Writer Jayamohan has extensively discussed and written about the novel ‘Ini Njaan Urangatte’, including during a discussion about his Venmurasu novel series at Ang Mo Kio library in 2016.
I didn’t think twice before borrowing this novel from the reference section of the library, which is allowed to be borrowed.
Jayamohan states that this novel is a deep lament; an emptiness. The emptiness that came after a loathed war. After the fierce conflict between the brothers had taken away everyone from this beautiful planet, this tranquil emptiness was an expression of overwhelming feelings. Agony and distress everywhere.
Karna is the protagonist of this novel, which tells the story of the aftermath of his tragic death in the Mahabharata. Karna was known for his unparalleled physical and mental strength and his ability to win over everyone with his charm. Despite his immense power, he ultimately lost and died. This story evokes the fascination of readers due to the unique circumstances of Karna’s life: despite being born into a high-status family, he was raised as the son of a charioteer, was ridiculed and shamed as a ‘suda-putra‘, and yet managed to remain righteous in the face of adversity, even when faced with difficult decisions. Karna’s story is sure to captivate any reader.
The novel begins with the death of Duryodhana, and within the first two paragraphs, it immerses the reader in its world. It is as if a tornado has swept us up, as the intensity of the scene draws us in. The novel enthralls its audience with the tale of Yudhishthira’s fraternal love. He is eager to uncover the truth behind Karna’s death, and he is filled with an overwhelming sense of guilt, despite other Pandava-s’ rage.
They questioned Yudhishthira, “Abhimanyu and the wise teachers who taught him battle strategies have perished, and Bhishma has fallen on a bed of arrows. Yet, you have never expressed sorrow for them, so why do you now grieve for your opponent Karna?”.
This novel contains exquisite places that evoke strong emotions in the reader.
- The way author narrates the Narada’s rebuttal with Yudhishthira about Karna’s battle and the justice and injustice behind the same.
- Meeting between Karnan and Kunthi
- Meeting between Karna and Krishna
- The humiliation of Draupadi
- The agony of Duryodhana
- The assasscination of Karna
The banks of the Ganges, ravaged by war, are a macabre sight during funerary ceremonies.
Kunti’s anxious expression appears intermittently throughout the novel. Upon learning that Karna is Yudhishthira’s elder brother, Kunti reveals the truth of his birth and requests him to perform the funeral rites for Karna first. Draupadi, like us, has many questions.
Why didn’t you let us know he was your son, Mom? Would it have been possible to prevent this devastating destruction if we had known about his family ties to you?-Draupadi
During the Pandavas and Kauravas’ training in arms, the Pandava clan and their teachers humiliated Karna due to his birth reasons. Kunti fainted from her intense distress, but did not make any attempt to rescue him. Draupadi wanted to ask Kunti if she would react in the same way to Arjuna.
Yudhisthira was so overwhelmed with his love for his brother that he lost his calm. He wanted to throw away his bow and arrow and go into the forest. On the other hand, Kunti was grief-stricken by the death of her eldest son. The other Pandavas were taken aback when Karna humiliated them during the battle, yet gave them a chance to live.
As the Pandavas grieved for Karna, Draupadi – who harbored an intense resentment towards him – felt isolated. With her sibling and father gone due to the war, she had no one. The compassion the Pandavas felt for Karna, despite his having laughed at her humiliation, seemed paradoxical to her. She wondered if the anguish, deceit and sleepless nights she had endured had any purpose.
Krishna and Kunti reveal the secret of Karna’s birth to him not out of sorrow or affection, but rather to prevent an impending war of annihilation by convincing him to switch sides from the Kaurava camp to the Pandava camp. The scenes of Krishna trying to change Karna’s opinion are captivating.
I wish I had the ability to paint, my friends! If I did, I would have created a beautiful painting of Draupadi with the six Pandavas!
Draupadi questions herself; as a woman, she has grievances about the wrongdoing of her unrighteous husbands. She wonders what kind of dharma they are protecting by making her a pawn in the Hastinapur palace or during their exile. Draupadi’s flustered questions embody the essence of feminism.
She sees Karna’s death as a punishment for his betrayal. Despite her victory in the battle, she felt desolate. She deludedly questioned whether this was what she had wanted. Furthermore, Draupadi lamented her inability to care for her children as a mother. These are the emotional threads of this novel.
Krishna arrived in Hastinapur as a messenger, but was unable to prevent war and returned without success. Before departing, he met with Karna to disclose the truth of his birth. He tried to persuade him to transfer to the Pandava camp and become king, with Draupadi as his queen. However, Karna firmly refused and maintained his loyalty to Duryodhana, who had defended his honor in the Hastinapur arms skill event. When Karna thought about his foster mother Radha, I was brought to tears. I had to put the book down and close my eyes before I could continue. Despite Krishna’s attempts, he was unable to make him change his mind and had to go back.
Kunti encountered Karna while he was worshipping the Sun at midday and offering Dharma to those who are in need. She reiterated what Krishna had said.
It is a futile attempt to express longing for the dead by adorning the cremation bed with sandalwood. It is a senseless and cruel act of futility! Please let us finish this scene soon… What is your motivation for coming here? What should I do next? I am confident that I will agree with whatever you say, so please do not hesitate to provide me with your instructions and let us complete this quickly.-Karna
The novel depicts Karnan conversing with her and holding back his anger with regret. Even though these are well-known stories, the way they are being narrated surprises the readers.
Karna is a Dharmavan, the elder Pandava and a responsible companion. But, he makes some mistakes. Due to unexpected situations, Draupadi has a grudge against him. She also refuses to marry him citing his birth. So, the deception on one side destroys the other!
As everyone was mourning the loss of Karna, Draupadi was in deep emotional distress, imagining an unexpected scene where she saw Karna seated on the throne and herself sitting by his side as his queen, surrounded by the other Pandavas, safe and secure. This vision occurred on the battlefield where so many had died, and the widows of the fallen were preparing their husbands’ funeral pyres. At one point, Draupadi felt as if she too was one of these widows. I was taken aback for a moment.
Let her rest with the worn-out deception and unfulfilled emotions. I will end my lament here!
ഇനി ഞാൻ ഉറങ്ങട്ടെ | Battle Beyond Kurukshetra | இனி நான் உறங்கட்டும்
Author– P.K Balakrishnan
(Malayalam – Ini Njan Urangatte)
Publisher – Sahitya Academy, First editin 2001
Borrow NLB | Connemara Chennai
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