Let’s get this straight – Lakshmi’s forms are eight!

Let’s get this straight – Lakshmi’s forms are eight!

Lakshmi – the first lady of the heaven is widely known as the goddess of wealth and remains the focal point during the Diwali festivities. Lakshmi is popularly depicted as an elegant woman, dressed in a red saree, donning gem studded gold ornaments, sitting on a blooming lotus and carrying a pot full of gold coins. But, there is more to Lakshmi than just being the goddess of wealth. She symbolizes holistic wellbeing and prosperity. Here are her eight forms, each one of them comes with a unique blessing:

  1. Adi Lakshmi – Her first ever appearance. She surfaced from the depths of the ocean, as a result of the ‘great churn’ (read more). She came, she chose Vishnu as her consort and made Vaikunth her home. Without her, Vishnu – the preserver of the world’s order, is incomplete.
  2. Dhan Lakshmi – She’s the most popular. After all, especially in our times, less things shine as bright as gold. She bestows wealth, fortune and abundance. She provides for our needs, wants and desires. Her blessings set the ball rolling for human existence.
  3. Dhanya Lakshmi – She’s the one bringing the goodness of nature and the nutrients needed for a healthy human body, in the form of food grains. With her blessings, the granaries brim with abundance. For all the gold coins we might amass, we can’t feed on them.
  4. Veer Lakshmi – Every human endeavour needs courage and she’s the one bestowing it. Be it overcoming obstacles or scaling new heights or defeating adversaries or taking a path less travelled, the blessings of this form of Lakshmi play a pivotal role.
  5. Vijaya Lakshmi – More than victory in all forms of competition, she brings in the sense of holistic achievement in life. Her blessings are sought to accomplish specific objectives. At the end of the day, its success that makes every human endeavour worth it.
  6. Aishwarya Lakshmi – What good are wealth, valour and victory if you can’t enjoy them. She might bless you with the wealth but you still need her blessing for continuous prosperity, comforts, fine living and rich tastes. Here she, in a way, closes the loop.
  7. Gaja Lakshmi – She’s either flanked by magnanimous elephants or mounts one. Since elephants symbolize grandeur, here, she brings royalty. This form of Lakshmi is believed to have a long stay where she stops thus blessing generations with wealth, abundance and fortune.
  8. Santan Lakshmi – She’s the one bringing the joy of parenthood. Here, her blessing not just complete the family but also ensures one’s linage carries on. Procreating, in some Hindu scriptures, is one of the most important duties of an individual.

Obeisance to Lakshmi, the goddess with eight forms. May she bless us this Diwali with a fulfilled life ahead!

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The Sons of Kunti & Their Inspirational Stories – Part 3 of 4

The Sons of Kunti & Their Inspirational Stories – Part 3 of 4

Kunti, the first wife of King Pandu of Hastinapur, was blessed with a special boon. The boon gave her powers to invoke any God of her choice and the God invoked would bless Kunti with a son. Kunti used the boon four times. Before her marriage to King Pandu of Hastinapur, she invoked the Sun god and bore Karn. Fearing questions from people about the birth of the child, she abandoned Karn. After her marriage to Pandu, she invoked Yama (God of Death and righteousness), Vayu (God of Wind) and Indra (God of Sky and the ruler of heaven) and bore Yudhisthir, Bheem and Arjun respectively.  The sons of Kunti were the finest warriors of the Mahabharat. Each of them had their share of testing times and they all came out as winners. Their stories have inspiration for us. Here’s from Bheem: 

