Vol. 4, Issue 6 (2018)
Can the Epical Hero Speak: Presenting Karna as ‘Other’
Author(s): Rajesh Chowdhury
Abstract: It is believed that what is not present in the epic Mahabharata does really exist. Even all the Puranas and The Ramayana are summarized in this text. The greatest part of all the Puranas, The Shrimadbhagvata is present there in the Mahabharata. The authorship of the Mahabharata is traditionally attributed to Vyasa who is also one of the major characters in the epic, the son of Satyavati and Parashara. The epic is a legendary narrative of the fates of the Pandava and Kaurava princes and deals with the Kurukshetra war. There are many characters in the epic Mahabharata. Karna is most evocative one among them. One cannot deny his towering personality and his strength. At the same time it helps identifying oneself with the moment of frailty of his tragic life. This is the realistic mix of the shade that makes him such a lifelike and credible character. This is an intriguing story of a hero who is brought up by a charioteer Adhiratha and his wife Radha. Despite being born in a royal family his whole life becomes a great struggle against his cruel destiny. In this process Karna blazes a new glory with tremendous achievements in life both as a great person and also a great warrior. The more we research on the epic; we come to know about Karna as the unsung hero of the Mahabharata who never gets his due. Most of the people understand the epic as a great story of the Kurukshetra war which resolves around the Pandavas and how they suffer by their cousins Kauravas and how they get protection at every stage of life by Shri Krishna. But actually we ignore one major fact in the epic that the eldest son of Pandava is not Yudhisthir but Karna, who never gets his due. How tragic and unfortunate it is that Karna has to collaborate with the so called enemies of his own brother and how he bears this burden and still behaves as the exemplary hero, who is committed to fulfill the pledged duty. He perhaps will always be remembered more as a faithful friend of Duryodhana than the eldest son of Rajmata Kunti. The tragedy of Karna starts with the misfortune of his secret birth and ends with the insult and injustice. At every stage of his life he has to endure tremendous hardship yet he never deter from the path of justice. He never gets any credit for his sacrifice and nobility, particularly when he is surrounded with Duryodhana and his company. Born out of Surya (the Sun God) and Kunti, he is outcast by his own mother at birth, he is a self-made hero, contend with the infinite misfortunate interventions of his fate against him.