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Duryodhana showing his army to Drona
|Children||Laxman Kumara, Lakshmanaa, Durjaya from other wife according to Urubhanga|
Duryodhana (Sanskrit: दुर्योधन) is a major character in the Hindu epic Mahabharata and was the eldest of the Kauravas, the hundred sons of blind king Dhritarashtra and Queen Gandhari. Despite being the first born son of the incumbent king, he becomes disqualified as heir to the throne of Hastinapura upon the return of his cousins, the Pandavas, who left their rural forest dwelling upon the death of their father Pandu, the preceding king of Hastinapura and younger brother to Dhrithrashtra. His resultant animosity towards his cousins renders Duryodhana the chief antagonist of the epic. Karna was the closest friend of Duryodhana. As per Mahabharata, Karna was the only warrior in that era who single-handedly conquered the entire world and he successfully conducted Digvijaya Yatra, conquering all kings in every direction of the world in order to establish Duryodhana as the emperor of the world. Karna made Duryodhana crowned as the emperor of the world by conducting the Vaishnava sacrifice while Pandavas were in exile.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 Birth
- 3 Early Years
- 4 Usurping The Kingdom
- 5 The Kurukshetra War
- 6 Gada-yuddha
- 7 Duryodhana’s dilemmas
- 8 Death
- 9 Evaluation
- 10 Positive traits
- 11 Family
- 12 In media
- 13 See also
- 14 References
- 15 External links
The word Duryodhana is derived from two words which are- dur (दुर्) and yodha or yodhana (योध or योधन). dur means difficult or unconquerable, yodha means 'fighting' and yodhana means 'warrior. So this name has two meanings. Either it is, 'the one with whom fighting is difficult' or 'unconquerable warrior'. His other names are-
- Suyodhana (सुयोधन) - great warrior or the one who fights well. (According to S. Prabhakaran, he was first named 'Suyodhana'. But it is said that his name was later changed as many people hold the misconception that he was called 'Duryodhana' because of his misdeeds).
Duryodhana is said to be the incarnation of Kali (demon), the overload of Kali Yuga and the embodiment of evil source. The day he was born, he unleashed a donkey-like scream which the donkeys outside the home replied to. Despite the advise from Vidura to discard the evil baby, Duryodhana's father Dhritarashtra kept the child because demons had received a boon from Shiva that the future king would be invincible.
The scriptures mention sage Narada to have momentarily intercepted the demon Kali on his way to the Earth when Duryodhana was about to be born in order to make him an embodiment of 'Arishadvargas' and immorality in preparation of the era of decay in values and the consequent havoc.
When Dhritarashtra's wife Gandhari's pregnancy continued for an unusually long period of time, she beat her womb in frustration. This caused a hardened mass of grey-coloured flesh to issue from her womb. She implored Vyasa, the great sage who had blessed her with one hundred sons, to redeem his words. Vyasa divided the ball of flesh into one hundred and one equal pieces, and put them in pots of ghee, which were sealed and buried into the earth for one year. At the end of the year, the first pot was opened, and Duryodhana emerged.
Although loved by all his family, Duryodhana and most of his brothers are not seen on the same level as the Pandavas in their adherence to virtue and duty, and respect of elders. Duryodhana is mentored by his maternal uncle Shakuni. Shakuni masterminds most of Duryodhana's plots to humiliate and kill the Pandavas.
Duryodhana's hatred for the Pandava brothers stems from his sincere belief that he—being the son of the eldest brother—is the heir apparent to the throne of Hastinapura. Because of his blindness, his father had to renounce the throne in favor of the younger Pandu. Duryodhana deeply believed that what was rightfully his was being given away to his elder cousin Yudhisthira. He also felt that the Pandavas were sons of Kunti and Gods(devakin), not of Pandu. He never believed that their divine origin alone proved their superiority, on many occasions questioning their merits, and always calling them the 'Kaunteya'(sons of Kunti). He also bore a deep hatred of Bhima, his agemate, who dominates his brothers in sport and skill with his immense physical power and strength. When they were young, Bhima's bullying and taunting are a constant source of pain for Duryodhana and his brothers.
Duryodhana's body is said by Balarama to be "lightning made flesh". He is revered by his younger brothers, especially Dushasana. Learning martial skills from his gurus, Kripacharya and Dronacharya, he proved to be extremely skilled with the mace. He then went to specialize in mace fighting under Balarama and went on to become his favorite pupil.
