The Forgotten Kauravas

When we think of The Mahabharata, we think of the Pandavas as its heroes. We follow their journey, from riches to rags to riches again, with bated breath.  

But how well do we know its “villains”, the Kauravas? Their tumultuous lives — filled with what they stood to gain and everything they lost along the way — is a footnote in this great epic.  

The Kauravas were a hundred and counting, in number, but can we name any of them beyond Duryodhana and Dushasana? It’s time to brush the dust off these forgotten lives.  

Here’s an introduction to three lesser-known Kauravas. 

Illustration: S.G. Abhirami

As the third Kaurava brother, Vikarna could have followed in the footsteps of his siblings. But his passion for dharma burnt bright.  

During the game of dice, where his brothers taunted Draupadi while the Kuru elders looked away, it was Vikarna who stood up for his sister-in-law. When she argued that Yudhisthira could not stake her after losing himself and implored the elders to step in, Vikarna echoed her sentiments. His concern was dismissed but it still showed his strength of character.  

Eventually, he was slain in the Battle of Kurukshetra. His death was mourned by the Pandavas and Kauravas alike.

Did you know? 

Vikarna’s equivalent in the Ramayana is Kumbhakarna. Both of them were dutiful brothers who played out the roles ordained for them by destiny. 

Illustration: S.G. Abhirami

Yuyutsu was also Dhritarashtra’s son but his mother was Sughada, Gandhari’s personal attendant. This made him a lifelong target of his jeering half-brothers — something he shared in common with the Pandavas. They struck up an easy friendship that remained steadfast through the years. He even sent them warnings about Duryodhana’s schemes — one of which saved Bheema’s life.  

It should come as no surprise that Yuyutsu was the only Kaurava to fight for the Pandavas, during the Battle of Kurukshetra.

Did you know? 

Yuyutsu’s equivalent in the Ramayana is Vibhishana. Both of them defected before their respective wars, pledging alliance to the other side. 

Illustration: S.G. Abhirami

Dhritarashtra and Gandhari had a hundred sons. But their final child — the 101st — was a daughter named Dushala. 

Growing up, she was doted on by her brothers and treated by the Pandavas as their own sister. But all was not idyllic for Dushala. She was married off to Jayadratha, the haughty king of Sindhu, and their marriage was riddled with unhappiness. Dushala was widowed in the war and lost her son, Suratha, some years later.  

When the Pandavas were conducting a yagna to become the ultimate rulers of the land, Dushala brought her grandson to them. The innocence in the child’s eyes moved Arjuna to crown him the king of Sindhu.

Would you agree? 

Dushala’s tale shows that it may take 105 men to wage a war, but one woman to restore peace. 

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