Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The story of a loyal Hero

Hi Readers,

Any guesses on whom this story is based on. Well, it's from the epic tales of Mahabharata. Any guesses now... Its Karna. The characters whom I like the most in tale of Mahabharata is the mightiest Bhisma, who was always composed and calm. He was strongest man who could protect and flourish the kingdom of Hastinapur without ever having a urge to be known as the King. He left his position of being King of Hastinapur to his younger brother for the well being of his father, his step mother and his step brother's. The second man in this list is Karna. Though born to the mighty Lord Sun and Queen Kunti, he never enjoyed royalty. With his firm courage and faith, he became one of the great warrior. When Krishna finally revealed his biological birth and wanted him to join Pandavas, this heroic man did not accept it. He could have accepted the request and could have been the King of Hastinapur, as he was elder to Yudhisthira. However, he chose not to abandon his adoptive parents, who bestowed all their love upon him. He chose to stay firmly by the side of Duryodhan, because he had saved him from criticism. Though, Duryodhan always used him, he stayed by his words, by his friendship till his death. Let me now describe the side of Karna in detail.

Karna was born to Kunti and Sun God. Kunti had received a boon from Sage Durvasa to bear sons from Gods. She just had to utter a Mantra and call upon which ever God she wanted and they would give her a son before they depart. Kunti just wanted to test the powerful Mantra and thus Karna was born. However, she abandoned him. Later, post marriage to Pandu, Kunti and Madri had five sons whom she raised after death of Pandu and Madri. Karna's fate took him to Adhiratha and Radha, who adopted him. They bestowed all their love and never let him feel that he was an abandoned child. Karna never enjoyed the royalty that his biological brother's Pandavas enjoyed. He could not get him a Guru or teacher. However, with his courage and trust to learn he changed his look and became the disciple of Parshuram. He became a great warrior. He had same ability as his biological brother Arjuna. However, when Karna wanted to fight against Arjuna in a bravery show, he was not allowed. He was ridiculed because he was son of Suta(an inferior caste compared to Khatriya or Warrior class) his adoptive parents. When he was being humiliated , his biological mother and father chose to remain silent. They witnessed him being ridiculed. At this time, Duryodhan came to his rescue and made him King of Anga. Thus Karna was first time equipped with firm sense of self by Duryodhan. Karna became his friend and he was a true friend to Duryodhan till his death. Though he was aware that Duryodhan is actually using him, exploiting him and is not going by Dharma or law, he chose to be by his words and friendship.

In the battle of Mahabharata, Krishna came to Karna. Like the knowledge  of Gita that Krishna gave to Arjuna, he also gave similar Gyan to Karna. This is known as Karna-gita. In this chapter of Mahabharata, Krishna reveals the real identity of Karna. Krishna makes him aware of his biological parents. His biological brothers and asks him to abandon Duryodhan and join Pandavas. The interaction between Krishna and Karna is very interesting. Krishna states:-

... the scriptures teach that son born
to a women before her marriage
is as much counted as the son of his wedded husband
as the sons she bears in marriage.
You, Karna was born this way.
Under law you are the son of Pandu.
Under the constraint of the book of law,
come with me and you shall be King.

You Kunteya, surrounded by Parthas
as the moon by the stars, reign you over the realm
and bestow blessings on Kunti!
Your friends shall shudder with joy,
your enemies with fear.
Today, let their be brotherhood, between you and your Pandava brothers.

Karna however rejects the new identity. He accepts that by law he may be the son of Pandu, but he appeals to love as the determiner of his identity.

An unmarried maiden conceived me, by the sun, Janardan.
and at the behest of sun, she abandoned me at birth.
Yes, Krishna under law I was born the son of Pandu,
however Kunti abandoned me as though i was stillborn.
And Adhiratha, a suta, no sooner than he see me,
he carried me to his home,Madhusudan
and offered me to Radha, with love.

Acknowledging his adoptive parent's low caste birth, he nonetheless praises his adoptive parents for their generosity and undying dedication. Emphasizing his helplessness, he attributes his survival and nurture to Adhirath and Radha. He appeals to keep his identity as Radheya(son of Radha) not as son of Kunti.

A man who knows the law and always took care
to listen to the scriptures on the Law,
Adhiratha, the suta, thinks of me as his son,
and my love demands me to think of him as my father.