Bheem – This son of Kunti was different. Strong and well-built since childhood, he relied more on his physical strength than anything else. While the other Pandav siblings were orderly, disciplined and obedient, Bheem had his own ways. He was impulsive and instinctive. He lived to eat and his appetite equalled to that of all his brothers put together. Bheem would bully and thrash all Kaurav cousins and mock them for none could stand his blows. This became a regular feature during their play time. Duryodhan, the eldest of the Kauravs and Bheem’s bête noire couldn’t stand this. With guidance from his uncle Shakuni, Duryodhan decided to end the menace called Bheem once and for all. He decided to invite Bheem for a feast by the river side. Coming from Duryodhan, the invitation surprised Bheem. But the gastronome that he was, he happily accepted the invitation. His love for food was such that he also decided to go all alone, for he didn’t want the other Pandav siblings to reduce his share of the feast. Duryodhan served generous portions of pudding and Bheem didn’t disappoint his host. He licked bowls after bowls clean before letting out a hearty burp. Soon, Bheem felt tizzy and thought it’s the effect of the sumptuous feast he’s just had. Duryodhan had poisoned the pudding Bheem ate copiously and was overjoyed when he saw Bheem lay unconscious. Duryodhan and his brothers immediately carried Bheem to the river bank and rolled him into the running water. Happy their ploy was successful, they headed back to the palace. Bheem’s body flowed into the kingdom of snakes on the river bed. Seeing an alien body in their waters, guarding snakes bit into Bheem’s flesh. The poison from the snakes acted as an antidote and Bheem came back to life. Surrounded by snakes, Bheem’s instinct took over and he starting thrashing them. Soon there was panic among the snakes guarding their kingdom as Bheem turned out to be too much for them to handle. Bheem wreaked havoc and reinforcements were called. When overpowered finally, Bheem was taken to the court of Vasuki – the King of snakes. Surprised with all that had just happened at the hands of a mere boy, Vasuki asked Bheem to introduce himself. On hearing Bheem, Vasuki was overjoyed. The boy who seem to be a threatening enemy turned out to be a long lost kin. Vasuki was Kunti’s granduncle and hence Bheem’s maternal grandfather. Impressed by Bheem’s strength and courage, Vasuki offered him a potion that contained the strength of a thousand elephants. Hungry after all the exertion, Bheem gulped ten portions of that. Vasuki then had Bheem escorted back to the palace, much to the joy of Kunti. Bheem narrated the incidents that took place in the kingdom of snakes and bragged about his strength – now equalling that of ten thousand elephants. Duryodhan stood listening, aghast. Under unusual and difficult situations, Bheem followed his instincts and ended up being more powerful than before!

Read Part 1 – Inspiration from Karn here: The Sons of Kunti & Their Inspirational Stories – Part 1 of 4

Read Part 2 – Inspiration from Yudhisthir here: The Sons of Kunti & Their Inspirational Stories – Part 2 of 4

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The Sons of Kunti & Their Inspirational Stories – Part 2 of 4

The Sons of Kunti & Their Inspirational Stories – Part 2 of 4

Kunti, the first wife of King Pandu of Hastinapur, was blessed with a special boon. The boon gave her powers to invoke any God of her choice and the God invoked would bless Kunti with a son. Kunti used the boon four times. Before her marriage to King Pandu of Hastinapur, she invoked the Sun god and bore Karn. Fearing questions from people about the birth of the child, she abandoned Karn. After her marriage to Pandu, she invoked Yama (God of Death and righteousness), Vayu (God of Wind) and Indra (God of Sky and the ruler of heaven) and bore Yudhisthir, Bheem and Arjun respectively.  The sons of Kunti were the finest warriors of the Mahabharat. Each of them had their share of testing times and they all came out as winners. Their stories have inspiration for us. Here’s from Yudhisthir: 

Yudhisthir – Considered the eldest son of Kunti till the time Karn’s true identity was revealed to the world, Yudhisthir was popular for this honesty, righteousness and sound sense of justice. The eldest of the Pandav siblings lost his kingdom and dignity in gamble and was forced into exile as a result, along with his brothers. Wandering forests in scorching heat, the youngest of the Pandav siblings – Sahadev walked to a lake to fetch water. The lake was guarded by a demigod, who warned Sahadev of dire consequences if the water was touched before some questions were answered correctly. Sahadev, usually gentle and mannerly, ignored the warning and drank of the lake. The warning wasn’t a mere hoax and Sahadev died instantly. Not sighting their youngest brother for a long time, one by one each of the Pandav siblings came to the lake. Nakul, Bheem and Arjun too ignored the warning and died on drinking of the lake. Yudhisthir reached the spot and found his brothers dead. The demigod explained the cause of the deaths and warned Yudhisthir too. Being calm in difficult situations came naturally to Yudhisthir who volunteered to answer the questions. The demigod shot one question after another covering philosophy, justice, righteousness and religion. The learned Yudhisthir answered each question to the demigod’s satisfaction. Impressed, the demigod blessed Yudhisthir with a boon. Yudhisthir could now choose one of his brothers to be brought back to life. Without much deliberation, Yudhisthir chose Nakul. Surprised, the demigod questioned Yudhisthir’s choice of Nakul over the powerful Bheem and Arjun. Yudhisthir stated that his father – late King Pandu of Hastinapur had five sons from two wives Queen Kunti and the late Queen Madri. Yudhisthir reasoned that he himself, Kunti’s eldest son, was alive. It would now be fair if Nakul, Madri’s eldest son, too lived. Impressed yet again by Yudhisthir’s sense of justice which prevailed over everything else, the demigod appeared in his actual form. The demigod was none other than Yama, Yudhisthir’s godfather. All that had transpired was nothing but a test which Yudhisthir had successfully passed. Yama granted life to all Pandav siblings who then continued their journey into exile. Given the choice to bring only one brother back to life, Yudhisthir’s fine judgement and poise ensured all his brothers lived!

