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Chapter 3 - The Birth of Karna

It had been a few days since Durvasa had left. Kunti was by the river having her bath. She had always liked the river and she recalled leading the sage and his acolytes down to clean themselves up. This brought her thoughts to what Durvasa taught her just before they left.
"These sages are strange beings" she thought.
"Imagine saying a mantra, invoking a god and having a child out of it all". She practically laughed out aloud. What Durvasa hadn't envisioned was the innate curiosity in any human especially in a Kshatriya woman. Kunti saw the Sun smiling down at her and decided to invoke the mantra with Surya, the Sun god as the subject.
It would be an understatement to say that she was surprised when she saw Surya standing beside her in all his radiance and glory. Kunti believed in the gods but never believed that they actually came down to earth. She was an agnostic to put it mildly. Despite being taken back Kunti couldn't help but notice that Surya was the most handsome man that she had laid her eyes upon. He was broad of shoulder with perfectly formed features.
The next thought that she had was that she couldn't have any children out of wedlock. It would put her and the kingdom into disrespect. This probably accounted for her next statement to Surya
"My Lord, I was just trying out what Maharishi Durvasa had taught me. I never imagined it would work. Please head back and forgive my curiosity. I shall be more careful next time." She said this in the tone of a child who had broken a toy.
"Alas this I cannot do. I am bound by the Mantra and it would be impossible for me to leave till the deed is done."
"But how can I have a child out of wedlock. It would ruin mine and the kingdom's reputation in the eyes of the world"
"It is amazing how much consideration you humans place on petty matters such as what others think but I promise you that once the childbirth is complete your maidenhood shall be restored. Also I shall keep a watch on the child ." Even then Surya realized what would happen to his child.
Kunti thought this to be the perfect and only solution and so Surya and Kunti did what had to be done after which Surya took his leave.
Soon Kunti began displaying the classic symptoms of motherhood which the king could not help but notice. He enquired as to why this was happening with some force. Kunti had no choice so she began the tale. Her explanation of trying to see if Durvasa's mantra worked did not impress Kuntibhoja in the slightest but being the father that he was he did the only thing that he could.
He sealed away Kunti in her private chambers and only his most trusted aide Chamraj knew what had transpired. It was announced in the kingdom that young Kunti desired to visit the kingdom of her birth and would return soon.
The brahmans and pandits carried out the Yagnas blessing the journey for success. The citizens did their part of being tearful and went about their duties soon after as if nothing had happened. The palanquin which was supposed to contain the queen was empty of course. By the time the accompanying entourage would discover the fact they would be dead.
Life went on for Kunti as usual. She was hidden and not allowed to venture out or be allowed to be seen except by Kuntibhoja, Chamraj and a retinue of deaf and dumb servants. One night she went into labour.
As pregnancies go it was fairly uncomplicated. The child was born just as the sun rose and the child was eager to step out into the world according to the midwives.
Even just born the child was radiant and had a way about him. He seemed to be drawn towards the sun. He was also born with two earrings and an armor that was a part of him and would grow with him. These were the gifts of Surya his father. Even as a child it seemed he would grow into a fine young man.
He was taken some distance along the riverbank and then secured into a cradle with the finest linens and cast away. The midwives who had supervised everything so far were then disposed of by Kuntibhoja and Chamraj. Kunti was dragged away even as she was shedding tears for no mother can bear to see her child taken away from her. She would not be the same and the thought of her lost first born would haunt her till she would see him again.
Thus was Kunti's first born let loose into a river on a cradle. This son of gods would go on to perform many great deeds and some not so great. His would be a name that would be remembered.


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