Mahabharata‎ > ‎Historicity‎ > ‎

Myths in MB


Krushn, the hero of Mahabharat, was a divine being.

Fact: Krushn was a common man. Bound by reality and circumstances like you and me. He tried very hard to avoid the Great War and to maintain unity among the Yadav clan. But he failed in both the attempts. If he was a supernatural being, he should have succeeded.

Fact: If Krushn had appeared in his divine form, he would have been able to impress humans like Arjun and Duryodhan enough as to accept his words as a commandment. Incidentally, Duryodhan was not impressed by Krushn’s attempts at peace and Krushn had to tell Arjun at least three times during the war, “Please fight!”

Fact: Krushn is not the hero of Mahabharat. Krushn appears as an adult in Mahabharat without any introduction. After nearly half of the happenings had taken place. The information about Krushn’s childhood and life appear in Harivansh, which is a later supplement to Mahabharat.

Draupadi vastraharan

Dushasan tried to disrobe Draupadi, she cried for help. Krushn (who was not present in Hastinapur) provided her clothes. Dushasan, of the muscular build, kept on disrobing Draupadi till he dropped to the floor tired, sweating and trembling.

Fact: After the game of dice when Draupadi met Krushn, she said: "Oh Hari! At that time nobody saved me. Neither these husbands were mine, nor these sons were mine. And you, even you were not mine!" Had Krushn saved her would she have uttered such words?

Fact: When the Pandav were in the forest, Krushn said to them "I was away in the Sindh. Had I known of this dice game, I would not have allowed it to happen." This implies that he did not know of anything that happened in his absence. Then how could he have provided the clothes?

Fact: Here is the flow of events … Duryodhan said: "As they are now our slaves, I command that they disrobe." On hearing these words, the 5 Pandav brothers removed their uttariya (a long piece of cloth worn on the shoulders, like a shawl) and kept it aside. Draupadi, who was wearing only one robe (ekvastra) denied to discard it. Druyodhan ordered Dushasan to disrobe Draupadi. At this command, Dushasan gleefully tried to get hold of her robe. Surging with rage Bheem thundered, "I swear, I'll kill you and drink your blood Dushasan!" It were these words from Bheem that stopped Dushasan from disrobing Draupadi, and hearing this trembling he sat on the floor. When Bheem killed Dushasan in the Great War, he asked "With which hand did you pull Draupadi by her hair?" He did not ask "With which hand did you pull Draupadi's clothes?" It was Bheem's rage, and his capability at doing what he uttered, that saved Draupadi, not Krushn's divine intervention. [8]

Sati system was followed

Madri became a sati and entered the pyre with the corpse of Pandu.

Fact: After the death of Pandu and Madri, Kunti came back to Hastinapur with the 5 kids and the dead bodies of Pandu and Madri. [Adi Parv, Sambhava Parv: CXXVII] This section describes in detail the funeral of Pandu and Madri. Dhrutarashtra says, “Carefully wrap the bodies so that neither the Sun nor Vayu can behold them.” Had Madri commited sati, there would be no dead bodies, but the ashes of the two to carry. Also then the funeral would have taken place in the Himalay, not Hastinapur.

Fact: It is generally seen that the widows continued to live at their in-laws house. Satyavati, Ambalika, Ambika, Kunti, Uttara, all of the Kaurav wives continued to stay in Hastinapur after the deaths of their husbands. None of them became Sati.

Fact: The sati of Krushn's wives also seems to be an extrapolation. Mahabharat says that the pious wives like Rukmini, Jambavati enter the pyre on reaching Indraprastha. [Mausal Parva 16.7] Not in Dwaraka, at the funeral of Krushn. This cannot be termed as Sati. Also other (less pious?) wives like Satyabhama retired to the forest. It would be logical to believe that all the wives of Krushn retired to the forest along with the wives of Akrur on reaching Indraprastha.

Sanjay viewed the battle from Hastinapur and narrated the incedents to Dhruturashtra.

Fact: Sanjay was appointed as a reporter. He went to the battlefield clad in armour, on a chariot and with a few body gaurds. He noted the incedents and came back to Hastinapur a couple of times during the 18 day war to report the happenings. [Bheeshm Parv]

Why was Dhruturashtra blind and Pandu pale?

On seeing the ugly sage Vyas, Ambalika turned white (paled). And hence the child she bore, suffered from pandu disease. And in the same situation Ambika closed her eyes shut. Thus Druturashtra was born blind.

Fact: Pandu was a healthy person. He is described as a tall, broad shouldered, wide-eyed, handsome, strong and courageous, thoughtful and independent person. Kunti chose him amongst so many other contestants as her husband in her swayamvar. He also accomplished the digvijay expedition successfully. Maybe, Ambalika did pale at the prospect of having a child from Vyas. But it does not provide any basis for further conclusions. Dhruturashtra happened to be blind, but the reason certainly cannot be that Ambika had shut her eyes.

The birth of 100 Kaurav

Gandhari was pregnant for nearly 18 months and had not given birth to a baby. Frustrated one day, she aborted the fetus. Sage Vyas cut the flesh into 101 pieces and had it put in containers. Day by day one child came out of the container. At the end of 101 days, 100 sons and a daughter were born.

Fact: Druturashtra had many wives. Other than Gandhari no other wife is named in MB. But in many places there is a reference to the quarter of Dhruturashtra's WIVES. [Adi Parv] Implying that he had more than one wife.

Fact: Yudhishthir, who is elder to Duryodhan by one year, is about 45 years old at the time of great war. Even the youngest 100th son of Druturashtra was killed in the war. The youngest soilder to die was the 16 year old Abhimanyu. Thus Dhruturashtra's yougest son must have been at least 20 years. It is impossible that Gandhari must have given birth to 101 children over a period of 24 years.

Birth of Pandav from Gods

Kunti and Madri with the help of a mantra bore children from the Gods: Dharma, Indra, Vayu, and Ashwini Kumars.

Fact: Kunti and Madri bore sons from humans. The biological fathers of the Pandav remain unknown. Even to Vyas. Scholars have proposed that the father of Karna was Durvas Rushi. The Niyog custom of MB days, allowed a women to have sons from her brother-in-law. Its not without reason that Iravati Karve speculates that the father of Yudhishthir was Vidur. [5]

Birth of Dhrushtadyumna and Draupadi.

Fact: This has something to do with an old belief that says, twins are born when a woman has relation with two men. Thus birth of twins would have questioned the chastity of Drupad's wife. Draupadi and Dhrushtadyumna were not heavely, but normal twins. They were probably the same age of Nakul and Sahadev, or a little older.

Same belief is seen at play for the birth of Nakul and Sahadev. It is believed that Madri bore these sons from the twin Ashwin brothers.

Goddess Ganga and Shantanu

The heavenly river goddess Ganga, wife of Shantanu, drowned her 7 sons. When he stopped her from drowning the 8th son, she left Shantanu.

Fact: Ganga was neither a goddess, nor the river personified, nor a princess, but a common woman. Either she had 7 miscarriages, and died after the 8th child's birth. Or else she really did kill her 7 infants and when Shantanu stopped her from killing the 8th, she killed herself. More stories about the 8 Vasus are woven to explain this incedent.

Krishna saves Bheem

After the war Dhruturashtra intended to kill Bheem, by embracing him and suffocating him to death. Krushn saved Bheem by replacing Bheem with a statue of Bheem. And Dhruturashtra crushed the metal statue of Bheem.

Fact: Bheem is described as stronger than the strongest. He has killed Duryodhan who is comparable to Bheem. This event seems to be an extrapolation to underline the divine status of Krushn.