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Saturday, December 5, 2020

Draupadi’s Rejection of Karna: from Ramesh Chandra Dutt’s Mahabharata

In his poetic translation of the Mahabharata called The Mahabharata: The Epic of Ancient India, Ramesh Chandra Dutt (1848 – 1909) gives an interesting account of Draupadi’s svayamvara (the ceremony in which a girl of royal bloodline and marriageable age selects a husband from a group of eligible suitors). Here’s an excerpt in which Draupadi is rejecting Karna, by declaring that she will not wed a lowborn—this ensures that Karna does not have the opportunity to prove his talent in archery: 

Uprose Karna‚ peerless archer, proudest of the archers he,

And he went and strung the weapon, fixed the arrows gallantly, 

Stood like Surya in his splendor and like Agni in his flame,— 
Pandu's sons in terror whispered, Karna sure must hit the aim! 

But in proud and queenly accents Drupad's queenly daughter said: 
'Monarch's daughter, born a Kshatra, Suta's son I will not wed.’ 

Karna heard with crimsoned forehead, left the emprise almost done, 
Left the bow already circled, silent gazed upon the Sun!

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