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Kaurava is a Sanskrit term which refers to descendants of Kuru, a legendary king of India who is the ancestor of many of the characters of the epic Mahabharata. Usually, the term is used for the 100 sons of King Dhritarashtra and his wife Gandhari. Duryodhana, Dushasana and Vikarna are the most popular among the brothers. They also had a sister named Dussala and a half-brother named Yuyutsu.

Kaurava army (left) faces the Pandavas. A 17th-18th century painting from Mewar, Rajasthan.


The term Kauravas is used in the Mahabharata with two meanings:

  • The wider meaning is used to represent all the descendants of Kuru. This meaning, which includes the Pandava brothers, is often used in the earlier parts of popular renditions of the Mahabharata.[1]
  • The narrower but more common meaning is used to represent the elder line of the descendants of Kuru. This restricts it to the children of King Dhritarashtra, excluding the children of his younger brother, Pandu, whose children form the Pandava line.

The rest of this article deals with the Kaurava in the narrower sense, that is, the children of Dhritarashtra by Gandhari. When referring to these children, a more specific term is also used – Dhārtarāṣṭra (Sanskrit: धार्तराष्ट्र), a derivative of Dhritarashtra.[citation needed]

Birth of Kauravas[edit]

After Gandhari was married to Dhritarashtra, she wrapped cloth over her eyes and vowed to share the darkness that her husband lived in.[why?] Once Sage Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa came to visit Gandhari in Hastinapur. She took great care of the comforts of the great saint and saw that he had a pleasant stay in Hastinapur. The saint was pleased with Gandhari and granted her a boon. Gandhari wished for one hundred sons who would be as powerful as her husband. Dwaipayan Vyasa granted her the boon and in due course of time, Gandhari found herself to be pregnant. But two years passed and still, the baby was not born.[2] Meanwhile, Kunti received a son from Yama whom she called Yudhishthira. After two years of pregnancy, Gandhari gave birth to a hard piece of lifeless flesh that was not a baby at all. Gandhari was devastated as she had expected a hundred sons according to the blessing of Rishi Vyasa. She was about to throw away the piece of flesh while Rishi Vyasa appeared and told her that his blessings could not have been in vain and asked Gandhari to arrange for one hundred jars to be filled with ghee. He told Gandhari that he would cut the piece of flesh into a hundred pieces and place them in the jars, which would then develop into the one hundred sons that she so desired. Gandhari told Vyasa then that she also wanted to have a daughter. Vyasa agreed, cut the piece of flesh into one hundred and one-pieces, and placed them each into a jar. After two more years of patient waiting the jars were ready to be opened and were kept in a cave. Bhima was born a day after Duryodhana was born thus making him younger than him. Arjuna, Nakula, and Sahadeva were born after Duryodhana was born.[3]

Children of Dhritarashtra[edit]

The children of Dhritarashtra by Gandhari are also referred by a more specific and frequently encountered term - Dhārtarāṣṭra, a derivative of Dhṛtarāṣṭra (Dhritarashtra).

According to the epic, Gandhari wanted a hundred sons and Vyasa granted her a boon that she would have these. Another version says that she was unable to have any children for a long time and she eventually became pregnant but did not deliver for two years, after which she gave birth to a lump of flesh. Vyasa cut this lump into a hundred and one-pieces and these eventually developed into a hundred boys and one girl.[4]

The birth of these children is relevant to the dispute over the succession of the kingdom's throne. It attributes the late birth of Duryodhana, the eldest son of Dhritarashtra, despite his father's early marriage and legitimizes the case for his cousin Yudhishthira to claim the throne, since he could claim to be theeldest of his generation. All the sons of Dhritarashtra (excluding Yuyutsu) were killed in the Battle of Kurukshetra.

Names of the Kauravas[edit]

The Mahabharata notes the names of all Kauravas, of which only Duryodhana, Dushasana, and Vikarna play a significant role. The Kauravas also had a half-brother, Yuyutsu, and a sister, Duhsala.

