Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Fiery and Faithful, Karna (Mythological Monologues #6)

Today, I stand exhausted
At the banks of River Ganga;
My entire life has been 
A perennial fight for earning respect
For my talent as a capable archer.
I persevered amid ridicule
Marched forward despite being taunted as 'Sutaputra'
Because I was confident of my capability
And proud of my identity-
Proud of being charioteer Adiratha and Mother Radha's son,
Proud of being Prince Duryodhana's best friend. 

Today, I stand exhausted
At the banks of River Ganga;
It hasn't been an hour since I learned
My entire existence has been a lie
No- not even a lie,
A mistake of a maiden woman
Who wanted to test her 
Newly granted boon by Sage Durvasa,
Who never wanted me as her son;
I was an experiment for her
A useless toy that she abandoned 
And years later, became the doting mother
Of the Pandavas. 

Today, I stand exhausted
At the banks of River Ganga;
Unable to make peace with my newfound identity
Unable to accept the Pandavas as my brothers
Unable to bear being a mistake of my mother.
This fight to accept my own identity
Is far perilous and heart wrenching
Than my fight to win respect as an archer.
I looked up at my father- Surya Narayan
Who have protected me all my life
For His guidance and support;
Tears rolled down my eyes
As I envisioned the Battle of Kurukshetra,
Fighting against my own brothers
And hurting Mother Kunti. 

Today, I stand exhausted
At the banks of River Ganga;
Yet I decided to stay true to my word
No truth can change my loyalty and affection
For my best friend, Duryodhana
Who gave me respect and love
When the entire world ridiculed me;
No truth can change my devotion
Towards my foster parents, Adiratha and Radha.
I will be Radheya and Duryodhana's best friend
Till my last breath
This is the identity that I choose for myself
Till my last breath!

©Purba Chakraborty

Note: Karna, also known as Vasusena, Radheya, Sutaputra and Anga- Raja is one of the major characters in the Hindu epic, Mahabharat. He is the spiritual son of Surya (the Sun God) and Princess Kunti. 

Eklavya (Mythological Monologues #5)


  1. When I saw the name, Karna, my heart skipped a beat. Seriously. Since childhood I have an utmost respect for this man. I loved your poem, read it slowly, absorbing every word into me. Read it twice, and then saved to read it again. Beautiful work, Purba.

  2. Heart wrenching Purba. You gave encapsulated Karna’s dilemma so well, my heart has often gone out to this character of mythology

  3. This is so beautifully penned. You have managed to capture the pain, guilt and anguish. Karna's life wasn't fair to him. Born because of Kunti's curiosity, teased relentlessly for his conditions. Yet, he is a man of principles. He stayed true to Duryodhana who stood with him through one of his difficult phases and fought against his brothers for his best friend. This is just so beautiful, Purba. Loved it. Absolutely loved it. :)

  4. Very intense and powerful Purba! I love your theme and the characters you describe poetically.

  5. I had a strong feeling that you will talk about Karma but for K. Long time back, I read a Marathi novel on Karna - Radheya. And it developed my interest in his character. The life he led wasn't a very fair one. He never got the status and respect that he deserved...

  6. Karna, the fallen warrior, always invokes awe as well pity. A magnanimous soul who is wronged by the fate, remains as the long shadow in epic of Mahabharat.
    The prose articulated the inner anguish of the mighty Karna very well.

  7. Karna was so unfortunate though he was so good. This poem brings out his anguish and inner turmoil so beautifully. Well done, Purba!


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