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Published by Ravi Kalapur

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Published by: Ravi Kalapur on Jan 27, 2011
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“Teachings of Queen Kunti” by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta SwamiPrabhupada.COPYRIGHT NOTICE: This is an evaluation copy of the printed version ofthis book, and is NOT FOR RESALE. This evaluation copy is intended forpersonal non-commercial use only, under the “fair use” guidelinesestablished by international copyright laws. You may use this electronicfile to evaluate the printed version of this book, for your own privateuse, or for short excerpts used in academic works, research, studentpapers, presentations, and the like. You can distribute this evaluationcopy to others over the Internet, so long as you keep this copyrightinformation intact. You may not reproduce more than ten percent (10%) ofthis book in any media without the express written permission from thecopyright holders. Reference any excerpts in the following way:“Excerpted from “Teachings of Queen Kunti” by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami,courtesy of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International,www.Krishna.com.”This book and electronic file is Copyright 1977-2003 Bhaktivedanta BookTrust International, 3764 Watseka Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90034, USA.All rights reserved. For any questions, comments, correspondence, or toevaluate dozens of other books in this collection, visit the website ofthe publishers,www.Krishna.com.IntroductionThe tragic and heroic figure of Queen Kunti emerges from anexplosive era in the history of ancient India. As related in theMahabharata, India's grand epic poem of 110,000 couplets, Kunti was thewife of King Pandu and the mother of five illustrious sons known as thePandavas. As such, she was one of the central figures in a complexpolitical drama that culminated fifty centuries ago in the KuruksetraWar, a devastating war of ascendancy that changed the course of worldevents. The Mahabharata describes the prelude to the holocaust asfollows:Pandu became king because his elder brother Dhrtarastra had beenborn blind, a condition that excluded him from direct succession. Sometime after Pandu ascended to the throne, Dhrtarastra married Gandhariand fathered one hundred sons. This was the ruling family of the Kauravadynasty, of whom the eldest was the ambitious and cruel Duryodhana.Meanwhile, Pandu had taken two wives, Madri and Kunti. Originallynamed Prtha, Kunti was the daughter of Surasena, the chief of theglorious Yadu dynasty. The Mahabharata relates that Kunti "was giftedwith beauty and character; she rejoiced in the law [dharma] and wasgreat in her vows." She also possessed an unusual benediction. When shewas a child, her father Surasena had given her in adoption to his
childless cousin and close friend Kuntibhoja (hence the name "Kunti").In her stepfather's house, Kunti's duty was to look after the welfare ofguests. One day the powerful sage and mystic Durvasa came there and waspleased by Kunti's selfless service. Foreseeing that she would havedifficulty conceiving sons, Durvasa gave her the benediction that shecould invoke any demigod and by him obtain progeny.After Kunti married Pandu, he was placed under a curse thatprevented him from begetting children. So he renounced the throne andretired with his wives to the forest. There Kunti's special benedictionenabled her to conceive (at her husband's request) three glorious sons.First she invoked Dharma, the demigod of religion. After worshiping himand repeating an invocation Durvasa had taught her, she united withDharma and, in time, gave birth to a boy. As soon as the child was born,a voice with no visible source said, "This child will be calledYudhisthira, and he will be very virtuous. He will be splendid,determined, renounced, and famous throughout the three worlds."Having been blessed with this virtuous son, Pandu then asked Kuntifor a son of great physical strength. Thus Kunti invoked Vayu, thedemigod of the wind, who begot the mighty Bhima. Upon Bhima's birth thesupernatural voice said, "This child will be the foremost of all strongmen."Thereafter Pandu consulted with great sages in the forest and thenasked Kunti to observe vows of austerity for one full year. At the endof this period Pandu said to Kunti, "O beautiful one, Indra, the King ofheaven, is pleased with you, so invoke him and conceive a son." Kuntithen invoked Indra, who came to her and begot Arjuna. As soon as theprince was born, the same celestial voice boomed through the sky: "OKunti, this child will be as strong as Kartavirya and Sibi [two powerfulkings of Vedic times] and as invincible in battle as Indra himself. Hewill spread your fame everywhere and acquire many divine weapons."Subsequently, Pandu's junior wife Madri bore two