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For other uses, see Kunti (disambiguation).
Raja Pandu and Matakunti LACMA M.69.13.6.jpg
Kunti along with her husband Pandu
Spouse Pandu
Issue Karna, Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula, Sahadeva
Shurasena (biological father)
Kunti-Bhoja (adoptive father)

In Hindu mythology, Kunti (Sanskrit: कुन्ती Kuntī) also called Pritha, was the biological daughter of Shurasena,[1] the sister of Vasudeva, the foster daughter of her cousin King Kunti-Bhoja,[2] the wife of King Pandu[3] of Hastinapur, the mother of Karna of Anga, Yudhisthira, Bhima and Arjuna of Indraprastha.[4]

Birth and clan[edit]

Kunti was the biological daughter of the king Shrusena,who was an Yadava chief.Her birth name was Preetha. Kunti was the sister of Vasudeva who was father of Lord Krishna. Kunti also belongs to the Yadava clan of Krishna. Thus Kunti shared close relation ship with Krishna. Her father gave Kunti to his childless cousin Kunti Bhoja who was also an Yadava.

Birth of Karna[edit]

Once sage Durvasa visited Kunti Bhoja. He was extremely pleased by the services and comforts offered by Kunti and offered a boon to invoke any god to bear a child.Before Kunti married Pandu, she bore Karna to Surya, the solar deity. Afraid of being an unwed mother, she placed the baby in a basket and set him afloat on a river. This child was later found and adopted by a chariot driver and his wife, and was named Karna. He went on to become a central character in the Mahabharata.The ambiguous emotions Karna felt about his birth mother play an important role in the Mahabharata.

Marriage to Pandu[edit]

Kunti decided to hide the secret of Karna . Kunti Bhoj organised the self choice ceremony for Kunti. Kunti choose the King Pandu of Hastinapur. Thus Kunti became the Queen of Hastinapur.

Arrival of Madri[edit]

Having just ascended the throne, Pandu went to war, conquering or allying with many kingdoms in the name of Hastinapur. When he approached Madra, he found a huge army waiting him. During the war, he found King Shalya's charioteer driving the chariot fast. Shalya revealed that the charioteer was none other than his own sister, Madri. He proposed that the two kingdoms avoided war via marriage. Thus, Pandu married Madri. Kunti was shocked by her husband's act. Later she was reconciled to them.

Curse of Pandu[edit]

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.

Birth of Children[edit]

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 and Madri[edit]

The three sons were born due to the repeated requested of Paandu. Madri privately approached Paandu and stated about her misery. If we follow her speech, some striking points come forth. Madri felt the fact that she was overshadowed by Kunti and Paandu was prejudiced to her. If this be right then Kunti’s speech later when Paandu dies focuses that Madri was lucky that Paandu shared the loved moments with her.Again, Madri also points out that she was superior to Kunti by birth because Yadavas are actually cattle rearers.

She then urges Paandu to request Kunti to help her in becoming mother. Even she addresses her to be her ‘rival’ and thus feeling shy to approach her directly. This type of comment or mentality did not flicker in Kunti as far as the great epic is concerned. It seemed to me that the king became greedy for more descendants and pressurized Kunti for the expansion of his race, to which Kunti denied telling him that a fourth attempt would make her “Swairini”“Therefore, O blameless one, rescue this Madri as by a raft (by granting her the means of obtaining offspring), and achieve thou imperishable fame by making her a mother of children.” Probably Kunti was tired of the process and readily yielded.Madri though higher in status could never reach the height of Kunti, who was more like a ‘Godmother’ to the family.

Care for Madri's Children[edit]

After the death of her husband, Kunti did not commit sati, but his other wife Madri did.Kunti whole heartedly took care of Madri's children as her own. In fact she was very much attached to Nakula and Sahadeva. This reveals her noble and selfless nature


When the Pandavas returned to Hastinapur, there was the real crisis of succession. Duryodhana was focused on making sure that he would be the next heir for the kingdom. The king himself wanted his son to be his heir but he was also forced to consider the eldest Pandava, Yudhisthira, who was older than Duryodhana.Against his will, he named Yudhisthira as his heir which left Duryodhana frustrated. Then, Duryodhana planned to burn Pandavas and Kunti alive while they were on a Festival at "Varnavathi". But with the early warnings and help from Vidura, the Pandavas and Kunti survived by faking their death in the fire and lived in exile disguised as Brahmins.

Slaying Bakasura[edit]

Kunti and the Pandavas were living in agnyatavaasa(living incognito) after they escaped from the murder plot(kunti suggests to be incognito to avoid further problems from kauravas) . During their stay at Ekachakra or kaiwara(in Karnataka), they came to know of a demon, Bakasura who troubled people by eating out their provisions. She instructed her children to take care of the common people and ordered Bhima to kill the demon Bakasura.The powerful Bhima brought his might to the fore and trumped Bakashura. She ordered Bhima to marry Hidimba.

Sharing of Draupadi[edit]

During the exile after the burning of Lakshagraha, they reached Panchala. King Drupada organised Self choice ceremony for his daughter Draupadi. Arjuna went to the self choice ceremony and Draupadi choosed Arjuna as his husband. The pandavas returned to their hut. Kunti was busy in cooking. The pandavas said that they have bought alms, meaning Kanniga Dhanam( charity of wife.) Kunti misunderstood them and asked the pandavas to share whatever they have bought. Kunti was shocked after realising her words. Pandavas never disobeyed Kunti. All the Pandavas married Draupadi.

Prelude to war[edit]

As war approached, Kunti met Karna and in desperation to keep him alive asked Karna to join the Pandavas.Karna denies the offer and with great overconfidence promises her that he would not kill remaining four pandavas except Arjuna. Karna requested his mother to keep their relationship a secret till the end of the war, as pandavas will not fight against their own brother in the Dharma Yuddha if she reveals the truth to them, due to dharma against fighting a brother/father figure.

Death of Karna[edit]

Karna died in the war by the hands of Arjuna. Kunti came to know about this and rushed to the battlefield, looking at the horrors of died bodies in the battle field. She searched for Karna and burst into tears seeing Karna struggling for life in the battle field. The Pandavas were totally confused at her act. At last, Kunti and Krishna revealed the secret of Karna to Pandavas. This enraged Yudhishthira the most, and cursed the entire women clan that they will not be able to keep their secret. Kunti's life is full of struggles till the end.


After the Kurukshetra war Kunti perished in a forest fire in the Himalayas with her brother-in-law King Dhritarashtra and his wife Gandhari and attained heaven.[5][6]

In Media[edit]

The role of Kunti was played by many well known actresses like Deepti Naval, Miriam Goldschmidt and Nazneen. In the Mahabharat (2013-2014), the role was played by Shaffaq Naaz.


  1. ^ Studies of Mahabharata
  2. ^ KUNTI (also called Pritha and Parshni)
  3. ^ A classical dictionary of Hindu mythology and religion, geography, history, and literature by Dowson, John (1820-1881)
  4. ^ Mahabharata
  5. ^ "Kunti" (pdf). Manushi India Organization. Retrieved 10 January 2013. 
  6. ^ Mani pp.442-3

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