Gandhari: The Blindfolded Devotee

Gandhari: The Blindfolded Devotee

The Mahabharata, one of the world’s oldest and longest epic tales, is replete with intriguing characters who shape the course of destiny. Among them stands Gandhari, a woman of remarkable virtue and strength. Gandhari’s life unfolds as a tapestry of piety, devotion, and sacrifice, casting her as a central figure in this timeless saga.


Early Life and Marriage

Gandhari, born to Subala and Sudharmaa, rulers of Gandhara, was renowned for her piety and virtuous nature from a young age. Legends surround her attainment of a boon to bear a hundred children, setting the stage for her pivotal role in the Mahabharata. Her marriage to Dhritarashtra, the blind prince of the Kuru kingdom, was arranged by Bhishma, a significant event that led to the epic’s central conflict.

The Act of Blindfolding

Dhritarashtra and Gandhari

Gandhari’s unique act of blindfolding herself to emulate her husband’s blindness has been a subject of interpretation. While some see it as an act of love and dedication, others argue it was a protest against Bhishma and the Kuru dynasty. This symbolic gesture becomes a cornerstone of her character, symbolizing her unwavering commitment to her husband.

Pregnancy and the Birth of Her Children

Gandhari’s extraordinary pregnancy, carrying her children for an unusually long two years, leads to the birth of a hundred sons and a daughter, Dushala. Her jealousy of Kunti, who had given birth to the Pandavas, adds a layer of complexity to her character. Veda Vyasa, the sage who granted her the boon, plays a crucial role in this miraculous birth.

The Tragic Fate of Her Sons

Gandhari’s role as a mother becomes central as she raises her hundred sons, the Kauravas. Her love for her firstborn, Duryodhana, is particularly profound, and she even makes a single exception to her blindfolded state to empower him. However, the Mahabharata foretells the tragic fate of her sons in the war against the Pandavas, which ultimately leads to their demise.

Gandhari’s Curses

Gandhari’s curse upon Krishna

After the Mahabharata War, Gandhari’s curses hold significant consequences. Her curse upon Krishna, resulting in the Yadavas’ destruction, showcases the enduring impact of her actions. Her wrath, even directed at Yudhishthira‘s toe, reflects the depth of her emotions and beliefs.

Later Life and Death

Gandhari’s journey continues as she, along with her husband Dhritarashtra, Vidura, and Kunti, leaves Hastinapur to seek penance in the Himalayas. Her ultimate attainment of moksha, or liberation, in a forest fire brings her story full circle, underscoring her spiritual journey’s significance.

Portrayal in the Mahabharata

Throughout the epic, Gandhari is depicted as a woman of high moral standards. Her constant exhortations to her sons to follow dharma and seek peace with the Pandavas reveal her unwavering commitment to righteousness. Despite her love for Duryodhana, she remains steadfast in her belief in righteousness.


Gandhari’s legacy endures through the ages. Temples like the Gandhari temple in India honor her devotion and loyalty. Her character has inspired literary works, such as Rabindranath Tagore’s “Gandharir Abedon” and Aditi Banerjee’s novel “The Curse of Gandhari,” which offer fresh perspectives on her role in the Mahabharata.

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