Book review: Karna’s Wife: The Outcast’s Queen

Perspectives. That is what this book is about. Reading this book was like rereading the entire epic from a different perspective. And the perspective is good, only that it is boring when it is repeated so many times. The emotional conflict of the characters is brought out well, of Karna’s extreme loyalty towards Duryodhana or Uruvi’s unbiased view of others. This book reminded me of ‘palace of illusions’, needless to say, the emotional portrayal of characters, even of Draupadi is much better in this book.

However, the author has gone extreme in the negative portrayal of Kunti’s character and her reasons to hide the secret of Karna’s birth. The accusations are too extreme. Again, it is about perspectives. Karna resurfaced into Kunti’s life in a key moment. In my perspective at that moment, she was a widow trying to secure identity for her five sons and trying to get their right to the throne. If she would reveal the truth of Karna, the consequences would have been disastrous for her other sons. It was a tough choice, one son to five sons. Moreover, there was no surety that he would be accepted as brother of Pandavas. Though, it is argued in many books that he would have been accepted if only had Kunti revealed his identity, the fact is that Karna was born of ‘Niyoga’ before her marriage to king Pandu. In the book, the author herself established that, ‘Niyoga’ had to be done with consent of husband. So, the chances that Karna, who was born before Kunti’s marriage to Pandu, would be accepted were meagre. She had a reason to doubt.

Moreover, there were other people in the picture, who were in a strong and better position to reveal the truth. Why blame only Kunti, the lone powerless widow. Either Bhishma or Krishna could have done the job. Why did Krishna choose to hide the truth until the beginning of the war? Why did he not reveal the truth at the point when Karna was rejected by Drona or when Karna entered the competition in Hastinapura or when he set into a wrong path of friendship? It all looks like part of a plan, a plot of fate or destiny. Karna was destined for doom. It was his karma. And even Krishna did not choose to alter the course. And if we look from perspective of destiny, who was not doomed in Mahabharat. What was the win situation for Pandavas after loosing all the relatives and sons? Sometimes, to me Mahabharat is interesting only if I perceive it as a tale, not a real one.

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