Monday, 9 April 2012

Kunti and Karna after their moment as mother and son, part ways. Mahabharata 128

The moment passes, Karna wakes up and thanks Kunti 'I thank you  mother for this moment, I do not know if it was a  क्षण (second) or hours. I have been so happy. It is time to get up from this sleep of peace. What is the boon you want from Radheya?'

Kunti implores, 'Not Radheya! You are Kaunteya, my first son!'  Karna full of anguish tells her, 'Mother, I would love to be called a Kaunteya, but I am proud of my parents and will  remain a Radeya till my death. Can you not see how unhappy I am? Please tell me the boon you want from me!'

Kunti more or less repeats what Krishna had said and invites Karna 'Come with me to join pandavas and gladden my heart. That is the  boon I want from you!'  Karna, his eyes bright with unshed tears says, 'Within two days two noble people have offered me the world!....'  Kunti echoes, 'Yes, you will be the lord of the world. You will no longer be a sutaputra!' .....A voice from above is heard. His father Surya urges him 'Listen to your mother son! I beseech you! Do as she says and live long!'

Radheya hears all this and is unmoved, looks at Kunti, 'Mother, if you only knew how angry I was with my unknown mother all these years! Now looking at you, my anger and my bitterness has vanished like to melting snow in a desert. I feel infinite sadness.' Radheya and Kunti embrace each other again and again as the sun smiles at them.

The outcome of the conversation between Karna and Kunti is the same. But Karna is seen to be more emotional and confused, unable to deal with his new found identity and his longing for the family he had learnt to hate! He tells his mother that he will not desert Duryodhana even though he yearns to be part of the pandava family. He promises her that he will not kill his four brothers, except that he has to fight Arjuna.

'Either way you will have five sons! Go back home, my beloved mother.'  Kunti's frame was racked by her sobs. She had found her son and lost him too! Radheya helps Kunti, who has  become so weak with anguish, to stand. They embrace again and Kunti walks away with slow hesitant steps. Radheya stood there, rooted to the spot, long after she had vanished from his sight.

My friend Raghu tells me 'Karna is the epitome of Mahabharata, hence, a subject of numerous interpretations each more poignant than the other. He should be analysed separately in your blogs.'
While Kamala's version is very appealing, I prefer the stoic image of Karna created in Vachana Bharata. I guess as Raghu sugested Karna requires a deeper analysis!
My focus has been on Kunti and this episode brings me back to what my friend, Raji K clarified  on FB:
''s not about mother but motherhood....we have so many mothers...i have a great day i might also be a mother...but motherhood and realization are dad used to tell us..."if a mother is really a mother, she should have same love for all children, how can it be only her son or daughter be so special for her, it's just biological instinct.....i think my dad is right....'

Kunti does personify 'Motherhood' if you look at the way she handled the five brothers and kept them together against all odds! But she manages to blank out any feelings for Karna from her mind. I suppose her life has been even more complex. I quote from my  own introduction made earlier:

'Took a look at what others had to say about the story of Kunti. Why was she given such a raw deal?
Father sends her away, his first child, to Kunti Bhoja for adoption!
Her adopted father deputes her to serve the most short tempered difficult rishi.
No mention of her adopted mother! What was she doing?
And Durvasa gives her a boon with no advice on, when to use it!
And no user caution on the dangers if used unwisely.'

Her married life is nothing to write home about! Her husband Pandu seems to be on perpetual expeditions. He also marries Madri almost immediately. Her husband unable to beget offspring due to a self-inflicted curse, lives the life of an ascetic. Then coaxes her to have sons through the help of others!

 The only quality that appears to be dominant in her personality is her sense of duty. Not surprising considering that while she chose Pandu at a swayamvara, probably there was no real love between them for whatever reason. We know that Kunti went through a trauma in her puberty and would have surely made an impact on her personality. We can only guess that Pandu was a typical khsatriya. While romantic love cannot be ruled out in those times, Kunti surely had little to do with it.

Anyway those were the times, when the expectation from a woman was different. Limited to being a mother of many children, preferably sons! Self fulfilment for women was millenniums away.

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