He was the son of Dhritarashtra and Gandhari.
He was one of the most reputable Kauravas.
And no, I am not talking about Duryodhana or Dussasana.
While reading about intriguing tidbits from Mahabharata today, I came across a character, who, mythologically speaking, despite being a Kaurava, was a ‘true’ warrior. Moreover, far above the ground games of power and pride, he, unlike his brethren, was seen as an ardent follower of ‘Dharma’.
The name is Vikarna.
In Mahabharata, there are two particular instances, which depict the character of Vikarna, perfectly.
1. He stood against the Game of Dice and the shameful act it led to
When the great King Yudhishtir’s quest to win at the dice game took over the best of him, he pawned his own wife. Draupadi was dragged forcefully and mercilessly to the court, before the noblest of men. These warriors, possessing complete ability to bring the savage scene to a halt, preferred being mute spectators when the drunk-with-power Duryodhana ordered the commencement of the shameful act- unclothing of Draupadi.
Everyone stayed mum. Well, everyone except Vikarna.
Vikarna made his voice heard against the whole idea of the dice game. And when began the mistreatment of his sister-in-law, he became more anxious to stop the whole deal for once and all. He echoed Draupadi’s questions, which she had already raised before the Kuru leaders regarding the celebration of shame that centred around her.
At this, Karna was enraged and he taunted Vikarna for his outburst, to which Vikarna replied,
This was clearly not taken well by Duryodhana who then asked Vikarna to quit voicing his opinions.
Nothing helped. Even the leaders who were considered the wisest of heads did nothing to stop the evil and save the victim. However, Vikarna emerged as the one who wouldn’t shut and see the wrong brewing before his eyes.
In a world outside Mahabharata, when a girl is humiliated and harassed before a mute mob, the person who dares to pull her to safety is harassed too.
Vikarna’s heroic act is documented in the book ‘Vikarna’ which was released in March of this year. Authored by journalist Ch. Srinivasa Rao, the speakers at the book launch were quoted saying,
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2. His encounter with Bhima during the Kurukshetra war
Despite harbouring apprehensions, he fought the Kurukshetra battle for his brother Duryodhana.
On the fourteenth day of the war, Arjuna in progress with implementing his vow of killing Jayadratha before sunset was navigating the chakravyuh of Drona. In a counter action, Kauravas had formed a defence to keep Jayadratha safe from the upcoming danger. Bhima, in order to assist Arjuna, pierced fiercely through the defence. At this, Duryodhana gave Vikarna the responsibility to check on Bhima.
Bhima, although had vowed to kill all the 100 Kauravas, didn’t want to fight Vikarna and expressed his desire before him. Bhima knew Vikarna as the man of dharma, and hence his gesture.
To this, Vikarna replied to Bhima that despite knowing that Kauravas fate has defeat written over it since Lord Krishna was on the Pandavas side, he couldn’t defy the orders of his brother.
Bhima reminded him of the dice game where Vikarna stood a hero alone, to which Vikarna replied:
Following the dialogue, Bhima killed Vikarna in a mace fight, and later lamented,
He was also a great archer
Third in stature to Duryodhana, he was one of the best warriors Kauravas had. In fact, it is believed he was the only thoroughly skilled one. However, his skills went unnoticed because of the other twisted personalities from the Kaurava clan. His attribute of a great warrior is mentioned in the Bhagwad Gita’s eighth sloka.
They compare him with Kumbhakarna from Ramayana
There was one thing common between Vikarna of Mahabharata and Kumbhkarna of Ramayana. They both followed their brothers directions despite bearing doubts.
Is there any other little-known mythological hero you would want to know of? Let us know. 🙂