Kurukshetra (province of the Kurus) is a tract of land south of present-day Delhi and is the site of the great war depicted in the MAHABHARATA epic. The Kurus were a great clan, including both the PANDAVAS and the KAURAVAS, the main contenders in that war. Both groups were descended from an ancient progenitor named Kuru.
   The place-name also appears in the first line of the BHAGAVAD GITA, where it takes on a metaphori-cal significance. The battle, as the Gita under-stands, actually takes place in the consciousness of every human being, who must ascertain right action (dharma) in relation to God. In the sim-plest terms this battle is between right and wrong, or, yogically, between higher and lower states of being. Kurukshetra has been an important pil-grimage site from ancient times (perhaps since the time of the Mahabharata). It is mentioned as such in different PURANAS.
   Further reading: J. A. B. van Buitenen, trans., The Mahabharata, Vol. 1, The Book of the Beginnings, Vol. 2, The Book of the Assembly Hall, vol. 3, The Book of Virata and the Book of Effort (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973–78); Cornelia Dimmitt and J. A. B. van Buitenen, Classical Hindu Mythology: A Reader in the Sanskrit Puranas (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1978); E. Washburn Hopkins, Epic Mythology (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1986); P. C. Roy, The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa, 12 vols. (Calcutta: Bharata Karyalaya, 1888–96); W. J. Wilkins, Hindu Mythology, Vedic and Puranic (Calcutta: Rupa, 1973).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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