Duryodhana – The Eldest and Greatest of Kauravas

Bhima and duryodhana

Duryodhana, formerly named Suyodhana is supposed to be the avatar of the demon Kali and a great warrior. He is the main character of the most popular Hindu epic Mahabharata and the eldest among the Kauravas, the hundred sons of King Dhritarashtra and Queen Gandhari.

Being the crown prince of Hastinapur, Uttar Pradesh, Bharat, he was fierce and never believed in the miracles of Lord Krishna. Duryodhana is derived from two Sanskrit words: ‘Du’ meaning difficult and ‘Yodhana’ meaning to fight, as a whole which meant difficult to fight.

Born From A Jar

During the time of Dwapar Yug, the great sage Vyasa came to Hastinapur. The queen of Hastinapur took such good care of him that he was pleased by her devotion and said, “Ask anything you want.” Gandhari then replied she wants 100 sons and a daughter. Gandhari became pregnant but could not deliver the baby even after two years of pregnancy. Finally, she delivered a lump of flesh. She then thought of throwing the flesh away.

Vasya said her not to worry as his boon could not go easily in vain. He divided that flesh into 101 equal masses and kept each one of them in a jar filled with ghee. She was said to wait for two more years. Two years passed and she found a baby boy after opening the jar. The baby boy was named Suyodhana (meaning one with good arms in warfare). Gandhari took a baby girl from the last, 101st jar and named her Duhshala.

Vyasa and Gandhari

Duryodhana’s Childhood

Because of the fierce and unbeatable nature of Suyodhana, his name was later on changed to Duryodhana. Duryodhana learned military skills from his gurus, Kripacharya and Dronacharya. During the course of training, he appeared to be excellent with Gadha (mace) and wanted to excel in it, so he took training from Balarama.

As mentioned in Shanti Parva, Karna is supposed to be the genuine and close friend of Duryodhana. Karna was a support system of Duryodhana in the war of Kurukshetra and he always thought Karna superior to Arjuna.

From the very childhood, Kauravas always hated Pandavas. Duryodhana even attempted to kill Bhima by feeding him the poisoned feast.

Division of Kingdom – Hastinapur, and Khandavprastha

As suggested by Bhisma, the kingdom was divided so as to remove chaos and quarrels between Pandavas and Kauravas. Yudhishthira gets half of the Kingdom, Khandavprastha, which was the barren and rocky forest initially. And Duryodhana becomes the crown prince of Hastinapur. Duryodhana managed the state affairs with a bunch of his advisers including his uncle Shakuni, brother Dushasana, Bhishma, Vidhura, and friend Karna.

From the wisdom of Krishna and Arjun, the rocky Khandavprastha was changed to Indraprastha, a beautiful kingdom. Yudhishthira with the power from Rajasyua Yagna gains authority over several other kingdoms and eventually, the fame Indraprastha appeared to exceed Hastinapura’s. 

Moreover, Yudhishthira performs the Rajasyua Yagna and gains authority over several other kingdoms; Indraprastha’s prosperity and fame appear to exceed Hastinapura’s. Duryodhana is unable to contain his anger. On top of that, when Duryodhana went to Indraprastha to meet his cousins, Draupadi insulted him by saying, “A blind man’s son is also blind.” This made Duryodhana more angry and jealous. It is believed Draupadi insulted Duryodhan and thus paved the way for the war.

The Game of Dice

After Duryodhana returned from a visit to Indraprastha he told about his insult to his uncle Shakuni. Shakuni then planned a game of dice to rob Yudhishthira and his kingdom. Shakuni sent an invitation to the dice game. The game was supposed to be played between Shakuni and Yudhisthir.

Shakuni was an expert in the game of dice, as a result, Yudhisthir could not compete with him and kept on losing Kingdom, his four brothers, his wife and finally himself. Dhritarashtra and Bhishma could not tolerate this form of injustice and made Duryodhana return everything back to Yudhishthira.

However, the clever Shakuni sets the condition that Pandavas have to spend entire thirteen years in exile in the forest if they want their kingdom back. However, Pandavas after returning from exile asks for their kingdom but Duryodhana refused to return. Now the war was inevitable. And the war of Kurukshetra soon started.

The War of Kurukshetra

In the war of Kurukshetra, Duryodhana and his massive armies were on one side and Pandavas and Krishna and their smaller army were on another side. In between the war, Duryodhana always seemed unsatisfied and would blackmail Pandavas now and then. He also used his Gadha. Kauravas were fighting with physical and military forces and Pandavas with the wisdom of Lord Krishna, slowly and gradually Kauravas started losing the war.

Kauravas killed Abhimanyu – the son of Arjuna in a disrespectful manner. Thus, to take revenge for his son’s death, Arjun alone killed at least thousands of Kuru soldiers. This made Kauravas weaker and more fragile. Duryodhana started falling apart as all of his brothers and armies were already killed.

Gandhari surprised by the death of all sons except Duryodhana thought of blessing him. She decides to remove her blindfold to bless her son and calls him naked to bless him on the thigh and groin. In the meantime, Krishna, who was leaving tent-covered his thigh and groin. Gandhari was shocked to see this and could not bless him, which became susceptible to the Pandavas attack.

In the end, with Lord Krishna’s advice, Bhima attacked Duryodhana on his thigh. The hit was so hard that Duryodhana that he died on the spot. Finally, Pandavas cremated him.

Bhima and Duryodhana

Facts about Duryodhana

मोघं तवेदं भुवि नामधेयं दुर्योधनेतीह कृतं पुरस्तात् न

हीह दुर्योधनता तवास्ति पलायमानस्य रणं विहाय

moghaṃ tavedaṃ bhuvi nāmadheyaṃ duryodhanetīha kṛtaṃ purastāt na

hīha duryodhanatā tavāsti palāyamānasya raṇaṃ vihāya

  • He thought Pandavas were idiots choosing Krishna instead of his massive army for the war.
  • He was one of the eleventh Maharathis on Kauravas’ side.
  • He was an expert in the art of fighting with Gadha (mace).
  • He was capable of respecting talent as he made Karna the King of Agna despite his low caste.
  • After Yudhisthir went to heaven, he saw Duryodhana with a very bright hume of the shining color of the Sun.