Nearly 5000 years ago, in the Dwapara Yuga, there were two brothers- Dhritarashtra and Pandu. Dhritarashtra was the elder brother and had congenital blindness. The throne was therefore given to the younger brother, Pandu. Pandu had 5 children- Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva with Yudhisthira being the eldest. Since they were five in numver they were together called as the Pandavas. Pandu died at a young age. The throne was now given to Dhritarashtra. The Pandavas were very small in age when their father died. After their father’s death, they all were raised in the Dhritarashtra’s palace. Dhritarashtra had 100 sons, called as the Kauravas. The eldest of them was Duryodhana. Both the Kauravas and the Pandavas received their military training from Guru Dronacharya (also called Guru Drona).
Arjuna was his favorite student. Drona was greatly impressed by his dedication and natural talent. Arjuna was considered to be the finest archer among them.
Right from the beginning, the Kauravas used to feel jealous of the Pandavas. Duryodhana was especially jealous of Arjuna because of his talent in archery. When all the children were grown up, Duryodhana wanted the Pandavas out of his father’s kingdom.
Draupadi: Draupadi wa sthe daughter of King Draupada. She has been described to be extraordinarily beautiful. Her father kept a swayamvara to find the suitable person for her marriage. The princes vying for Draupadi’s hand had to shoot five arrows at a revolving target, while looking only at its reflection in a bowl. Drupada was confident that only Arjuna could accomplish this task. Arriving with his brothers disguised as Brahmins (priests), Arjuna successfully tackled the target, which other kings and prince were unable to accomplish. Arjuna married Draupadi after this incident. Kunti (Pandava’s mother) often advised her sons that they share everything they have (or obtain through Bhiksha, i.e. alms) equally amongst themselves. Upon returning home with Draupadi, on purpose, Yudhisthira addresses his mother first “Look mother, what we have brought. Kunti, unmindful of what Yudhisthira was referring to, unassumingly asked her son to share whatever it is with his brothers. Thus, in order to obey their mother’s order all five accepted Draupadi as their wife.
Krishna: Krishna was Pandavas’ cousin. He is considered to be the 8th Avatar of the Hindu god, Vishnu. Krishna was a very good negotiator and exhibited high amount of diplomacy during such negotiations.
P.S. This post is about the brief introduction of characters and the background in which Gita is set. It is important to understand the characters and the context in order to understand the meaning hidden behind those Slokas mentioned in the book. I will make few more posts regarding what led to emergence of those Slokas, with some more description about these characters!