Written by Smita Srivastava
Children love stories and parents love teaching them important lessons through these stories. Most older adults prefer to tell stories to entertain children. It is any day a better option than screen time. Mahabharata stories are great for entertaining as well as teaching some important life lessons to the children. This great epic has a lot to teach the younger generation in numerous ways.
In fact, we all have something to learn from each character and story from the great epic Mahabharata. They are just like regular people but with bigger responsibilities and significance. Hence their actions had bigger consequences than the average man’s. And, what better way to teach the kids about this epic than telling them stories? So, here are some great Mahabharata stories for the children, which will not only engage them but will also teach them values.
In This Article
Mahabharata is an Indian epic written in Sanskrit language. The story beautifully depicts many characters with stories of their own. But all these stories come together in their own ways to form a part of this brilliant saga.
According to Mahabharata, the world has rules and we humans have to follow these rules for a peaceful life. The story also tells us what happens to each of its characters when they don’t abide by the rules and stray away from the right path.
Mahabharata is the story of rivalry between two cousins- Kauravas and Pandavas. In Mahabharata, Shantanu – the king of Hastinapur has two grandsons – Dhritarashtra and Pandu. Dhritarashtra is the elder brother and the rightful heir to the throne. However, he is blind and loses his eligibility to become the king. As a result, Pandu is crowned the king.
When Gandhari’s father agrees to give her hand in marriage to Dhritarashtra – the blind prince, it enrages her brother Shakuni. He decides to avenge this insult by destroying the entire Kuru clan. This is the main turning point in the story of Mahabharata. What was just a family feud between cousins turned into one of the biggest wars in the history of mankind due to Shakuni’s meddling and guidance to Duryodhana – the eldest of the Kauravas.
Later in the story, King Pandu gives up the throne and retires to the forest, and Dhritarashtra becomes the king. Dhritarashtra has 1 daughter and 100 sons – the Kauravas. Pandu has 5 sons – the Pandavas.
Since Pandu was originally the king, his eldest son Yudhishthira becomes the rightful heir to the throne. But Duryodhana – the eldest Kaurava, influenced by his uncle Shakuni, wants to be king. So, to ensure he becomes the crown prince, they plan and try to kill the Pandavas along with their mother Kunti. The plan fails and Pandu’s family goes into hiding. Duryodhana and Shakuni think the Pandavas are dead.
While in hiding, Arjuna wins the hand of Princess Draupadi at her swayamvara (a ritual where the woman chooses her husband among many suitors). In this swayamvara they do not allow Karna to participate as he is not a Kshatriya. Duryodhana steps in and makes Karna the king of Anga but Draupadi still refuses him.
When Arjuna takes his new bride back to the forest where the rest of his family is, his mother, without looking up, asks him to share his prize with all his brothers. So, Draupadi becomes the wife of all five Pandavas.
The family then returns to Hastinapur to claim their rightful place. However, Duryodhana was not ready to give up his position. So, Bheeshma suggests splitting the kingdom into two, so that both Duryodhana and Yudhishthira can be kings.
Duryodhana with the advice of his uncle Shakuni, calls the Pandavas to his kingdom to play a game of dice. Yudhisthira loses in the game and gambles away not just his wealth and kingdom but his brothers and wife too. Karna decides to get his revenge on Draupadi for rejecting him and asks Dushasana to strip off her saree. At this time Lord Krishna steps in and helps her.
After this incident, the Pandavas are sent into 13 years of exile. Once they come back from their exile, Duryodhana refuses to return to their kingdom. The infamous Kurukshetra War, also known as the Mahabharata War breaks out after this treachery.
During this war, Lord Krishna lends his weapons to the Kauravas and becomes the charioteer for Arjuna – one of the Pandavas. During the war, he guides Arjuna and teaches him important lessons, which form the verses of the famous Bhagavad Gita – a sacred Hindu scripture.
The Pandavas win the war and Yudhisthira becomes the king of Hastinapur. Here ends the great epic Mahabharata. The story of the Pandavas continues till Arjuna’s grandson becomes the next king. The Kauravas clan is destroyed completely in this war, as per Shakuni’s oath.
Mahabharata as a whole is too complex a story for children to comprehend. There are many stories woven into the Mahabharata epic. To start with, here are 5 interesting moral stories of different characters from Mahabharata for kids
Ekalavya, son of a poor hunter goes to guru Dronacharya, asking him to teach archery. Guru Drona refuses as he cannot have other students when he is the royal guru. Ekalavya starts observing guru Drona’s classes from far and practices on his own. Over time, he learns the skills and becomes a powerful archer.
