In last article we discussed some of the most interesting characters of the Mahabharata. (Click here to read the article). We discussed Sahadeva, who is like an epitome of brains with brawns, cause he was both knowledgeable and a skilled swordfighter.
We discussed Chitrangada, who was like the Anjali of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai- a tomboy of the Dwapara Yuga who took off her glasses and became hot so that Arjuna would like her. Except that even when she embraced her femininity, she never abandoned her warrior persona.
Then there was Draupadi, who is so complex, that the more you analyze her character, the more confused you get about her internal thought process…and the clearer it becomes that she is not all that black or white.
We promised to come up with more interesting characters, so here is our list of the most fascinating characters of the Mahabharata….
Ashwatthama is the one character who has some major anger and arrogance issues. Up until the last days of the war, he is almost non-existent. In common adaptations, we suddenly hear his name when Pandavas and Krishna mess with Drona’s head by announcing that Ashwatthama has been killed. When Drona is killed, Ashwatthama literally enters with a bang.
He directs the celestial weapon, Narayanastra, towards the Pandava army, almost destroys one Akshauhini of Pandava army completely, defeats Dhrishtadyumna in direct combat and kills King Nila of Mahismati. Even after the end of war, when Duryodhan is on the cusp of death, he goes on a killing rampage and plans a night raid. He kills Dhrishtadyumna, the killer of his father, Shikhandi, and many other prominent warriors of the Pandava army and also kills Draupadi’s children. Not only that, when Pandavas come to avenge him, he invokes the Brahmashirastra against the Pandavas, and even kills the last progeny of the Pandavas by killing the unborn child of Uttara and Abhimanyu.
His unforgivable actions result in Krishna cursing him of never dying. Well that would have been amazing, if Krishna hadn’t also cursed him to live out his life in the most deplorable state (with blood and puss oozing out of his body). Many people say that Ashwatthama is still alive, and is in hiding somewhere around the banks of the Narmada river.
For much of the world, Shakuni is a master manipulator, and actually the real reason behind the war of Mahabharata.
We know the story; it was Shakuni who actually won the game of dice and cheated the Pandavas out of their kingdom and wealth, and he was the one who encouraged the humiliation of Draupadi.
So widespread is his treachery that people often use the name ‘Shakuni mama’ to describe someone who instigates people, turns families against each other, or sabotages his own kin.
But what makes him interesting is his largely unsettling back story, and the justifications given by authors as to why Shakuni is so cunning and manipulative and despicable.
It is said that Shakuni and his family had been imprisoned and starved to death by Bhishma. The legend goes that when Shakuni’s family had been imprisoned, each member was given just one grain of rice for a meal. Since Shakuni was the most clever and wise amongst them, each of them gave up their grain of rice to Shakuni so that he could survive and one day avenge their death.
Other versions say that Shakuni secretly hated the Kuru clan because his sister Gandhari was made to marry the blind king, Dhritrashtra, and consequently, he made it his life’s mission to destroy the Kuru clan. The rest is history.
Whatever the reason, it is obvious that Shakuni had a reason for being so conniving, and we’re glad. At least he is not a psycho who does shit for no reason.
We really enjoy listening to the tales of Karna. A self-made man, a man of integrity, a decent man…a man like Karna will surely be the stuff of legends in this age. Karna is the one man who has been universally sympathized with, even despite being on the wrong side of the war.
He treasures the respect given to him by Duryodhan, so much so that he fights against his own kin. Not that he shouldn’t. Why shouldn’t he? His birth family was a piece of shit. His own brothers mock him everytime due to his class. His mother was a piece of shit woman. (Not because she gave birth to a son out of curiosity, not because she abandoned her infant son, also not because she never acknowledged him as her son, even when she saw him being degraded everywhere…no, we don’t hate her for doing what she did, cause at a time like that, that would have been the obvious course of action. We hate her because she had the audacity to ask Karna to spare Pandavas’ life in the war….Are you shitting me?)
Anyways, we like Karna. Instead of being angry or vengeful at his mother, he simply said ‘Alright’. We love him even more cause he also said, “I won’t kill Pandavas, except Arjuna”. Now that’s an honorable guy, who is kind to everyone, except his enemies.