Why Karna from Mahabharat is an epitome of morality for me?

Mahidhar K
3 min readSep 10, 2021


Image Credit: www.templepurohit.com

I recently watched Mimi movie on Netflix. Mimi, a young dancer in India, aspires to become an actress. John and Summer are an American couple who cannot conceive and are in search of surrogate mother. They choose Mimi to be the surrogate as she is fit and strong due to her dancer’s body. But all doesn’t go well and the couple discover that the baby can be born deformed. They ask Mimi to abort the baby and leave India. Mimi keeps the baby and gives birth to a healthy baby. Mimi gives up on her dreams of becoming an actress and raises the baby. John and Summer come across a facebook video of the baby and travel to India to claim the baby. The movie’s plot raises a conundrum who is a parent? One who gives birth, one who raises or one who gives genetic code..

Law is slow to catch up

Law, in such situations, will declare people who gave the genetic code as parents. Law is based on rules which apply to majority of the scenarios. Changing Cultural habits and nee technology keeps Law as a lagging indicator of values. Mahabharat, Indian mythology, has many such situations where law has failed. It failed most for one critical character Karna.

Karna : The Unfortunate One

Karna was born to Kunti before her marriage. Kunti was granted the boon to bear a child with desired divine qualities from the gods and without much knowledge, Kunti invoked the sun god to confirm it if it was true indeed. Karna was secretly born to an unmarried Kunti in her teenage. Fearing outrage and backlash from society over her premarital pregnancy, Kunti abandons the newly born Karna adrift in a basket on the Ganges

Image credit: www.beeparenting.com/

Karna, is then adopted by Radha and Adhiratha Nandana, who find him in the river. Throughout the upbringing, Karna is denied the opportunities due to the social position of the caste of his foster parents. Nevertheless, he becomes a skilled warrior and revered for his generosity to help those in need. His virtues over the time over shadow his social status

Morality: the cornerstone for human values

Karna was faced with moral conundrums many times in his life and he chose the high road. Sometimes, even against the law

The most striking one that etched in my memory was his friendship with Duryodhana. Karna is once denied to enter an archery competition due to his low lineage as per the prevailing laws. Duryodhana argues on behalf of the Karna. The critical argument being “What does lineage have to do with Archery skill?” The elders are not convinced and Duryodhana anoints Karna as a King. Karna in forging this new bond with Duryodhana commits lifelong friendship. This is put to test at multiple times like below

  1. Karna choose to fight alongside Kourana clan of Duryodhana knowing that the law is more inclined towards Pandava clan in Kurukshetra war
  2. Karna’s genetic mother Kunti reveals to Karna that he is warring against his own kin in the war. Karna finds an answer to this moral conundrum by promising to not directly kill any of his kins except Arjuna, against whom he holds a deep grudge
  3. Karna dies in the hands of Arjuna when he was removing his chariot well which is stuck in the ground

In these situations, Karna could have taken an easy path. But he persevered with his moral values.

Closing thoughts

What made me remember Karna while watching Mimi was not the mere commonality in foster parenting. It is the brutal realization that how our laws are not fit for situation which are uncommon. It takes people with great morals fighting for decades to change the law and sometimes event that falls short. Law makes humans like Nelson Mandela to be imprisoned. His acts might have been considered unlawful but definitely one the highest moral standards. Morality is the leading indicator for progress as humans. And for me, Karna embodies it fully.



Mahidhar K

A Product Manager | Interested in Mathematics, philosophy and trekking.