A recap of the Mahabharata story from King Shantanu to the wedding of the Pandavas.
A lot has happened in the Mahabharata story so far. We've seen 4 generations. We've seen Education. War. Jealousy. Skill. Strength. Asuras. Gods. We've seen love. We've seen people abide by the laws of Dharma ever during times of extreme distress. We've seen a lot and it is time to do a quick recap of the Mahabharata story so far.
King Shantanu falls in love with Godess Ganga. Ganga poses the condition that Shantanu should not question any of her actions. If he accepts, Ganga would marry him. Shantanu blinded by his love for Ganga, accepts her condition and marries her. Ganga drowns the first 7 sons born to Shantanu and herself. These 7 children were originally the 7 Vasus or celestial elemental gods who were cursed to be born as humans by Sage Vasishta. Ganga drowns them as soon as they were born to immediately relieve them of this curse. Of course, Shantanu does not know the reason. He is distraught. But he keeps quiet on account of his promise. The 8th son born to Ganga and Shantanu, also one of the cursed Vasu, is Devavrata. Once Devavrata is born, Ganga tells Shantanu the reasons behind her actions and leaves Devarvrata with Shantanu and returns to the heavens. Shantanu gets lonely over time. He eventually falls in love with Satyavati – a fisherman's daughter. Satyavati's father imposes the condition that Devavrata should not become the next king after Shantanu. Instead, the sons born to Shantanu and his daughter should become the next king. T o ensure that Satyavati's sons inherit the kingdom, Devavrata renounces his right to become the king and takes a lifetime vow of celebacy. This gives Devavrata the name – Bhishma.
Are you with me so far? ok. Let's proceed.
Shantanu and Satyavati have 2 sons – Chitrangada who dies at a young age and Vichitraveerya who marries the sisters Ambika and Ambalika. When Vichitraveerya dies without having children, Satyavati calls on her first son Vyasa. Vyasa was born to Satyavati and Sage Parashara when Satyavati was very young. Vyasa performs Niyoga with Ambika and Ambalika and two sons are born. Pandu, who is born pale and weak, and Dhiridharashtra who is born blind. Vyasa also performs Niyoga with a servant maid and the wise Vidura is born. So... Vichitraveerya's sons are Pandu and Dhiridharashtra.
Ambika and Ambalika's eldest sister Amba becomes Bhishma's arch enemy. She gets the boon that she will kill Bhishma in her next life. She is reborn as the warrior Shikandin to King Drupada.
Pandu marries Kunti and Madri and has 5 children who are the Pandavas. Kunti invokes the boon given to her by sage Dhuruvasa to obtain these celestial children. Three children are born to Kunti. Yudhishtra through Yama Dharma the god of death. Bhima through Vayu the wind god and Arjuna through Indra – the king of devas. Two children – twins - are born to Madri through the Aswini Gods. They are Nakula and Sahadeva. So.. Pandu with Kunti and Madri have 5 sons called the Pandavas.
Dhiridharashtra marries Gandhari and has 100 sons called the Kauravas. The eldest of the Kauravas is Dhuriyodhana. The Pandavas are naturally gifted and are brought up with virtues and rich values. They are also supremely skilled in warfare. Dhuriyodhana and the Kauravas hate the Pandavas and are jealous of them. They attempt to kill the Pandavas several times but all attempts fail. The maternal uncle of the Kauravas is the evil Shakuni who helps them come up with ways to defeat and kill the Pandavas. Shakuni also hates the Kauravas, but he keeps this a secret. Shakuni hates the Kauravas and the pandavas as his father and brothers were murdered by Dhiradharashtra.
Kunti, at a very young age, had also invoked the boon she obtained from Sage Dhuruvasa and a son called Karna is born through the Sun God Surya. Kunti abandons this baby as she was only a little girl when she had Karna. Karna is picked up and raised by a Charioteer in Hastinapura. Karna goes on to become a very close friend of Dhuriyodhana and the Kauravas though he is the elder brother of the Pandavas. No one - except Kunti Devi - is aware of this true origin of Karna.
The teacher of the Pandavas and Kauravas was Kripacharya at first and then Dronacharya. Dronacharya and King Drupada were childhood friends. Drupada goes on to become the King of Panchala. Drona remains a poor Brahmin. Drupada ends up humiliating Drona owing to his vanity and pride. Dronacharya vows vengence on Drupada. Arjuna is Drona's favorite pupil and once the education is over, Drona instructs Arjuna to defeat Drupada in battle. Arjuna defeats Drupada and Drupada is humiliated. Now Drupada vows vengeance against Dronacharya and obtains a son called Drishtadyumna who is destined to kill Drona and a daughter called Draupadi who is destined to marry Arjuna.
Dhuriyodhana plots to kill the Pandavas by building them a palace made of wax and by setting it on fire. But they escape and live many years in disguise.
During the time in hiding, Bhima marries Hidimbi, an Asura and fathers a son called Ghatotkacha. Bhima also defeats other Asuras in this period.
Arjuna wins Draupadi in a Swayamvara. The Pandavas marry Draupadi in unison – i.e. all five of them marry her as a result of a boon that Draupadi obtained in her previous birth.
The Pandavas, after spending many years in the forest come to Hastinapura and are granted half the kingdom by Dhiridharashtra in the hope that the Kauravas and Pandavas will live in mutual peace. But Dhuriyodhana continues to hate the Pandavas. The Kauravas rule in Hastinapura and the Pandavas start ruling in their capital called Indraprastha. They both own half a kingdom each. Everything is seemingly peaceful but Duryodhana's hatred is brewing within.
Before we end this chapter, let me repeat the geneology. Shantanu and Ganga's son is Bhishma. Shantanu and Satyavati's sons are Chitrangada and Vichitraveera. Satyavati's son through sage Parashara is Vyasa. Vichitraveerya's sons with Amba and Ambalika are Pandu and Dhiridharashtra. Pandu's sons are the Pandavas. Dhiridharashtra's sons are the Kauravas.
So - The stage is set. Let us proceed to the story from here on.