Read Part 1 – Inspiration from Karn here: The Sons of Kunti & Their Inspirational Stories – Part 1 of 4

Read Part 3 – Inspiration from Bheem here: The Sons of Kunti & Their Inspirational Stories – Part 3 of 4

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The Sons of Kunti & Their Inspirational Stories – Part 1 of 4

The Sons of Kunti & Their Inspirational Stories – Part 1 of 4

Kunti, the first wife of King Pandu of Hastinapur, was blessed with a special boon. The boon gave her powers to invoke any God of her choice and the God invoked would bless Kunti with a son. Kunti used the boon four times. Before her marriage to King Pandu of Hastinapur, she invoked the Sun god and bore Karn. Fearing questions from people about the birth of the child, she abandoned Karn. After her marriage to Pandu, she invoked Yama (God of Death and righteousness), Vayu (God of Wind) and Indra (God of Sky and the ruler of heaven) and bore Yudhisthir, Bheem and Arjun respectively.  The sons of Kunti were the finest warriors of the Mahabharat. Each of them had their share of testing times and they all came out as winners. Their stories have inspiration for us. Here’s from Karn: 

Karn – Born with a divine armour and a pair of earrings, Karn was abandoned by Kunti at birth. Adopted and brought up by foster parents and braving his share of struggles, he grew up to be one of the finest archers of the time. Circumstances led to a situation where Karn was to fight his brothers at Kurukshetra. Karn, over the years, had loathed the Pandavs siblings, particularly Arjun. Karn’s feelings were equally reciprocated by Arjun. The war at Kurukshetra was expected to be the decider when it came to their rivalry. Only Karn and none other could prove to be the nemesis of Arjun and that’s what kept Indra worried. Indra had equipped Arjun with powerful divine weapons for the war but he also knew none would prove effective against Karn’s divine armour and earrings. Karn’s benevolence was known far and wide. Karn would never let down a request, irrespective of its nature. He had particularly pledged to honour requests that came in right after his prayers and people from all walks of life lined up to see him after his prayers. None ever returned dissatisfied. Indra decided to guise as a sage and request Karn for his armour and earrings as alms. The Sun god, Karn’s godfather, got an inkling of Indra’s plan and warned Karn. On hearing the conspiracy, Karn wasn’t perturbed. Instead, he said that he would happily part with his armour and earrings but wouldn’t go back on his pledge. Sun warned Karn of the dire consequences of losing his divine possessions. Fearless that Karn was, he stood firm on his stance. The next day, Indra played his plan. He appeared as a sage after Karn was done with his prayers and asked for the armour and earnings. Karn smiled and happily scrapped off the armour from his body. He then snapped his earrings. There was no remorse on Karn’s face as he profusely bled and finally handed over the armour and earrings to Indra. Impressed by Karn’s commitment to his pledge and guilty of the pain he had caused, Indra appeared in his actual form and blessed Karn with a boon. Karn thought for a minute and asked Indra for his thunderbolt. Indra’s thunderbolt was a fatal divine weapon, known to never miss its mark. Since Indra had granted the boon, he handed over his weapon to Karn. Indra however added a condition, stating that Karn would be able to use the weapon just once. Karn smiled and assured Indra that he too had no intentions of using the weapon twice. Indra knew Karn would use the thunderbolt against Arjun and his worry only worsened, as he disappeared from the scene. Though devoid of his divine armour and earrings, Karn returned home more powerful than before for he stuck to his principles!  

Read Part 2 – Inspiration from Yudhisthir here: The Sons of Kunti & Their Inspirational Stories – Part 2 of 4

Read Part 3 – Inspiration from Bheem here: The Sons of Kunti & Their Inspirational Stories – Part 3 of 4

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5 Workplace Lessons From Ganesha

5 Workplace Lessons From Ganesha

Ganesha is a Hindu deity widely worshiped in India. Known for his distinct appearance and unique characteristics, Ganesha is revered as the remover of obstacles. Thus, his blessings are sough at the outset of all things important. Stories of Ganesha hold some valuable lessons to excel at the workplace:

  1. Do what you ought to do (even if it means losing your head!!):

Parvati, the consort of Shiva, created a boy using her mystic powers. She adopted the boy as her son and asked him to stand guard as she bathed. Exhibiting a firm sense of commitment towards the task assigned, the boy didn’t allow even Shiva to enter the place. Unaware of the developments whilst he was in deep meditation, a miffed Shiva unleased his trident and beheaded the boy. This obviously didn’t go well with Parvati and she demanded her son be brought back to life. Realizing his mistake, Shiva asked his men to fetch the head of the first creature they came across. The men did as instructed and ended up getting an elephant’s head. Shiva joined the elephant’s head and the boy’s body and instilled life – giving the boy a distinctive appearance. Shiva also appointed the boy, his son, the leader of his followers. Which got the boy his name – “Ganesha” or “Ganapati”.  

