KAURAVA, descendants of Kuru, but com monly applied to the sons of king Dhritarashtra by his wife Gandhari ; the Kaurava and Pandava therefore were cousins-german.
The poem of the Mahabharata contains 100,000 verses; the groundwork of the poem, the Kaurava and Pandava war, contains 24,000 verses. This leading story commences with Atri, a flash of light from whose eye produced the moon (which in Sanskrit is male), and that being was the ancestor of the Lunar dynasty of kings. One of these kings was Pururavas, whose love for the heavenly nymph Urvasi is detailed in Kalidasa's drama Vikramorvasi. His descendants in a direct line were Ayas, Nabusha, and Yagati, the last becoming the father of Pura and Yadu. The line of Yadu acquired celebrity through Vasudeva and his sister Kunti or Pritha, and also through his sons Krishna and Bala Rama, who have become reputed as incarnations of the god Vishnu. Purn's son was Dushyanta, who married Sakuntala, and their son was Bharata. From Bharata descended successively Hastin, Kum, and Santanu. San tanu married Satyavati, already the mother of Vyasa, but their children died without offspring, and Satyavati then asked her son Vyasa to marry her widowed daughters-in-law ; by one of them he had Dhritarashtra, born blind, and by another, Pandu, born a leper or an albino. Dhritarashtra married Gandhari, and amongst their many child ren was Duryodhana, also called Suyodhaua, and Duhsasana,— these were the Kaurava. Panda married two wives, viz. Pritha, sister of Vasu deva and aunt of Krishna, and Madri. By Pritha he had three sons, Yudishthra, Bhima, and Arjuna ; by the latter, twins, Vakula and Sahadeva, and these were the Pandava. Both the Kaurava and the Pandava were related to Krishna, but the Pandava more nearly so, owing to their mother Pritha being aunt of Krishna. Vyasa, the com piler of the Mahabharata, is the reputed grand father of both the Kaurava and the Pandava. It is the series of events which happened in the lives of the Kaurava and Pandava that forms the groundwork of the great epos of the Mahabharata, and they may thus be briefly related.
Santanu had resided in Hastinapur, the ancient Dehli, and after his demise, Dhritarashtra was by seniority entitled to succeed. But as he was blind, lie resigned the throne in favour of his brother Pandu. The latter became a powerful. monarch, but, after a while, having_become tired of his regal duties, he abdicated, and retired to the forests of the Himalaya, to indulge in his favourite sport, the chase. His brother Dhrita raslitra then resumed the reins of government, but, being blind, his uncle Bhishina governed for him, and conducted the education of his sons. After a while Pandu died, and his widow Pritha and her five sons returned to Dhritarashtra's court to be educated along with his own children, their cousins. But the Pandava brothers were superior lads, and their cousin Duryi3dhana, out of jealousy, tried to destroy them, first by poison, then at trials of arms; subsequently, Drona, a Brahman, who had taught the 1:attrava, brought about a reconciliation, and the relatives unitedly attacked Drupada, king of Panchala, who, princi pally by the Pandava's aid, was defeated. On this the blind king Dhritarashtra resolved to pass over his son Duryiidliana, and named his nephew Yudishthra, the eldest of the Pandava, to the throne, and their cousin Duryodhana made another effort to destroy them, by burning them alive.
This, also, they escaped, but they considered it advisable to withdraw in disguise, which they did by assuming the character of mendicant Brahmans, and retired to the fore.ts. After some time, they were informed by Vyasa, that Drupada king of the Panchala would make his daughter Draupadi queen of a tournament, to be won by the most successful competitor, and she was won by Arjana. On this occurred a civil commotion, in which Drupada nearly lost his life ; but Draupadi went with the Pandava brothers, and became their joint polyandric wife. • After the tournament, the Kaurava and Pandava made peace, the former to reign at llastinapur, the ancient Dehli, and the Pandava at Khandava prastha, the modern Dehli. Yudishthra, the eldest of the Pandava, reigned so successfully that he resolved to declare himself emperor, by the performance of the Rajasuya sacrifice. This was accomplished with much splendour, but Yudish thra was afterwards involved by his cousin Dur y5dhaua in a game at dice, and Yudishthra lost everything,—kingdoni, wealth, and his joint wife Draupadi. Duryodhana offered to restore their kingdom if they would exile themselves for 13 years. In these 13 years they all took service with king Virata of Matsya, and ultimately de fended him against an attack of Duryiidhana. On this account, Virata gave his daugher Uttara in marriage to Abhimanya, son of Arjuna by Subah dra. In claiming restoration to their kingdom at the close of the 13 years, the Pandava first tried negotiations, offering to be content with five small towns, but they ultimately resolved to fight it out on the plain of Kuru-kshetra, the rules of battle being duly laid down. In the battle that ensued, and which lasted 18 days, the Kaurava lost successively all their chiefs, 13hishma on the tenth day, Drona on the fifth day, Kama ou the second day, and their last commander, Salya, was killed on the first day of their com mands. In these battles there was foul play on both sides. After the close of the battle, Yudish thra was elected heir-apparent of the old blind king Dhritarashtra. But the latter subsequently abdicated and led the life of a recluse, along with his wife Gandhari, Pritha, the mother of the Pandava, and their uncle Vidura. Vidura soon died, and all the rest of the royal exiles perished in a forest conflagration. The grief of the Pan dava for this was great, and they too, after hearing also of Krishna's death and of the destruction of Dwaraka, resolved to abdicate, and they all set out for Mount Meru, but all save Yudishthra perished before reaching it. According to the story, Yudishthra ultimately entered Indra's heaven, and there found all the Kaurava relatives and his brothers.
Both Professor Lassen and Mr. Wheeler con sider that the Pandava story in the 3Iahabharata conveys a history of India.
Kritavarinam, Aswatthama, and Kripa were the three surviving Kaurava warriors after the battle of Kuru Festminster Review, 18G8; Wheeler's India; Bunsen's Egypt, iii. p. 558.