Saturday 22 July 2017

Karna married twice after being rejected by Draupadi!

The unknown story of Karna
Karna is one of the most beloved characters of the Mahabharata; the eldest Pandava who craved for legitimacy and respect, the only man who could defeat Arjuna, the good man who pledged unfaltering loyalty to Duryodhana. Though he is a central character of the Mahabharata, Karna remains an enigmatic character. In all the renditions of the Mahabharata that I have read very less is revealed of Karna’s personal life. Let’s explore some well-kept secrets of Mahabharata…

Vrushali: Karna's first wife
Vrushali was the sister of Duryodhana’s charioteer Satyasen. It is belived that Karna's adoptive father Adhiratha wanted Karna to get married to her. Vrushali went sati on Karna's pyre after his death. Duryodhana also mentions that Vrushali was not an ordinary person but of a very high character equivalent to Karna.

Supriya: Karna's second wife
Karna's second wife's name was Supriya. Nothing much has been talked of Supriya in the great epic apart from the fact that she was a friend of Duryodhana’s wife Bhanumati. Even in the case of Vrushali, very little is known. In the Stree Parva's Jalapradanikaparva, when Gandhari laments the massacre on the battlefield, she devotes four shlokas to one sole woman whom she identifies as Karna's wife, albeit with no name. Gandhari does state the names of the couple's two sons, Vrishasena and Sushena.

In the Tamil literature
Interestingly, a far later version of Karna's story appears in Tamil literature, where Karna's wife is named Ponnaruvi. But since Karna was crowned as the king of Anga by his emperor and best friend Duryodhana, and both Anga and Hastinapura are in North India, most probably, the name Ponnaruvi is an epithet of either Vrushali or Supriya.

Was Karna’s wife Vrushali’s counsel to Draupadi?
The sequence that featured Vrushali speaking to Panchali is something never seen or known before. Clearly, Mahabharata on Television was trying to present the epic with added dimensions. Karna’s wife Vrushali comes to Draupadi and pleads her to leave the Kuru King’s palace and go to her brother’s place. But Draupadi prefers to stay back and face the situation. This time again, Yudhishthir loses himself to Duryodhan and the Cheer-Haran episode happens.

The book ‘Karna’s Wife’ has another story to tell!
Kavita Kane’s book, Karna’s Wife has another tale to tell. It is deeply interesting because is written from the perspective of Karna’s second wife, Uurvi, the Princess of Pukeya; the only daughter of a powerful king, and a favourite of Kunti, the mother of the Pandavas. This book traverses the tale of the Mahabharata, beginning from when Uurvi lays eyes on unimaginably handsome Karna at Drapaudi’s swayamvara. Uurvi falls in love with this low-caste prince and decides that she will marry him or remain unwed.

The love story of Karna and Uurvi
Uurvi’s mother, a childhood friend of Kunti, has promised her daughter to Arjun as this will make a powerful alliance for the Pandavas, but Uurvi marries Karna against all their wishes. Though Uurvi marries the man she loves, the marriage is not without trouble. Karna has an older wife, of the same low caste as himself, and also a slew of brothers — all of whom are suspicious of the noble-blooded Uurvi.

Love or hate?
The novel is set against the background of the Mahabharata; at the centre of the story is Uurvi’s tumultuous and troubled relationship with her husband, who she loves deeply but cannot forgive for what he did to Draupadi. Through Uurvi’s eyes we see a different side of the warrior Karna. He is presented to us as a lonely, unhappy man, who lives his entire life devoid of true happiness, in the quest of rightness and the desire to earn respect and legitimacy.

Uurvi’s story tells a lot about Karna
Although it is Uurvi’s story, Karna comes out as the central character of the book. A righteous man, a valiant warrior, a loyal friend, a dedicated and loving husband, an ideal son and the unsung hero, the book gives another perspective to Mahabharata from Karna’s viewpoint, who perishes in the end due to his ill fate. It also reveals aspects about the great epic such as Draupadi’s love for Karna and many such insights, which are lesser known.