Tendencies and Schemes
During their childhood Bhima used his brute strength to inflict brutal cruelties on the Kaurava brothers. As Bhima was gluttonous, Duryodhana attempted to kill Bhima by feeding him a poisoned feast, but Bhima survived due to the poisonous bites from celestial Nagas which neutralized the poison he had ingested. Duryodhana then participated in a plot by Shakuni involving an architect Purochana who built an inflammable house by incorporating lacquer, animal fat, hay and various other fuels into the walls, and set it on fire when the Pandavas were occupying it during festive celebrations at Varnavata. However, Purochana was himself killed in the fire, and the Pandavas managed to escape thanks to a brilliant counter-scheme by Vidura which involved the murder of a Nishada woman and her five sons. Bhima set fire to the Lakshagraha with the Nishada woman and her five sons when they were drunk. This led everyone to believe the burned bodies that were found were those of Kunti and the Pandavas.
Usurping The Kingdom
When the princes come of age, Yudhisthira is named as the crown prince due to his superior meriteted. After the Pandavas reveal that they have survived the wax house, with a new wife to boot, Bhisma suggests that the kingdom be divided in order to ease the obvious tension. Yudhishthira is given half the kingdom and made king of Khandavprastha, so as to avoid a clash with the Kaurava princes over the whole Kuru Kingdom. Duryodhana becomes the prince regent of Hastinapur, and owing to the age and blindness of his father, he accumulates much control and influence, managing the state affairs himself with a group of his advisers that include his uncle Shakuni, brother Dushasana and friend Karna.
But Duryodhana remains jealous of Yudhisthira, especially after the Pandavas along with Krishna transform Khandavprastha to Indraprastha. Moreover, Yudhishthira performs the Rajasyua Yagna and gains the authority over several other kingdoms; Indraprastha's prosperity and fame appear to exceed Hastinapura's. Duryodhana is unable to contain his anger, which is intensified when Draupadi arrogantly taunts him about his father's blindness when he slips into a pool of water during a visit to Indraprastha. A popular quote, from later versions of the Mahabharatha, is "a blind man's son is blind".
In early versions of the story, Duryodhana is also motivated by the idea that no matter what, Hastinapur should not remain divided. Yudhishthira shares this belief; both know that eventually, a conflict will arise and the nation will be ultimately reunified.
The dice plot, and Draupadi's humiliation
Knowing that an all-out war with the Pandavas may not lead to definitive success, Shakuni devises a scheme to rob Yudhisthira of his kingdom and wealth by defeating him in a game of dice, which Shakuni cannot lose due to his superior skill over Yuddhistir's ineptitude at the game of dice, and due to Yuddhistir's addiction to the game of dice. Unable to resist the challenge, Yudhisthira gambles away his entire kingdom, his wealth, his four brothers and even his wife, in a series of gambits to retrieve one by staking another. Duryodhana encouraged his brother Dushasana to drag Draupadi into the court. As she is Duryodhana's property after Yudhisthira had gambled everything away to him, Duryodhana tells Draupadi to sit on his thigh, patting it suggestively. Due to this action, Bhima swears, he would break Duryodhana's thigh. As an enraged Draupadi is about to curse the Kuru clan, Gandhari intervenes. Fearing retribution by the Pandavas, their allies, and history, Dhritarashtra and Gandhari reverse all of Yudhishthira's losses. But then (either through Duryodhana forcing his father to command the Pandavas to play again, or through the Pandavas' own desire to win a kingdom without bloodshed) the game is repeated. For this game of dice Shakuni sets the condition that upon losing, Yudhisthira and his brothers must spend thirteen years in exile in the forest before they may reclaim their kingdom. The thirteenth year must be passed incognito, or else the term of exile would be repeated. The Pandavas lose and begin their exile.
During the exile, Duryodhana attempts to humiliate the Pandavas by flashing his wealth in their forest of exile. He is however caught in a conflict with the Gandharva king Chitrasena, who captures him. Yudhisthira asks Arjuna and Bhima to rescue Duryodhana. They rescue him, and Duryodhana offers Arjuna a vow that he will fulfill one demand of Arjuna anytime in his life. However, Duryodhana also feels humiliated. Setting his mind to die, Duryodhana pledges to fast unto death. He is pacified by Karna, who vows he will kill Arjuna in battle and to never drink wine until he does so.
