[Karna, King of Anga and the valiant warrior of Mahabharata, the epic, opens up his mind and asks a few questions to Ved Vyasa, his creator.]
Hey, Maharshi Ved Vyasa, may I ask you a few things and raise a few doubts? Now that I am dead, as also the Kauravas, you have achieved your aims and objectives. Would you now care to answer my questions, which have been disturbing me since long? I know I have no holds over you, you being the creator and me, merely one character among many. But since I had been one of the important characters in Mahabharata, I think I have the right to raise these points before you.
You wrote Mahabharata to vent your fantasies about the greatest of great wars – the battle of Kurukshetra. But tell me, was not the war itself thrust upon the Pandavas and the Kauravas? You thrust the war upon them to declare that truth always triumphs. But what is this truth that you were trying to prove? You say that Yudhishtira was the lawful heir to the throne rather than Suyodhana (I know you enjoy addressing him as Duryodhana. This too shows the twist of your mind). First of all, why did you deny Dhritharashtra, being the elder of the two, the throne in the first place? Because he was blind? But he had an extremely intelligent and capable Prime Minister, Vidura, with him. Why did you not enthrone Dhritharashtra with Vidura ruling the country as his regent till Suyodhana was old enough to become the king? No, you couldn't do it. And what did you do instead?
You made Pandu the king, denying Dhritharashtra his rightful throne. And then, Pandavas wanted to rule the kingdom when they grew up. What right did they have to rule the country more than Suyodhana? In fact, didn't the kingdom belong to Suyodhana by virtue of being the eldest son of the elder brother? Also, if Yudhishtira had claim to the throne for being the eldest son of Pandu, Suyodhana had stronger claim, being the eldest son of the rightful heir to the throne. I know you won't listen to reason. You had already made up your mind to murder all the Kauravas in a war that was all along covered with betrayal and treachery. And yet you call it the Dharma Yuddha? And yet you call the battle field Dharma Kshetra?
All right, having made the cousins arch enemies, could you not have ended everything at least on the day when Maharani Kunthi visited me one evening? Actually she came to plead the case of Pandavas and to request me to join them, my own brothers, in the war against their cousins, the Kauravas. Could you, hey, Maharshi Vyasa, even for a moment, contemplate the thoughts that might have crossed my mind while my mother was ardently pleading with me to join the Pandavas? No, you could not. Or maybe you didn't want to. Why should you, after putting me under the severest of criticisms and ridicules right from my birth, try to understand my thoughts? You made my mother disown me at birth. You made me disown my mother later. When Maharani Kunthi pleaded with me to join Pandavas since I was their elder brother, I told Maharani Kunthi that I would rather be called and known as Radheya, and not Kauntheya. She said I, being elder to Yudhishtira, could become the king of Indraprastha after winning the war, and that she would persuade Yudhishtira to agree to this.
I told her if she accepts such a situation sincerely, then the war could end at that very moment. She was hopeful and very enthusiastic. She said, "Yes, Karna, that will be. After the war, you will become the king. I promise you." She almost thought I had decided to desert Suyodhana and join the Pandavas. How could she? By making me the king of Anga, Suyodhana actually respected my own existence and my individuality, which even my mother failed to do. In fact, to Suyodhana I owe everything.
So I told her, "But, Maharani Kunthi, by virtue of my having surrendered everything I have, including my life, to Suyodhana the day he made me king of Anga, the day he gave me an identity, it automatically turns out that the kingdom I would have won, would naturally be surrendered to him. Therefore, just believe that I have joined you, Pandavas have won the war, I have become the king and then surrendered the kingdom to Suyodhana. The kingdom is with him anyway now. So why don't you ask my younger brother Yudhishtira to declare the end of the war so that hundreds of thousands of lives could be saved?"
She very much wanted to accept my argument. But then, you did not want that to happen. So you made Maharani Kunthi tell me, "No, Karna, that cannot be. Even if Yudhishtira accepts my arguments, Bheema and Arjuna will never let this happen. And remember Draupadi's open hair? No, Karna, that won't be. The war should be fought at any cost." She returned disappointed telling, "Whatever has been designed by the Almighty will happen". But hey, Maharshi Vyasa, it was not destiny that decided the fate of the battle, it was you, and you only.
After Maharani Kunthi left, you made me cry like a child! You made me think of my mother, think of my younger brothers, the Pandavas, think of the joy I would have shared with them all these years. I loved all of them. I loved Arjuna too. I was not jealous of him, nor was I angry towards him. I only wanted to teach Dronacharya a lesson by defeating Arjuna, who he considered the best archer in all the fourteen worlds. It is the same Dronacharya who rebuked and laughed at me when I went and requested him to accept me as his disciple. It was your crooked mind that made me fight against Arjuna, my own brother, and in the side of Dronacharya, whom I wanted to take revenge upon!
By the way, tell me where do I fit in? Am I a Pandava? Or a Kaurava? You never gave me an identity. I am as much a pandava as any of the five Pandavas. Why are they called Pandavas? Because their mothers' husband was Pandu? The only difference between the Pandavas and I was that I was born of unwed Kunthi, whereas they were born after my mother was married to Pandu. But does that make their existence more legal than mine? If I was born of Lord Surya, they were also born of Dharmaraj, Vayu, Indra and the Aswini devas.
What am I to you? I was borne of Kunthi, I was never called Kauntheya, you never let me enjoy her love and affection. You made me a better Gadadhar (fighter with mace) than Bheema, but you never gave me a chance to prove it. You made me an archer far ahead of Arjuna, but never allowed me to prove it, too. You made me a king, but you never allowed me enjoy peace even for a day. You made Lord Surya, my father, give me the Kundal and the protective chest-cover, but you sent Indra to beg for those of me. You made sure that I am such a generous and benevolent person that I could not decline the request, even when my father had warned me of the impending tragedy.
I could have won the hands of Draupadi much easier than Arjuna. You knew it, so you made Draupadi declare that she would not marry me even if I won the competition, due to my low caste. You did not even spare Bhishma Pitamaha. You made him say that when he leads the army, I should not fight under him. The weapon that I got specially to kill Arjuna, had to be used against Ghatolkacha. And then, at the end, you made the wheel of my chariot catch up in the sand. And you made Krishna advice Arjuna to kill me. I could have very well escaped from his attacks, but you had already made sure it did not happen by way of the curse of my revered Guru, Parashurama. You made him curse me that I would forget all that I had learned, at the most crucial time.
Hey, Maharshi, why did you do this to me? Why did you give me everything that a valiant warrior could dream of, and then turned everything against me? You wanted a pawn to play with, just like a cat playing with a mouse before killing it. Hey, the great Maharshi Veda Vyasa, I don't think I would ever be able to pardon you for doing this to me.
In conclusion, let me plead with you not to create another Karna ever! Also, let there not be another Mahabharata, or a Kurukshetra, or a dharma yuddha!