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Mahabharat - Episode 07 - The birth of Karna

2021-12-08

Recap

Last we saw the beginnings of what would become the war between Kauravas and Pandavs, and how the whole thing came to be. We saw Dhritrashtra give away his throne to his younger brother Pandu on Vidur's suggestion.

The birth of Karna

Apna daan apni maa se aarambh karo daanveer Karna, apni maa ko kshama kar do.

Synopsis

In this episode, Bhishma arranges the marriage of the blind son Dhritrashtra with the princess of Gandhar, Gandhari. Gandhari takes a vow of staying blindfolded her whole life, to share the pain that her husband has suffered his whole life. The same time we get to see the swayamvar of Kunti. She chooses Pandu as her husband, the same pandu that was declared the king of Hastinapur.

We also get to see a bit of Kunti's younger days. After serving sage Durvasa with selfless devotion, she was granted a boon by the saint using which she could call any dev to earth. In her childish curiosity, she calls Surya Dev, the sun god himself, to earth. Due to the binding of the boon by Durvasa, Surya Dev could not leave without giving her something, so he gives her a son. Fearing societal judgement of birthing a child before marriage, she puts the child in a box and puts it afloat in the river.

Discussion

From this episode onwards there are two major changes in my discussions. One is the post structure, that we discussed previously. The other one is the fact that I have started watching the episodes in better quality, the highest possible in fact. This led me to take a closer look at the beauty of the sets in the show and while it is diminished a little due to poor camera quality, you can clearly imagine the grandeur it would've held in those times.

Moving to the episode, we get to meet some newer characters that will play a major role in the events that follow. We meet Shakuni, the maternal uncle of kauravas, and brother to Gandhari, who is not so happy about his sister being married off to a blind guy. The iconic character is played by Gufi Paintal and it shows why the role is considered iconic.

Mama Shakuni

After doing some research online, I realised that some circles interpret that the act of vowing to stay blind her whole life for her husband was not an act of selfless love, but an act of protest. Personally I find that hard to believe. While considering the isolated incident may seem like it, if the whole story is put together we can safely assume that Gandhari was indeed being a selfless wife to Dhritrashtra. This episode tries to portray the importance that women held in those times. The swayamvar of Kunti is an example, where Kuntibhoj says that the day women will not be allowed to choose her husband will be the day kingdoms fall. Gandhari schools her father about her right to choose her husband. Queens like Satyavati hold legends like Bhishma under orders while managing kingdoms. On the other hand, women are still afraid of societal judgement as we saw in the case of young Kunti.

The motive of Bhishma choosing Gandhari for Dhritrashtra is not made clear in the show, but after some reading it seems that Gandhari had a boon that she would birth a hundred sons, and that Bhishma chose her so that he would never have to go looking for someone to sit on the throne and Satyavati would stop pestering him for children to sit on the throne.

One thing that I would like to draw your attention to, is that the title of this episode is misleading. Instead of it being about the birth of Karna, in reality it is about the insecurities of Dhritrashtra. It is about the seeds of envy and hate that will grow into trees whose roots will destroy the land of Hastinapur. It is about the fact that no matter how mature Dhritrashtra seemed when he gave the throne to Pandu before, a royal throne is a royal throne. Poor Gandhari tries so hard to make him see what he has and yet all he sees is the "injustice" that he faced by giving up the royal throne.

Curiousity killed the cat. In this case, apparently it killed Karna. Kunti's utter curious nature led to the birth of a child with golden armor. The prodigal child of the sun god himself. Alas! This story involves a lot of babies being drowned in rivers, and a lot of undesired children!

A thing to note in this episode, is that during Kunti's swayamvar, we come to know that she was the daughter of yadu king, and was adopted by Kuntibhoj. This makes her an aunt of lord Krishna himself! It was a good episode overall. The speed at which some parts are being skipped is understandable since the source material is too large to fit into a TV show format, but some quality episodes make up for the lack of extensive detailing.

The child with the golden armor

Notable dialogue:

Sapno ke ankur, andhkaar ki kaali mitti se hi fut te hai.

Bhagya rekha me jakde hue vyakti ko kisi bhi vishay me koi chhut nahi hoti.

To be continued

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