Karna took up the task of establishing Duryodhana as the Emperor of the world. Karna embarks upon a worldwide military campaign, otherwise called Digvijaya Yatra, conquering all kings in every direction in order to subjugate kings, impose Duryodhana's imperial authority over them, and establish Duryodhana as the emperor of the world. He commanded army that marched to different parts of the world to subjugate kings and made them swear allegiance to Duryodhana, the king of Hastinapur or else die in battle.
In this military adventure, Karna waged wars all over the world and made submission of entire kingdoms in the world. He started Digvijaya Yatra having war with the Panchalas, defeating king Drupada and the kings under him. Then going to the north he defeated all the sovereigns of that quarter, defeated king Bhagadatta. And ranging over all sides, he conquered and brought under subjection all the kings inhabiting the Himalayas and made them pay dues. Then, descending from the mountain, he went to the east. He reduced the Angas, the Bangas, the Kalinga's, the Mandikas, the Magadhas, the Karkakhandas and also included with them the Avasiras, Yodhyas, and the Ahikshatras. Having thus conquered the eastern quarter Karna went to Batsa-bhumi. Karna defeated Batsa-bhumi, Kevali, Mrittikavati, Mohana, Patrana, Tripura, Kosala and compelled all of them to pay tribute. Then going to the south, Karna defeated all the very powerful charioteers of that quarter and in Dakshinatya, Karna defeated Rukmi. After this Karna went to Pandya and the mountain Sri. And by fighting, he made Karala, king Nila, Venudari's son, and other kings living in the southern direction pay tribute. Then going to Sisupala's son, Karna defeated him and defeated all the neighbouring rulers. Then Karna defeated the Avantis and conquered the Vrishnis. Thus Karna conquered the entire west quadrant. He then further travelled west outside the land mass of Bharata Kingdom and made all the Yavana, Varvara kings pay tribute to Hastinapura and Duryodhana. And having conquered the entire earth, i.e. east, west, north and south directions, Karna without any aid brought under subjection all the nations of the Mlecchas, the mountaineers, the Bhadras, the Rohitakas, the Agneyas and the Malavas. Having conquered the powerful charioteers headed by the Nagnajitas, Karna brought the Sasakas and the Yavanas under his sway. Having thus conquered and brought the entire world under subjection, Karna came back to Hastinapura with immense wealth and power the world had never witnessed before. The entire Hastinapur welcomed Karna back.
King Dhritarashtra proclaimed Karna's feats and said,
|“||What I have not received from either Bhishma or Drona or Kripa or Vahlika, I have received from thee. May good betide thee! What need of speaking at length! Hear my words, O Karna! In thee, O chief of men, I have my refuge. O mighty-armed one. O tiger among men, without doubt all the Pandavas and the other kings crowned with prosperity, come not to a sixteenth part of thee. Do thou, O mighty bowman, O Karna, see Dhritarashtra, and the illustrious Gandhari, as the bearer of the thunderbolt did Aditi||”|
Having thus conquered the entire world, with all the mountains, forests, skies, oceans, fields, cities and all the islands, Karna thus brought the all of the monarchs of the world under subjection and gained imperishable wealth. King Dhritarashtra with Gandhari loved Karna even more than their children. Bringing tribute and allegiance from all the world's kings, Karna helped Duryodhana to perform the Vaishnava yagna to please Vishnu and crown Duryodhana as "Emperor of the World", as Yudhisthira did with the Rajasuya Yagna. No person in the entire universe, except Lord Vishnu in ancient times, had performed this Vaishnava sacrifice. Duryodhana thus became the most powerful and the wealthiest man in the world. With the help of Karna, Duryodhana even made plans and preparations to conquer Indra, the lord of the heavens and the father of Arjuna in order to become the sovereign ruler of both heaven and earth.
The Kurukshetra War
Peace Talks and Buildup
At the end of the exile term, Duryodhana refuses to return Yudhisthira's kingdom, despite the counsel of Bhishma, Dronacharya, and Vidura. Although Dhritarashtra criticizes his son, he tacitly desires that Duryodhana retain his throne. In a final attempt at securing peace, Krishna returns with the Pandavas' final proposal: the Pandavas would give up all claims to Indraprastha and Hastinapur in exchange for five villages. Scoffing, Duryodhana says he will not even give five needlepoints of land to the Pandavas. Egged on by Krishna, Duryodhana attempts to arrest him. Krishna reveals his Vishvarupa form. The entire Kaurava court, save for Bhisma, Drona, Vidura, and Dhritarashtra(who was granted divine vision in order to see that by supporting his son, he was going against God), is temporarily blinded by the form. This confirms to those present that Krishna is indeed an avatar of Vishnu, implying that God and dharma lies with the Pandavas. Duryodhana, in some versions of the story an outright atheist brushes off the incident, not convinced of Krishna's divinity, and believing that strength of arms, not philosophy, would win him a war.