Karna then goes on to defend his links with Duryodhan,

can make me a traitor of my words...
Duryodhan has raised arms and prepared for war
because he relies on me...
Neither death, nor capture, neither greed nor fear
can make me break my promise..

Karna then states that if he has to reveal his identity to Yudhisthira, then Yudhisthira would hand him his Kingdom. Yudhisthira the son of Dharma, would immediately yield his throne to Karna, the eldest of Kunti's sons. In an interesting and insightful observation, Karna predicts his own demise. If Yudhisthira yielded to Karna, then Karna out of gratitude and loyalty would yield it to Duryodhan, his protector and friend. But, Karna states that this would not be correct. He acknowledges the moral superiority of Yudhisthira ,asking" Let the Law spirited Yudhisthira be king forever."

Then Krishna returns to Pandavas and declares that his mission has been failed. Kunti then meets Karna at the banks of Ganges and pleads him to abandon Duryodhan and join Pandavas. The father Sun God, Surya then speaks and urges Karna to listen to his mother Kunti. At this, Karna replies that he believes Kunti and Karna and he can not forget the wrong that has been done.

.... the irreparable wrong that you have done by casting me out
has destroyed the name and fame that I could have had...
What enemy could have done greater harm than you have?
When there was time to act
you did not show me the compassion...
you have never acted in my interest like a mother,
and now, here you are, enlightening me solely on your interest..

Karna reminds Kunti that the sons of Dhritarastra have been in his support, and now he should not betray them. But, he agrees to one concession now, that he will spare the life of all Pandavas except Arjuna.

In all this interchange, Karna refuses to change his side for two reasons, love and loyalty. Karna stands as the literature's great tragic figure. He lives according to the heroic values of valor and courage.Due to his inauspicious birth, over which he had no control, his fate was marked from the beginning. The generosity firstly by his adoptive parents and then by Duryodhana, who befriended him equipped Karna with a firm sense of self.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Karma & KaliYuga

Hi Readers,

I have written another poem in Oriya, sitting and thinking of present environment. I had many questions as in any other think day, mostly regarding politics, manipulation etc.. Be it in workplace, in home, with siblings or with spouse, it is our human tendency, that we get easily influenced by the person who can speak well. We get attracted to the words.However, when these words are not converted into equal action, makes us feel played. For the people who can easily manipulate, they have a inborn quality to speak what other's like to hear. What they mean can be very different from what they speak? But, yes in this worldly affair, they progress a lot through their communication skills, and networking abilities. The person, who can actually get the work done, lags behind... Is not it?

Here, is my poem in Oriya on the same subject. As written earlier, I lack a lot in Oriya literature specially vocabulary... I just gave it a try. Hope some of you might like it.

କହେ ଯେ କଥା ବଡ ବଡ କର୍ମରେ କରେ ନାହି
କହି ଯେ ନ ପାରିଇ ସେ କର୍ମେ କରି ଦେଖାଇ||
ହଜାରେ ଆଶା ଦିଏ ଯେ ଆଶା ଭାଂଗୀ ପାରଇ
ଯେ କୁହଇ ଅପ୍ରିୟ ସତ ଅସମଯରେ ପାସେ ରୁହଇ||
ହେଲେ ଏ ଅବୁଝା ମନ ତାକୁ ହି ଚାହଇ
ଯେ କଥା ଭଲ କହି ତାକୁ ଜିଣି ପାରଇ||
ଆ କଥା ତା ଆଗେ, ତା କଥା ଆ ଆଗେ ଯେ କରି ପାରଇ
ସାଂସାରିକ ସମାଜରେ ଜାଣ ସେହି ଜିଣି ପାରଇ ||
କର୍ମ କଲେ କି ହେବ, କଥା ଦରକାର୍ ପଡଇ
ଏ କଳି ୟୁଗରେ କି ଏହା ହି ମହିମା
କଳି କରି ଉପରକୁ ଚଢି ଚଢି ଯିବା ||
ଯେ ପରଂଗମ ନୁହେ କଳିରେ ହେ ଜାଣ
ଯେତେ କର୍ମ କଲେ ମଧ୍ୟ ହାର ତାର ଜାଣ||
ପ୍ରଭୁହେ ତୁମେ କଣ କଳିର ହି ସାଥୀ
କଣ ଚାଂହ ପ୍ରଭୁ, ତୁମ ଭକ୍ତ କରୁ କଳି ??
                                           ---- ଶର୍ମିଷ୍ଠା

