While reading the story of Mahabharata, we come across characters which teach us everything we can will ever need to know in our life. Just a surface deep, lie every emotion that crossed our heart, every thought that flew in our mind. The epic presents a variety of situations, each representing in its own way the subtleties of life. And then there are characters. Some are the incarnations of what one should not be and their deeds directives of what should not be done: exampled by Duryodhana, the foremost of the Kauravas, the villain in the epic in layman terms.
We have Krsna, the supreme personality, the perfect, revered, admired, a teacher, a warrior, with a shrewd mind and an innocent smile. He is mysterious, not all he does is understood, and that is what makes him more than a mortal. But we assume he is right. And he is always on the winning side, even when he uses no arms and fights against his own armies. He is God, his speech, Gita, is venerated, to be followed.
Devaratta, or Bhishma is another Goddess son, a figure so complete in himself. A warrior without equal, a son who embraces celibacy for delights of his father, a caretaker of the Bharata clan who watches the clan perish in the gory of the battle, bonded by his vows. He is not clever like Krsna who plays with words and smiles. He presents a curious and exciting dilemma much like the ones in our lives, times where we know what is correct and to be done but watch things unraveling in the wrong way helplessly.
Then we have the Pandavas, the God-sons, whose fatherhood is always intensely debated and always concluded in the perspective of them being correct, the rightful heirs to the throne. Our society will have a very difficult task if we for a moment conclude that they not being Pandu-putra, not at least biologically did not have any claim to the throne in the first place. The five Pandavs in their own right present the five important qualities in a man. They are all imperfect in their own self, but together they are the perfect male. The youngest of pandavs, Nakul and Sahadeva, who represent beauty and handsomeness loose prominence in the narration, signifying the slight and feeble position these qualities hold for a man. The Pandavs, Yudhistira, Bhimasena, Arjuna and the virtues integrity, power and courage are greatly esteemed. The Mahabharata has made a very clear distinction between being powerful and courageous, being brave and fearless.
Yudhistira, the upholder of righteousness, presents before us a perfect king, a perfect moral person, he is not exciting, just like the integrity of the rules he represents, he in modern terms would be a person we would call a bore and refrain from calling to adventure rides. He is also the person who losses his kingdom and his ‘wife’ in a game of dice, and lies, if not technically to win a war. Then we have Bhima, hopping across the line between good and evil. He is strong, powerful but he is also haughty and arrogant.
Arjuna is the most upheld of all Pandavas. Krsna was after all his charioteer, and revealed the Gita to him. He is courageous and compassionate; he wants to find morality ‘Dharma’ in his actions. He is powerful but not arrogant. He is the perfect disciple and an almost perfect warrior. He is the again a character one can find most close to oneself in the scheme of life, but he had Krsna in a way no one else had.
The various characters of Mahabharata, their virtues, their problems and dilemmas present before us situations we can relate to. But then stands Karna, the most interesting and exciting character of the epic. Karna: the right man on the wrong side. Our heart goes out to him, but he is not a character for pity. He is in the real sense a hero but is not allowed to be one, wronged by all, his mother, brother, teacher even God, yet stands up for himself. Unlike the other characters of the epic, we not only learn from his vitures, actions but he in one character we can relate to most easily.
Therefore in my next few blogs I am going to share of how Karna, a central character of the epic is actually the true representation of humans in the age of darkness or the Kali-Yuga. The right man on the wrong side: Karna.