Making war inevitable, Duryodhana gathers support from powerful kings and armies, many of whom's alliance Karna had won. The most legendary warriors – Bhishma, Drona, Karna, Kripa, Ashwathama, Bhagadatta, Shrutyudha, even those who were critical of him are forced to fight for Duryodhana due to their previous commitments. He ends up amassing a larger army than his rivals.Via Shakuni's trickery, Duryodhana even manages to get the Pandavas' maternal uncle Shalya to fight for him.
Shakuni also advises Duryodhana to seek Krishna's help. Duryodhana rushes to Dwarka only to find Krishna sleeping; he waits at the head of Krishna's bed when suddenly, Arjuna arrives with the same goal in mind. Arjuna waits at the foot of Krishna's bed. When Krishna wakes up, both Duryodhana and Arjuna appeal for his alliance. Krishna offers a choice of himself, completely unarmed, or the entire Vrishini army. Duryodhana proclaims that because he arrived first, he should get first-pick. However, Krishna says that because he saw Arjuna first, and because Arjuna is younger, that Arjuna gets the first choice. Duryodhana becomes worried, but is overjoyed when Arjuna elects to reject Krishna's army in favor of Krishna alone. Joyously, Duryodhana returns to Hastinapur with the Vrishini army in-hand, only to be rebuked by Shakuni, who comments that Krishna is worth many armies by himself.
During the War
In the war, Duryodhana repeatedly eggs on the invincible Bhishma and Drona to forward his cause, even though his main hope is Karna. He desires to appoint Karna as his commander-in-chief; however, Karna and Shakuni point out that his already reluctant allies would much rather fight under Bhishma, an older, experienced, god-born, kshatriya than fight under a suta-putra, son of a charioteer. Reluctantly, Duryodhana appoints Bhishma as the commander in chief. When Bhishma falls to Arjuna, Duryodhana appoints Drona as commander-in-chief and orders him to capture Yudhisthira alive, so that he may blackmail the Pandavas into surrender, or force Yudhisthira to gamble again. On the thirteenth day of battle, his heir Lakshmana is killed by Arjuna's son, Abhimanyu, who proceeds to try and arrest Duryodhana. Duryodhana participates in the brutal and unethical killing of Abhimanyu.
But he is repeatedly frustrated, as the Pandavas succeed in downing Drona, and is emotionally distraught when Arjuna kills Jayadratha, the king of Sindhu to avenge Abhimanyu. And all along, Bhima is steadily slaying his brothers, increasing his misery and bringing him closer to defeat.
It is said that, Duryodhana never shed a single tear for any of his real brothers who were killed in the battlefield, but when his beloved friend Karna was slain, he was inconsolable. Duryodhana's hopes are finally shattered when Karna is felled by the cheating of Lord Krishna and Arjuna. Duryodhana appoints Shalya as the next commander-and-chief.
On the final day of war, Duryodhana takes out his anger by killing Chekitana. As Shalya is killed by Yudhishthira, Duryodhana's paltry army-once eleven akshauhinis strong-breaks, and the army is essentially routed. Having lost his horse, Duryodhana leaves the battlefield. He cools his body by entering a lake, all hope of winning lost, yet he prepares for his final battle; for a death befitting a warrior on the battle field and hoping to reunite with his friends and relations in the afterlife. He re-emerges from the lake after Ashwatthama and Kripa counsel him to face his destiny with courage.
On the eighteenth day of the war, with his army reduced to himself, Ashwatthama, Kripa and Kritvarma, Duryodhana goes to meditate in a lake. When the Pandava brothers and Krishna eventually find him, Duryodhana tells them that he wants to gift the kingdom to them, and retire to the forest. Yudhisthira balks at the offer, telling him that Hastinapur is not Duryodhana's to gift. Instead, he offers that Duryodhana may pick any of the Pandava brothers to fight against one-to-one with a weapon of his choice, with the winner of the conflict the victor of the war.
