Mahabharata is epic that always keeps on fascinating people even to them who know less about it. Here are 51 Lesser Known Facts About Mahabharata.
1. Krishna rode a chariot that was heavily potent and once when Arjun was done with the war, Krishna asked him to get off the chariot first and then he got off. As soon as he got off, the chariot exploded in a huge fireball. That’s when he explained to Arjun why he asked him to get off the chariot first.
2. Pandu (Father of Pandavas) wished his sons must eat his flesh post death so that all the knowledge may transfer to them which he had collected after so many years. Only Sahadeva ate a piece; the moment he ate he was able to see future but stopped by God. He was a blessed astrologer.
3. Sahadeva (the youngest Pandav) knew everything about the future. He knew that a war was going to occur, but he kept silent because he was under a curse that if he revealed anything to anybody he would die.
4. Arjun’s ‘pilgrimage’ for breaking his marital laws with Draupadi earned him three more wives. They were Chitrangada (Manipura), Ulupi (Naga) and Subhadra.
5. Arjuna was unable to defend the wives of Krishna from common robbers after Krishna’s departure to Vaikuntha. His bow became heavy and he forgot all his mantras. The 8 main wives committed suicide. The others were kidnapped by robbers.
6. Yudhistira learnt to play dice form the Sage Vrihadaswa who narrated the story of Nala and Damayanti in their exile.
7. Bhima had one surviving son named Sarvaga by Balandhara, who was not given the throne despite being much elder to Parikshit. He became the ruler of Kashi (his mother’s land) instead.
8. Ekalavya was actually Krishna’s cousin. He was the son of Devashrava (brother of Vasudeva) who got lost in the forest and was found by a Nishada Hiranyadhanu. Ekalavya died protecting his father during Rukmini Swayamvar. He was killed by Krishna. For his great sacrifice of Gurudakshina Krishna blessed Ekalavya that he would be soon reincarnated and take revenge on Drona. This person was Dhristadyumna (who kiled Drona).
9. Krishna himself said to Arjun in Bhagwat Geeta ” O invincible one, you are Nara and I am Hari Narayana, and we, the sages Nara-Narayana, have come to this world at proper time”. (Nara Narayan are considered as the part avatars of Vishnu).
10. Mahabharata is also known as Pancham Veda, the fifth Veda.
11. Krishna broke his promise. In the battle of Mahabharat, Lord Krishna promised that he will not pick up any weapon. On the other hand Bhishma promised Duryodhan that he will fight like a lion and will either kill Arjun or make Lord Krishna break his promise. The intense battle between Bhishma and Arjun began, but despite being extremely powerful, Arjun was no match to Bhishma. Arjun was soon helpless when Lord Krishna could not tolerate it and immediately threw down the chariot rein and jumped out of it onto the battle field and lifted one of the chariot’s wheels and charged towards Bhishma determined to kill him. Arjun tried to stop Lord Krishna, but all in vain.
12. Vidura (chief counsel of Dhritharashtra) was the incarnation of Yamaraj after being cursed by Manduk Muni to become a Sudra (the less intelligent class of men in the society) because he killed a small insect by accident.
13. Some stories indicate that Vidura was in possession of a mysterious and very powerful bow – gifted to him by Vishnu himself. The wielder of the bow would not face defeat in battle. When Krishna comes to make peace with the Kauravas – Duryodhana insults Vidura so much that Vidura decides that he will not participate in the war and in an attempt to completely fructify it, he breaks his bow in half.
14. There are different versions of the epic. eg., one version is for Deva Loka.
15. Lots of short stories including the Amrit Manthan are part of the original Mahabharata epic. Few people may know that the entire epic was narrated as a flashback at the Sarpa Yagna being conducted by Janamejaya, the son of Parikshit (Arjun’s Grandson). There are also stories which narrate why the Sarpa Yagna had to be conducted, and who were all the people acting as catalysts for the Yagna.
16. Krishna knew that Arjuna and his sister Subhadra have fallen in love. He confronted Arjuna and told him to kidnap her. When Arjuna did kidnap her, Balarama and the other Yadavas were furious. They were up in arms and were getting ready to chase Arjuna and oust him in battle. Balarama stopped the entire frenzy and exclaimed that Krishna is sitting silently. When asked, Krishna replied that I think what Arjuna has done is in accordance with Kshatriya dharma. We are indeed lucky to have him as our brother in law. That is how Arjuna got away with marrying Krishna’s sister Subhadra.
