(Other names: Dhritarashtra, Dhritharashtra)
Dhritrashtra was the son of Ambika, daughter of Kashiraj. Dhritrashtra was the father of hundred Kauravas. There is a famous story about the birth of Dhritrashtra. The king of Kuruvansh – Shantanu’s wife gave birth to two sons – Vichitravirya and Chitraganda. Chitraganda died at a young age. Vichitravirya was married to the two daughters of King Kashiraj namely Ambika and Ambalika. Vichitravirya died after marriage without bearing any child.
After Vichitravirya’s death his mother Satyavati sent for her first born, Vyasa. According to his mother’s wishes, Vyasa visited both the wives of Vichitravirya to grant them a son with his Yogic powers. When Vyasa visited Ambika, she saw his dreadful and forbidding appearance with burning eyes. In her frightened state, she closed her eyes and dared not to open it. Hence her son, Dhritarashtra was born blind.Dhritrashtra got married to Gandhari. Gandhari also covered her eyes all her life.
As Dhritrashtra was blind, his younger brother Pandu was made to sit on the throne of Hastinapur, but after the death of Pandu, Dhritrashtra had to take over the throne of Hastinapur. Due to immense fascination for his elder son Duryodhan, Dhritrashtra did not give Pandavas (sons of his younger brother Pandu) their share. It is because of this, the war of Mahabharata took place.
Sanjay, Dhritrashtra’s charioteer was blessed by Sage Vyasa with the ability to see the past, present and the future, narrated important events of the Kurukshetra war, a war fought between the Kauravas (the sons of Dhritarashtra) and the Pandavas, to the blind king. Dhritarashtra’s sorrow increased day by day as an ever increasing number of his sons were slain by Bhima.
He frequently bemoaned his ineffectiveness in preventing Duryodhan from going to war. Sanjay often consoled the bereaved king but 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. The first stanza of the Bhagavad Gita is a question from Dhritarashtra to Sanjay asking him to recount the Kurukshetra war.
In spite of being blind, Dhritrashtra was extremely strong. It is said that after Mahabharata, Dhritrashtra wanted to embrace Bhima (son of Pandu who killed his son Duryodhan) and crush him to death. If Bhima would have embraced him, he was sure to die, but Bhima saved himself with his shrewdness.Apart from hundred sons, Dhritrashtra also had a daughter named Dashala who got married to Jaydrath during Mahabharata.As all the sons were killed in the war of Mahabharata, Dhritrashtra went to jungle with his wife Gandhari. Both of them died due to forest conflagration (fire).