Friday, June 13, 2014

Karna and Duryodhana's wife - a tale of great friendship

We know of the exemplary friendships between Krishna and Sudama and between Krishna and Arjuna. However, there is one friendship that is not as well known - that between the arch villain of the Mahabharata Duryodhan and Karna, the son of a charioteer. 

Karna was playing and game of dice with his friend Duryodhana's wife Bhanumati in her chamber. Bhanumati saw Duryodhana enter the chamber and got up to receive him. Karna who had his back to the door thought that Bhanumati wanted to leave the game because she was leaving. In a second of thoughtlessness he extended his hand to stop her and inadvertently broke her necklace of pearls.

Duryodhana's wife was shocked and Karna felt embarrassed because the situation could easily be misunderstood. Duryodhana, however, merely smiled and asked if Bhanumati wanted him to just pick the pearls from the ground or she wanted him to string it for him as well.

So complete was Duryodhan's faith in his wife and his friend. It should not surprise us that mighty Karna ultimately embraced death fighting for his dear friend Duryodhana. What is a leader without faith in the closest members of his team?

Our shastras teach us that good ideas should be embraced wherever they come from. Such is the glory of the Mahabharata that even the villains have something to teach.

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