Krishna (KREESH-nuh), An Incarnation (avatar) Of the god Vishnu. Krishna rules the Yadavas, on the northwestern coast of India. He is a close friend of Arjuna. In the great war between the Kauravas (KOW-ruh-vuhs) and the Pandavas (PAHN-duh-vuhs), Krishna acts as Arjuna’s charioteer. When Arjuna feels reluctance to fight and kill his cousins, Krishna convinces him to fight, teaches him basic truths about the universe, and reveals his divine glory. This extended scene is related in the Bhagavad Gita, a major Hindu scripture. In the battle, Krishna does not fight; instead, he encourages and assists Arjuna.
Dhritarashtra (dree-tuh-RASH-truh), who would be king except that being born blind disqualifies him. He eventually does rule because of the death of his brother, Pandu. He has one hundred sons, born in an unusual manner. His sons are known as the Kauravas. His weakness as king is shown in his inability to resist the evil plans of his eldest son, Duryodhana. Dhritarashtra permits the dice game in which Duryodhana wins everything from Yudhishthira, including the other four Pandavas. Dhritarashtra also cannot avert the war in which his sons are all killed.
Pandu (PAHN-dew), Dhritarashtra’s brother. Because of a curse, he cannot lie with his wives, Kunti (KEWN-tee) and Madri (MAH-dree). He dies early in the epic, when he finally lies with Madri. His wives have sons by several gods. These sons (except for Karna) are known as the Pandavas.
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