest, Chitra virya had faced one Gandharva and in that fight, the Gandharva had killed Chitra virya.

Later Vichitravirya had been crowned. The internal management had been looked after by Kripa and the external administration had been supervised by Bhishma. In represention of Vichitravirya, Bhishma had attended the Swayamvara of the daughters of King of Kashi. There were three daughters for the king of Kashi. Bhishma had brought all the three princesses but the first one, Amba by name, requested Bhishma to exempt her since she wished to marry another prince. Then the second and third daughters, Ambika and Ambalika had reached Hastinapura. Thus the marriage of Vichitravirya had been conducted with Ambika and Ambalika.

In those days, worshipping angels, treating the sages with honor to get boon were common custom in the society. Satyavati, the Royal mother prayed to God for future prosperity of Hastinapura. Then Ambika and Ambalika both had got one child each. They have been named as Dritarashtra and Pandu. Dritarashtra was blind and Pandu had possessed good health.

One maiden, Parishrami by name had been appointed by Satyavati to look after the blind child, Dritarashtra. But she was unmarried and could not understand the children’s habits and psychology of the blind child Dritarashtra. The grandmother Satyavati had good common sense. She called her son Veda Vyasa and arranged the marriage of Parishrami with him under three conditions that Parishrami would continue to look after the children in the Hastinapur palace, her own child would not be eligible for the Royal throne and Veda Vyasa need not permanently stay in the palace always but would be free to visit there any time.

Parishrami had become the wife of Veda Vyasa and then the child Vidura had born to the couple. Then Dritarastra and Vidura had been brought up together by Parishrami and the queen Ambika. Pandu had grown up and got good education. Vidura had the chance to get good education with Pandu being in the Royal Company.

There was an ideal brotherhood among the three brothers, Dritarastra, Pandu and Vidura. When they had grown up, Pandu married Kunti but he got abused of status.

Pandu belonged to Puru lineage. Kunti belonged to Yadu lineage. Puru and Yadu were wards of Yayati.  Hence Pandu and Kunti belonged to the same great grandfather Yayati. When they had not got any child, Kunti started to observe fast and Pandu prayed to God. Then Kunti remembered her child hood incidences which had happened when she was living in the palace of king Kuntibhoja.

One day, Durvasa Rishi had visited the palace of king Kuntibhoja. Durvasa was a quick tempered man and highly ascetic. He had the habit of getting angry quickly and would curse immediately. Then Kunti was a small girl but very active, and hence she was assigned the service of Durvasa as guest treatment. After a few days, before leaving the palace, Durvasa told Kunti to worship six angels to grant her children. He had administered the secret mantras of those six angels.

In the evening, when the Rishi had left the palace, she was looking through the windows and found the sunset. The angel of sun was the first deity to worship through the mantra who would grant a child. With curiosity, she folded her both hands and uttered the mantra for praising sun. But when she opened her hands, she found a wonderful baby and she was not grown up and alone then. The male baby was small and she expected its cry but could not satisfy. She had put the baby in a gift box and floated over the River.

Adiratha was the charioteer of Dritarastra and Radha was his wife but they had not any child. During the night, people found the box and the male child inside it. The child was accepted by Adiratha and he found ear rings on the ears of the child with a small sealed water pot tied to the neck. Adiratha and Radha felt happy and they named the child as Karna due to the possession of the earrings. Karna had grown up and they provided him the basic education.

Pandu was an efficient warrior and he went to the kingdom of Madra and made that kingdom as his colony. The king of Madra had given his daughter Madri to Pandu and he accepted her as the second wife to get a child.

Kunti continued her fast and remembered the remaining five deities with their praising mantras. She told to Satyavati and prayed to Yama, Vayu, and Indra, and then she got three children. She had two more mantras to satisfy the twin angels, Ashvinikumars but she offered them to Madri. Then Madri followed the instructions of Kunti and she was also blessed with two children. After the rainy season, the climate had changed. Pandu and Madri went to the forest for hunting, entrusted the children to Kunti. But in the forest, Pandu had died.

The five children had been named as Yudhishtira, Bhima, Arjuna , Nakula and Sahadeva. Kunti had taken charge of all the five children as Madri had died by grievances along with her husband Pandu. Kripa had arranged for their education. Bhishma had arranged for the marriage of Dritarashtra. The Gandhara king, with name Shakuni had heard about the powerful kingdom with the capital Hastinapura. Shakuni offered his sister Gandhari to Dritarashtra as wife and the marriage was over. On the wedding night, Gandhari understood that her husband was blind and then she too tied a cloth piece over her eyes to feel obedient to her husband.