You could face the wrath for doing what you ought to do, but eventually you’ll end up with something bigger, better and distinct!

  1. Pause and play smart:

One day Ganesha and his brother Kartikeya disagreed over issue. Shiva intervened and declared that the one to go around the universe thrice and emerge victorious in the ‘race’ would be have the final say on the issue. Without a thought, Kartikeya zipped into action. Ganesha contemplated for a minute and smiled. All he did was went around Shiva and Parvati thrice and waited for Kartikeya to return. A gasping Kartikeya arrived claiming himself as the winner. Ganesha argued, stating Shiva-Parvati to be his universe, which he circled much before Kartikeya could compete the three rounds of the entire universe. A delighted Shiva declared Ganesha the winner, much to the dissent of Kartikeya.    

Before you jump into obvious solutions, do pause and think if there are smarter ways to solve problems. With lesser efforts leading to desired results. 

  1. Give it back:

Kuber, the treasurer of the gods, lived a life of abundance and riches. In his bid to show off his wealth, Kuber invited Shiva for dinner to his city Alkapuri. Shiva declined the invitation and asked Kuber to invite Ganesha instead. Ganesha understood the intent behind the invitation and decided to teach Kuber a lesson. Ganesha ate all that was cooked. The hosts kept serving portions as Ganesha emptied platter after platter. Ganesha kept asking for more and soon the kitchens of Alkapuri ran out of food. Distressed, Kuber approached Parvati who happily shared the secret of satiating Ganesha’s appetite. Kuber apologized to Shiva and Ganesha, promising never to repeat the mistake. In another instance, the Moon mocked Ganesha’s pot belly. Enraged, Ganesha cursed the haughty moon to lose its glow and disappear. Moon apologized and plead for mercy. Ganesha forgave only partly and left the Moon with some dark spots, diminishing its beauty, its pride.  

There is no alternative to giving it back when needed. Simple!

  1. Ensure work doesn’t stop:

Vyas requested Ganesha to the pen the story of the Mahabharat as he dictated. Ganesha agreed conditionally, asking Vyas to ensure the dictation doesn’t stop until the epic is complete. Vyas agreed and the dictation began. Vyas kept reciting the verses and Ganesha filled leaves after leaves. In what turned to be a marathon writing session, Ganesha’s quill pen gave in and broke. Ganesha realized he would end up being the cause of disruption that he himself insisted Vyas to avoid. Holding the agreement sacrosanct, Ganesha didn’t spare a second thought as he broke his own tusk. Using the sharp end as a pen, Ganesha continued writing to Vyas’s amazement and appreciation.  

Let nothing come in the way of achieving goals. Not only will you reach the goals, you’ll also end up being recognized and appreciated. 

  1. Synergize:

A demon called Gajamukha did what most demons did. He pleased Shiva with rigorous penance and ended up getting a boon. Misusing his powers, Gajamukha wreaked havoc and conquered the heavens. Ganesha was tasked with taking the demon head-on and overpowering him. In what turned to be a fierce battle, the demon took the form of a mouse thinking a large and heavy Ganesha wouldn’t stand the agility of a small mouse. Gajamukha was captured and Ganesha did realize the merit in the trick. As the victor, Ganesha commanded Gajamukha to permanently retain the form of a mouse. He appointed him as his carrier for together the two distinct sized partners complemented each other well.

You should look at developing symbiotic working relationships. No one has it all and no one is too insignificant to offer nothing at all! 

The 10 Avengers of the Mahabharat

The ancient Indian epic of Mahabharat saw a war at Kurukshetra. The war was nothing but a calumniation of grudges. Here are the avengers and their stories:

Shakuni – the sweet and silent avenger. Shakuni was no well-wisher of the Kauravs. He wished for and systematically worked towards the downfall of the Hastinapur kingdom. Fuelling jealousy, false pride and hatred, Shakuni made a mess of Duryodhan’s life. His cunning ideas ensured the relations between Kauravs and Pandavs reached a point of irreversible collapse, eventually leading to bloodbath at Kurukshetra. Shakuni had his reasons to hate the royal family of Hastinapur. His family was ruined at their hands and he wanted to give back what he got. He silently did what he wanted to and no one realized what he was up to. For deception was the best weapon Shakuni had. When Shakuni got killed in war, the Kauravs were on the brink of defeat.