One day Arjuna sees Ekalavya practicing archery and is shocked by how good he is. Guru Drona calls Ekalavya and makes him compete against Arjuna. In the competition, Ekalavya proves to be better than Arjuna.
Guru Drona, who does not want some lower caste boy to be better than his student, asks for Ekalavya’s thumb as guru dakshina. Ekalavya obliges and cuts off his thumb without any protest. He thus loses his ability to shoot arrows like before and Arjuna becomes the best archer.
Moral – This story teaches the kids that practice and hard work can make even the impossible possible.
Abhimanyu is the son of Arjun – the 3rd brother of the Pandavas. When Abhimanyu is in his mother’s womb, Arjuna tells him about Chakravyuh – a powerful military structure, which is impossible to break unless you know beforehand how to. It requires supreme technicality and knowledge to enter and get out of it safely.
So Arjuna with an intention to educate his offspring about Chakravyuh, talks to his baby in the womb and tells him how to enter and get out. Unfortunately, Subhadra falls asleep midway. She hears only till Arjuna explains how to enter the Chakravyuh.
During the Kurukshetra war, Abhimanyu bravely enters the Chakravyuh formed by the Kaurava army and fights valiantly. However, as he does not know how to get out of it, he dies inside the Chakravyuh.
Moral – This story teaches children how dangerous it can be to rush into things with only half knowledge. It also tells us how brave Abhimanyu was at his young age.
Akshaya Patra was a divine copper vessel given to Yudhishthira by the Sun God. Draupadi uses this to cook food for the Pandavas during their exile. The vessel provided endless food that satiated the Pandavas every day.
One day, sage Durvasa and his disciples visit the Pandavas in the forest after they were all done with their meal. This catches Draupadi off-guard and she does not know what to do. So, she prays to Lord Krishna for help. Krishna appears before her claiming to be very hungry. He finds one last morsel in the Akshaya Patra and eats it. After eating this morsel, Krishna says his hunger is satisfied and he is feeling very full.
As Lord Krishna, a supreme being feels full, the entire universe feels full, including sage Durvasa and his disciples. This saves Draupadi and Pandavas from the sage’s anger.
Moral – God will always come to the side of those who believe in him and need help.
Before the Kurukshetra war, Duryodhana and Arjuna went seeking Lord Krishna’s help. They found him resting with his eyes closed. Duryodhana rushed to sit near Krishna’s head and Arjuna humbly settled down near his feet.
When Lord Krishna opened his eyes, he saw Arjuna first and asked him what he wanted. Duryodhana got furious and claimed he was there first and so, he should get the first preference. Both Duryodhana and Arjuna then explained they wanted Krishna’s help in the war.
Lord Krishna told them, he will offer his army to one and himself to the other. Duryodhana chose Krishna’s army, which was famous for its valor and supremacy over all other armies in the world. Arjuna chose Krishna, telling if the divine is on his side, it is enough and he doesn’t care about the army or any extra powers.
In the end, Lord Krishna, acting as the charioteer for Arjuna, made a big impact on the war and helped the Pandavas win. Despite having the strongest army, the Kauravas lost.
Moral – This story teaches children to value a person more than the materials they can offer. In today’s materialistic world, this can be a very important lesson for young children.
Dronacharya, the royal guru joined the Kauravas in the Kurukshetra war out of force, as he was duty-bound to the kingdom.
Lord Krishna, though could not physically fight in the war, used his intelligence to help the Pandavas. He hatched a plan to deceive Dronacharya. He brought an elephant named Ashwatthama, which was also the name of Dronacharya’s son, into the war and had it killed. The soldiers informed Dronacharya that Ashwatthama was dead. This affected him deeply.
Dronacharya asked Yudhishthira, who never lied, if this news was true. Yudhishthira under the guidance of Lord Krishna confirmed that Ashwatthama was indeed dead, but did not specify if it was Drona’s son or the elephant. Guru Drona assumed it was his son and started grieving.
Dhrishtadyumna, the prince of Panchala and the twin brother of Draupadi used this opportunity to behead Drona.
Moral – This story teaches children how you can be clever and defeat your enemy without lying. Sometimes, we need this smartness to succeed in life.
The world considers Mahabharata a great epic for a reason. It has many lessons for both children and adults. These Mahabharata stories can be good entertainment and teach children many important lessons that can shape their thinking and instill good values in them.
With a background in Mass media and journalism, Smita comes with rich and vast experience in content creation, curation, and editing. As a mom of a baby girl, she is an excellent candidate for writing and editing parenting and pregnancy content. The content she writes and edits is influenced by her own journey through pregnancy and motherhood. When not writing- She can be found curled up with a book. Or, bingeing on Netflix.Read more.