- The 100 Kauravas (descendants of KURU) are the chief villains in the great Indian epic the MAHAB-HARATA. They also descend from the ancient king Bharata. These sons of the blind king Dhritarashtra, led by Duryodhana, the eldest, conspire to steal the throne of the land from its rightful heirs, their cousins the PANDAVAS. Kaurava is only a convenient designation, as the Pandavas are also descendents of King Kuru via Pandu, Dhritarashtra’s brother.The story tells that Dhritarashtra’s wife, Gand-hari, receives a boon that she will bear 100 sons. She is pregnant for two years, when she hears that Kunti, wife of Pandu, has given birth. She then aborts herself, yielding a hard ball of flesh. The ball is sprinkled with water and severed into 101 parts, which are incubated and put into sepa-rate pots. From these come forth the 100 sons of Gandhari and Dhritarasthra, plus one daughter named Duhshala. (Dhritarashtra also incidentally has one bastard son, Yuyutsu.)After his older brother Pandu dies, Dhri-tarashtra becomes regent and his sons (always called “the 100” although in actuality 101), led by Duryodhana, begin plotting to destroy their cousins, the five Pandavas. The story of the epic revolves around the struggle for the kingdom between these sets of brothers, culminating in the “Mahabharata” war, in which the Pandavas are triumphant, but with frightening losses.Further reading: Peter Brook, director, The Mahab-harata (videorecording), produced by Michael Prop-per (Chatsworth, Calif.: Image Entertainment, 2002); William Buck, trans., The Mahabharata (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973); J. A. B. van Buitenen, trans., The Mahabharata, 3 vols. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press); P. C. Roy, trans., The Mahabharata, 12 vols. (Bombay: Bharata Karyalaya, 1888–1896).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.