Shikandi – the patient avenger. First as Amba, a woman and then as Shikandi, a woman in a man’s body. Bhishma accidentally ruined Amba’s life and did what he considered his best to salvage the situation. Amba didn’t get what she wanted as reparation. Amba pleased Shiva with her penance and was blessed with a boon that were to materialize in the next birth. Shikhandi had waited too long and was actually helping himself when he agreed to help Arjun in the war at Kurukshetra. Bhishma lowed his weapons sighting Shikhandi on Arjun’s chariot. What Arjun did as a result not only changed the course of the war but gave immense happiness and a sense of retribution to Amba.

Duryodhan – the tit-for-tat avenger. Full of despise for his cousins, the Pandavs since childhood and jealous of their recent success, Duryodhan was already a volcano waiting to erupt. Draupadi’s laughter and mocking was something his bloated ego couldn’t take sportingly. What Duryodhan considered insulting had to be avenged by a stronger insult. With Shakuni’s trickery by his side, Duryodhan ensured the Pandavs lost everything they had in gamble, including Draupadi. Not stopping there, he had Dushasan drag Draupadi into a packed court and humiliate her, taking the politics of Hastinapur to its nadir. Draupadi’s cries was music to Duryodhan’s ears. It was his day to laugh.

Bheem – the most ruthless avenger of his time. Draupadi’s insult didn’t go down well with the Pandavs, particularly Bheem. We vowed to break Duryodhan’s thigh into pieces and sip blood from Dushasan’s chest to quench his anger. Known for his abilities to accomplish arduous tasks, Bheem’s words sent shockwaves across the court. In the war at Kurukshetra, Bheem brutally killed Dushasan, mutilating his body and dancing around it. Later, flouting rules of the war, Bheem used his mace to land massive blows on Duryodhan’s thigh, leaving him bleeding profusely. Bheem’s revenge was what brought victory to the Pandavs for only he could kill Duryodhan.

Arjun – the quickest of all avengers. The war at Kurukshetra was at its peak. Drona as the chief of the Kaurav forces decided to end the war by capturing Yudhisthir. Arjun ensured every attempt failed which lead Drona into a masterplan. The Kauravs got Arjun busy elsewhere and arranged their army in the circular formation. Arjun’s son Abhimanyu rescued his side from the crisis that ensued but was brutally killed. Jayadrath was the one who didn’t allow any help reach the lone Abhimanyu. Arjun vowed to kill Jayadrath within a day, failing which he promised to commit suicide. With help from Krishna and using his fine archery, tearing apart layers of Kaurav protection, Arjun put Jayadrath to rest in the nick of time.

Drupad, Drona, Eklavya, Dhrishtadyumna & Ashwathama – a messy circle of revenge. Drupad made a promise to Drona which he never fulfilled. Drona took it as an insult and carried a grudge. Drona ruined Eklavya’s career as an archer for he was seen as a potential threat to Drona’s favourite pupil Arjun. Eklavya wanted to repay it to Drona and died after a boon from Krishna. The boon ensured Eklavya would be reborn to kill Drona. Drona later got Drupad captured by Pandavs and usurped half of Drupad’s kingdom for his son Ashwathama. Now, Drupad carried the grudge and sought divine help to settle scores with Drona. He was blessed with Dhrishtadyumna as his son who already had the martial skills needed to kill Drona. Dhrishtadyumna arrival was also the rebirth of Eklavya. Certain that Drona would die at the hands of Dhrishtadyumna, Drupad waited patiently. In the war at Kurukshetra, they all came face to face. Drona and Ashwathama were by the Kaurav side and Drupad and Dhrishtadyumna fought by the Pandav side. Drona killed Drupad and Dhrishtadyumna killed Drona. Ashwathama later killed Dhrishtadyumna. Ashwathama’s attempt to end the Pandav lineage was reversed by Krishna. Krishna’s curse sent Ashwathama into oblivion, putting an end the horrid cycle of revenge that killed almost all involved.

For detailed stories, read: The Avengers of the Mahabharat – Full Stories — storysellersid

 

 