  1. Duryodhana
  2. Dushasana
  3. Dussaha
  4. Jalagandha
  5. Sama
  6. Saha
  7. Vindha
  8. Anuvindha
  9. Durdharsha
  10. Subahu
  11. Dushpradarshan
  12. Durmarshan
  13. Durmukha
  14. Dushkarna
  15. Vivikarna
  16. Vikarna
  17. Salan
  18. Sathwa
  19. Sulochan
  20. Chithra
  21. Upachithra
  22. Chitraksha
  23. Charuchithra
  24. Sarasana
  25. Durmada
  26. Durviga
  27. Vivitsu
  28. Viktana
  29. Urnanabha
  30. Sunabha
  31. Nanda
  32. Upananda
  33. Chitrabana
  34. Chitravarma
  35. Suvarma
  36. Durvimochan
  37. Ayobahu
  38. Mahabahu
  39. Chitranga
  40. Chitrakundala
  41. Bhimvega
  42. Bhimba
  43. Balaki
  44. Balvardhana
  45. Ugrayudha
  46. Sushena
  47. Kundhadhara
  48. Mahodara
  49. Chithrayudha
  50. Nishangi
  51. Pashi
  52. Vridaraka
  53. Dridhavarma
  54. Dridhakshatra
  55. Somakirti
  56. Anudara
  57. Dridasandha
  58. Jarasangha
  59. Sathyasandha
  60. Sadas
  61. Suvak
  62. Ugrasarva
  63. Ugrasena
  64. Senani
  65. Dushparajai
  66. Aparajit
  67. Kundasai
  68. Vishalaksha
  69. Duradhara
  70. Dridhahastha
  71. Suhastha
  72. Vatvega
  73. Suvarcha
  74. Aadiyaketu
  75. Bahvasi
  76. Nagaadat
  77. Agrayayi
  78. Kavachi
  79. Kradhan
  80. Kundi
  81. Kundadhara
  82. Dhanurdhara
  83. Bhimaratha
  84. Virabahy
  85. Alolupa
  86. Abhaya
  87. Raudrakarma
  88. Dhridarathasraya
  89. Anaghrushya
  90. Kundhabhedi
  91. Viravi
  92. Chitrakundala
  93. Dirghlochan
  94. Pramati
  95. Veeryavan
  96. Dirgharoma
  97. Dirghabhu
  98. Mahabahu
  99. Kundashi
  100. Virjasa[5]

Marriages and children of Kauravas[edit]

All the 100 Kauravas were mentioned to have wives in the Adi Parva.[6] Some of them had children - Duryodhana was mentioned to have a Kalinga princess as his wife, named in folklores as Bhanumati. They had 2 children - a son Laxman Kumara and a daughter Lakshmana. Lakshman Kumar participated in the Kurukshetra War and killed Shikhandi's son Kshatradeva on the 12th day of the war. He is killed by Abhimanyu on the 13th day of the War.
Lakshmana was said to have married Krishna's son Samba, and they had a son Ushneek. Dushasana was also said to have a son, who killed Abhimanyu in the war. Dushasana's son was ultimately killed by Shrutasena in the War. Chitrasena's son was said to have been killed by Shrutakarma in the Kurukshetra War. However, it was mentioned that all these sons of the Kauravas were killed by the sons of the Pandavas.

In literature[edit]

Harivamsa Purana (8th century CE) narrates the Jain version of their story.[7]

In popular culture[edit]

The term Kaurava is used as the name of a fictional planetary system in the 2008 real-time strategy video game Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War – Soulstorm, as well as the names of the system's planets.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Monier-Williams, Sir Monier (1872). A Sanskṛit-English Dictionary Etymologically and Philologically Arranged: With Special Reference to Greek, Latin, Gothic, German, Anglo-Saxon, and Other Cognate Indo-European Languages. Clarendon Press.
  2. ^ "Kauravas". World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  3. ^ "Mahabharat Chapter 6 - Birth of Pandavas and Kauravas". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  4. ^ The Birth of the Pandavas and Kauravas
  5. ^ Pattanaik, Devdutt (2010). Jaya : an illustrated retelling of the Mahabharata. Gurgaon, Haryana, India. ISBN 978-0-14-310425-4. OCLC 692288394.
  6. ^ "The Mahabharata, Book 1: Adi Parva: Sambhava Parva: Section CXVII".
  7. ^ Upinder Singh 2016, p. 26.


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