17. Krishna tried to narrate the Bhagavad Gita to Duryodhana. Obviously, if Duryodhana would have been educated, then the entire war would have been averted. But, Duryodhana told Krishna that he already knows what is right and what is wrong. His argument to Krishna was that there is some internal force within him which does not allow his mind to choose what is right. That his Prakriti is not allowing him to act as per his dharma.
18. Krishna is arguably the most difficult character to understand. Once, he even started fighting with Arjuna. Lord Shiva got so perturbed that he descended to stop the fight. He asked what Krishna was doing. Krishna’s simple reply was that Arjuna needed to fight in battle and hence Krishna was testing Arjuna.
19. Mahabharata is indeed a treasure house of knowledge. In the Vana Parvam, Draupadi teaches Patni dharma to Satyabhama. She elaborately explains the duties of a wife and the principles of a Pati-vrata.
20. The Kauravas were all mis-named because of their bad reputation. Duryodhana (which means Evil warrior) was actually Suyodhana (Good warrior), Dusshasana (means Bad ruler) was actually Sushaasana (good ruler), Dusshala (meaning one who moves badly) was actually Suchala (one who moves nicely) and so on.
21. In Mahabharata, Shakuni appears to be on the side of kauravas, but his secret intention was the downfall of both Pandavas and Kauravas. Shakuni is a devotee of Lord Krishna.
22. Draupadi was asked 3 times by Duryodhana to come to the court after her husbands lost her in dicing. Draupadi kept denying and asked Duryodhana to question Yudhistira whether he staked himself first or her first. Duryodhana asked Draupadi to question her husband in court directly. Yet Draupadi refused to come and sent the attendant back. Duryodhana lost his temper and ordered Dusshasana to bring her there at any cost.
23. After the whole incident of Draupadi vastraharan, Draupadi herself apologises to the court saying “I had been dragged here and humiliated. In all that has occured, I did not bow down to the elders of the court and the family. My apologies to them.
24. Jayadrath, who is mainly held responsible for slaying the 16 year old Abhimanyu (Arjun’s son) in the Chakravyuh, was in fact the only brother-in-law to the 101 Pandava and Kaurava brothers, married to their sister Dushala.
25. The narration of the Bhagavad Gita by Krishna was heard firsthand not only by Arjuna but also Hanuman and Sanjaya. Hanuman was perched on top of Arjuna’s chariot throughout the battle of Kurukshetra and Sanjaya was blessed by Veda Vyasa with divine vision in order to narrate the events of the battle to Dhritharashtra.
26. Iranvan- Son of Uloopi and Arjuna self-sacrificed to the goddess Kali to ensure her favor and the victory of the Pandavas in the war, with a wish to marry a girl before dying; Krishna married to him as Mohini and cried after his death like a real wife.
27. In previous life, Draupadi was the wife of Saint Moudgalya and her name was Indrasena. Due to Leprosy her husband died early and in order to satisfy her desires she prayed the Lord Shiva with great devotion. Lord Siva appeared before her and asked her what she wants. On seeing Lord Siva, she was astonished. In that confused mood, she repeatedly asked five times “I want a husband. I want a husband”. “You are blessed with five husbands but only in the next birth” said Lord Siva. This is the reason of her marriage to 5 husbands.
28. In his previous life, Dhritarashtra was a tyrant king, who one day while walking on the lake side saw a swan bird surrounded by hundred cygnets (young swans). He ordered to remove the swan bird’s eyes and kill all the hundred cygnets just for his passing fancy. Therefore, in next birth he was born blind and all his sons were killed in the war.
29. Bhishma was among the Eight Vasus (attendants to Indra) and was cursed by Sage Vsashishta for stealing his cow to get born from Ganga. Although other 7 seven vasus were drowned by Ganga just after their death , Bhishma was kept alive because of persuasion of his father Shantanu, and thus served the mortal form.
30. Kr ishna once protested to Yudhishthira that why the king of Indraprastha did not seek his assistance while playing the game of dice. If Sakuni could have played the game of dice on behalf of Duryodhana, then definitely Krishna could have played on behalf of the Pandavas.
31. Many verses of Mahabhrata composed by Vyasa were difficult for his scribe, Lord Ganesha to understand. These verses were understood by Ganesha in a split second’s break. This break allowed Vyasa to visualize the further verses. But, these verses are so difficult that 80% of them remain unsolved even today. There are 8800 such verses in the Mahabharata.
