Adi Parva - 2
Bheeshma flatly refused to break his vow but suggested that the principle of Niyoga can be used to produce an heir. He suggested that a Brahmana well versed in the scriptures could impregnate the queens and make them pregnant.
Satyavati then revealed that she had a son by the sage Parashara before marriage. The son was named Krishna Dwaipayana, since he was dark (Krishna) and born on an island (Dweepa). He grew up to compile the Vedas and was known as Vyasa, the arranger.
Satyavati summoned Vyasa and asked him to impregnate the queen Ambika. Seeing his dark and ugly appearance, Ambika closed her eyes and as a result she gave birth to a blind son, who was named Dhritharasthra.
Satyavati then asked Vyasa to undergo Niyoga with the younger queen Ambalika, who turned pale in fear on seeing the sage. Her son was born with the Pandu (paleness) disease and was named Pandu.
Satyavati then asked Vyasa to agree to Niyoga again with Ambika. In fear of the sage, Ambika sent her servant maid instead of her. The maid had a wise son named Vidura who would grow up to be the Prime Minister of the kingdom.
Since Dhritharashtra was born blind, Pandu was made the king. After he grew up, he conquered several kingdoms and established his might. Bheeshma arranged the marriage of Dhritharashtra with Gandhari, the princess of Gandhara. Seeing her blind husband, she tied a cloth around her eyes and decided to remain blind throughout her life.
Pandu was married to Kunti, the daughter of the Yadava Shoorasena, who was also the foster daughter of King Kuntibhoja. Pandu also married Madri, the sister of King Shalya of Madra.
One day when hunting, Pandu killed a sage accidentally. The sage who was in a union with his wife cursed Pandu that he would die if he attempted to mate with his wives. A shocked Pandu gave up his kingdom and left to the forest with his two wives.
Dhritarashtra then became the king. Gandhari became pregnant but failed to deliver a child even after many months.
Meanwhile Kunti revealed to Yudhishtira that she had a boon from the sage Durvasa. As per the boon, she could summon any of the Gods and get a child from the God. Pandu then asked her to summon Dharma or Yama, the God of justice and death. She then had a son named Yudhishtira who would inherit the righteous quality of his divine father.
Hearing this news, Dhritharashtra was frustrated that he did not have a son. An upset Gandhari struck her womb and delivered a stillborn child. The sage Vyasa then divided the foetus into hundred and one parts and placed them into pots of ghee. He told her the pots would nourish the foetuses just like wombs.
When the pots were opened, there were hundred sons and a daughter born to Gandhari. When the eldest son was born, there were bad omens like braying of donkeys and howling of jackals. Hearing these omens, Vidura advised Dhritharashtra to abandon his son but he refused.
… to be continued