Daanveer Karna, undisputedly the most generous and large-hearted man who has ever walked this earth and whose unwavering loyalty and friendship to Duryodhana will be remembered for ages to come is believed to have been born in Kutwar in Madhya Pradesh. Kutwar also known as Kuntalpur in Morena district of Madhya Pradesh on the banks of the Asan river has been identified by historians to be the kingdom of Maharaja Kuntibhoja, the father of Kunti in the Mahabharat.
Legend has it that the great Durvasa Rishi who was known to be quick-tempered and equally generous if served with devotion and patience paid Maharaja Kuntibhoja a visit. Maharaja Kuntibhoja advised Kunti to serve Durvasa Rishi with utmost dedication, love and poise fearing his wrath.
It is said that the ancient Shiva temple here in Kuntalpur was where Durvasa Rishi performed tapaha (penance and austerity) for four months. Pleased with Kunti, Durvasa Rishi initiated her in five secret mantras (incantations) where she could invoke the God of her choosing and be blessed with a child by him. As Kunti was very young when she received this, she decided to test the efficacy of the mantras bestowed. She prayed to Surya Devatha residing in the centre of her heart while bathing on the banks of the Ashwagandha River, which is currently known as Asan River and lo! Lord Surya manifested himself immediately in his dazzling chariot drawn by handsome horses.
It is said that the sharp stones melted like wax under the fiery heat of Lord Surya and the impressions of the chariot wheels and footprints of the horses are still visible! Lord Surya gave darshan to Kunti below this ancient Shiva temple and blessed Kunti with a son equal to him in fame, strength, character and radiance. Kunti realizing her folly begged for forgiveness from Lord Surya and said that she was still unmarried and had been unwise in testing the Rishi’s words. Lord Surya, though bound to his word wished to abide by dharma and ensure that Kunti’s reputation, grace and dignity remains undamaged.
There was a famous devotee of Lord Surya who had valiantly fought both Nara and Narayana in a battle and was protected by the armour given to him. When hundred protective shields were destroyed and he was left with one, he sought refuge in Lord Surya. Lord Surya decided to bless Kunti with the child that was promised as well as save his beloved devotee and made his devotee enter the ear of Kunti in the form of a mosquito. This great personality emerged from the ear of Kunti adorned with a kundal (halo) and kavach (shield or breastplate or armour) and as, he was born from the ear was called Karna.
Fearing the shame and ridicule of people, Kunti placed the child in a basket and set him afloat in the Asan river which even today is called Karnakhaar. When Lord Surya took to the sky after blessing Kunti, the pugmarks of the horses whose speed and strength can only be imagined has left an indelible mark on the rocks and though, the shapes of the pugmarks have undergone significant changes over the years because of the strong flow of water of Karnakhaar, some of them are clearly unchanged.
The grand temple of Kunti Mata which is the only one in the world is built along the banks of Karnakhaar. The Shiva temple revered by Durvasa Rishi and Kunti is worshipped by locals and a statue of Kunti has been installed. There are two places of interest here namely Kuntibhoja Fort and a Harsiddhi Mata temple believed to be built by Arjuna and Lord Krishna.
Archaeological Survey of India excavated a mound here in 1992 and on studying the site attested this village to be actually five thousand years old and the birthplace of Karna as said in the Mahabharat. Many old weapons, pearls, pottery, stones and other items were found in the excavation which upon examination were determined to be of the Mahabharat era.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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