Mrityunjay is a classic novel written by Shivaji Savant on the life of Karn
, the great warrior and benevoulent
hero in the Indian history. Mrityunjay is a hindi word that means a person who had won the death. Karn
was son of the princess Kunti and God Sun but brought up by Adheerath a coachman in Hastinapur, the kingdom of Kurus. The famous war of Mahabharat happened due to the rivalry of Duryodhan (Prince of kauravas) and Pandava even though there were only two persons who could stop the war –Shree Krishna and Karn.
Shivaji Savant bring forth the whole life of Karn with the minute details of his pains, feelings, commitment and devotion, longing to be recognized along with the view of his close ones and his opponents about him
Karn was borne with the shield on his body and rings in both the ears. Nothing could hurt him physically due to this shield. Radhey (Karn’s real name) was happy but finding himself different from others in the community in various ways. Unaware of reality of his birth, within himself he was not able to cope up to be a coachman.He was a great devotte of Sun and the river Ganges. In his teens he came to Hastinapur with his father where he was appreciated by Bheeshma, King Dhritrashtra and others but denied to the education by Drona, Guru of royal family. In the moment of dejection he was welcomed by prince Duryodhan. Later on Duryodhan gave him the province of Aang to boost up his moral and alleviate his status from a coachman to a king. Karn submitted himself to Duryodhan and was so much committed towards Duryodhan that he could never leave him despite of several wrong decisions and difference of opinion.On the other side he could never overcome the jealousy for Arjun as he was denied education by Guru Drona and marriage by Draupadi just because of Arjun, many times Karn was demoralized to protect Arjun by Bheeshma and others.
Karn was a popular king, an excellent warrior, obedient son, perfect husband, loving brother and ideal father and a committed friend.
Despite of all his sufferings Karn had never compromised with his values such as commitment to his words, never returned an yachak empty handed. He had donated various Astra- Shastra which he had procured keeping in view the potential fight with Arjun on different occasions, knowingly that it was part of the strategy to weaken him against Arjun. During the war of Mahabharat, he came to know that Queen Kunti was his real mother and feeling very dejected on her demand of not killing her five sons he promised her to leave her all the sons except Arjun. Even he turned down the offer of all the kingdome of Hastinapur by Shree Krishna saying that “if Yudhishthar gives me this kingdome I shall give that to Duryodhan as I owe everything to him.”
Shivaji Savant also highlights different feelings of main characters of the Mahabharat the pain of Kunti as a mother who can see her son but cannot make it public, the longing of Draupadi for Karna, concern and respect of Krishna, trust of Dhritrashtra, appreciation of Bheeshma and submission of Vrishali as a wife.
Last Chapter of this novel depicts the height of courage, understanding and commitment to values in the personality of Karna. Karna knows that Krishna is motivating Arjun to kill him against the rules of war but owes his had to Shree Krishna with respect, even on the deathbed, donate his gold plated tooth on demand of financial assistance by a poor Brahmin.
Though the novel is dedicated to the Karn, it highlights the important characters in the Mahabharat and socio- political frame of that time.