Reason Across the Enemy Line: Vikarna, the Unheralded Hero of Mahabharata

An Act of Reason Shines Brightly. This Painting by Rani Bhowani is a n apt symbolism to the action of Vikarna, the man who stood up against a wrong and thus shone brightly in a collective of the so called most bright men of their times who faded in comparison to Vikarna when the despicable act of disrobing Draupadi was enacted in the Kaurava court.


It is seldom that one hears a voice of reason from enemy lines. One such rare personality was Vikarna, the younger
brother of Duryodhana, and one of the best warriors amongst the Kauravas. What makes Vikarna unique is that when luminaries like Bhisma, Dhronacharya, Vidur, Kripacharya, Dhritirashtra, Yudhistir remained passive spectators to Draupadi being assaulted publicly in a full court by Dushasana on orders of Duryodhana,Vikarna stood up as a lone voice of protest.

Vikarna said “Draupadi was staked when (Yudhisthira) was challenged by the cheats,was acting in the throes of his passion. The blameless woman belongs to all the Pandavas; she was staked by this Pandava after he was won. Further, it was (Shakuni) who suggested Draupadi when he desired a stake. Considering all this, I donot think she has been won”. In an uncharacteristic remark Karna countered Vikarna “ Sit down and dono’t speak on dharma which you donot know about.” A voice of reason was silenced.

This one brave act of Vikarna sets him apart amongst the Kauravas. Baby boys even today are named after Vikarna, a distinction which very few Kauravas enjoy.

There are modern day Vikarnas. Prof Leo Silzard the key scientist on the Manhattan Project which developed the atom bomb for United States in a letter dated 1945 (written with Einstein) warned President Truman of the disastrous consequences of a nuclear bomb and that it may never be used. After the atom bombs were dropped on Japan, Leo Silzard resigned. Closer home Satyendra Dubey, an IIT trained engineer with National Highway Authority of India, raised questions on corruption in NHAI. He was murdered for standing up and protesting against his colleagues and organization, similar to what Vikarna did.

It takes to be a special kind of person to be a Vikarna, people who have guts to question something wrong irrespective on which side they are and despite of the consequences.

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