Despite his proposed advantage over Yudhishthira, Arjuna, Nakula, or Sahadeva with the gada, Duryodhana picks his nemesis Bhima. Despite Bhima's physical advantage, Duryodhana had the better technique due to his devotion to his craft. After a long and brutal battle between the two disciples of Balarama, Duryodhana begins to exhaust Bhima.
At this point, Krishna, observing the fight, calls out to Bhima and signals him by repeatedly clapping his own thigh with his hand. As intended, Bhima was reminded of an oath he had taken after the game of dice to crush Duryodhana's groin as retribution for insults to Draupadi (when Duryodhana had commanded Draupadi to sit on his thigh). Bhima viciously attacks Duryodhana with a mace and strikes his groin, mortally wounding Duryodhana. After having his face insultingly kicked by Bhima, Duryodhana bemoans that he was slain by unfair means, given that it was illegal to attack below the waist according to the rules of mace-fighting. Pandavas along with Lord Krishna become very much ashamed and afraid when Balarama,the brother of Lord Krishna took his weapon( the plough) and came to kill Bhima.Lord Krishna consoled Balarama,but angry Balarama cursed Bhima that he shall be reputed in the world as a crooked warrior. Balarama blessed Duryodhana that he will obtain eternal blessedness and glory after his death.
|“||I have no interest in becoming a king now, I have lost all interests in this world which is fake and temporary, slain in battle I shall spend the rest of my afterlife in heaven in the company of my friends, relatives and well wishers. You defeated us by cheating and trickery, otherwise the likes of Bhishma, Drona, Karna amongst others were unconquerable. The victory which you obtained is not true victory and your names will bear black stains in the future. I have always been a good son, loyal friend, caring brother, and terrible enemy, while I lived I stamped my foot on the heads of those who dared oppose me in any way, I am happy to have died fighting and thank everyone who laid his life down for me, I die happy.||”|
Duryodhana afflicted Lord Krishna and Pandavas with keen and bitter words.He asked Lord Krishna about the unrighteous killing of Bhishma, Drona, Karna and the foul play of Bhima on him motivated by Krishna.
|“||"The dart that had been given by Lord Indra to Karna for the slaughter of Arjuna was baffled by you through Ghatotkacha! Who is there that is more sinful than you? Karna had done a great feat for vanquishing Partha(Arjuna). You, however, caused Aswasena, the son of that prince of snakes (Takshaka), to be baffled in achieving his purpose! When again the wheel of Karna's car sank in earth,you caused that Karna to be slain! If sons of Pandu had fought me ,Karna , Bhishma and Drona by fair means, victory then, without doubt, would never have been yours. By adopting the most crooked and unrighteous means you caused many kings observant of the duties of their order and ourselves also to be slain!'||”|
Upon the conclusion of these words of King Duryodhana, a thick shower of fragrant flowers fell from the sky. The Gandharvas played many charming musical instruments. The Apsaras in a chorus sang the glory of king Duryodhana.The Siddhas uttered loud sound to the effect, "Praise be to king Duryodhana!" Fragrant and delicious breezes mildly blew on every side. Beholding these exceedingly wonderful things and this worship offered to Duryodhana, the Pandavas headed by Lord Krishna became ashamed. Hearing (invisible beings cry out) that Bhishma and Drona and Karna and Bhurishrava were slain unrighteously, they became afflicted with grief and wept in sorrow.
|“||"All of them were great car-warriors and exceedingly quick in the use of weapons! If you had put forth all your prowess, even then you could never have slain them in battle by fighting fairly! King Duryodhana also could never be slain in a fair encounter! The same is the case with all those mighty car-warriors headed by Bhishma,Drona and Karna! From desire of doing good to you, I repeatedly applied my powers of illusion and caused them to be slain by diverse means in battle. If I had not adopted such deceitful ways in battle, victory would never have been yours, nor kingdom, nor wealth! Those four were very high-souled warriors and regarded as Maharathi (warrior)'s in the world. The very Regents of the Earth could not slay them in fair fight! Similarly, the son of Dhritarashtra, though fatigued when armed with the mace, could not be slain in fair fight by Yama himself armed with his bludgeon! "||”|
It was each Kaurava's aim to protect Duryodhana till his last breath and so every one had vowed that they would fight for him till the end of their lives, so when Duryodhana died, it was after all those who had protected him had perished; he had millions of people protecting him, yet he lost the war. Duryodhana was always going to be the last person to die.The Pandavas and their allies leave Duryodhana in his suffering. The Pandavas, along with Yuyutsu, Krishna, and Satyaki go stay in the Kaurava camp, while the rest of the army returns to their camp.
