A Blog on Mythology and occasionally on Reality.

This is a Blog on Mythology, both Indian and World and especially the analysis of the myths.

In effect, the interpretation of the inherent Symbolism.


Friday, October 9, 2015

Generous Karna

Karna_sliderThe generosity of Karna is narrated in all version of Mahabharat and is described in great details with tragic consequences, especially, when Lord Indra comes to take the armour and his earrings, just before Karna’s fight with Arjun. But this story, titled as ‘Data Karna’ or Karna the Giver or Generous, written somewhere around 1475, takes it a lot farther to prove his generosity.
According to the Odiya Mahabharat, Arjun was assured by Krishna that at the opportune moment, they would be able to get the armour through Indra. To prove his point, Krishna decided to put Karna through a test. According to Krishna, he would ask Karna to kill his son and serve him as a curry, and if he could do that, then getting the armour would not be very tough.
             Putra marina bhojana deba mote yebe |
             Kabaca kundala niscaye deba Indra ||

             If he kills his son and gives him to me to eat
            Then he will certainly give his armour and earrings to Indra.

Krishna then assumed the form of a Brahmin and went to Karna’s palace. There he was hosted with all the due respect and was asked what would he like for food. Krishna responded by saying that he would prefer meat, and that too human flesh. Karna, was uncomfortable, but agreed to serve and asked as to how many people he would have to kill for this. To this Krishna said that he would have to kill only one person and that too his own son. When Karna protested, Krishna in the form of the Brahmin proceeded to leave.
Karna’s son, Bisikeshana, who was listening to this conversation, ran up to the Brahmin and brought him back. He then urged Karna to do what was asked, as he didn’t want his father to refuse to a Brahmin. Karna wondered if this Brahmin was some demonic enemy of his, but there was no way of finding it out. Karna struck off the head of his son, and soon the body was given to Karna’s wife, Tulasa to cook into a curry. Special instructions were given by the Brahmin for cooking – the body was to be cut into seven pieces, spiced well and made into a curry. Tulasa did as told to her, but hid the head away. When the food was served, Krishna asked for the head, and insisted that the head be chopped in front of him and cooked.
Once the grisly meal was ready and served, Krishna insisted that Karna and his wife partake the meal with him. Reluctantly, they sat with Krishna, but Karna noted an additional space next to Krishna. When asked, Krishna said, it was for Bisikeshana, and asked his mother to call out the name of her son three times. No sooner had the name been uttered the third time, Bisikeshana came running into the room, in his full regalia. Karna immediately realised that this was a test for him.
The Brahmin then assumed the four-armed form of Lord Vishnu and Karna and his wife paid their respects to Krishna.
This story has been found in many a version in Eastern India, with slight variations, be it in Assam, Bengal or even Odisha during the later centuries.

First appeared in the Talking Myths Project - Generous Karna