Across borders, the spoils of Mahabharata are shared

Jitendra Bhojwani

India is famous for legends and mythological tales, among the most popular of which are Ramayana and Mahabharata.

These two Epics not only enrich Indian literature, but have also been the resource for many textbooks, movies, dance dramas and television serials.

While some people started doubting the occurrence of the characters and places mentioned in these two Epics, research of ancient scriptures and modern studies have reinstated their veracity.

However, partition of India resulted in the transfer of some of the historic cities and sites to Pakistan. Sadly, a lack of adequate maintenance has left a few places in ruin, although efforts are now being made to restore them.

Gandhar

Gandhari is one of the main characters of Mahabharata. She was the wife of Dhritarashtra, the King of Hastinapur and the mother of 100 Kauravas, the eldest of whom was Duryodhana. Since Dhritarashtra was born blind, Gandhari, who hated darkness and loved everything bright, subjected her eyes to blindfold, upon her marriage.

She was named after Gandhar (or Gandhara), where she was born.

As a devoted wife, Gandhari is regarded as the epitome of virtue and is among the most respected moral forces in the Epic.

She was fated to witness the death of all her 100 sons within the space of 18 days, during the Great war fought between them and their cousins Pandavas and their respective allied forces at Kurukshetra. She cursed Lord Krishna for the role he played in their death – that his clan will also be destroyed. After the War, when Pandavas regained their Kingdom, she retired with her husband to spend their last days in a forest hermitage.

Located in the North-Western region of Pakistan near Peshawar, the ruins of Gandhar can be seen even today. Recurrent battles also played a decisive role in ruining its authentic identity.

Takshshila

Though Takshshila is known to have housed the first University in the world, dating back at least 1500 years, it is also mentioned in Indian epics like Mahabharata, making it much older. The University taught 68 subjects including the Vedas, Languages, Grammar, Philosophy, Medicine, Surgery, Archery, Politics, Warfare, Astronomy, Accounts, Commerce, Music, Dance, Performing Arts, Futurology, Occult and Mystical Sciences and Complex Mathematics. With the minimum age of admission at 16, the University attracted students from India, Babylon, Greece, Syria and China.

According to a legend, once a king’s son was bitten to death by a snake and as a result a huge snake assassination campaign was carried out.

Takshshila was a part of the Kingdom of Gandhar.

Also called, Taxila, it was the throne of Parikshit, the grandson of Pandava Warrior Arjuna. It is now located near Rawalpindi in Pakistan.

Kekaya Pradesh

Kekaya is mentioned in Mahabharata. In fact, it was the place where Bhanumathi, the Princess who was forced to marry Duryodhan was born. Her brother Jayarath supported the Kauravas and hence the marriage alliance.

The Kingdom is also mentioned in Ramayana as the place of birth of Kaikeyi, a favourite wife of King Dasaratha, who banished Sri Rama to exile for 14 years.

Kekaya Pradesh is today in the Jammu and Kashmir region.

Madra Desh

Madra Kingdom was a region grouped among the Western Kingdoms in Mahabharata.

Its capital was Sagala, (now Sialkot in the Punjab Province of Pakistan).

Pandu’s second wife was from Madra kingdom and was called Madri.

The Pandava twins, Nakula and Sahadeva were her sons. Madri’s brother Shalya was the King of Madra. Though affectionate to the Pandavas, he was tricked to give support to Duryodhana and fought against the Pandavas at the Battle of Kurukshetra. He was killed by Yudhishthira, the Pandava King.

Madra Desh is now located in the Gangetic Plains of Punjab.

Karnal

The City of Karnal is believed to have been founded by Karna, an important figure in Mahabharata. He was the eldest of the Pandavas, although his Mother Kunti abandoned him at birth. He later became the strongest friend of Duryodhana, the Kaurava Prince – the friendship led him to death at the Battle of Kurukshetra.

After several centuries of dormancy, Karnal sprang into prominence in 1739 when Persian Emperor Nadir Shah defeated and captures Mughal Ruler Mohammed Shah in the Battle of Karnal. Raja Gopal Singh of Jind seized the Kingdom in 1763 and the Marathas established themselves at Karnal in 1785. Skirmishes between the Marathas and Sikhs followed until the British took it over in 1805.

Now located in the North Indian State of Haryana, Karnal is believed to be a blessed city, free of natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods.

Kurukshetra

Kurukshetra is the key region mentioned in Mahabharata as it is here that the epic battle of Mahabharata was fought. The Battle continued for 18 days, resulting widespread destruction and loss of lives and property.

Located in the North Indian State of Haryana in modern India, it is the site where Lord Krishna delivered the ‘Bhagavad Gita,’ to Pandava Warrior Arjuna who was initially hesitant to fight against his own family.

Jitendra Bhojwani is a freelance creative writer, who considers writing as a meditative technique to get rid of negative thoughts and stress. His favourite subjects are history, travel, lifestyle and technology. As well as visiting abandoned forts and small, sleepy cities, he has a passion for traversing the labyrinths of old literature, listening to soul-stirring classical instrumental music and making friends with animals.

He can be contacted on 0091-7073593917. Email: worldofwords1970@gmail.com

Photo Caption:

  1. Riya Deepsi as Gandhari in Mahabharata of Star Plus
  2. Takshshila, also mentioned in Mahabharata, was home to the World’s First University
  3. Kekaya Pradesh, now a part of Jammu & Kashmir
  4. Karnal, a Blessed City now a part of Haryana State
  5. Kurukshetra, the Land where the Great Battle was fought, and Lord Krishna delivered the Bhagavad Gita

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