The Penance of Kunti Devi

Kunti asking for Krishna’s blessings

Kurushektra, the great war of Mahabharatha, was over. Despite being reluctant, Krishna convinced Dharma to wear the throne of the Hastinapur, as its king. The grand ceremony of crowning the new king concluded. Its time to part. Krishna said his customary greetings to the new King Dharma and to the other Pandava brothers — Bheema, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadev.

While he was about to board his ratha, his eyes were searching for someone. There stood Kuntidevi, the Godmother, among the kins.

Krishna said his greetings to her as well, ‘I shall make a leave now, Kuntidevi!’

‘Sure,’ said Ranimatha. ‘Before you leave, can you grant me a blessing?’ she asked.

‘Of course’ said Krishna with all his magnanimity.

What shall the old lady ask? A prayer bead, some ritual materials, or goodness for her 5 sons and their kins, motcha for her dead son, Karna…

What else…

‘Tell me, Kuntidevi. What do you want? Whatever you ask, will be granted,’ said Krishna.

Kunti asked, ‘Krishna, I want sufferings. I want pain. I want more sufferings and pain!’

Everyone present there were shocked.

Krishna asked, ‘Kunti… Aren’t you already in great pain and suffering? you didn’t grow at your own home; You couldn’t nurture your own son Karna; You became mother, when you didn’t want. When you wanted, you were denied of motherhood; You lost Pandu, your husband, to fate; You were always in fear that the Gauravas would avenge and kill your 5 sons; People suffer if they have bad children — but you suffered despite having good children; You were made to wander in forests, to beg, to starve; You were humiliated in Hastinapur; Lost your grandchildren in Kurukshetra.’

‘Isn’t this enough? You still want more sufferings? People only ask for pain-less life, why are you asking for pain? Why? Why?” he asked.

Kunti smiled. She said,

‘In all my sufferings, whom did I think and pray? You. Every time, you came and supported me, guided me. If there were no sufferings, am I going to think about you? You are not going to come by my side. I believe that suffering is the route to attain You!’

This is Kunti’s penance.

A life of pain and sufferings

Few expect no suffering or struggle in their lives. This is a childish dream. There is no life without pain. Just like the two sides of the coin — pleasure and pain are two sides of the life. There cannot be one without the other.

Suffering is one part of life, an event, an inevitable happening — that has to manifest as part of nature’s law and destiny.

Life is about accepting and facing those struggles in our lives. There is a beauty in it. Such challenges are what makes life interesting and enriching. If there were no pain/ struggle, who would think about God!

To go to our office, we have to catch the 9 o’clock bus. We come running to the bus station to get it. ‘Just now the bus left,’ says a person nearby. ‘Oh God! How shall I go to the office, then!’ you exclaim — inviting God to your office. Such everyday sufferings is what reminds us about God!

If we analyse the reasons for such sufferings and struggles, we shall receive clarity. The world’s greatest secrets will reveal itself.


  1. Kunti is one of the enigmatic characters in the Indian epic, Mahabharata. She is wife of King Pandu of Hastinapur and mother of Karna and the first three Pandava brothers Dharma, Bheema and Arjuna and step mother of Nakula and Sahadeva. She was the paternal aunt of Krishna, Balarama, and Subhadra.
  2. The Mahābhārata is one of the two major epics of ancient India, the other being the Rāmāyaṇa. It narrates the struggle between two groups of cousins in the Kurukshetra War and the fates of the Gaurava and the Pāṇḍava princes and their succession. [Source: Wikipedia]

Source credit:

This article is a loose translation of a chapter from the book ‘Gnana Malargal’ (Flowers of Wisdoms) in Tamil, by Shri.Suki Sivam, an author-orator-philosopher.

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Work-from-home dad! Writer, Solopreneur. On a journey of personal growth & sustainable living. Subscribe to my newsletter —