Connection between Karna and Draupadi
The possibility of an unarticulated connection between Karna and Draupadi - both fiery, headstrong people - has persisted for a while in folklore and in regional extrapolations of the epic. It was there in Pratibha Ray’s celebrated Oriya novel Yajnaseni, in PK Balakrishnan’s Malayalam Ini Njan Urangatte and more recently in Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s The Palace of Illusions, which ended in a fascinatingly post-war heaven where Draupadi is finally free to express her real feelings for Karna.

Karna and his sons
If Karna can be called the tragic hero of the Mahabharata, Duryodhana is the tragic villain. Both of them had adequate opportunities to get their act together but refused to do so. They become victims of their own destinies. Unfortunately, they both end up losing their kith and kin too. Karna had nine sons; Vrishasena, Vrishaketu, Chitrasena, Satyasena, Sushena, Shatrunjaya, Dvipata, Banasena and Prasena all of these took part in the Kurukshetra war.

The end of a clan
The Mahabharata says Sudama died during the events that followed the Swayamvara of Draupadi. Bheema killed Susena, while Arjuna accounted for Dvipata and Shatrunjaya and Vrasena. Tragically, Karna was the commander of the Kaurava forced when Vrasena was killed. Satyasena, Chitrasena and Susarma were killed by Nakula.

The story of Karna’s eldest son Vrishasena
Vrishasena was the eldest son of Karna. He had successfully staved off a challenge from Nakula during the Kurukshetra war and even ousted him from his chariot. Nakula then mounted the chariot of Bheema. When he saw Arjuna nearby, he called out to him and urged him to kill Vrishasena. Arjuna then requests Krishna who is his charioteer to go towards Vrishasena. “I will slay him under his father’s gaze”, he says.

An eye for an eye!
Vrishasena is undeterred by Arjuna’s reputation as the foremost archer of the time. He showers Arjuna with so many arrows that tem of them pierce his arms. When ten arrows pierce Krishna on his arms too, Arjuna is enraged. Arjuna calls out to the Kauravas, including Karna, that he will kill Vrishasena. He then turns to Karna and exclaims in anger, “You killed my son Abhimanyu in an unfair combat. Today, I will kill your son”.

End of Vrishasena
Arjuna then proceeds to show why he is regarded as the greatest archer of all times. He shoots ten arrows at Vrishasena weakening him even as his father Karna watched on helplessly. Arjuna fires four razor headed arrows, cutting off Vrishasena’s bow, his tow arms and then his head. Karna weeps aloud when he sees the head of his son severed from the body. He curses Arjuna and challenged him to a battle.

The only son who survived
The only son to survive the Kurukshetra war and also Karna was Vrishakethu. The Pandavas then took him under their wing. Vrishaketu accompanied Arjuna in his campaigns against Sudhava and Babruvahana. Arjuna and Krishna, both had great affection to Vrishakethu. He is believed to be the last mortal on earth to understand and know the use of Brahmastra, Varunastra and Vayuastra. This knowledge died with him as Krishna ordered him not to reveal it to anyon. Vrishaketu was killed by Babruvahana.

Karna Moksham: Story of Karna’s Wife, Ponnuruvi
Karna Moksham is one of the most popular plays in the Kattaikkuttu repertoire. It is attributed to the author Pukalentippulavar. Karna Moksham is performed on two important occasions. In the night preceding the sixteenth day of the funerary rites observed by rural, non-Brahmin communities, relatives of the deceased may arrange for the performance of the play. They hope that the staging of Karna Moksham will facilitate the release of the deceased’s soul and allow it to attain Moksha.

Occasion of performance of Karna Moksham
If the deceased is a man leaving behind a wife, the play also marks the transition of the bereaved woman into widowhood. The other important occasion for the performance of Karna Moksham is a Paratam (Mahabharata) festival. The story is one of the conventional themes in the festival’s cycle of plays. The tragedy of Karna’s life and defeat on the battlefield is one of the most sensitive and expressive episodes of the Mahabharata.

