15. The Two Wives of Pandu

The new king of Hastinapur, Pandey ji (read Pandu) proved to be efficient within a very short time. After more than a quarter of a century, there was finally a king in the court of Hastinapur and he was, for a change, pretty good. And being an old reader of this blog you would know the first thing the kings of Hastinapur did when they achieved something. They got married. Pandu was no different. But the question was to find a deserving queen for Hastinapur.

Far somewhere, in the kingdom of Kuntibhoja was a princess who was probably destined for that. Her name was Kunti (orginally Pritha, but was renamed Kunti since she was adopted by Kuntibhoja. Was it tough to guess anyway?) Kunti’s little known secret to all was that she had given birth to a son (Karna) of the Sun when she was just teenager (read here in detail, only if you want to). Since this secret was a secret that remained secret for long, Kunti’s reputation was in tact and so Bheeshm and other elders of the family deemed her worthy of becoming Pandu’s wife and Hastinapur’s new queen.

A grand wedding took place and Kunti became a part of the royal family of Hastinapur. However, Pandu never got the opportunity to sing the evergreen words that Amitabh Bachchan once did, “Suhaagraat hai, ghoonghat utha raha hoon main…” as there was a military urgency that expected him to leave for a battle immediately after his wedding. He promised Kunti that he will return, and he kept his promise much better than Bhairo Singh. I say “much better” because after winning the battle, he did not return alone, but with a second wife. This second wife was Madri, the sister of Shalya, the king of Madra. Pandu had taken a military procession to subdue Madra but Shalya insisted that they avoided war and rather formed an alliance. Thus Pandu and Madri were married. Kunti certainly did not take this very positively, but there was not much she could do. She had already done something before that she was guilty about, and she could not gather confidence to stand for something that was considered normal by the society standards.

Pandu then decided to go on an extended honeymoon with both his wives at once. Bali was not that hot a destination in those days so he settled with going to nearby forests and enjoyed what he and his ancestors had always enjoyed. Hunting. Pandu’s archery skills were profound and it was the impact of these skills that he formed great alliances across the sub-continent. He forgot that there were better things to do on a honeymoon. His needless desire to try those skills on the helpless animals of the forests proved disastrous – for all the animals you see in the forest are not actually animals. They can be human beings in various forms, sometimes having uniquely weird desires. First, the desires are unique; second, they implement them in weird manners.

I am talking about Rishi Kindam and his wife. The couple lived in the same forest that was Pandu’s honeymoon destination. One day an idea occurred to the couple that they should make love in the open. Imagine, Pandu who was on a honeymoon, that too with two wives at once, hadn’t thought of it but these guys had! If this was not enough, they planned to have it in cervine form so that normal human beings would not be able to make out that this is the great sage Rishi Kindam and his wife doing the act. While they were engaged, Pandu shot an arrow in the direction of the sound the couple was making thinking that it was a deer out in the forest. This was a form of archery known to very few. The arrow struck the couple. They cried in agony, suddenly transformed to their original form and lied wounded on the forest floor.

15. Pandu

Pandu was shocked to see what unfolded before him. Rishi Kindam was dying, but his anger for not being able to do what he had been waiting to do for years burst out on Pandu. He said, “Oh King of Hastinapur, Pandu! You killed a couple while they were making love. It was after my years of tapasya that I was finally uniting with my wife and you interrupted it so violently. Therefore, I curse you that you will die moment you try to make love to any woman.

And so, the future of Hastinapur was again in problem with the kingdom having a king who could not have sons. Pandu was engulfed with the guilt of killing a brahmin and being cursed at the same time (Imagine which affected him more!) He planned to go back to Hastinapur and reveal the matter in the court to seek the advice of the elders.

14. Pandu – The More Capable King

With Dhritarashtra getting married and becoming an adult (yes it could be in this order too!) it was now time to give Hastinapur its king. Satyavati and Bheeshm thought it was time for the coronation of a new king, one from the new generation. Dhritarashtra being the eldest of the three, was considered in the first place.

Announcement was made that Vidur would be the chief minister, Pandu the right hand of the king, and Dhritarashtra, the king. Preparations were made, festivities were organized around the kingdom and the auspicious time for the coronation was communicated to the respective parties and rishis. The new generation of the Kuru family was ready to take the reigns of Hastinapur in its hand to lead it to a better future.

After Vidur’s and Pandu’s announcement when the time came for Dhritarashtra to be coronated, Vidur being the chief minister, put forward the point that a person who was blind since birth could not be king as per the shastras. He insisted that Pandu became the king of Hastinapur as he was more capable than Dhritarashtra even if he was younger. Satyavati, Bheeshm and others supported the idea and Pandu was coronated as the king.Pandu, however, thought it would be injustice for a younger brother to inherit the throne while the elder brother was alive.

The¬†blind prince’s longing of years was shattered. He always knew inside that there was something missing in him to become the king. Now it was apparent to the entire kingdom, and there was no hope for him anymore.¬†Though he was broken and indignant inside on hearing the decision, he was smart enough not to reveal his contempt. Rather, he tried displaying a softer side and made himself appear to be more happy on Pandu’s coronation thereby trying to impress the people around. He continued to feel indignant inside, and over time the feeling grew more and more to engulf the entire Kuru clan.

Pandu took the reigns of Hastinapur in his hands but the important task of getting married was still pending. And so, it was decided to fetch a wife for Pandu. As always, Bheeshm was to take the responsibility of finding the best queen for the new king of Hastinapur.

(While Dhritarashtra was blind since birth, Pandu too was pale/weak in appearance. There are speculations that he might have been impotent/sterile which is, of course, highly debatable. But the fact is that where Dhritarashtra’s blindness was visible to the world, Pandu’s impotency was not.)