(Last Updated on : 18/03/2010)
, Dhritarashtra was the son born to Vichitravirya`s first wife Ambika. As Dhritarashtra was left fatherless with the death of Vichitravirya, his grandmother Satyavati
arranged her son Vyasa to look after him. Dhritarashtra was born blind but this did not deter him from ruling the Hastinapura Empire for several years. He had received immense support from his wife Gandhari and together became the parents of hundred sons, famously known as the `Kauravas`.
After the death of both Chitragandha and Vichitravirya, queen Satyavati was worried about the continuity of the family`s lineage. The fact that both her sons had died heirless worried her even more. To resolve this problem, she called upon her first son Vyasa to use his special powers and help her daughter-in-laws to conceive.
Vyasa agreed to his mother`s request and came to the palace to bless both Ambika and Ambalika.
When Vyasa came to bless Ambika, she got frightened on seeing him. Scared by his looks, she closed her eyes firmly till he blessed and went away. Considering that she made a mistake of closing her eyes on seeing Vyasa, she gave birth to a blind Dhritarashtra. However, Vyasa blessed him with the strength of ten thousand elephants.
Earlier due to his handicap, Pandu
was made the king. But with the death of Pandu, Dhritarashtra ascended the throne. He with aid of stalwarts like Vidhura
and others looked after the kingdom well. His wife Gandhari who blind-folded her eyes for her husband`s sake too helped him in his state of affairs.
The heir to the throne
After the death of Pandu, Kunti
(Pandu`s first wife) returned to the kingdom after years of living as hermit in the forests. She came back with their five sons. On her return, Dhritarashtra was advised by the elders to be fair with her and her sons. At the same time, Dhritarashtra was put through a great dilemma as to who would be his successor to the throne after his death.
He wanted his son Duryodhana
to become his successor but lawfully it was Yudhisthira- the eldest son of Pandu who would ascend the throne. Against his will, he named Yudhisthira his heir, which left Duryodhana frustrated. As a solution Bhishma suggested the partition of Hastinapur. In order to maintain peace Dhritarashtra gave Yudhisthira half the Kuru kingdom, though the lands were arid, un-prosperous and scantily populated, known as Khandavaprastha. While he kept the better half of the kingdom for himself so that his son may one day rule his half of the kingdom.
The Kurukshetra battle
The Kurukshetra war was a war fought between the Kauravas and Pandavas. The elders of Hastinapura such as Bhishma and Vidhura tried to convince the two sides against the battle. But they did not pay heed to the advices of the elders and went on with the battle for eighteen days.
As Dhritarashtra was blind, Sage Vyas blessed Sanjaya, Dhritarashtra`s charioteer with the ability to see the past, present and the future. Thus Sanjaya could narrate important events of to the blind king. Dhritarashtra`s sorrow increased day by day as Bhima killed all his sons slowly. He frequently bemoaned his ineffectiveness in preventing Duryodhana from going to war. Sanjaya often consoled the bereaved king and reminded him every time that dharma was on the Pandava side and a war against Krishna and Arjuna could not be humanly won regardless of the strength of the opposing force.
His last days
After the death of all his sons, Dhritarashtra handed over the throne to Yudhisthira. Yudhisthira was crowned king of both Indraprastha and Hastinapura. Yudhisthira once again showed his kindness when he decided that the king of the city of Hastinapura should be Dhristarashtra. He offered the blind king complete respect and reverence as an elder, despite his misdeeds and the evil of his dead sons. After many years as the ruler of Hastinapura, Dhristarashtra along with Ghandhari, Kunti and Vidura left for their final journey into the forest. They died in a forest fire in the Himalaya