(This is the 4th episode in our Lessons from Mahabharata series. To have a look at the other episodes click HERE.)
By: Keyur Seta
We have always been advised to be good and kind-hearted. We have always been told that imbibing the aforementioned qualities will ensure we live a successful life.
However, being good and kind alone is of no use if we cannot distinguish between right and wrong; between Dharma and Adharma. And it is this choice that will ultimately decide our fate in life or where one ultimately ends up. This message is glaringly visible through one of the important characters of Mahabharata – Karna.
Karna faced rejection right from the time he was born. He was abandoned by his mother, Kunti since his birth took place outside wedlock through her union with the Sun god. He was raised by Dhritrashtra’s charioteer, Adiratha. After growing up, Karna was eager to learn warfare but was rejected by Drona as he didn’t belong to the Kshatriya clan.
He ultimately did learn warfare from Parshurama but by lying that he is a Brahmin since the teacher only taught students from that clan. Karna’s lie was ultimately exposed during the end of his training and he was cursed by Parshurama that he would forget the divine knowledge of using his deadly weapon, Brahmastra when he would need it the most.
At a time when there was no hope left for Karna, he met Duryodhana, who not only considered him as his best friend but also gave him a position equal to that of his real brothers. In order to make sure Karna could take part in a tournament organized by Dronacharya, Duryodhana also made him the King of the Anga territory.
In other words, Duryodhana turned out to be the biggest boon for Karna. Considering he did so much for Karna despite not being of the same bloodline, it was obvious for the latter to be indebted to him forever. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that Karna became the most important warrior for Duryodhana during the great battle of Kurukshetra against the Pandavas.
However, Duryodhana, as we all know, was the embodiment of evil. He devised evil ways to denounce the Pandavas of their rightful throne of Hastinapur and to achieve that, he was ready to vanquish them through war. In short, Duryodhana was Tamas personified.
So the big question is – How right was for Karna in supporting Duryodhana in his terribly evil mission? Or rather, is there any justification in supporting evil? There answer, as per my view, is a big NO. Despite being fully aware of who is good and who is evil, if you still support the latter, you are doomed even if you are just repaying that person.
There is another way of looking at this. As we all know, Lord Krishna is the embodiment of Dharma. Hence, he ensured victory for the Pandavas despite not directly taking part in the war. When Krishna himself made it clear as to which side Dharma belongs to, do we need more examples?
So, Karna could have chosen Dharma (Pandavas) in place of Adharma (Kauravas). But he didn’t and suffered a terrible death at the hands of Arjuna. Had he chosen otherwise, the latter stage of his life could have been completely different. Being the eldest of the Pandavas, he would have enjoyed the throne of Hastinapur.
Karna had suffered ill-luck or bad fate throughout his life. But many a times, life knocks at our door to give us one last chance of making amends for everything negative that happened to us till now. It is up to us to make the right choice.
Fate was against Karna throughout his life but it was his own choice that determined his ultimate fate in life.