Wednesday, 4 April 2012

The story of Kunti. Mahabharata 125

The story of Kunti is fascinating and as expected Kamala's version devotes many pages to the historic meet between mother and son! Vachana Bharata is as usual crisp in dealing with this emotion packed meeting!

But before narrating the story of the meeting, I searched the web library and share with you a few interesting sites. The many questions that come to our mind are raised in them.
 Especially :
  • Why did  Kunti not speak up about Karna when the society seemed to accept children of unwed mothers?
  • How could Kunti and Gandhari let the rivalry between the cousins develop and escalate? It was probably easier to control them as they were still young.
Here is also a version which deals with the story very differently!

Hinduism Share This Page
Bheel Mahabharata:
Kunti and the Birth of the Sun God’s Child
by Satya Chaitanya
The tribal Bheels have a Mahabharata version of their own, episodes of which are narrated or sung during their festivals, usually accompanied by music and sometimes with dance – a captivating version that never fails to thrill, one of the secrets of its allure being its truly enchanting folktale-like quality. This article tries to understand an episode from it, on its own and in relation to Vyasa’s epic.  

The seven-sages are engaged in tapas. As the tapas progresses, Shiva and Shakti come to know about it and think what to do. They take the form of eagles. Shakti circles the windy sky and flies down on to the trident stuck on the ground at the dhooni. Pierced by the trident, the eagle dies on it. After completing twelve years of tapas, the seven-rishis wake up in the thirteenth year and they bewail their karma, for what has happened is inauspicious. They throw magical substances on the dead eagle. From the skeleton of the eagle is born Gandhari and from its flesh and blood, Kunti. The two children begin growing up fast at the dhooni.
One morning, finding that their stock of water is over, Kunti takes a pot and goes to fetch water. There she bathes in the lake, removing her outer clothes and wearing just her undergarments and after her bath bows to the sun covering herself in a thin shawl. The sun is enamored by her beauty and she is struck by his arrows of rays. The rays enter her belly and Kunti conceives. The pregnancy grows instantly and soon the child comes out breaking open her skull. Kunti takes the baby and kissing him, tells him that she had no right to give birth to him since she is a virgin and now she can’t take him to the dhooni for that will taint the holy place.
She takes the baby to Gakalgarh and digging a pit in a rubbish heap, places the child in it and gives him her blessings and asks him to come to her aid if the enemy wakes up. It is a perfectly beautiful baby, and he smiles at his mother. Her eyes are full of tears. Standing on one foot, she prays to the sun, endorses the baby to him saying it is his and he must watch over it. She picks up a large stone and covers the pit with it, asking mother earth to look after the baby. She tells mother earth: “I’m free now and you are bound.” Kunti now walks back to the dhooni, on the way taking a purificatory bath and filling water in the pot.
Kunti is one of the most prodigious women in the epic of Mahabharata filled with unforgettable women. She has an impressive lineage there. She is the daughter of the Yadava Shoorasena and can thus trace her ancestry to such mighty emperors as Puroorava, Yayati and Nahusha, rulers of perhaps India’s largest ever empires, made at a time India was an empire-builder. Puroorava’s story has inspired countless generations of poets to compose immortal classics. So great was Nahusha’s fame as a ruler and so mighty was he as a monarch that when a temporary substitute was needed in Indra’s place in heaven, it was Nahusha who was requested to take over and he remained the ruler of the gods until Indra was able to return. In more historical terms, it has been claimed that Nahusha’s empire spread right up to Egypt in the west. The legendary Yayati was no less great as an emperor. It is the blood of such mighty emperors that runs through Kunti’s veins. And as Shoorasena’s daughter, she is Vasudeva’s sister and Krishna’s maternal aunt.
If such is her family background in the Mahabharata, the Bheel Bharata takes it to still greater heights. In the epic of the Bheels, we do not have to quote the names of her ancestors to establish the nobility of her birth – for here she is Shakti herself. Shakti takes the form of an eagle and it is from the blood and flesh of this eagle that Kunti is born.
And for those who are familiar with Kunti’s nature in Vyasa’s epic, this should come as no surprise. For there, if she is not Shakti herself born as a woman, she lives her life as an embodiment of Shakti.

As one reads the Bheel Bharata, one is amazed by the directness with which the tribal mind perceives the truth. It is as though a door has been left open exclusively for them to walk into the innermost secrets of the Mahabharata, secrets that the more sophisticated minds often fail to perceive and if they perceive, it takes them long journeys to reach there.
Kunti in the Mahabharata is a woman who battled all alone against the might of what was perhaps the mightiest empire of her time. Fought and won, for eventually it is her blood that inherits the throne of Hastinapura – her Yadava blood. Pareekshit who inherits the throne from Yudhishthira is Abhimanyu’s son – and Abhimanyu is the son of Arjuna and Subhadra, both of them of Yadava blood, since one is Kunti’s son and the other her niece. The Bharata empire, at the end of the Mahabharata, through Kunti, goes to the Yadava blood. Yadu, the ancestor of the Yadavas, disinherited by his father Yayati though he was his eldest son, claims the empire back through Kunti.

The full article can be read from the link above. Worth a read!

The links below illustrates the amount of thought bestowed and research done on Kunti. The teachings of Kunti is compiled here. The only intriguing part is that there is no mention of Karna in the introduction.

Kunti's meeting with Karna has inspired poems:
Jat gotras descended from Kunti
The descendants of kunti are known as Kaunteya or Kuntal, which is a Jat gotra.[1] The Jat clans originated from Kunti are:
And a few more.

And just for fun!
 Kunti : Japanese restaurant in Kuta in Bali, Indonesia.

No comments: