In the Mahabharata epic, Pandu (Sanskrit: पाण्डु Pāṇḍu), sometimes also called as Pandu (Sanskrit: पण्डु) is the son of Ambalika and Rishi Veda Vyasa. He is more popularly known as the earthly father of the Pandavas and ruled Hastinapur.
The word Pandu means 'yellowish', 'whitish', 'pale' or 'jaundiced'.
After Vichitravirya's death his mother Satyavati sent for her first born, Rishi Veda Vyasa. According to his mother's wishes, he visited both the wives of Vichitravirya to grant them a son. Ambalika was instructed by Satyavati to keep her eyes open lest she would bear a blind son like Ambika's (Dhritarashtra). She did keep her eyes open but she became pale after seeing the formidable form of the Sage. Therefore, Pandu was born pale.
Kingdom, curse and life
Pandu was an excellent archer and Maharathi. He became the successor to his kingdom and was coronated King of Hastinapur. Pandu later conquered the territories of the Sindhu Kingdom, Kashi, Anga, Trigarta Kingdom, Kalinga, Magadha, etc. and thus re-established their superiority over all the kings and increasing the span of his empire.
Pandu married Kunti, daughter of Kuntibhoja, a Yadava Chief, and Madri, sister of Prince Shalya. While hunting in a forest, (looking from a distance, his vision partially obscured by plants and trees) Pandu mistook Rishi Kindama and his wife for deer and shot arrows at them, killing the conjugal couple. The dying sage placed a curse on Pandu, since he had not only killed them in the midst of lovemaking, but was not remorseful for his action. King Pandu argued with sage Kindama by misquoting sage Agastya's ruling on the right of Kshatriyas' on hunting. Sage Kindama then decided to curse this Kshatriya who forgot his duty, the curse being that were he to approach his wives with the intent of making love, he would die. Upset and seeking to repent his action, Pandu renounced his kingdom and lived as an ascetic with his wives.
Childless at the time, Maharaja Pandu left his kingdom in the command of his elder brother, the blind Dhritrashtra, who was then crowned as king of Hastinapura. When Pandu expressed to Kunti his despair at the prospect of dying childless, Kunti used the boons given to her by Sage Durvasa to bear three sons—Yudhishtira (by Lord Yama), Bhima (by Lord Vayu), and Arjuna (by Lord Indra). Kunti also shared her boons with Madri, who bore Nakula and Sahadeva, twins from the physicians to the gods, the Ashwini Kumara twins. Thus the five Pandavas of Pandu were born.
After 15 years of celibacy, when Kunti and his sons were away, Pandu suddenly became strongly attracted to his wife Madri. Due to the aforementioned curse, he died after attempting to be intimate with her. Madri, out of repentance and grief, committed sati, burning herself alive on her husband's funeral pyre.