The arena bustled with excitement. All eyes turned towards the person who dared to challenge Guru* Dronacharya, who spoke with pride and admiration about his favorite student Arjun. Everyone was thrilled with Arjun’s brilliant display of archery. Never in their life they had seen such a spectacular show.
As the young man made his way towards the podium, some looked at him petrified as they believed he had just hit the axe on his legs. They feared that this man was soon going to be publicly humiliated for challenging the brave prince of Kuru dynasty.
The young man, though clad in ordinary cloths was adorning an unusual armor and earrings. Swathed with confidence, his body language spoke loud and clear about his conviction. He inspired awe as he moved.
‘It is unfair to declare Arjun as the best archer. I… Karna… Challenge Arjun in the archery combat to prove his supremacy.’ He said, offering his obeisance to the king and all the elders present there.
People were shocked to hear this. How could someone challenge any one of the mighty prince of the Kuru dynasty!
‘Sure son… but first tell us about yourself. For Arjun is the son of the mighty king Pandu and benevolent queen Kunti. What about you? From which kingdom you come from? Who are your parents?’ Asked Guru Kripacharya amicably.
Listening to this Karna lowered his head. For he was brave, he was educated, he was talented, but he was not a royal.
He felt humiliated as questions showered upon him about his lineage.
Kunti, was sitting right in front of him on the royal dias. She was mesmerized looking at him. Something in him attracted her strongly. Scrutinizing him sitting from her chair she noticed the boy had a charming aura of gods. He wore a kavach* and a kundal* which scintillated like the sun in the sky.
The kavach and the kundal… is it him? My son! The one whom I abandoned and ever since carry an empty space in my heart. Her eyes filled up with tears.
It was a mistake she had made many years ago.
A mistake of invoking the celestials by the sacred utterance of a chant. The chant blessed her with a child. A child, whose birth she couldn’t rejoice. A child, she couldn’t take pride in calling her own.
What could she do then? She had no option but to do away with the baby. She placed him in a basket and made it flow in the gentle currents of Ganges.
The kavach and the kundal were his celestial gifts, that made him extraordinary.
But today as everyone pounced upon him to know about his lineage, Kunti sat quietly wearing a mask of a diligent queen. However much her heart yearned to tell the world that Karna was his son, that he was a royal and Arjun’s elder brother, the mask wouldn’t let her do so.
Author’s Note: Inspired from the grand epic Mahabharatha.
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