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The term Kaurava is a Sanskrit term, that means the descendants of Kuru, a legendary king who is the ancestor of many of the characters of the Mahabharata. It is often written as Kauravas in English; technically this plural form is incorrect since the Sanskrit form is plural already. The singular term, for a single descendant of Kuru, is Kaura.

The term is used in the Mahabharata with two meanings;

1. the wider meaning, to represent all the descendants of Kuru. This meaning, which includes the Pandava brothers, is also sometimes used in the Mahabharata, especially in some of the earlier parts.

2. the commoner and narrower meaning, to represent the elder line of the descendants of King Kuru. This restricts it to the children of King Dhritarashtra, as his line is the elder line of descent from Kuru. It excludes the children of the younger brother Pandu, who founds his own line, the Pandava. The rest of this article deals with the children of Dhritarashtra, by Queen Gandhari.

According to the standard texts, Gandhari wanted a hundred sons, and Vyasa granted her a boon that she would have these. She became pregnant, but did not deliver for two years, after which she gave birth to a lump of flesh. Vyasa cut this lump into a hunderd and pieces, and these eventually developed into a hundred boys and one girl.

This story should be read in view of the dispute over the succession to the throne of the kingdom. It attributes a late birth to the eldest son of Dhritarashtra, despite his early marriage. This legitimises the case for his cousin Yudhisthira to claim the throne, since he could claim to be the eldest of his generation.

Although all hundred sons have been named, only the first few are normally mentioned in the Mahabharata. The first five are;

The daughter is named Dusshalaa.

All the male Kauravas were killed in the great battle at Kurukshetra.