The Avengers of the Mahabharat – Full Stories

The Avengers of the Mahabharat – Full Stories

Shakuni. This one goes against the popular belief. Shakuni is considered to be a well-wisher of the Kaurav clan, particularly his nephew Duryodhan. But the reality was the opposite. Shakuni wasn’t what he appeared. He held grudges he never expressed. One against Bhishma for proposing the blind Dhritarashtra’s marriage to his sister Gandhari. The other against Dhritarashtra for imprisoning, torturing and killing Shakuni’s family. A young Gandhari’s horoscope didn’t augur well and astrologers suggested a remedy. Gandhari was married to a goat, which was later scarified to appease the malefic planets. The rituals were done and forgotten. Years later after her marriage, when her husband Dhritarashtra came to know of this, he alleged foul play. Reasoning that Gandhari was technically a widow and that her family hadn’t been transparent about it. A furious Dhritarashtra captured and imprisoned the whole of Gandhari’s family. Shakuni’s father Subala ensured Shakuni alone ate the little food they were served in prison so he could live to avenge. Subala asked Shakuni to carve dice out of his bones, stating the dice thus made would always roll a result of Shakuni’s choice. Subala prophesied that a game of dice would help Shakuni bring down the Kaurav clan. When Subala was about to die, he broke Shakuni’s leg which left him limping. Subala did so to ensure each limping step reminded Shakuni of his objective. In no time did Shakuni’s family die of starvation. Seeing him left alone, Dhritarashtra let Shakuni free. Full of despise within but using saccharine coated words, Shakuni earned his place as a well-wisher of the Kaurav clan. Behind the scenes, he fuelled hatred in an adolescent Duryodhan. Shakuni’s encouragement was enough for an already narcissistic Duryodhan. It was under Shakuni’s influence and guidance that Duryodhan executed devilish plans against the Pandav siblings. With each conspiracy, the rift between cousins got wider. Eventually, Shakuni’s trickery with the dice in the gamble at Hastinapur became the cause of the biggest war the world had ever seen. By the time Shakuni got killed in the war of Kurukshetra, he had almost avenged. With Duryodhan’s death soon after, the Kaurav clan was history. A sweet and silent avenger indeed!

Shikhandi. This one spans over multiple births. Bhishma was bound by his oath to protect the King of Hastinapur thereby ensuring the well-being and prosperity of the kingdom. Bhishma abducted the three princesses of the kingdom of Kashi so they could be the queens of King Vichitravir. Bhishma defeated each and every one who tried to stop him in his tracks. Amba was one of the abducted princesses and on reaching Hastinapur, she revealed the fact that she was already in a relationship with another prince and could not get married to Vichitravir. Bhishma gracefully accepted Amba’s situation and had her sent to the man she loved. Amba’s lover rejected her, stating that accepting her would go against his honour in the royal circles. With nowhere to go, Amba pled Bhishma to accept her as his wife. Bound by an oath to remain unmarried all his life, Bhishma rebuffed the plea. Amba shared her plight with Parshuram, Bhishma’s guru. Upon hearing the story, Parshuram ordered Bhishma to accept Amba as his wife. Bhishma politely reminded Parshuram about his oath. Enraged, Parshuram invited Bhishma into a duel which lasted for days. Bhishma got the better of his guru and emerged victorious. Heartbroken, angry and with no choice left, Amba spent the rest of her life meditating to please Lord Shiva. Undertaking gruelling penance, Amba eventually impressed Shiva. Shiva granted Amba the boon of being the cause of Bhishma’s death in her next birth. Amba later took birth as Shikhandi, a woman in a man’s body, and waited for the right time. Shikhandi fought by the Pandav’s in the war of Kurukshetra, in which Bhishma was proving to be unstoppable. In walked Arjun seeking Shikhandi’s help. Shikhandi was more than happy to help, ready to do whatever it took, so long as it was Bhishma on the receiving end. Knowing Bhishma well, the Pandav’s knew he would lower his weapons seeing the woman in a man’s body. Arjun made Shikhandi his shield for the day and fired a barrage of arrows much to the delight of Shikhandi. Bhishma lay on a bed of arrows, with his body pierced all over. Amba smiled for very old scores were finally settled. A patient avenger Amba proved to be!

Duryodhan. Duryodhan was the eldest of the Kaurav siblings. Though younger than Yudhisthir, the eldest of the Pandav siblings, he saw himself as the undisputed heir to the throne of Hastinapur, which became the bone of contention between the Kauravs and Pandavs. Later, much to the dislike of Duryodhan, the kingdom of Hastinapur was divided and the Pandavs built a new capital that came to be known as Indraprasth. The Pandavs turned around what seemed to be an unjust deal and were successful in establishing themselves as a strong kingdom. Their successes didn’t go down well with Duryodhan who was amazed by the palace his cousin Pandavs lived in. The palace was known for its illusions and any one visiting it for the first time was bound to get awestruck by its magnificence. Duryodhan was no exception. In one of his strolls through the palace corridors, he mistook a pond for a carpet and stepped on and fell, drenching himself in water. Before his strong body could realize any pain, he heard a laughter. It was Draupadi, the wife of the Pandav siblings who witnessed the sight and couldn’t supress a hearty laugh. Humour wasn’t a quality Duryodhan was ever known for, especially when the joke was on him. To add to that, Draupadi remarked that it was no wonder Duryodhan couldn’t see the pond, for he was the son of a blind man. The remark was insult to injury and left Duryodhan fuming. With his male ego bashed by a woman he already considered arrogant, Duryodhan decided to repay. Insult for insult was his way of giving it back. He planned the game of dice with the help of Shakuni, who put trickery to play. Yudhisthir, lost everything in gamble, including Draupadi. The Pandavs and Draupadi were now Duryodhan’s slaves but that wasn’t enough for Duryodhan. His chance to teach Draupadi a lesson had just arrived. He had her dragged into the court and made lewd comments. He gestured pointing towards his thigh, showing Draupadi her place to sit. Crossing all limits of sanity, Duryodhan then had his brother Dushasan strip Draupadi in front of the packed court of Hastinapur. Duryodhan enjoyed the sight and laughed to his heart’s content. A tit-for-tat avenger, this Duryodhan!

