A Twitter poll on who is your favourite Mahabharata character took me back in time to what I had written earlier. Thought of posting it here; just a little variety in the posts I have been writing.
Krishna, Arjun, Karna are fascinating characters but my favourite is Kunti.
I have three reasons for why Kunti is my absolute favourite.
1. She faced tragedy after tragedy all her life yet never lost her indomitable spirit.
- Given away by her natural father to a childless man,
- As a young woman asked to serve sage Durvasa and even bed him (clearly I don’t believe the story of the boon and calling the Sun God to experiment),
- Having to abandon the new born baby (Karna),
- Getting married to an impotent man (the story of Pandu being cursed makes no sense apart from creating an ‘excuse’ for his impotence),
- Bedding 3 men to get sons for her husband
- Seeing her husband die and her co-wife take the easy way out by committing Sati,
- Having to raise her co-wife’s kids as her own, seeing the kingdom gambled away by her son and having to live in ignominy in her in-laws house.
- Seeing the massacre of all of the clan
2. She was extremely shrewd woman who knew how to protect her rights and the rights of her sons.
- She gave permission to Madri to bed some man and have a child so that she (Madri) could escape the ‘stigma’ of being childless but denying further permission so that Madri could not have more children than her – thus retaining her position as the chief wife (with more sons).
- She got Bhishma on her side by making him accept that all the 5 boys she had with her when she came into Hastinapur were Pandu’s sons thus silencing all tongues about their origins (everyone knew that Pandu was impotent).
3. She had tremendous spirit and clarity of thought
- When Yudhisthir was hesitant about going to war, she goaded him with extremely harsh words that sought to provoke him.
- When she decided it was time to quit life, she just walked into the forest fire and ended it.
To me, therefore, Kunti is therefore the most wonderful character and my favourite.