Duryodhana was a major character in the Mahabharata. He was the main antagonist. Duryodhana was the eldest of the Kauravas, the hundred sons of Dhitrastra. He became instigated by Shakuni, his mother’s brother, that the Pandavas are bad. He was killed by Bhima in the Mahabharata war.
- Father: Dhitrastra
- Mother: Gandhari
- Brothers: 99 Other Kauravas
- Half-Brother: Yuyutsu
- Sister: Dushala
- Wife: Bhanumati
- Son: Lakshmana Kumara
- Daughter: Lakshmanaa
Gandhari, the wife of King Dhitrastra of Kuru, once did a lot of devotion to Ved Vyas. Ved Vyas was impressed with her devotion and granted her the boon that she would have 100 brave sons.
Soon, Gandhari became pregnant, but the children wouldn’t come out. When she heard that Kunti and Madri (the wives of Pandu, Dhitrastra’s younger brother) had already had children in the forest, she became really frustrated. She pounded her stomach in anger and lump of flesh came out of her body.
Dhitrastra and Gandhari went to Ved Vyas for help. Ved Vyas divided the lump of flesh into 101 parts and kept each part in a cool earthen pot to incubate. After two years, a baby emerged out of one of the pots. Many omens arrived with the baby. Hastinapur’s elders like Bhishma, Vidura, and Ved Vyas suggested that the baby be killed. They said that if they let the baby grow up, he will do many bad things and bring destruction. But, Dhitrastra and Gandhari refused to kill the baby. They named the baby Suyodhana, meaning great warrior.
After some time, the other 99 babies were also born in the pots. They were also named with names starting with ‘Su’. There was still one last pot left. Out of that pot was born Dushala, a girl.
As the hundred brothers grew up, they were all mean and disrespectful. So people starting replacing the ‘Su’ in their name with ‘Du’. So, the eldest, Suyodhana, was called Duryodhana. Soon, everybody started calling them with ‘Du’. The hundred brothers were together called the Kauravas, with Duryodhana as the oldest.
Shakuni was Gandhari’s elder brother. He was the king of Gandhara, but lived in Hastinapura. Shakuni had taken a vow that he would destroy Hastinapura for what King Dhitrastra had done to him and his family. Shakuni always instigated Duryodhana against his cousins, the Pandavas, the sons of Pandu who lived in the jungle. Duryodhana started to have an enmity against the Pandavas.
Soon, Pandu and Madri died and Kunti came with the 5 Pandavas to live in Hastinapura. Even though the Pandavas hadn’t done anything to him, Duryodhana treated the Pandavas really badly in Hastinapura. As a result, Bhima (the second Pandava) would always trouble his brothers. Duryodhana developed hatred for Bhima.
Duryodhana and Shakuni made a plan to kill Bhima. They sent the Pandavas to a beautiful place called Praman Koti. They entertained all the Pandavas. Meanwhile, Duryodhana asked Bhima if he wanted to eat. Bhima replied saying he wanted to eat a feast.
He gave Bhima some kheer. He and Shakuni had secretly poisoned this kheer. When Bhima ate it he fell unconscious. Duryodhana then threw Bhima into the Ganga river. Some nagas use to live there. There king’s name was Aryakka. They found Bhima and brought him to their king. Aryakka revived Bhima and granted him two boons. The two boons were that he would as strong as 10,000 elephants and would not be affected by poison ever again.
He soon returned back to his mother and 4 brothers. They had been really worried.
Soon, the Pandavas and Kauravas went to Dronacharya’s ashram for more advanced learning of combat and weapons. Duryodhana proved to be really skilled at mace-fighting.
Meeting Karna and Varnavrata
The Pandavas and Kauravas were now young adults. When they returned to Hastinapura, Dhitrastra hosted a competition. In the competition, Arjuna was defeating Duryodhana, when a young adult named Karna interfered. He started fighting for Duryodhana with his bow.
Kripacharya refused that Karna fight Arjuna as only princes could fight princes. When Bhishma asked Karna his name and caste, Karna said Sudra. The spectators of the tournament started insulting Karna and calling him Sudputra.
“Stop. Bhishma Pitama vanquished the king of Anga and conquered the Anga land. I now declare Karna the king of Anga. He is now royalty and is capable of dueling Arjuna,” Duryodhana declared.
“Thank you, Prince Duryodhana. How can I repay you?” Karna asked in gratitude.
“You can give me your friendship in return,” Duryodhana replied.
“As you wish, friend,” Karna said.
Karna took his bow and Arjuna took his. They started firing arrow after arrow on each other. Soon, both started using divyastras. Soon, dusk arrived and the duel was left incomplete. After this incident, Arjuna and Karna developed great enmity for each other.
Yudhistira became crown prince because he was older than Duryodhana. This made Duryodhana really angry. He believed that he should be crown prince because he was Dhitrastra’s son, who was older than Pandu. He complained about this to Shakuni. Shakuni made a plan to kill the Pandavas, so Duryodhana could become crown prince.