sons named Nakula andSahadeva. These five sons of Pandu (Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula,and Sahadeva) then came to be known as the Pandavas.Now, since Pandu had retired from the throne and gone to theforest, Dhrtarastra had temporarily assumed the throne until Pandu'seldest son Yudhisthira came of age. However, long before that time Pandudied as a result of the curse, and Madri gave up her life as well byascending his funeral pyre. That left the five Pandavas in the care ofQueen Kunti.After Pandu's death, the sages living in the forest brought thefive young princes and Kunti to the Kaurava court at Hastinapura (nearpresent-day Delhi). In Hastinapura, the capital city of the kingdom, thefive boys were raised in royal style under the guidance of Dhrtarastraand the noble Vidura, Pandu's half brother.But a smooth transfer of power was not to be. Although Dhrtarastrahad at first recognized the primogeniture of Yudhisthira, he laterallowed himself to be used by his eldest son, the power-hungryDuryodhana, who wished to ascend the throne in place of Yudhisthira.Driven by uncontrollable jealousy, Duryodhana plotted against thePandavas, and with the hesitant approval of the weak Dhrtarastra, heinflicted many sufferings upon them. He made several attempts on theirlives in Hastinapura, and then he brought them to a provincial palaceand tried to assassinate them by having it set on fire. All the while,the five youthful Pandavas were accompanied by their courageous mother
Kunti, who suffered Duryodhana's atrocities in the company of herbeloved sons.Miraculously, however, Kunti and the Pandavas repeatedly escapeddeath, for they were under the loving protection of Lord Krsna, who hadincarnated to perform His earthly pastimes. Ultimately Duryodhana, aclever politician, cheated the Pandavas out of their kingdom (and theirfreedom) in a gambling match. As a result of the match, the Pandavas,wife Draupadi was abused by the Kauravas, and the Pandavas themselveswere forced to spend thirteen years in exile in the forest--to the greatsorrow of Kunti.When the thirteen-year exile had ended, the Pandavas returned toHastinapura to reclaim their kingdom. But Duryodhana bluntly refused torelinquish it. Then, after some unsuccessful attempts to quell thehostilities, Yudhisthira sent Krsna Himself to secure the return of thePandava kingdom by peaceful means. But even this effort failed--becauseof Duryodhana's obstinacy--and both sides prepared for battle. To placeYudhisthira on the throne--or to oppose him--great warriors from allcorners of the earth assembled, setting the scene for what would proveto be a devastating world war.Fierce fighting raged for eighteen days on the historic plain ofKuruksetra (near Hastinapura), and in the end all but a handful of themany millions of warriors were dead. Only Lord Krsna, the Pandavas, anda few others survived the massacre. The Kauravas (Duryodhana and hisbrothers) were devastated. In a desperate gesture of revenge,Asvatthama, one of the surviving Kauravas, mercilessly murdered the fivesons of Draupadi while they were sleeping. Queen Kunti thus suffered afinal blow--the loss of her grandchildren.Arrested and dragged to the Pandavas' camp like a bound animal,Asvatthama was let free only by the astounding compassion of Draupadi,the slaughtered boys' mother and Kunti's daughter-in-law, who pleadedfor his life. But the shameless Asvatthama made one more attempt to killthe last heir of the Pandavas, their unborn grandson in the womb ofUttara, by hurling the supreme brahmastra weapon. When she saw themissile flying straight at her, Uttara immediately ran to the shelter ofLord Krsna, who was just about to depart for Dvaraka, His majesticcapital city. Krsna protected the Pandavas and their mother Kunti fromimminent death by stopping the weapon's uncontrollable heat andradiation with His own Sudarsana disc.Having delivered the Pandavas from this last calamity, and seeingthat all His plans were fulfilled, Lord Krsna was again preparing toleave. For years Duryodhana had tormented Queen Kunti's family, butKrsna had protected them at every turn--and now He was going away. Kuntiwas overwhelmed, and she prayed to Krsna from the core of her heart.Kunti was Lord Krsna's aunt (He had incarnated as the son of herbrother Vasudeva), yet despite this conventional tie with the Lord, shefully understood His exalted and divine identity. She knew full wellthat He had descended from His abode in the spiritual world to rid theearth of demoniac military powers and reestablish righteousness. Justbefore the great war, Krsna had revealed all this to her son Arjuna inwords immortalized in the Bhagavad-gita (4.7-8):Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice,O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion--at thattime I incarnate Myself. In order to deliver the pious and annihilate

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