This answer says that

"Swairini (heanton)" means "Unbound" & Harlot means "prostitute".

As per Adi Parva: Sambhava Parva of Mahabharata:

The celebrated Pandu, tempted by the desire of having more children wished to speak again unto his wedded wife (for invoking some other god).

But Kunti addressed him, saying,

'The wise do not sanction a fourth delivery even in a season of distress. The woman having intercourse with four different men is called a Swairini (heanton), while she having intercourse with five becometh a harlot. Therefore, O learned one, as thou art well-acquainted with the scripture on this subject, why dost thou, beguiled by desire of offspring, tell me so in seeming forgetfulness of the ordinance?'"

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Note: In this Hindi translation, it seems that Kunti is referring about having sons from different men as words "is vidhi ke dvara" are used. Also, there seems no limit of having only three or four sons as per scriptures. Many women had more than three/four sons. For example, Rukmini had more than 3/4 sons: Pradyumna, Charudeshna, Sudesna, Charudeha, Sucharu, Charugupta, Bhadracharu, Charuchandra, Vicharu and Charu.

But the count was already five :

  • Surya
  • Pandu
  • Dharma
  • Vayu
  • Indra

I think no reference is needed for last three because Kunti must have referred them. Also, Pandu was cursed later, so he must have been in the list of four men whom Kunti referred else he must have given the reason to Kunti about his request of producing more children from other gods.

And here is the reference for Surya:

The god Vivaswat (Sun) approaching her, said, 'Here I am, O black-eyed girl! Tell me what I am to do for thee.'

"Hearing this, Kunti said, 'O slayer of foes, a certain Brahamana gave me this formula of invocation as a boon, and, O lord, I have summoned thee only to test its efficacy. For this offence I bow to thee. A woman, whatever be her offence, always deserveth pardon.'

Surya (Sun) replied, 'I know that Durvasa hath granted this boon. But cast off thy fears, timid maiden, and grant me thy embraces. Amiable one, my approach cannot be futile; it must bear fruit. Thou hast summoned me, and if it be for nothing, it shall certainly be regarded as thy transgression.'

"Vaisampayana continued, 'Vivaswat thus spoke unto her many things with a view to allay her fears, but, O Bharata, the amiable maiden, from modesty and fear of her relatives, consented not to grant his request.

And, O bull of Bharata's race, Arka addressed her again and said, 'O princess, for my sake, it shall not be sinful for thee to grant my wish.' Thus speaking unto the daughter of Kuntibhoja, the illustrious Tapana--the illuminator of the universe--gratified his wish. And of this connection there was immediately born a son known all over the world as Karna accountred with natural armour and with face brightened by ear-rings. -Adi Parva: Sambhava Parva of Mahabharata

Then why didn't Kunti say this statement before Arjuna's birth?

One possible reason that seems logical is:

And after the birth of this child (Karna), the illustrious Tapana (Surya) granted unto Pritha (birth name of Kunti) her maidenhood and ascended to heaven. -Adi Parva: Sambhava Parva of Mahabharata

This seems logical because this was the very reason which proved Karna's statement on Draupadi false and made him villain as Draupadi was blessed to gain her virginity.

Is there any other reason for which Kunti didn't include Surya?

Or as mentioned in this comment of Keshav Srinivasan "I think it's posssible Pandu never had intercourse, and that she only had intercourse with Surya, Yama, Indra, and Vayu."

Is it true that Pandu never had intercourse with Kunti? If so, was Pandu aware of that Karna was son of Kunti and Surya?

