Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Arjuna Vs Karna

Bros turned foes
Forget Rafa Vs Federer, Rajinikanth Vs Kamal Haasan, Ilayaraja Vs AR Rahman, Dindigul Biriyani Vs Sivakasi Parotta, Pizza Vs Pasta... The most intensely debated rivalry has to be Arjuna Vs Karna. Blood flowed freely in the family whatsapp group last night as too many had gone over to the dark side.
Folks keep refering to the Ekalavya incident when it comes to condemning Arjuna. All I can say is he was a minor at the time and all he did was complain to his Guru. It was Drona who demanded the poor chap's thumb. So if anybody was to blame, it was Drona. And FYI, Arjuna grew up to be a good man who respected women and treated fallen foes with respect, fairness and compassion. So it is about time we stopped judging him unfairly on the strength of his worst deed. 
As for Karna, while it is true that fortune spat on his face, I don't see how misfortune can excuse misconduct. It was not okay for him as a supposedly decent adult to suggest the disrobing of Draupadi or break Abhimanyu's bow from behind. Just inexcusable.That said, certain versions of the epic suggests that the spirit of Narakasura possessed Karna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra making him savage, bloodthirsty and bereft of pity which was at odds with the kindness and generosity that usually characterized his essentially noble nature (barring the times when he insisted on being a part of an unholy quartet committed to indulging Duryodhana when he was at his envious and intractable worst and instigating him towards greater heights of folly).
Ultimately I find there is much to admire about Karna but I still think Arjuna remains the best and greatest of them all.
Full disclaimer: In case you haven't figured it out already, I love Arjuna and am totally biased 
Do watch episode 6 of #MahabharataWithAnuja for Karna's grand entry right here. Or this one, where he became mean to get even with Draupadi for rejecting him on account of his lowly birth, or episode 16 , where he played a dastardly role in the death of Abhimanyu, or this one where he is killed.

And you can buy my labour of love Arjuna: The Saga of a Pandava Warrior Prince if you would rather read the much loved tales from the Mahabharata here.


Srini said...

Have you written anything about Shakuni, Vidhura or Bheeshma. 3 characters I find very interesting.

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