Duryodhana is lying in the battle field, awaiting death, badly bruised by the wounds inflicted by Bhima. He kept his three fingers in a raised position and is unable to speak. All the efforts made by his men to understand the meaning proved to be futile. Seeing his plight Krishna approached him and said "I know what issues occupied your mind. I will address them".Krishna identified the issues as - not building a fort around Hastinapur, not persuading Vidura to fight the battle, not making Ashwatthama the commander-in-chief after the death of Dronacharya.On hearing this Duryodhana closed all the fingers and rested. Duryodhana concluded that these 3 factors should have surely brought him victory.If he had built a fort around Hastinapur,he could have totally avoided the war in the first place and he don't have to worry about the power of Pandavas. If Vidura fought on his side,he would have the best strategist, even better than Lord Krishna. At last only Duryodhana came to the conclusion that Lord Krishna is in fact the avatar of Lord Vishnu.If Duryodhana had made Ashwatthama as the commander of the army after the death of Drona,victory would have surely be his as Ashwatthama was the avatar of Lord Shiva. No one can handle a 'furious' Ashwatthama, the part incarnate of Lord Shiva.Lord Shiva is pleasing most of the time but no one in the entire universe can handle a furious Lord Shiva.Similarly all Duryodhana need to do to win the war was to make Ashwatthama furious. Just like Pandavas had Lord Krishna, the avatar of Lord Vishnu, Duryodhana had even the better option, the avatar of Lord Shiva, but he never utilized Ashwatthama.The remorse about under utilizing Ashwatthama prompted Duryodhana to rethink and made Ashwatthama the commander of his army after the war,after his defeat. These events led to the complete destruction of Pandava army and lineage and at the end the victorious Pandavas felt like the looser.After the night raid of Ashwatthama on Pandava camp Duryodhana felt like he had won the war, as the Pandavas lost everything and everyone they care about.
When the coast is clear, Ashwatthama, Kripacharya, and Kritvarma, having witnessed the fight and not wanting to interrupt so as to rob Duryodhana of his honour, come to Duryodhana's broken body. Duryodhana commands them to take revenge on the Pandavas, and to specifically kill all the Pandava brothers. Using the blood from his body, Duryodhana appoints Ashwatthama as the army's supreme commander and the protector of his wealth,country,family and honor.
Already angry at the deceitful killing of his father Drona, Ashwatthama ambushes the Pandava camp at night. The three maharathis lay waste to the sleeping, drunk, and unaware army. Other than those who had been staying in the Kaurava camp, few escape the slaughter. The trio rushes to tell Duryodhana of the news.
At this point, there are different versions of the story. In one version, the three arrive to find that Duryodhana has already died. In another, Ashwatthama lies to Duryodhana that he had killed the Pandava brothers, just to give Duryodhana some happiness before death. In another, Ashwatthama kills the five children of Draupadi, mistaking them for the Pandava brothers since they are staying in the Pandavas' tent; he tells Duryodhana that he has killed the Pandavas in what he perceives is the truth. In yet another version, Ashwatthama knows that he has only killed the Pandavas' children, and informs Duryodhana so; Duryodhana is happy that at least the Pandava lineage will be wiped out.Duryodhana expresses his gratitude to Ashwatthama and uttered that Ashwatthama brought more happiness to him than Bhishma,Drona and Karna. In all these versions, Duryodhana dies after hearing the news and dies happily with a smile in his face. At the same time, Sanjaya loses his divine sight, which he had been using to update Duryodhana's father Dhritarashtra.
According to the Mahabharata, after entering the svarga with a human body on Indra's invitation, Yudhisthira witnessed that Duryodhana "was seated on a beautiful throne and he shone with the splendour of the sun and around him stood in attendance the goddess of heroism and other angels." Yudhisthira found this insufferable and reminded the dwellers of svarga about his sinful deeds. Following that, Narada smiled at Yudhisthira and said that "the brave Duryodhana had attained his present state by force of kshatriya dharma." The Mahabharata further mentions that in svarga, Duryodhana and his brothers "attained the state of the gods."
