The Abandoned Hero

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“POWER”- An attempt to define a term like this would be as futile as an attempt to define Psychology (the only science without a definition). It means something different to every individual, it is subjective. If we call him the most powerful man who conquers the world then what should he be called who conquers that invisible inevitable form, that supreme light, that mystery which lies beyond the limitless stretches of the sea of life, beyond that horizon- DEATH? My limited reading of Hindu Mythology has enlightened me to a rare form of power- the power to forgive. Not many gods possessed it, let alone humans. It is that inexplicable will, strength and magnanimity of a heroic heart. The story of one such heroic heart, the story of an abandoned hero, overshadowed by the gleam of divine glories enunciates the spirit of true power. It is that power-the power to forgive- that makes him a true hero.

Till death intervened…

Born of Pritha or Kunti as she is known, and the Sun God, this divine little figure was set afloat no sooner he was born to be gulped down by the high currents of the Ashva river by his mother who in order to save herself from the royal disgrace of being an unmarried mother, chose to forsake him. He was abandoned. Raised up as a charioteer’s son after battling the high tide of destiny, he went to learn the skills of archery from Guru Dronacharya who refused to teach him despite his incomparable prowess and meritorious person because he would not teach a charioteer’s son or because he knew more than anyone else that he would be an impediment in the path his favorite, Arjun.  Nonetheless, he was abandoned. The insults had just begun for him, for he carried the burden of his caste everywhere he went. But, ambitious as he was, nothing could deter him from learning archery. Bearing the brunt of his truth and unable to repress his passion, he was furious and so took the impulsive decision to hide his identity.  Young and bruised, he was unaware of the fatal consequences of a lie. He went to Guru Parshuram (who has sworn to teach archery to only Brahmins) to learn from him the art of bow and arrow. He was a diligent and the most obedient ‘shishya’ to his guru. With passion unconditional and service selfless, he grew up in the patronage and protection of Parshuram. Sometimes our biggest strength betrays us. He got betrayed by his inner strength and will power, his endurance and in a vague way his warrior blood. Bit by a poisonous insect, he did not budge lest his guru, resting in his lap, would have got disturbed. The guru astonished by this inordinate quality, believed to be possessed none but a kshtriya, understood that he has been cheated by someone posing to be a Brahmin. So, the guru didn’t blink before pronouncing one of his cruelest curses, overlooking his pupil’s dedication, spirit of endurance and forbearance over the years. And he too, abandoned him. He was humiliated in the most ignominious manner in the presence of almost all the imperial crowns by Panchaali, the only woman whom he secretly loved, again for the same reason, his caste. He was, thus, abandoned. His brothers, after nourishing the seeds of hatred for him throughout their lives, killed him by unrighteous means and mocked at his corpse with beastly satisfaction. He was abandoned.

An Ode to the Wronged

Generous enough to give away, without flinching, his golden armor and flesh earrings, not oblivious of its consequences and only to keep his vow, forgiving enough to pardon his bitterest of his enemies, he, who personified duty, loyalty, friendship and sacrifice, who possessed Yudhisthir’s righteous nature, Bheem’s strength, Arjun’s erudition and archery skills, and Nakul and Sahadev’s divine looks, was the abandoned hero of Mahabharata. He was Karna.

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