Thanks for reading it. :)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tapoyi and Khudurukuni Osa

Hi Readers,

After long time, I am back again with another interesting story from mythology. This folklore has given rise to another ritual and worship. The Khudurukuni Osa(Osa means vrat in Odia) which is conducted in month of August-September. Young girls keep fast whole day long and in the evening they welcome Goddess Mangala ( form of Shakti, the auspicious one)adore her with red flowers, and offer Prasad made from broken rice, jaggery and fruits. Goddess Mangala is an amalgamation of Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Parvati. She loves broken rice. In Odisha, broken rice is also used to make Pitha. Broken rice is also used to make kheer and is offered to deities.

Now, let me present you the interesting story behind this Osa. This is the story of Tapoyi. She belonged to the caste of Sadhaba (means traders in Odia). In ancient times, these Sadhaba clan people used to sail from Odisha to Java and Sumtra islands (presently parts of Indonesia), they used to sell various household artifacts to people there and used to carry home other valuable goods. On their trading abilities, today Odisha celebrates Bali yatra on their remembrance. Now, coming back to the story. Tapoyi had seven brothers and she was youngest among them. All her brothers were married. One day, when she was playing with her clay toys, an old wicked Bhramin lady happen to pass by. This Old lady urged her to demand for toys made of Gold, as her father and brother's are so rich. Innocent Tapoyi, demanded for Golden moon as a toy. Her father was taken aback hearing her demands. He however agreed to fulfill her demands. However, her father died before he could fulfill her demands. Soon after her mother also died. Every one, now wondered if the cause behind all this is the unusual demand of Tapoyi, including Tapoyi herself.

However, her brothers and sister-in-law took good care of her. And now, the time to travel from trade came. All her brothers started their journey, leaving Tapoyi with their wife's. Her brother's took promise from their respective wife to take good care of their only sister. For few days, everything went on smoothly. Once again that old wicked Bhramin lady happen to pass by their house. This time, she infused seeds of jealousy and hatred towards Tapoyi in her sister in-law's mind. Urged by this wicked lady, all her sister in-law's started torturing Tapoyi. They gave her only rice to eat, even without salt. They made her herd the goats in Jungle, they gave her torn and dirty clothes to wear. However, only the youngest sister-in-law took good care of her. She provided her with good food, but could not stop the torture from other sister-in-laws.
Tapoyi, was broken by the loss of her parents and torture from sister-in-laws. One day while in forest she saw a group of women praying to Maa Mangala. She went there. They offered her Prasad after the Puja. These ladies advised her to keep fast on Sundays and offer broken rice to Goddess Maa Mangala. Sure enough, her prayers yeilded results, she found the little goat Gharamani, which she had lost before in the Jungle. Her brothers returned before time, and found her crying in sea shore. They swore to teach their wicked wife a lesson. They decorated Tapoyi like Goddess, made her sit in the boat. They called their wifes and asked them to worship the Goddess. When one by one her sister-in-laws would bow in front of her, she cut their noses with a sharp knife, except the youngest sister-in-law. Humiliated these women left home and went to Jungle. They realized their mistakes and prayed to Maa Mangala. They apologized and Maa Mangala restored noses and peace in their life. They returned back home and lead happy and peaceful life.

Thus, in Odisha people pray to Maa Mangala to have peace and happiness in their life. Howevr, the most interesting part is this Khudurukuni Osa is not performed by Bhramin commuinty. All other community performs this puja. Yes, bhramin women do pray to Maa Mangala but they do not perform Khudurukuni Osa, as in the folklore, Bhramin women has been condemned.

Sometimes, knowing this fact, many questions do erupt in my mind. How, all these traditions and rituals came into being? Why do we have Bhramin priest in temples to offer Puja on our behalf? If one wicked lady was condemned for her act, the whole community do not perform this Puja. Then why they perform Puja on other communities behalf. Somehow, all these queries, just make me believe that being the most influential community in ancient times, Bhramin's knowingly came up with social code and conduct that would help them prosper their business of worshiping and amassing wealth. This community suppressed reading of Veda's by other community so that they can fool people. Being a student of Dayananda Saraswati Anglo vedic Public School, I really appreciate Dayananda Saraswati's movement that all people be allowed to read veda's.
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