Many doubt the friendship between Karna and Duryodhana (Suyodhana) , assuming that the cruel and jealous son of Dhritarashtra had his own ulterior motives to befriend Karna. What they fail to notice is that the shrewd Duryodhana was not haughty enough to humiliate others because of their caste, a practice which his own teacher, cousins and many others practiced back in that era.
While, many fail to see Duryodhana (Suyodhana) as a crusader against the caste system and even doubt his intentions in Mahabharat, I wonder why then he is still worshipped at the Malanada Temple in the Edakkad Ward of the Kerala village named Poruvazhy.
Why will the people worship a villain of the epic Mahabharata when its so called heroes are not even considered worthy of being worshipped?
The association of Duryodhana (Suyodhana) and this place goes back to the times when Pandavas were in exile after they lost their “everything” in the game of dice. Every action of Pandavas reached the palace of Hastinapur as there were informers who timely gave information about the Pandavas. Soon, Suyodhana got to know about Arjuna gaining celestial weapon. Highly sad of his acquisition, he went into depression. Nothing pleased him. Karna, his friend then suggested that they should go in search of them, and find them.
Duryodhana then began his journey to the southern forest and finally reached where the Malanada Temple is positioned at present. He was so exhausted that he knocked the nearby house and asked for water without realizing that the house belonged to a chieftain of the shudra tribe, Kurava. A elderly woman immediately offered him a toddy to drink (a custom as a respect to Kings) along with a herbal concoction which could ease his exhaustion.
Refreshed, the Hastinapur Yuvraj got up to thank the woman and to his surprise noticed her mangalsutra, which indicated her social status. As per the customs, none of the Kshatriya should eat or drink anything offered by the lower classes.
Moreover, it was a crime for any low caste person to offer drinks and eatables to a Kshatriya. The woman feared that she would be punished for her crime. However, Duryodhana astonished her by saying, “Mother, there is no caste for thirst and hunger.” He was touched by the helping nature of the lady – a lady who risked her own life to help a thirsty prince.
He did not punish her at all, nor he gave her shrap unlike others. Instead, he sat in dhyan on the nearby hill and started worshipping Lord Shiva for the welfare of the Kurava tribe, praying that no divine wrath should be casted upon the tribesmen for feeding a Kshatriya.
This surprised the villagers who rushed in to see the unique high born man who was way different from all the proudy upper caste men who punished them severely and treated them only as downtroddens. Duryodhana then donated the tribesman, 101 yojanas of land and announced that he was gifting them a temple with no idol. He insisted that the priest of the temple would be a Kurava untouchable only.
Till this date the priest of the temple with no idol are the descendants of the old woman. However, the presiding diety is Duryodhana and the minor dieties include his wife Bhanumati, his mother Gandhari and his friend Karna.
The people of this village and tribe worship Duryodhana till date, and why not he deserves to be a hero for being a caste condemner right from his childhood. Duryodhana, is not just a hero of this village but all those people who see the caste system, a vice of the Indian society.