Many Hindus believe that Duryodhana was the personification of evil, and one whose purpose was to defeat the will of Vishnu on Earth. Yet there are a section of Hindus who consider Duryodhana as a fair king and there are temples dedicated to him and Kauravas. Scholars believe that like most other characters of the Mahabharata, the true picture is not black and white. His name is often mistaken to mean bad ruler, however his name is actually coined from the Sanskrit words "du"/"duh" which means "difficult" and "yodhana" which means "fight"/"war". So Duryodhana actually means someone who is extremely difficult to fight/defeat or wage war against. Duryodhana is viewed, by some, as the product of Dhritarastra's ambition and also in a metaphorical sense, his "blindness". Many critics argue that he is not without positives. In the epic, he decries the means of discrimination employed by Dronacharya. He goes one step further to accord Karna place among the royals, by crowning him the King of Anga and standing by him whenever anyone pointed a finger at his lower-birth. In modern light, his disrespect for discrimination and blind following of tradition is seen more positively. According to Mahabharata, when Bhishma has to pick Dhritarashtra's successor, he mentions to Vidura many of Duryodhana's positive qualities in comparison to Yudhishthira. Having spent so many years in the forest, Yudhishthira doesn't have Duryodhana's experience, military expertise, education, and courtly manners. Bhishma adds that Duryodhana is loved by the people, while Yudhishthira is an unknown quantity to them. However, Bhishma ultimately selects Yudhishthira, telling Vidura that in his heart, Duryodhana is a power-hungry, vitriolic individual, while at his core, Yudhishitra is a good man who cares tremendously for his people.
In the Kumaon region of Uttranchal, several beautifully carved temples are dedicated to Duryodhana and he is worshipped as the deity. The mountain tribes of Kumaon fought along with Duryodhana armies in the Mahabharata war; he was venerated as a capable and generous administrator.
Relationship with Karna
The friendship between Karna and Duryodhana is considered to be a great one, and is used as an example of friendship and loyalty even in modern times.
A list of Duryodhana's positive traits:
1) Loyal friend and trusting
Duryodhana's wife Bhanumati and his close friend Karna were playing a game of dice. The stake between them was substantial. As the game progressed, it was evident that Karna was winning and Bhanumati was losing. Just then Duryodhana entered his queen's chamber. Karna had his back to the door while Bhanumati was facing it. Seeing her husband coming, she was about to stand up. As she was just rising, Karna, thinking that she was trying to get away from the embarrassment of certain defeat in the game, snatched at her drape, studded with pearls. Tugged at by Karna's powerful hands, the thread snapped and all the pearls rolled on the floor. Queen Bhanumati was stunned and did not know what to say or do. Seeing her shocked state and sensing that something was wrong, Karna turned round and saw his friend Duryodhana. He was deeply shocked and distressed beyond words. Here he was, in the royal chamber, playing a game of dice with his friend's wife and, as if this was not enough, he had the audacity to catch her clothes, thus embarrassing and endangering her chaste reputation. He stood dumbfounded and transfixed. Surely, Duryodhana would not tolerate such immodesty. He readied himself for the inevitable punishment. As both she and Karna look down sheepishly, unable to meet Duryodhana's eyes, the Kaurava scion only asks: "Should I just collect the beads, or string them as well." Both Bhanumati and Karna had misjudged him. He had implicit faith and great love for his queen and greater was his faith on his friend Karna. He does not suspect, does not get angry with Karna but helps him in picking up the pearls.
2) Respects merit
He seems to not care about the low birth of Karna and is the only one to vocally support Karna candidature in the archery contest without caring about caste inequality. When Kripa humiliated Karna in the martial exhibition, Duryodhana immediately defended Karna, and made him king of Anga. Karna pledges his allegiance and friendship to Duryodhana, as Duryodhana had rescued him from a source of continuing humiliation and hardship. Neither of them knows that Karna is in fact Kunti's oldest son, born to (sun god) Surya. When Draupadi refuses to allow Karna to string the bow at her Swayamvara because of his low birth, Duryodhana defends him saying "great sages, philosophers, and warriors have no source. They are made great, not born great".
He strictly adheres to his duties as a Kshatriya, and even in his last combat, fights bravely. He chooses to face Bhima in combat over all the other Pandavas, with whom he has an advantage in mace fighting. It is also said that he was a skilled mace fighter than Bhima.
