Mahabharat, one of the two great epics of India, has several important characters. Karna, son of Kunti is one of them. He is known as ‘Danbir’ which translates to benevolent, generous. Depicted here is a story of the test conducted by Lord Krishna where he wanted to gauge if Karna was worthy of his name. Krishna, dressed as Brahmin asked for Karna’s son to be offered as meat. Karna convinced his wife Padmabati to cook their son according to the wishes of the Brahmin. Krishna was satisfied and returned his son to Karna upon the completion of the test.
One day, Basudev thought to himself
Let’s put Karna’s charity to test
Whatever one asks for,
Karna gives it away
There is no one more charitable than Karna, people say
One day I will go myself to see how great this hero is
Narayan thought to himself,
And transformed into an old Brahmin.
Very aged was his form, blind in both eyes.
He had no strength to walk, he was shaking terribly.
In this form, Lord Gadadhar went to Karna
Calling out to the guard, he said listen to me,
Deliver my message to Karna and do it yourself!
Seeing the old Brahmin, the guard was scared.
He ran along to deliver his message to Karna.
Upon hearing the Brahman’s message, Kunti’s son came hurrying to the Brahmin.
Putting a cloth around his neck,
And holding his palms he said
Please tell me the reason for your visit.
The Brahmin said-
Karna, fulfill my wish.
I have heard you are a very charitable man.
I have kept the Ekadasi fast since yesterday.
Give me food to break my fast.
However there is one more wish I have.
I won’t break my fast with anything but meat.
So give me roasted meat to eat
And I will bless you before going back home.
Karna said, ‘Please make your choice
I will bring you as much meat as you can eat.
I can offer you deer flesh or bird meat.
Tell me what meat you wish to eat.
The Brahmin said you have a son named Bisheketu, giveme his flesh to eat.
Both his father and mother must, behead him with a saw,
And cook him in front of my eyes.
You must cook the meat gladly
If you are sad, then I shall not accept the meat.
Upon hearing this, the king thought to himself
After so long, I am now shamed.
He said to Brahmin
Please sit a while and I will ask my queen about your request.
Karna had a wife named Padmavati
To her, Karna went right away and told her
We, the father and mother must behead our son with a saw.
Hearing the whole story, Padmavati said sadly
You have given your promise
How can you turn him away now?
Go tell the Brahmin you will serve him our son’s flesh.
This act will spread your fame to the underworld, earth and heaven
Karna laughs upon receiving his queen’s permission
The Brahmin poet
Chandra sings the Govinda Mangal.
Karna looked for his son Bisheketu calling him again and again,
Saying, leaving your games and come to me once.
Bishektu’s friends all kept playing,
But he came running to his father.
He said his mother sent him to play
But she is calling me now because
I haven’t eaten anything
Because I am young, I am always restless
Like the water on lotus leaf is never still
I bid you all goodbye
If I am still alive, I will come to play again.
Hearing such wonderful words,
All the children said
We never hear such words from your mouth
So Bisheketu came running to his father,
And Karna held him in his arms lovingly.
Kissing his son, Karna took him to Padmavati
Seeing her son, Padmavati said
Coem to me dear, let me hold you.
My teasure, keep this one request of mine
Call me mother just once.
A Brahmin has come to our house and asked your father for a favour.
Both father and mother must behaed their son with a saw
And cook him in front of the Brahmin’s eyes.
Please the Brahmin and sacrfice me.
Hearing this Karna took a saw in hand
The lord laughed in praise, seeing this.
Cut with the saw, his head fell to the ground
The severed head spoke Lord Krishna’s name aloud.
The they cooked their son’s flesh
But Padmavati hid Bisheketu’s head.
The disguised Lord said
Karna, cook a special dish for me with the head
Padmavati has kept your son’s head hidden.
With that head, cook me a special dish
The Brahmin’s poet Chandra sings Govinda Mangal
Karna said- O queen listen to my words
Why are you being stubborn and hidden the head of your son?
The Brahmin is very angry and he won’t eat anything
And if he curses us, we will turn to dust.
Please keep this request and return the head.
You will be blessed with another son if you do this deed.
The queen cried and said Bravo Karna
You have turned your heart to stone
She brought her son’s head.
With tears in her eyes
And gave it to the Brahmin
A special dish was cooked with head
And the King and queen called theBrahmin to eat
The Brahmin said, Karna listen to me
Go to the city and bring a child back with you
Karna dared not to disobey the Brahmin’s orders
So he hurried to the city
Not knowing what to do, he looked around
He suddenly saw his own son standing there
Karna took his son in his arms and kissed him.
The King and queen saw the divine form of the Brahmin
Here I finish my song, my name is Orai Chitrakar, Pingla Medinipur is my address.