32. Satyavati (mother of Vyasa) was the daughter of a cursed apsara named Adrika.
33. Ved Vyasa was the father of Dhritrashtra, Pandu and Vidura.
34. Ved Vyasa simply wrote the history of his own sons, grandsons and great grandsons – all the while keeping himself entangled in the intricacies of the future of the kingdom of Hastinapura and yet remaining out of it.
35. Out of five Pandavas three were the sons of Kunti Yudhisthira from Yama, Bhima from Vayu and Arjuna from Indra. Other two were the sons of Pandu’s second wife and morning and evening stars-Ashwini, all sky gods were called by Kunti to plant their seed in the wombs of these two wives.
36. While in exile, the Pandavas were travelling all across the country. At one time, it so happened that they reached a forest near Dwarka. They were all resting under a tree when prominent Yadavas came to meet them. The Yadavas were raged at the condition of the Pandavas. They proclaimed that this is not how these virtuous men must suffer. Warriors like Satyaki and others insisted that they shall all go right now and destroy Duryodhana. They argued that the Pandavas were under oath to not attack, not the Yadavas. All were spirited to march to Hastinapur for war. Krishna was silent and everyone looked to him for sermon. Krishna merely pointed at Yudhishthira and said that if this man agrees, then we shall go to war. Yudhishthira folded his hands and said that you all must please leave us in our state as of now. My dharma has already been fixed. There is an understanding that myself and Duryodhana have arrived at. It is adharma to interpret it differently and fish for loopholes. I must follow my dharma.
37. In Indralok, Arjun was propositioned by Apsara Urvashi, but he used to address her as ‘mother’. Annoyed with Arjun’s rejection, Urvashi cursed him that he would become a eunuch. When lord Indra came to know about the curse, he told Arjun that this curse is going to serve as a boon during the one year stay in hiding and after spending that period, he would regain his masculinity. This proved to be significant in Mahabharat. After spending 12 years in forest, Pandavas spent the 13th year of exile in cognito, in the court of King Virat. Arjuna used his curse and lived as a eunuch named Brihannala.
38. The reason Lord Krishna supported the Pandavas in Mahabharat. Duryodhan and Arjun both went to Dwarka to meet Lord Krishna to seek his support for the war. Duryodhan was first to reach Dwarka. Satyaki informed that Krishna was asleep. Both Arjun and Duryodhan entered Krishna’s room. Duryodhan who entered the room first, sat on Krishna’s bed besides his head. Arjun went to the foot of the bed and stood there with his hands folded. When Krishna woke up he saw Arjun first. But Duryodhan said that since he came first if was only fair for Krishna to support the Kauravas. However, Krishna smiled and said that since he saw Arjun first so it would only be fair if he supported both the sides. So, on one hand was his famous Narayani army and on the other hand was he alone without any weapon.
39. Yudhisthir was very well known for his firm adherence to truth. But in the battle of Mahabharat, Drona who was Kauravas commander was killing thousands of Pandavas warriors. Krishna made a plan and told Drona that his son Ashwathama has died. The plan was set in motion when Bhishma killed an elephant named Ashwathama and loudly proclaimed that he was dead. Drone went up to Yudhithir to ask him the truth, he replied that he was not sure of who had died, his son or the elephant. Lord Krishna knew that Yudhithir won’t be able to lie, so when he was speaking the truth, Krishna made loud noise by beating the drums, which dissolved Yudhisthir’s words. Drona was disheartened and laid down his weapons. He was later killed.
40. Mahabharata war lasted 18 days.
41. After Sri Kirshna’s death, Pandavas too lost their interest in life. They started their journey to heaven with a dog. All Pandavas lost their lives during the journey. Only Yudhisthir and the dog made it to heaven. That dog was Yamaraj.
42. Karna was born with Kavach and Kundala.
43. Karna’s teacher was Parshuram.
44. Karna and Bhisma never fought together because Bhisma treated Karna very lowly.
45. Of the 100 brothers of Kaurava, only Yuyusu survived the Mahabharata war.
46. Yuyusu had fought from Pandavas side.
47. Bheem killed 99 brothers of Kauravas.
48. Mahabharata war happened all because of a woman. It is believed that Draupadi addressed sons of Dhritrastra as sons of blind. This made Duryodhana to become a staunch enemy of Pandavas.
49. Drona was born in a vessel. He was sage Bharadwaj’s son.
50. Krishna forgave Shishupala 100 times before killing him.
51. Krishna’s narayani army fought from Kaurava’s side.