4) Good King
As Duryodhana is about to die, he looks at Krishna malevolently. "I have been a good king,” he says. "I have conducted myself as a Kshatriya should and have come by death in battle. I'll die and attain heaven, but you will live in grief and sorrow." Upon hearing the words of Duryodhana, celestial beings showered flowers upon him hailing, "Praise be to king Duryodhana!"
Duryodhana was a skilled strategist. He managed to win the pledge of King Shalya, who was actually the maternal uncle of Pandavas, to fight on his side in battle of Kurukshetra. It so happened that while King Shalya was moving with his army to go and support Yudhishthira, he and his army were looked after extremely well en route. Floored by the hospitality, Shalya offered complete support to the host thinking it was Yudhishthira. Only later did he discover that Duryodhana was the person behind the hospitality, and was thus indebted to him. Duryodhana wanted Shalya mainly so that Karna would have an equivalent charioteer to Arjuna's Krishna.
According to Mahabharata, Duryodhana was married to Princess Bhanumati of Kalinga. He fathered two children of royal queen, son Laxman Kumara and daughter Lakshmana. Laxman was killed by Abhimanyu in the Mahabharata war. Lakshmana married Samba (Krishna's son) after the latter had abducted her. As per Urubhanga, he had a son called Durjay of who information is not yet known.
In the Mahābhārata television series of the late 1980s in India, Duryodhana's character was played by Punjabi actor Puneet Issar. In Peter Brook's filmed version of the epic (1989), Duryodhana was played by Greek actor Georges Corraface. In the 2013 version of Mahabharata television series, Duryodhana was played by actor and model, Arpit Ranka. In 2014 Duryodhana By V. Raghunathan (Harper Collins).
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- "'Duryodhana said, "I have studied, made presents according to the ordinance, governed the wide Earth with her seas, and stood over the heads of my foes! Who is there so fortunate as myself! That end again which is courted by Kshatriyas observant of the duties of their own order, death in battle, hath become mine. Who, therefore, is so fortunate as myself? Human enjoyments such as were worthy of the very gods and such as could with difficulty be obtained by other kings, had been mine. Prosperity of the very highest kind had been attained by me! Who then is so fortunate as myself? With all my well-wishers, and my younger brothers, I am going to heaven, O thou of unfading glory! As regards yourselves, with your purposes unachieved and torn by grief, live ye in this unhappy world!"' "Sanjaya continued, 'Upon the conclusion of these words of the intelligent king of the Kurus, a thick shower of fragrant flowers fell from the sky. The Gandharvas played upon many charming musical instruments. The Apsaras in a chorus sang the glory of king Duryodhana. The Siddhas uttered loud sound to the effect, "Praise be to king Duryodhana!" Fragrant and delicious breezes mildly blew on every side. All the quarters became clear and the firmament looked blue as the lapis lazuli. Beholding these exceedingly wonderful things and this worship offered to Duryodhana, the Pandavas headed by Vasudeva became ashamed. Hearing (invisible beings cry out) that Bhishma and Drona and Karna and Bhurishrava were slain unrighteously, they became afflicted with grief and wept in sorrow. Beholding the Pandavas filled with anxiety and grief, Krishna addressed them in a voice deep as that of the clouds or the drum, saying, "All of them were great car-warriors and exceedingly quick in the use of weapons! If ye had put forth all your prowess, even then ye could never have slain them in battle by fighting fairly! King Duryodhana also could never be slain in a fair encounter! The same is the case with all those mighty car-warriors headed by Bhishma! From desire of doing good to you, I repeatedly applied my powers of illusion and caused them to be slain by diverse means in battle. If I had not adopted such deceitful ways in battle, victory would never have been yours, nor kingdom, nor wealth! Those four were very high-souled warriors and regarded as Atirathas in the world. The very Regents of the Earth could not slay them in fair fight! Similarly, the son of Dhritarashtra, though fatigued when armed with the mace, could not be slain in fair fight by Yama himself armed with his bludgeon! You should not take it to heart that this foe of yours hath been slain deceitfully. When the number of one's foes becomes great, then destruction should be effected by contrivances and means. The gods themselves, in slaying the Asuras, have trod the same way. That way, therefore, that hath been trod by the gods, may be trod by all. We have been crowned with success. It is evening. We had better depart to our tents. Let us all, ye kings, take rest with our steeds and elephants and cars." http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m09/m09061.htm
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