Vidura had married Sulabha and got an appointment as a legal advisor to Dritarashtra since Pandu had died. Vidura and Sulabha couple had been blessed with a few children. After their education, they started to look after the herds of cows but not interested in royal works. Vidura had been allotted a small house outside Hastinapura and attended daily palace works.

Gandhari, wife of Dritarashtra was impatient and could not wait for the natural birth of children. When the children were born, their physical body was not fully developed. Hence the physician, Vyasa was called to treat the babies. Parishrami, the mother of Vidura, also helped and the newly born babies had been kept under intensive care in the palace. After maturity, one hundred male children and one female child had been announced as born and Dritarashtra then became happy.

The children of Pandu were called Pandavas and the children of Dritarashtra were called as Kauravas. Then Bhishma had become very old but he was in possession of good health. He had arranged the education of all the children. When they had grown up, higher education as befitting to the royal princes had been necessitated. Hence Bhishma was in search of an expert teacher in archery. Bhima was interested in the use of mace as his weapon hence he wished to get higher skill under Balarama. Then Karna also wished to get higher skill under Balarama.

During the story telling, Janamejaya asked a doubt with Vaishampayana. Vidura was a learned man but he was deprived of royal palace. He requested the reasons.

Vidura was the incarnation of the angel of death, Yama. He got cursed and hence was born as Vidura, son of Parishrami and Veda Vyasa. Before their marriage, Satyavati already put up a condition that Vidura would not have any royal assets.

In very old days, there lived one scholar and ascetic man in the forest with the name as Mandavya. He had a good hermit and there was a big tree near his hermit. The Mandavya Rishi used to conduct penance under the tree, on standing pose, with both hands raised upwards and folded. He would close his eyes and stand in the same fashion for many months. In the same forest, there were other Rishis also but Mandavya was very powerful. Mandavya had conquered hunger and thirst and could hold his life as he desired.

The king was very cruel. Hence the peace loving persons started to conduct penance by entering into the forests. When he took charge initially after crowning, one day, he saw a beautiful swan on the garden near the lake of his palace. On approaching near the swan, it ran away since the king had a sword in his hand. The cruel king had seen one hundred young ones of the swans, freely moving in the garden. Then with a sharp stick, the young prince had enjoyed by piercing their eyes. All the hundred cygnets had become blind but his father put them in a big cage and provided food to all the swans.

When his father died, he became the king and then could not move out of his palace due to heavy workloads.  One day, few thieves had stolen some money and jewelries from the royal treasury and when the securities were alerted, they started running in the forests. The thieves came near the hermit.

Since Mandavya had closed his eyes, the thieves entered inside his hermit when the security guards chased them. The thieves deposited the stolen valuable items inside his hermit, and they also hid themselves there.

When the guards had approached the standing Rishi, they enquired the whereabouts of the thieves with him. Due to deep penance, Mandavya could not respond to the royal servants. But when they searched inside the hermit, they found the stolen assets and the thieves hidden there. They suspected the Mandavya Rishi and along with the thieves, he was carried to the court of the king. The king ordered to hang all the thieves with the Rishi Mandavya. All the thieves were hanged to death. But the Rishi could not be hanged properly due to his matted hairs and large beard. Hence they had pierced a dart into his stomach and erected it like a post. Mandavya was in the same post for many days but he never died.

During the nights, other Rishis from the forests came there and visited him with sympathy. The news reached the king again. The king understood his mistakes. He ordered to lower him and free him from the pierced dart but it could not be pulled out of his stomach, hence was cut from the lower part. Mandavya was living with the part of the balance of the dart for many years. Thereafter the king was very careful and earned virtues with good works.  When he aged one hundred years, he crowned his son and died.

Mandavya Rishi was waiting for the natural death of the king. Immediately on the death of the king, he left his body by yoga mode and followed the king to the palace of Yama. His funeral had been completed by his sons and disciples. He asked the angel of death, Yama about the next life for himself. The king was allotted the next life as a blind king with name as Dritarastra. All the blind swans had been allocated rebirth as his one hundred children. Mandavya Rishi had cursed Yama for his inability to distinguish between the sins committed by minors and adults. Mandavya Rishi had pushed Yama to earth to be born as Vidura and till his return to Yamaloka, he himself would look after the duties of Yama.

