Character from the Mahabharata, an Indian Epic. His story is told in my words below. A bit of spoiler if you havn't read the book but, this really only covers parts of the first 3 chapters of the epic. (going by the Krishna Dharma translation)

After King Vichitravirya died without heir, a way was needed to continue his line. In such times of emergency, it was custom for the elder brother to concieve a child with a mans wife (or in this case, wives) in his place. It was for this reason that the King's wives Amika and Ambalika did not join the king on his funeral pyre.

The Kings most direct brother, Bhishma had taken a life long vow of celibacy and refused to conceive child for his brother. So the King's mother, Satyavati, called upon her eldest son (who was fathered and born before she was married with the King), a rishi (a powerful ascetic) named Vyasadeva.

He first conceived with Amika, who recoiled and shut her eyes when she saw him (for acetics do not bath or take part in worldly pleasures), so the rishi proclaimed that the child would come out blind. This child was Pandu's elder brother Dhritarastra.

Upon hearing this, Satyavati asked Vyasadeva to return and father a child with Ambalika. A month later he did so and proclaimed to her "As you have turned pale upon seeing me, your son shall also be pale. He will therefore be named Pandu, the 'pale one'."

When Pandu grew up, he had two wives arranged for him, Kunti and Mardi. He went off to war, and came back. Then he decided to leave his elder brother in charge and went off to the forest to live plainly, as wealth did not interest him.

Now here is where his story gets interesting.

One day while hunting, he sees two deer mating. They bolt when they see him, and he sets off five arrows after them, mortally wounding the buck (male). Much to his surprize, the deer then speaks to him in normal voice. It is not a deer at all, but a powerfull rishi, Kindama, who had taken the form of a deer.

The rishi was not mad at having been wounded per se, and assured Pandu that since he did not know that it was a rishi, he was not guilty of harming a brahmin. However, he had done one most evil thing, he had interrupted the mating. The rishi then cursed Pandu:

"When next you approach your wife out of desire, you will immediately fall dead. O King, as I was plunged into grief when I was happy, you shall also meet with grief at such a time"
This was done, btw, to free Pandu from his "sin". By cursing him, he would recieve the "reaction" for his deed in this life, and not have to suffer later. (these are the words used in the translation. probably an attempt to make the story easier for western readers who do not already have some idea of the concept of karma)

Pandu then decided to take a vow of celibacy and become an ascetic. His wives decided to join him, and they all send word back to the kingdom and go off to the mountain.

Eventually Pandu turns to the problem of an heir. He asks his wife Kunti to conceive a child with another man, as the custom states that since he is unable, he can have another man concieve in his place (as was done by his mother). She refused at first and then remembered a boon which she had secretly been given - she was given a mantra which could call forth any God of her choice, and the God would have to do her bidding.

First he has her call forth Dharma, the god of justice. This union brought forth Yudhisthira, who it is said will be "the best and most virtuous of men".

Then Pandu has her mate with Vayu, the wind god, and strongest of the gods. Her union with Vayu brings forth Bhima.

The third and final son from Kunti comes from Indra, king of all the gods. He is Arjuna, who will later be the central character beside Krishna in the bhagavad gita.

The law states that she can only concieve from 3 men. So thus it becomes Madri's turn. Kunti chants the mantra and calls forth the twin Ashvini gods, to give her two sons at once. Her sons are named Nakula, and Sahadeva.

Some time after all this, while the three are raising the children, Pandu walks into the woods with Madri. While in the woods he becomes filled with passion for her and forgets his curse. He becomes unable to even hear her protests and promptly dies while mating with her.

Thus ends the story of Pandu and begins the story of his sons, the Pandavas

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