Bheem. The second Pandav sibling was known for his strength, voracious appetite and his ability to complete arduous tasks.  Krishna’s powers had saved Draupadi’s honour but the damage was done. An enraged Bheem pledged before he thought but that was what he was about, more brawn than brains. This mace wielding Pandav sibling was full of raw energy coupled with a short temper. Draupadi’s insult was too much to tolerate and Bheem stood up and roared like a lion. The roar itself was deafening and what he said was stunning. Bheem vowed to shatter Duryodhan’s thigh into pieces, the thigh Duryodhan shamelessly gestured pointing towards. Dushasan’s deed got him a place in Bheem’s hit list. He vowed to avenge Draupadi’s insult by tearing open Dushasan’s chest and sipping the blood that would ooze out therefrom. Bheem’s words sent ripples across the court. His vow was a first of its kind and in a way outlined the future of the tumultuous relationship between the Kauravs and Pandavs. A future that was to witness an inevitable war. As a sanction of sorts on the Pandav’s, for they had lost it all in gamble, they were exiled for twelve years and had to live a year in anonymity as well. Upon completion of thirteen years, the Pandav’s sought peace, much against Bheem’s choice. Krishna supported peace and lead the initiative. The peace process failed as Duryodhan wanted war and hence a war it was. It was Bheem’s the chance to avenge. He pinned Dushasan to the ground and mercilessly plucked his hand from the body. The witnesses were horrified as Bheem flung Dushasan’s hand away and tore open his chest. Dushasan’s shrieks echoed in the whole of Kurukshetra as Bheem sipped his warm blood and roared with joy. Within minutes, Bheem danced circling Dushasan’s dead body. The next in line was Duryodhan. On the final day, Bheem and Duryodhan got into a duel and upon Krishna’s insistence, Bheem violated rules. He landed multiple blows with his mace on Duryodhan’s thigh bone, shattering it into pieces. The wounds profusely bled, leading to Duryodhan’s death and victory to the Pandavs. Easily the most ruthless avenger of his time – Bheem.

Arjun. The third Pandav sibling was the finest archer in the world. He was the only warrior on the Pandav side who could stand the wrath of greats like Bhishma, Drona & Karn. When Drona became the commander in chief of the Kaurav army, capturing Yudhisthir was his single largest motive. Drona knew that the minute Yudhisthir got captured the war would end, ending the carnage that had hundreds of thousands of men losing lives daily. Duryodhan was aligned with the idea of capturing Yudhisthir for it not only meant victory but yet another chance to humiliate his cousins. Every time Drona made a move to capture Yudhisthir, Arjun would end up blocking his way like an impregnable shield. It so happened that the only obstacle standing in the way of Drona’s strategy was Arjun. The Kaurav commanders pondered over tactics to get Arjun away from the scene. They realized that the only way to do that was to ensure Arjun gets engaged elsewhere. They knew that Arjun would never ignore a one to one challenge. It was also clear that the one challenging Arjun would be dead. Duryodhan had loyal generals in his army and one of them, knowing the repercussions, agreed to challenge Arjun. The plan worked. Whilst Arjun chased his challenger, Drona arranged his army in a formation called Chakravyuh knowing only Arjun and Krishna could breach it.  Neither of the two were around. Yudhisthir knew that making no attempt to breach the formation or failing at the attempt would mean defeat and could lead to being captured. With the Pandav generals in a fix, a ray of hope emerged. Arjun’s son Abhimanyu who came forward. Just in his teens but no less than his father when it came to archery, Abhimanyu stated that he knew the way to breach into the formation but didn’t know the way out to safety. He was assured by the Pandav siblings that they would follow his lead and ensure he doesn’t enter the formation alone. The brave Abhimanyu breached the first line of enemy forces and entered the concentric formation. The likes of Yudhisthir and Bheem were blocked by Jayadrath. One after another, Jayadrath fought the Pandav generals trying to follow Abhimanyu and didn’t let any of them succeed. Abhimanyu was left alone. Frustrated at yet another failed attempt to capture Yudhisthir, the Kaurav generals brutally killed Abhimanyu. Arjun returned to a gloomy camp and wept like a child. His sorrow turned into fury when he heard the whole story and he pledged to kill Jayadrath before sunset the next day, else he would commit suicide. All knew that if Jayadrath lived to see the sunset, a Kaurav victory would be certain. The battle on the subsequent day had all the Pandav generals rallying behind Arjun’s chariot and all the Kaurav generals standing between Arjun and Jayadrath. With the sunset near and Jayadrath nowhere in sight, Krishna used his mystic powers to create an illusion. The sun appeared to have set, which made Jayadrath come up to and mock Arjun. Just when the Kaurav’s were in the middle of a laugh riot, Krishna made the sun reappear and assured Arjun that it wasn’t dusk yet. Seeing Jayadrath right in front of him, Arjun pulled the string of his bow, which now had a sharp and glowing arrow ready to be released. Jayadrath’s head flew with the arrow, out of sight, into the twilight sky. That was Arjun – quickest of all Avengers!

