We can call each one of them as legend in the story of MahaBharat but to me the truest Legend is Karna from Mahabharata deserves a retelling to those who find glory and might only in warriors like Arjuna, Bheeshma or Drona. The situation of Karna’s birth, brought-up, life and death are equally unfortunate and under plotter (from the birth till death it is planned).
When I was thinking that I have to share my views about Mahabharat, first thing came to my mind was to say about Karnan, a character which is deep in my heart from my childhood. I don’t even know the story of Mahabharat, but I know for sure the character of Karnan entered my heart so deeply because of an old movie as KARNAN. A movie which portrays the story of Karnan in 3 hours and the characters playing the role only will come in front of the eyes when I say the name Karnan.
Let us see how the story of Karnan affected me.
If Mahabharata has a character who has received the most humiliation for no fault whatsoever reasons is Karnan.
At all stages of life he has seen only humiliation right from his birth till end of his life.
Kunti wanted to test the boon awarded by Rishi Durvasa and she used the mantra out of curiosity and called the god of Sun and later felt embraced when the god of Sun appeared in front of her. She pleaded him to go away, but Sun-god said that the effect of the mantra made him to appear and he is helpless against that mantra and she will be blessed with a son. Even then Kunti shall stay virgin.
Thus how the great archer Karnan was Born with Kavasa Kundala. Kunti was afraid of the society and abandoned the child. She sent the child in a Basket and placed the basket in the river, then the basket was seen by a Charioteer who has no child. He was so happy to get such a bright baby and he took the child with him happily and brought him up as his son. That is why Karnan is also called as Sarathyputhiran (son of the charioteer).
How Karna was humiliated ?
In the earlier stages as a child, when he was taken to the gurukul by the charioteer, he was not allowed to study with the Pandavas and Kauravas by saying that he is not a princess or a Brahmin to learn from Gurukul. Karna learned it on his own following Dronacharya’s teaching.
Karna is the best archer next to Eklavya and Arjuna is no where nearer to him. Dronacharya knew that Karna is far superior to Arjuna, hence he denies to teach him archery. He was sent back as he is not a princess or a Brahman to learn it from Guru Dronacharya.
After the end of Gurukul, both Pandavas and Kauravas were asked to show their skills to public. This was the day when their teacher Dronacharya would publicly prove that he has made every prince a master fighter. Their guru Dronacharya introduced each of them one by one like Bhima as a best Gada warrior and then came Arjuna as a best archer.
After Arjuna showed his skills he was challenged by Karna as a stranger and he performed and shown his talents in archery better than Arjuna and immediately the limelight was away from Arjuna and the focus was turned towards KARNAN.
Dronacharya got angry on seeing this, as he had promised Arjuna that he will make him the best archer and tried to stop Karna by saying that the stage since it is meant for a prince and not for some poor charioteer’s son. Once again he was humiliated badly by the Guru Acharya’s.
Duryodhana who was envious of the Pandavas was waiting for the opportunity and asked Karna that where he is from?? Karnan told that he is from place called Anga Desam. Duryodhana immediately declared him as the king of Anga Desam. Karnan asked Duryodhana that how he will be able to payback Duryodhana for this favor for which he replied be my friend till my end. Karnan was very happy with the way Duryodhana saved him from the great humiliation, and he was forced back this favor of Duryodhana all his life by sacrificing his life with Duryodhana.
Third Humiliation was by Draupadi
In the Suyamvara of Draupadi, when all the kings and princess failed to take the bow and tight the strings, Karna marched toward the bow and arrow.
When Karna tried to do it he had no problem in tying the string and was about to shoot the carving eye off the fish! It was at this point Draupadi realized that this guy was going to nail it and the guy was none of the Pandavas. She had to stop it with an excuse and she chose to deride Karna with his caste. Karna’s foster parents were Sutra which is one of the so called “lower castes”.
Draupadi had nothing personal against Karna and she was not even prejudiced against his caste, it was just an excuse thought of in a haste. She wanted to marry only Arjuna as she believed that he was the only one who could help her carry out her destiny. It was a great humiliation for Karna as it was in public and all those who were present in the Sayamvar laughed and taunted him, all those people who were not even equal or match for Karna in terms of strength and skills.
But Karna the gentleman he is, did not say anything offensive and politely bowed out of the competition. Draupadi felt terrible for doing what she did and noticed how handsome and a perfect gentleman Karna was. It was this incident which created a soft spot in Draupadi’s heart for Karna. Obviously, Arjuna completed the task with no problem and married the beautiful Draupadi.
Later Karna was keen to learn and acquire the Brahmastra Mantra from the great teacher Parshuram. However he knew that he teaches only to Brahmins. So he will go to Parashuram as a Brahmin and started learning the lessons. One day when Parashuram was taking rest in Karna’s Lap, a bee stung Karna on the lower part of his thigh. It was very painful and started bleeding. Karna didnot move his legs feeling that it would awaken the guru and started to suffer with the pain.
When Parashuram woke up, he saw Karna Bleeding. At that time, Parashuram asked son, tell me the truth, who you are? A Brahmin cannot take suffer this much and take physical pain like this, only a warrior can do this.
Karna was obliged to show his identity. Parashuram was greatly annoyed because he has enemity against the Kshatriyas. He therefore cursed Karna that as he had learnt through deceit, he shall forget the skill which he taught at a very crucial time of his life.
How does the friendship between Karna and Duryodhana is valued ?