Kunti

Kunti and god sun
  • Kunti was the eldest daughter of king Shur, and sister of Vasudev. She was married to king Pandu of Hastinapur and was the mother of the Pandavs.
  • Kunti's real name was Pritha. Since Kuntibhoj, the son of his paternal aunt, was childless, Shur gave him his first-born daughter. From then on, Pritha was known as Kunti.
  • Once, the sage Durvasa visited king Kuntibhoj. Familiar with his wrathful temper, Kunti was personally asked to attend to him. Kunti pleased Durvasa with her devoted service, and he taught her a Mantra, on repeating which she could summon any god she liked and bear his child. The Mantra could only be used five times. Kunti, young and curious, got tempted to try out the Mantra, and one day, looking at the sun she repeated it, whereupon Surya presented himself before her. Kunti got alarmed as she did not want to be an unmarried mother, but Surya comforted her that even though she would bear a child, she would not lose her virginity. In due course, Kunti delivered a child in secrecy, who was born with golden earrings and armour. Fearing her reputation, she put the child in a basket and she left it afloat on the Ganga. A charioteer named Adhirath found him and looked after him.
  • The child grew up to be Karn. Kuntibhoj soon held a Svayamvar for Kunti and king Pandu of Hastinapur was married to her. Pandu also married Maadri. One day, when Pandu was in the forest hunting, he killed sage Kindam who was sporting with his wife. Before breathing his last, the sage cursed Pandu, that he would die, should he share physical intimacies with a woman. Pandu, crushed, retired to the forest with Kunti and Madri. But he could have no children because of the curse. Kunti then told him about the boon she had received from Durvasa. With his permission, Kunti begot Yudhishthir, Bhim and Arjun from the three gods, Dharm, Vayu and Indra. Kunti also taught Madri the Mantra. Madri begot the twins, Nakula and Sahdeva, from the Ashvinikumars. One evening, Pandu forgot about the curse, and while sporting with Madri, expired. Madri ended her life on the funeral pyre and Kunti returned to Hastinapur with the five Pandavs. When the Pandavs, after escaping from Varnavat, were living in disguise in Panchal, Arjun won the hand of Draupadi at her Svayamvar. On returning home, the brothers wanted to surprise Kunti and asked her to guess what they had brought home that day. Kunti, thinking that it was the daily alms, asked them to divide whatever it was among themselves.
  • Hence Draupadi came to be the wife of all the five Pandavs. During the thirteen year exile of the Pandavs, Kunti was too old to go with them and she spent those years at the home of Vidur. Just before war began, Kunti, fearing the fate of her sons, went alone to the Ganga where Karn was offering his morning prayers to the sun. There she revealed to him, how he came to be her son and asked him to join the Pandavs. Karn could not do that as he had already sworn to kill Arjun, but promised her that she would always be the mother of five sons. If Arjun killed Karn, she would still have five sons, and if Karn killed Arjun, he (Karn) would be her fifth son. After the war was over, and the funeral rites had to be performed for the dead, Kunti asked Yudhishthir to perform them for Karn too, and revealed the secret of Karn's birth to her sons. Later, when Gandhari and Dhritrashtra retired to the forest, Kunti too decided to follow them, despite the pleadings of her sons and daughters-in-law. Missing their mother, the Pandavs went one day to the forest to visit her. Kunti refused to let her sons stay behind and serve them. Kunti, Gandhari and Dhritrashtra died in a forest conflagration. Kunti was an incarnation of the goddess Siddhi.

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