Mahabharata‎ > ‎People‎ > ‎

Kunti

Kunti is a dominating personality in MB. Her will is reflected throughout the pages of Mahabharat. Kunti takes pains to see that her children are on right path. She teaches them the values of kshatriya life. She rebukes them for their wrong doings. She knows their strengths and their weaknesses. Her sons respect her, obey her and depend on her. She is their inspiration. She has taught them how to survive during tough times.

A teenager Prutha was adopted by Kuntibhoj. This was the only decision that was taken on Kunti's behalf by her father Shur. This remained a throbbing pain for her. Kuntibhoj appointed her to serve their guest, sage Durvas. It was during this time that she gave birth to a son, Karna. Did Sage Durvas father him? [5] The father remains unknown. Young Kunti, still a stranger in the Kuntibhoj household, had no one to rely on. She valued chastity and fearing the consequences, abandoned the infant.

Two or three years later, Kunti chose Pandu, in swayamwar. When Pandu was diagnosed as infertile, he had to plead her to have sons by niyog. She could not be forced to do anything against her wish. But when she gave in, she demanded that she would choose the father [4]. Generally the father was chosen by the husband or by the elders of the family. Just as Vyas was chosen by Satyavati to father the sons of Ambika and Ambalika. Kunti chose three men (identity unknown to history) to father: Yudhishthir, Arjun and Bheem. When Pandu asked for more sons, she declined. "A woman can have only 3 sons by niyog." she quoted the dharma to him. When Madri wanted to have sons, Madri and Pandu had to ask for Kunti's approval.

Kunti is gentle and just. She looked after Madri's children, Nakul and Sahadev without a hint of step-motherly attitude. Infact, Nakul and Sahadev being youngest received more attention and care.

Kunti aware of her rights, passionately fights for her rights. After the death of Pandu and Madri, she returned to Hastinapur with her 5 sons. She had to see to it that her children inherited the kingdom of Hastinapur. Where she rightly deserved to be the queen, she was living as a refugee. But that did not deter her. Nor did Duryodhan trying to kill Bheem, or Duryodhan killing Yudhishthir's charioteer scare her. She was in an alien territory, living in hostile company. But, she stood bravely by her sons, guarding them and keeping them together.

Kunti is cold, calculating and as cunning as a fox. She started the Varnavat annachatra with a dark intention. When a tribal woman came with her 5 sons, it was her scheme to intoxicate them. When her sons returned, Bheem set the house on fire, and they all ran for life. On seeing the charred remains in Lakshagruha, it was declared that Kunti and her sons had died. No more were the men of Duryodhan hunting for them. No doubt, this was a cruel act. But given a choice to kill or die, the survival instinct won.

She thinks far ahead in time. After escaping death in Varnavat, they were roaming in deep forest. Here the tribal queen Hidimba, spoke her wish to marry Bheem. It was against the social law to marry before the elder brother got married, nor did Bheem wish to marry Hidimba. But Kunti saw an opportunity, to gain a friend and shelter at least for sometime. She asked Bheem to marry Hidimba, and father one son. Kunti's upbringing was such that her sons never disobeyed her. They stayed with Hidimba for nearly a year. Kunti blessed their son Ghatotkach as "You are like another Bheem to me." With these acts she gained an alley.

At heart she is a queen. One who cares for people and takes the responsibility of protecting her people. In Ekachakra, she sent Bheem to kill Bakasur, the man-eating cannibal. On learning this Yudhisthir was shocked. He said, "How can you send Bheem to meet death? Its on his valor that we dream of getting the Hastinapur kingdom." Kunti replied, "Son, I believe in Bheem's strength. I know he'll kill Bakasur. Secondly, we owe it to this family, who has given us shelter for the past year. And lastly, as a kshatriya its your duty to protect people." Bheem proved that her confidence was not baseless, by killing Bakasur.

She knew that the strength of her sons was in their unity. With careful planning, she saw to it that Draupadi married all the 5 brothers. Draupadi was a heavenly beauty. It was plain that all her sons were attracted to Draupadi. She was the daughter of the mighty king of Panchal. Draupadi was capable of keeping the brothers together. From then on, it was Draupadi who bound the brothers together. Kunti gracefully stepped aside to make way for Draupadi.

Kunti literally retired. Now that her sons were now ruling Indraprastha, she had achieved her goal. She stays in the background, without dictating her sons' actions. That's until the advent of the Great War…

Before the war, she met Karna, her disowned son. She told Karna of his birth and the circumstances under which she had to abondon him. She asked him to join the Pandav forces. She offered him the kingship as the eldest son. He refused it, and blamed her for discarding him. Though she failed to get him on Pandav side, she had achieved two things: one, in his heart Karna would always know that he was fighting his own siblings. Whereas the Pandav would fight with all bitterness. Secondly, she extracted a promise from him that he would not kill any Pandav except Arjun. She had weakened one of the best Kaurav warriors. 

Just before the war, she asked Krushn to deliver her message to Yudhishthir: "It is high time that you showed your bravery on the battlefield. It's honorable to burn brilliantly for few moments rather than smoldering for eternity. Listen to this story of Queen Vidula and her son Sanjay carefully. Their kingdom was attacked, and Sanjay showed no signs of fighting back. Sanjay gave many reasons for not fighting. One of them was, "I am worried about you mother, if I die, how will you live without me?" Vidula replied, "Life is not about winning or loosing. It's about struggling. Striving for everything it is worth. I did rather be the mother whose son has died in war, rather than being the mother whose son refused to fight."

In history, only one mother stands up to her image, Shivaji's mother, Jijabai.

Comments