Thus, Dharma had born as Vidura. Mandavya had become the propagator of non-violence or Dharma. Mandavya had passed a new rule for the minors aged less than fourteen years as simple excuse would wipe off their sins. In case the mistakes had greater gravity, it should be rectified by education mode by parents. After fourteen years, the learned scholars would propagate the importance of non-violence and assist the ruling kings in routine legal affairs instead of keeping away from society and doing penance in forests. Mandavya persuaded Yamadharma to provide his services to king in the form of Vidura to the king Dritarashtra, a blind king. Also to justify and to bless Kunti and Pandu, the subsequent angel Yamadharma or Mandavya died, had sent his amsha or portion to earth as Yudhishtira.

Janamejaya asked Vaishampayana regarding the education of the children.

Bhishma was clever and knew many things. Since Vidura was advocating non-violence, he would not teach archery to royal children. Kripa was busy inside the palace in his routine affairs. Hence one able teacher was necessitated to provide the higher education in archery for the royal children in Hastinapur. 

One day, outside the royal elephants’ large shed or say a hall, the children were playing with a ball. In Hastinapur, the place for parking the elephants was a very big level ground. In the extreme sides, there were wells and the ball had hurled and fell into one of the wells. Then the children were discussing one another, when the ascetic Drona had reached there. Drona was a Rishi, expert in Archery; he came there after meeting the king of Panchala, Drupada.

When Drona was learning under his teacher Agniveshya , prince Drupada was his friend. They got all the education in archery together. As children promise each other in child hood, one day Prince Drupada had promised Drona to offer him his half of the kingdom on becoming the king of Panchala. After marriage, Drona was facing financial problems due to poverty. Drona wanted to have cow milk to feed his child Ashwathama. Hence he approached Drupada one day but failed in his trip’s purpose. Drupada had insulted Drona as he was very proud of his royal life and denied to recognize him as a friend. Hence Drona was in search of a job as a teacher.

Drona enquired about the discussion of the children. He used some Darba grass and pulled out the ball from the well. The children felt thankful to the Rishi and enquired about him. Drona was well known to Bhishma. He was very much aggrieved of his poverty and under the hangover of the ill treatments he had gotten from Drupada.  Hence he tactfully convinced the children and informed them to report to Bhishma about his arrival according to their perception about him.

Arjuna told to his grandfather regarding the arrival of Drona as a stranger ascetic. Yudhishtira told about his height and weight. Duryodhana told about his Rishi appearance. Bhima told about his stomach. All other children appreciated about his skill in the works to pull out the ball from the well. Dushala was particular about dress and explained to Bhishma. After carefully hearing the speech of the enthusiastic children, Bhishma had confirmed the stranger as Drona. Bhishma welcomed Drona and treated him as an ascetic guest.

Drona had narrated his experiences at the palace of Panchala by the king Drupada. Bhishma had consoled him and appointed him as the teacher for his grandchildren. Drona was allotted sufficient provisions for the archery practice of the Children and thus Bhishma and Dritarashtra became happy.

Drona was teaching too many disciples uniformly but Arjuna was quick in grasping. Bhima, Karna and Duryodhana learned the use of mace in. Karna and Duryodhana had become friends. Ashvathama was also studying with them. The army regiments of those times had four types of battalion. Besides soldiers, elephants, chariots and horses were also used in the army. Hence riding chariots, horses and elephants were also studied under Drona by the Pandava and Kaurava children. Arjuna was declared as a unique winner in the arts of handling bows and arrows. Yudhishtira was expert in legal affairs and fighting with chariots.

Ekalavya was the son of a Nishada king. He had no culture of dresses but interested to learn in the use of bows and arrows. Nishada and Ekalavya lived in forests. Drona thought, if he taught the art of killing using arrows, it would lead to killing of forest animals, since they used to eat them in the forests. Drona had taught self-defense to his royal disciples. Hunting and eating animal was discouraged by him. Hence, one day Drona asked the right hand thumb of Ekalavya as fees to the teacher from Ekalavya. It was done only to please Arjuna, to make him confident.

Next post, Mahabharat: Jatugriha parva may not be missed.

Mahabharat: Hidimbi Vadha parva would be presented separately in another article.

 Readers may share this story with children, friends and family.

Share this article: