By Swami Harshananda
Pāṇḍu literally means ‘the white one’.
When the king Vicitravīrya of the lunar race passed away without any issue, Satyavatī, his mother, requested the sage Vyāsa to father a son in the queen Ambālikā by the system of levirate, which was common during those days. The two children born thus were Dhṛtarāṣṭra and Pāṇḍu. Since the former was born blind, Pāṇḍu was crowned as the king in course of time. After his marriage with Kuntī and Mādri, he set out on a conquest mission, thereby subjugating many kings. He once went out hunting and killed a male deer which was actually a rṣi named Kindama, who had assumed that form along with his wife as a female deer. The ṛṣi pronounced a curse before breathing his last, that he would die if ever he had intercourse with any woman.
After returning to his capital, Pāṇḍu retired to the Sataśrñga hill and started living there like a forest recluse. He felt dejected at that time since he had no children to continue the race. After taking his permission however, Kunti and Mādri gave birth to the five Pāṇḍavas through the power of a special mantra taught to Kuntī many years earlier by the sage Durvāsas. Later, one day, infatuated by the beauty of Mādrī and unable the control himself he approached her and died instantly. Mādrī committed sahagamana along with his body.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore