In the previous episode, we had witnessed King Paandu and Dhirdiraashtra getting married. King Paandu got married initially only to Kunthi Devi, and Dhirdiraashtra got married to Gaandhaari from the Shubala Desha. As days progressed, everything was very smooth at Hastinapura and King Paandu was ruling the kingdom efficiently by discharging all his duties, until one day things turned bad! King Paandu went on his usual hunting spree, and accidentally attacked a great sage who was in the form of a deer. Moreover, this deer was happily in union with a female deer when King Paandu hit it with his arrow. This deer was none other than Sage Kindama! Upon being hit, Sage Kindama became extremely angry and in turn, cursed King Paandu that just like how he was going to be killed when he was in union with his wife to obtain a child, King Paandu would also meet his death if he gets into a union with his wives to obtain children! This intense and furious curse shocked King Paandu beyond words! He did not know how to react to Sage Kindama! He was taken aback completely and was caught off guard. Eventually as he returns to his kingdom, King Paandu was completely dejected and he lost the interest of ruling the kingdom anymore. How can a king discharge his duties if his mind is completely dejected with guilt? Moreover, how can a king rule the kingdom if he could not give way to the next generation? Now that it has been confirmed that King Paandu could not join hands with his wives to produce children, the next generation from King Paandu is out of question! Hence, thinking about all this, King Paandu decided that he had had enough. He decided to enter the “Vaanaprastha-Ashrama” by going to the forest once and for all! As King Paandu descends from the kingdom, his wives also join him in his pursuit. Both Kunthi Devi and Maadri Devi followed King Paandu to the forest, leaving aside all their luxuries and royal lives. Eventually as King Paandu left the scene, again the kingdom was leaderless! Someone has to step up now to rule the kingdom isn’t it? The responsibility fell on Dhirdiraashtra!
Thus, even though Dhirdiraashtra wasn’t the first choice to be the king of Hastinapura because of his ailment, it was a compulsion on him now to take over the reins of the kingdom with King Paandu’s leaving. Of course, there was nobody as a successor to King Paandu, and with this, the responsibility fell on Dhirdiraashtra. Meanwhile, as all this was conspiring, Sage Veda-Vyaasa pays a surprise visit to Hastinapura and meets Dhirdiraashtra and Gaandhaari. Sage Vyaasa understands the situation of the kingdom, and blesses Gaandhaari thus, “Oh Gaandhaari! Please do not worry about the next generation! You would obtain a hundred sons who would individuallybe as powerful as a hundred elephants!” Saying thus, Sage Vyaasa left. This is one side of the story.
Now we’ve to look at what happened to erstwhile King Paandu and his wives, isn’t it? As Paandu descended to the forest, he was completely disappointed that he’s never going to be able to have children in his life. However, here comes the twist in the story – Kunthi Devi had a small secret in her life. She had obtained a boon from Sage Durvaasa that if she prayed to the Devas, she would be blessed with children without a biological union. Kunthi Devi explained this secret to King Paandu. Upon hearing this from Kunthi Devi, King Paandu rejoiced with happiness. On one hand, he was relieved that he wouldn’t go childless in this birth. On the other hand, he was happy that there is a possibility of his next generation to take over the Hastinapura kingdom.
However, as Kunthi Devi explained this secret to King Paandu, she remained silent on Karna’s birth. It should be remembered by readers that Kunthi Devi had obtained this boon and the “Mantra” from Sage Durvaasa before her marriage, and she wanted to test whether this Mantra worked or not. With this, Kunthi Devi had prayed to Surya Bhagawan and in return, she obtained a baby by name Karna. However, since she was unmarried at that time, she did not want to disclose the birth of Karna and hence, she left the baby in the river, to be adopted by a charioteer’s family. The charioteer’s wife was named as Raadha and hence, Karna was often referred to as “Raadheya”. Thus, Karna was growing up amidst the charioteer couple and meanwhile Kunthi Devi married King Paandu.
Thus, we’ve witnessed the brief story of how Karna was born, and with this, Kunthi Devi and King Paandu are ready to obtain children by taking the “Mantra” route. Now how is Kunthi Devi going to execute this plan? Let us wait till the next episode to find out! Stay tuned! 🙂