The Setting of the Bhagavad Gita

The Setting Queen Kuntī has been given the boon of a night visit in successive years by six gods of her choice. By them she has six sons who are thus half-brothers. Five of them are adopted by her husband King Pāṇḍu, and thus called Pāṇḍavas. The eldest, Yudhiṣṭhira, is to inherit the kingdom. The next two are the fierce Bhīma, and Arjuna who becomes a master archer, and later the disciple in the Gītā. The last two Pāṇḍavas play no part in the Gītā. The other infant, who will be the heroic Karṇa, is abandoned, but found and adopted by a charioteer. This is an important point. The cousins of the Pāṇḍavas, headed by the cruel Duryodhana, trap Yudhiṣṭhira into a gambling match against a dice sharper; he loses the kingdom to Duryodhana. The Pāṇḍavas are exiled, pursued by the new king’s murderous hate. The noble Bhīṣma the commander-in-chief, …

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