  • 1
    I think it's posssible Pandu never had intercourse, and that she only had intercourse with Surya, Yama, Indra, and Vayu. Jan 13, 2018 at 15:54
  • 1
    @KeshavSrinivasan, Nobody did. "yonir yatha na dushyetha" - devas procreation is not like human procreation.
    – ram
    Jan 13, 2018 at 15:58
  • 1
    @KeshavSrinivasan So u mean Pandu was aware of Karan (that Karna was son of Kunti & Surya)? Also, Pandu was cursed later so how it is possible that he never had intercourse? And after marrying Kunti he married Madri so how it is logical? However I updated my question..
    – YDS
    Jan 13, 2018 at 16:03
  • @ram OK, but the whole issue is that Kunti didn't want to be a woman who has had intercourse with five men. So even if intercourse with Devas is different from human intercourse, Kunti was still counting it. Jan 13, 2018 at 16:06
  • @ram Added the Sanskrit shloka, u may provide correct translation..and here intention is not to blame anyone but to find the correct interpretation of the shloka..
    – YDS
    Jan 13, 2018 at 18:40

2 Answers 2


It refers to giving birth and not about having intercourse. Secondly, she is referring to the Niyoga padati. So, that way its only 3. We can't consider Surya here, since he had granted a boon to her that her virginity (Kanyatva) will not change. You can find it in Vyasa Mahabaratha - Chapter 111 - Verse 20 - MN Dutt Translation

The greatly effulgent Tapana, then giving Pritha her maiden-hood, again went to heaven.

In that case it would only be Yama, Vayu and Indra.

  • 3
    Hello ! It will be most helpful if you can provide reference from scriptures where it says boon of Kanyavati was granted to Kunti from Surya dev. Oct 21, 2019 at 6:41
  • You can find it in Chapter 111 - Verse 20 The greatly effulgent Tapana, then giving Pritha her maiden-hood, again went to heaven. MN Dutt Translation
    – Babu Reddy
    Oct 22, 2019 at 13:20
  • Hello. Please edit your answer by adding this reference. Also check Guidelines for new users answering questions
    – user6981
    Oct 22, 2019 at 14:39

We have to remember some of the main issues here.

  1. According to available information from a research paper, the dating of Mahabharata war was roughly made somewhere between 3,129 BC to 1,397 BC.

  2. The present available version of Mahabharata was written in Classical Sanskrit. The Classical Sanskrit is different from that of Vedic Sanskrit. Classical Sanskrit was codified by Panini (6th Century BCE).

  3. So definitely there was a gap of many hundreds or thousands of years, between the original composition of Mahabharata to present version of Mahabharata.

  4. Even according to the available present day Mahabharata, the original version of EPIC contained only 8,800 slokas only.

I am (continued Sauti) acquainted with eight thousand and eight hundred verses, and so is Suka, and perhaps Sanjaya. From the mysteriousness of their meaning, O Muni, no one is able, to this day, to penetrate those closely knit difficult slokas. Even the omniscient Ganesa took a moment to consider; while Vyasa, however, continued to compose other verses in great abundance.

  1. The original version of the EPIC composed by Sage Vyasa might have been transmitted orally, from one generation to another, till the present version was composed in Classical Sanskrit containing 1,00,000 slokas.

  2. Whoever may be the composer, he might have supplemented the customs, traditions, etc, along with some more stories prevalent during his period.

  3. Thus, we cannot trace the words, stated to have been by Kunti, to Kunti, but that of the later day composer.

  4. Further, the birth of ayOnijas, and birth of Dhritarashtra, Pandu, Vidura out of Vyasa and Pandavas out of Gods, etc, are quite mysterious. What actually occurred during that point of time might not have been understood by the later day composer.

  • 2
    MBH has ref of many versions..24k verses (Bharata)..6000k verses (Mahabaharata) out of which 3000k for Devas, 1500k for Pitris, 1400k for Gandharvas and only 100k (1L) for humans...whatever u r referring in #4 are Kutashlokas or VyasaRahsya of Mahabharata, these were composed so that Ganesha had to take more time in understanding and writing them which would allow more time for Vyasa to compose other shlokas...
    – YDS
    Oct 23, 2019 at 17:33
  • Original version of mahabharata , called Jaya, contains 8800 slokas only. Anyway, this is not the only point that I had relied upon @YDS Oct 23, 2019 at 17:39
  • 1
    u can go with hinduism.stackexchange.com/q/22970/12304 thread..anyway ur other points #1-#7 are based on the same facts.. :)
    – YDS
    Oct 23, 2019 at 18:08

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