Drupad, Drona, Eklavya, Dhrishtadyumna & Ashwathama. It all started when Drona and Drupad were young. Drona was the son of a Brahmin and Drupad the crown prince of his kingdom. Keeping their backgrounds aside, they became the thickest of friends. In an emotionally charged conversation, Drupad promised Drona that once he became king, he would give half of his kingdom to Drona. Drupad forgot about what he had mindlessly said but Drona didn’t. When Drupad eventually became king, Drona reminded him about the promise. Drupad not only feigned ignorance, but also mocked Drona for taking an adolescent conversation too seriously. He even showed Drona his place in the society as a Brahmin and stated that there were no friendships between Kings and commoners. More than not getting what he was promised, Drona was upset with the mocking and decided to someday settle scores with Drupad. Life moved on and Drona was appointed as the martial arts trainer to the Kaurav and Pandav princes. Impressed with Arjun’s skill, focus and hunger to excel at archery, Drona permanently disabled Eklavya, who had the potential to be threaten Arjun’s place as the finest archer. Eklavya felt cheated and longed to get back at Drona. He eventually died at the hands of Krishna not before being blessed with a boon to be born-again to kill Drona. Drona’s pupil grew up to be the finest warriors of the time. As a fee for his training, Drona asked the Pandavs to challenge Drupad in battle and capture him. The Pandav siblings succeeded in capturing Drupad and handed over him over to Drona, who got Drupad surrender half of the kingdom to Ashwathama, Drona’s son. What was an old score settled for Drona became a new reason for animosity for Drupad. A humiliated Drupad pursued a holy ritual to be blessed with a son capable of killing Drona. The sacrificial offerings bore fruit as a man emerged from the pyre. Already blessed with advanced combat skills, the man came to be known as Dhrishtadyumna. Drupad was elated and waited for the day Dhrishtadyumna would kill Drona. The friends turned foes faced each other in battleground Kurukshetra. Drona was proving to be too much for the Pandav forces to curtail. Drupad didn’t live to see his revenge come alive as Drona killed him. Menacing as Drona had been, the Pandavs had to retort to trickery. Falling prey to a trap well set, Drona lowered his weapons. As he sat in meditation, Dhrishtadyumna pulled out his sword and charged. A two-handed slash had Drona’s head toppling on the ground. With the end of Drona’s life, both Drupad and Eklavya got their revenge as Dhrishtadyumna was none other than Eklavya reborn. The eye for an eye saga didn’t end here. Drona’s killing enraged Ashwathama who vowed to punish the Pandavs for their deed. On the night Duryodhan died, Ashwathama went on a killing spree in the sleeping Pandav camp. He brutally killed Dhrishtadyumna and avenged the killing of his father. He then entered a tent and killed five sleeping men, thinking they were Pandavs. Elated at the thought of having settled all scores in a night, he killed hundreds of soldiers before escaping. At dawn, the Pandavs were aghast and angry at the merciless killings, didn’t take long to identify their culprit and were on the lookout. When caught, Ashwatthama killed Abhimanyu’s son in his mother’s womb. This turned to be the last revenge killing. The Pandavs couldn’t kill Ashwatthama for he had the boon of immortality. However, an infuriated Krishna cursed Ashwatthama for the terrible deed and brought Abhimanyu’s son to life. Ashwatthama made futile pleas for mercy and eventually disappeared into oblivion.

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