The plot of Karna Moksham
The story of Karna Moksham is situated on the seventeenth day of the war. A despairing Duryodhana appoints Karna as General of his army and sends him away with the inauspicious words “Go to the war!” (Instead of using the customary expression “Go and come back”). Before going to the battlefield Karna wishes to say farewell to his wife, Ponnuruvi.

The nightmare of Karna’s wife
Meanwhile, in the women’s apartments, Ponnuruvi admits to her friends that she has had a nightmare, which she is unable to understand, but which, or so it turns out later, predicts her husband’s violent death on the battlefield and her impending widowhood. Her lady-friends inform Ponnuruvi that Karna wants to see her. Upon hearing Karna’s name the Queen becomes very angry. She feels she has been trapped into a bad marriage and she scoffs at the invitation of a Sut-putra (Charioteer’s son).

A snubbed husband
Karna requests Ponnuruvi to give him tampulam, the auspicious gift of areca nut and betel leaves, which symbolizes victory, before he will join the battle. Ponnuruvi refuses to open her door and lets him stand outside on the doorstep to her apartments. Karna then wants to know why she has hated him from the beginning and why she thinks of him with dislike. ‘Since the day we were married, you did not speak to me, my darling’ Karna says.

Karna’s truth
Ponnuruvi tells one of her lady-friends that there’s someone standing outside at my doorstep, calling me ‘my darling’ and ‘my dear’. ‘Ask him to name his parents and his kinsmen clearly, and I will have no objection in letting him in and offering him tampulam.’ Karna decides to fulfil his wife’s rightful request. He reveals that he is the illegitimate child of Kunti and the Sun-God, and begins telling the story of his birth.

Ponnuruvi’s change of heart
Ponnuruvi realizes that her husband is a royal Ksatriya, instead of being of low caste descent as she had assumed earlier. She becomes another woman, asking Karna to forgive her ignorance, and refusing to part from him. In an attempt to prevent Karna from going to the battlefield Ponnuruvi objects against his association with Duryodhana, whom she calls a man of bad character who ordered the disrobing of a woman. What will he gain by slaying the Pandavas, his own (half-) brothers?

A bad omen
In Ponnuruvi’s opinion Duryodhana has ‘bought’ Karna’s love by making him king of Angadesa. Karna says he values Duryodhana’s friendship and loyalty above unreliable family relations — his own mother has abandoned him. At the end of their debate about Duryodhana Ponnuruvi realizes that she is unable to dissuade Karna from going to the war and offers him tampulam. However, in her confusion she does so with the wrong, left hand – another omen predicting the tragic events to follow.

Walking towards the end!
Karna anticipates his own death on the battlefield. He realizes that he will never be able to win the impending battle with Arjuna, because Krishna is his bosom-friend. Krishna will see to it that Arjuna wins. He tells his wife that she should not expect to see him back alive and, leaving her behind crying, joins the battle.

Karna's death
Arjuna and Karna finally come face-to-face, a moment both have been preparing for years, the earth-goddess is instructed by Krishna to grab hold of Karna’s chariot wheel. She does so. Karna tries to release the chariot wheel but Parashurama’s curse manifests itself right at that moment. He forgets everything he had learnt. In a fit of frustration, he throws down his bow and jumps off his chariot and tries to free the wheel himself. Krishna tells Arjuna to kill Karna.

Arjuna’s dilemma
“But he carries no weapons and his back is turned towards me,” protests Arjuna. Krishna goads him nevertheless. He is as helpless as Draupadi was when the Kauravas disrobed her in public, says Krishna. Show no mercy to the merciless, advises Krishna. Arjuna releases the arrow and Karna dies – shot in the back at a moment when he cannot even defend himself.

Why did Krishna kill Karna in such a horrible way?
Scholars say this is God’s way of achieving karmic balance. In his previous life, Krishna was Rama. And Rama had sided with Surgiva, son of Surya, and shot Bali, son of Indra, in the back. As Krishna, it was necessary to reverse the situation. God sided with Arjuna, who was the son of Indra, while shooting Karna, the son of Surya, in the back. Thus the books of karma are balanced and closure achieved.

(Source: Speaking Tree)

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