Chapter 1. Despondency of Arjuna: Verse 8
अश्वत्थामा विकर्णश्च सौमदत्तिर्जयद्रथ: ||
ashvatthaamaa vikarnashcha saumadattir-jayadratah
Commentary & Explanation
Duryodhana reminds Drona that the eminent warriors among the Kauravas are Drona himself, Bhishma, Karna, Kripa, Ashwathama, Vikarna, Bhurishravas- the son Somadutta and Jayadratha.
Bhishma was the grandsire of both Kauravas and Pandavas, he was one of the Ashta(Eight) Vasus(guardian angels) who kidnapped Vasistha's cow Kamadhenu on their wives' behest. While all the other Vasus apologized and begged for mercy when Vasistha intervened, Bhishma does not apologize, Vasistha forgives the others but curses Bhishma to be born a human with long life. He was born to Goddess Ganga as her eighth child, he became popular after vowing to be a celibate and sacrificing his rights over his father's kingdom for the sake of fulfilling his father's wish of marrying Satyavati(whose father wanted his grandchildren to be the heirs to the kingdom.)
Bhishma symbolizes Ego. Bhishma had the boon to leave the body at his will (just like Ego doesn't go until one voluntarily gives it up)
Karna was the first biological son of Kunti fathered by Sun God, Kunti was testing her boon given by the sage Durvasa when she had Karna, being an unmarried woman she feared for the society and leaves her baby boy into the water in a crib, the boy was found by Radha, the wife of a charioteer Adhiratha, he grows up to become Karna.
Seeing Karna's prowess in warfare Duryodhana gives him half the kingdom and crowns him to be a king, Duryodhana treats him like his best friend, Despite realizing Pandavas are his own brothers and are on the right side of Dharma Karna still decides to fight for Kauravas because of his attachment to Duryodhana. Karna symbolizes attachment.
Kripa or Kripacharya was the son of sage Sharadvana, he was also the brother in-law of Drona(his sister Kripi was married to Drona). Kripa was a great warrior who was capable of fighting 60,000 warriors simultaneously.
Ashwathama was the son of guru Drona & Kripi, he was one of the only few who knew how to use Brahmastra(the most destructive weapon). He ends up on the losing side of the war, not being able to cope up with his failures he kills some of his enemies in the night, he misuses his powers to kill the baby inside the womb of Uttara(Arjuna's daughter in-law) and thus gets cursed by Krishna to become an immortal for 1000s of years while having the most painful life experience on earth. He is believed to be roaming the earth till Kalki frees him of his curse.
Vikarna was a brother of Duryodhana, he was the only one among Kauravas who protested against Duryodhana and co when they tried to disrobe Draupadi. He is often compared to Kumbhakarna of Ramayana who knew his elder brother was wrong but still sided with him. His brother Yuyutsu is compared to Vibhishana of Ramayana, who knew his brother was wrong and sided with the righteous side, Yuyutsu sided with the Pandavas in the fight.
Bhurishravas was the son of SomaDutta, the king of Bahlika kingdom. Shantanu, the great grandfather of Kauravas was his grand uncle. Somadutta had lost a fight in attempting to win the hand of Devaki, the mother of Krishna, and thus was bitter towards Krishna and hence Pandavas. Bhrishravas gets killed by Satyaki while trying to kill an unarmed Satyaki in an un-Kshatriya way, he is compared to Karma.
Jayadratha was the king of Sindhu kingdom, he was the husband of Dushala, the only sister of 100 Kauravas. He once tries to kidnap Draupadi and gets caught, Bhima decides to kill him, but Draupadi pleads that Dushala would become a widow if he gets killed, Arjuna intervenes and argues that an example should be made not to mess with the Pandavas, Jayadratha's head was shaved and he was announced a slave of the Pandavas.
Jayadratha on penance(Tapasya) receives a boon from Lord Shiva to be able to hold the Pandavas if not possible to defeat them, Jayadratha later in the war becomes the reason Abhimanyu gets isolated from other Pandavas and thus killed.
|Bhurishravas||Son of Somadutta|
|Bhishma||Devavrata, son of Ganga|
|Karna||Son of Kunti, but brought up by the wife of charioteer Adhiratha|
|Kripa||Son of Sharadvana|
|Ashwathama||Son of Drona and Kripi|
|Vikarna||Brother of Duryodhana|
|Somadutta||King of Bahlika|
|Jayadratha||King of Sindhu kingdom, husband of Dushala|