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[krishna as the charioteer]
Now Yuddhistira arranged for a big Yajna (sacrificial ceremony), in which all the rajas were duly invited. Here the Pandava brothers gave the first place of honor to Krishna. This was highly resented by Sishupal, the king of Chedi state. He started abusing Krishna in filthy language. In the fight that ensued Krishna killed Sishupal according to legends he beheaded Sishupal by throwing his Sudarshana (Divine wheel) at him.

At the success of this sacrificial ceremony, Pandavas' first cousin, Duryodhana, son of Dhritrashtra who was the uncle of Pandava princes, grew jealous. He challenged the Pandava brothers to a game of dice. Shakuni, the maternal uncle of Duryodhana, was the villain of the piece; he was the master in deceitful maneuverings.

As the game proceeded, Yuddhistira became more and more engrossed in it and played heavier and heavier stakes. At each succeeding loss he became desperate and after losing his kingdom he even put his wife Draupadi at stake. When he lost her too the evil winners wanted to dishonor Draupadi, but Krishna intervened and saved her honor. As per mythological accounts he saved her through his miraculous powers. However as a result of this defeat and as per conditions laid down in one stake, the five Pandava brothers had to leave the kingdom and remain in exile for thirteen years.

Eventually Pandavas after completion of their exile requested for the return of their kingdom. Krishna tried his best to avoid the war by acting as envoy on behalf of Pandavas.
Kauravas under Duryodhana refused to budge an inch. In this great war of Mahabharata Krishna acted as the charioteer of Arjuna. In fact Krishna had offered both the sides a choice. Each might have the choice of either having him as an adviser who would not actively engage himself in the battle or of having his army men as fighters in the field. Kauravas chose to have the army while Pandavas opted for Lord Krishna. It was in the capacity as a charioteer of Arjuna, when the Lord Krishna had recited to Arjuna the world-famous divine song of BHAGAVAD GITA. Preparations for the big war began and allies were sought on all sides. Many battles followed.

The army of Kauravas was commanded in succession by their great-uncle Bhishma, Drona, their military preceptor, Karna, the half-brother of Pandavas and Shalya, the King of Madra. All the warriors fell in succession and at length Bhima and Duryodhana fought in single combat with maces. Duryodhana had his thigh broken and was mortally wounded. At the end of this war there remained only five Pandavas. After reconciliation with Dhritrashtra, the blind father of the Kauravas, Yuddhistira was crowned the King. However he was greatly depressed and highly troubled at the loss of all kith and kin. After his coronation Yuddhistira performed the horse sacrifice ceremony. The Pandava brothers left the kingdom and retired to the Himalayas after ruling peacefully for few decades.

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