A Blog on Mythology and occasionally on Reality.

This is a Blog on Mythology, both Indian and World and especially the analysis of the myths.

In effect, the interpretation of the inherent Symbolism.


Friday, October 9, 2015

Generous Karna

Karna_sliderThe generosity of Karna is narrated in all version of Mahabharat and is described in great details with tragic consequences, especially, when Lord Indra comes to take the armour and his earrings, just before Karna’s fight with Arjun. But this story, titled as ‘Data Karna’ or Karna the Giver or Generous, written somewhere around 1475, takes it a lot farther to prove his generosity.
According to the Odiya Mahabharat, Arjun was assured by Krishna that at the opportune moment, they would be able to get the armour through Indra. To prove his point, Krishna decided to put Karna through a test. According to Krishna, he would ask Karna to kill his son and serve him as a curry, and if he could do that, then getting the armour would not be very tough.
             Putra marina bhojana deba mote yebe |
             Kabaca kundala niscaye deba Indra ||

             If he kills his son and gives him to me to eat
            Then he will certainly give his armour and earrings to Indra.

Krishna then assumed the form of a Brahmin and went to Karna’s palace. There he was hosted with all the due respect and was asked what would he like for food. Krishna responded by saying that he would prefer meat, and that too human flesh. Karna, was uncomfortable, but agreed to serve and asked as to how many people he would have to kill for this. To this Krishna said that he would have to kill only one person and that too his own son. When Karna protested, Krishna in the form of the Brahmin proceeded to leave.
Karna’s son, Bisikeshana, who was listening to this conversation, ran up to the Brahmin and brought him back. He then urged Karna to do what was asked, as he didn’t want his father to refuse to a Brahmin. Karna wondered if this Brahmin was some demonic enemy of his, but there was no way of finding it out. Karna struck off the head of his son, and soon the body was given to Karna’s wife, Tulasa to cook into a curry. Special instructions were given by the Brahmin for cooking – the body was to be cut into seven pieces, spiced well and made into a curry. Tulasa did as told to her, but hid the head away. When the food was served, Krishna asked for the head, and insisted that the head be chopped in front of him and cooked.
Once the grisly meal was ready and served, Krishna insisted that Karna and his wife partake the meal with him. Reluctantly, they sat with Krishna, but Karna noted an additional space next to Krishna. When asked, Krishna said, it was for Bisikeshana, and asked his mother to call out the name of her son three times. No sooner had the name been uttered the third time, Bisikeshana came running into the room, in his full regalia. Karna immediately realised that this was a test for him.
The Brahmin then assumed the four-armed form of Lord Vishnu and Karna and his wife paid their respects to Krishna.
This story has been found in many a version in Eastern India, with slight variations, be it in Assam, Bengal or even Odisha during the later centuries.

First appeared in the Talking Myths Project - Generous Karna

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Shakuntala - The Woman Wonged - Introduction

Many ask me, how is “Shakuntala – the woman Wronged” different from Kalidasa’s Shakuntala.

Here is an extract from the Introduction of the book –

“………what is lesser known is that Shakuntala is one of the first female characters to appear in the epic Mahabharata written by Maharishi Ved Vyasa. Shakuntala’s story is told in the Sambhava Parva part of the Adi Parva of the Mahabharata. The story is recited by Vaishampayana to Janamejeya. This tale from the Mahabharata was taken by Kalidasa and recreated in his own way into one of the most romantic plays of all times. Many of his other plays were also based on mythology, like Kumarasambhava, Raghuvamsham, Meghaduta, etc.

However, there is a big difference in the original characterization of Shakuntala by Vyasa and the dramatic representation by Kalidasa.

Vyasa’s Shakuntala is the precursor to many of his later heroines in the Mahabharata—strong, decisive and fiery. She had a mind of her own and could stand her ground against the mighty king of Hastinapur, King Dushyant. Also, Dushyant is a king of little character and displays rather loose morals in Vyasa’s Mahabharata, instead of someone who suffers from temporary amnesia as represented by Kalidasa in his version. The major difference, however, is the character of Sage Durvasa.

Sage Durvasa is an invention of Kalidasa, whose curse brings on the dramatic forgetfulness, leading to all the troubles in the life of Shakuntala. It also gives Dushyant the much-needed excuse to reject his wife, which, in the original version of Vyasa, is a breach of morality and a sign of his lusty escapade with Shakuntala.

Vyasa’s Shakuntala knew the background of her birth and understood its repercussions. She stood her moral ground when the king refused to recognize her and ensured that she won justice by the sheer ability of her reasoning and straightforwardness. Vyasa’s Shakuntala is not a damsel in distress shedding copious tears; she fights for her right and gets her way, and does not succumb to the man, irrespective of his position and stature. She was amongst the first women in the Mahabharata to fight for her rights in a man’s world and get her due.”

My Shakuntala is based on Vyasa’s version from Mahabharat.