Duryodhana sent the Pandavas and Kunti to a palace of lac at Varnavrata for a few days. Their plan was to have Purochana, burn the palace one night, so that the Pandavas would burn in the palace. When Purochana did this, the Pandavas and Kunti barely eascaped. Vidura, who was waiting near Varnavrata, helped them cross the Ganga river and adviced them to live in the forest for a while. The Pandavas and Kunti followed his advice.
In Kuru kingdom, everybody thought that the Pandavas had died. Duryodhana became crown prince and proceeded to marry Jallandharaa, the princess of Kasi. Jallandharaa wanted to marry Bhima. Vidura knew the Pandavas were not dead. He told Jallandharaa to leave Kuru kingdom. Jallandharaa followed his advice. After a while, Bhima located her and married her.
Duryodhana was attending the svayamvara of Bhanumati, the princess of Kalinga, in hope of winning her in marriage. Karna and Shakuni went with him. When the svayamvar started, Bhanumati walked into the court. She was told about each participant’s name and lineage. When she walked away from Duryodhana, he was infuriated. He grabbed her and ran out of the palace with Karna and Shakuni. The three of them got on a chariot and Karna single-handedly defeated all the other royal suitors.
At Hastinapura, Duryodhana married Bhanumati. They had twins: a boy named Lakshmana Kumara and a girl named Lakshmanaa. Duryodhana loved Lakshmana Kumara and taught him warfare.
Soon, the Pandavas, Draupadi and Kunti returned to Hastinapura. Everyone was surprised to learn that all five of the Pandavas were married to Draupadi.
Dividing the Kingdom
Dhitrastra and Bhishma decided to give a part of Kuru kingdom to the Pandavas to avoid tension over control of the entire kingdom between the Pandavas and Kauravas. They gave the Pandavas a region called Khandavprastha. This region was every infertile. It was hard to grow crops here. The Pandavas still made this land into a beautiful city called Indraprasta.
Duryodhana becomes the prince regent of Hastinapur, and owing to the age and blindness of his father, he accumulated much control and influence, managing the state affairs himself with a group of advisers that included Shakuni and Karna.
Yudhistira decided to perform the Rajasuya yagna. He sent his 4 brothers to conquer all the kingdoms. After they did so, he performed the yagna. He invited many kings and princes, including Duryodhana. Duryodhana and Shakuni were baffled when they saw how beautiful and rich the palace of Indraprasta was. This just increased Duryodhana’s jealousy towards the Pandavas.
Duryodhana became really angry when Draupadi called him ‘the son of a pot’. When Krishna killed Shishupal after pardoning him a 100 times, Duryodhana got really angry and left the yagna. While leaving the palace, he fell into some water. Draupadi started laughing and said ‘a blind man’s son is blind’. Duryodhana and Shakuni became really angry and left immediately.
Shakuni and Duryodhana made another plan against the Pandavas. They invited the Pandavas to Hastinapura for a gambling game. Not knowing of the cruel plan, the Pandavas accepted. The Pandavas and Draupadi went to Hastinapura. Shakuni, with his magical dice, made the Pandavas loose everything, including their wealth, jewelry, chariots, Indraprasta and lots more. Soon Yudhistira also lost his brothers and himself.
In the end, Dushasana dragged Draupadi to the court and attempted to disrobe her. Krishna saved Draupadi by continuing to magically add more to her clothing. After a long time, Dushasana gave up. In the end, it was decided that the Pandavas would go into exile for 12 years and incognito for 1 year. If they were identified during incognito they would repeat they exile and incognito.
During Pandavas’ Exile
Karna launched a military campaign for Duryodhana. He led a huge army and subjugated many kings. When he returned, he was welcomed and thanked by Duryodhana.
Duryodhana decided to tease the Pandavas on how rich he was and how poor they were. He came to the forest where they were living and set up a camp, right in front of their hut. He brought along tons of wealth to show off. One day, Duryodhana went to bathe in a nearby pond. When he was bathing, a few Gandharvas arrived there. They wanted to bathe in the pond also. Duryodhana refused to let them into the pond. Thus, a fight started. The Gandharvas easily defeated and captured Duryodhana. At that time, Arjuna arrived there. He defeated the Gandharvas and freed Duryodhana. Duryodhana was really ashamed and told Arjuna to ask for a boon. Arjuna replied, “I will surely ask for a boon, but not right now.”
On the 18th day of war, everybody had been killed in the Kaurava army. Only Kritavarma, Ashwastamma, Duryodhana, and Kripacharya were left. Their entire army had been routed. Duryodhana retreated from the battlefield. He took his mace and came to a lake called the Dwaipayana in the middle of the forest near the battlefield. He went in the lake and froze the lake. After some time, Kripacharya, Ashwastamma and Kritavarma came to the lake. They told Duryodhana to come out. Duryodhana said,” I am glad that you’re alive. We’ll fight the Panavas tommorow. It is night right now and we should all rest,” Duryodhana replied from the lake.
Vetalas that were returning from their hunt heard this conversation. When they heard Duryodhana’s voice, they quickly rushed to Yudhistira. The Pandavas had been searching for Duryodhana the entire day. The Vetalas led the Pandavas, Satyaki, Shikhandi, and Dhristadyumna to Duryodhana. Kritavarma, Ashwastamma and Kripacharya heard someone coming so they rushed from the spot.