Do you know who were Karna’s wives?

·2-min read
Do you know who were Karna’s wives?

The lives of Karna’s wives have been a topic of much speculation. 

There are but a handful of references to his wives and there is much debate about whether he had more than one wife to begin with. But here is what we can glean from the stray references that have been made in the epic.

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By all estimates, Karna’s first wife was someone from within the charioteer community. Gandhari makes a reference to her during one of her conversations with Krishna where she’s referred to as the mother of Vrishasena and Sushena, who were two of Karna’s sons. It is generally believed that this wife was called Vrushali and was his childhood friend. When he grew up, his father the charioteer Adhiratha chose her to be his daughter-in-law. Karna is said to have obeyed his father’s orders but it’s safe to say that he may have also secretly been happy to be married to his childhood friend.

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Karna’s second wife is believed to have been called Supriya. Again, almost nothing is known of Supriya. Some suggest that she was the best friend of Duryodhana’s wife Bhanumati, indicating that she may have been of royal blood. But the great Shivaji Sawant’s Mrityunjaya, the epic retelling of the Mahabharata from Karna’s point of view, suggests that Supriya was in fact Bhanumati’s maid-in-waiting. They were however very close and may have even been best friends but she wasn’t a princess or of royal lineage.

According to Sawant’s retelling of the story, Supriya came along with Bhanumati who Duryodhana abducted from her father’s palace when he hosted a swayamwara. Karna, as always, was his partner-in-crime and while Bhanumati happily married Duryodhana, Supriya was smitten by his best friend and chose him as her husband. It is believed that on Karna’s passing, Supriya climbed into his pyre and performed sati while Vrushali continued to live on as a widow with her son Vrishaketu.

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The Mahabharata mentions nine sons of Karna – Vrishasena, Chitrasena, Satyasena, Sushena, Shatrunjaya, Dvipata, Banasena, Prasena, and Vrishaketu. Of these only Vrishaketu survives the war continues Karna’s line and rules the kingdom of Anga.

In more recent times, the character of Uruvi has been introduced to the narrative as Karna’s wife. However nowhere does Uruvi appear in the Mahabharata. The character of Uruvi and the legends around her can be traced back to the novel, Karna’s Wife: The Outcast’s Queen, written by Kavita Kane. 

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While the novel itself acknowledges the presence of Vrushali as Karna’s first wife, it replaces Supriya with the fictional character, Uruvi whose name and some elements are said to be based on a folklore.

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