I have only lightly skimmed the last few posts, but to answer Vibhishana (were you called Vibs by Ravana too?) and Vrish on Karna's claim(?) to the throne-
Karna was accepted as a bother by the Pandavas after the battle. It did not matter how Karna was born - he was accepted as one of the royal family. Vrishketu was also adopted as a son by the Pandavas. It was just like Bheeshma accepted the sons of Vyasa as heirs.
It mattered very much. The status of a child at birth determined the gotra into which he/she was born. Don't forget that it was a patriarchal society in those days. The civil society in Dwapara Yuga would have mist certainly been governed by The Manu Smriti as codified by Manu Swaybhuva
This is what Manu Smriti (Manava Dharmashastra) has to say about the type of sons (chapter 9). (I will try and paraphrase it to the best of my understanding- any corrections most welcome)
Manu lists out Twelve types of sons. The best (Uttama) was the Aurasa kind of son (born naturally b/w husband and wife). A son born like this has predominance over others.
The next best is the Kshetrajya kind of Son- born out of Niyoga (born to the wife and another appointed male)
The third kind of son is Datta (adopted). The fourth is Kritima. the Fifth and sixth are Gooda Utapana and Apraviddha. ( I will go into the details of these later).
The above six were considered both kinsmen and heirs.
Now Manu also lists the six kinds of sons who can be considered as kinsmen but not heirs.
They are Kanina (born to a maiden before marraige), Sahoda (son recd along with wife at the tme of marraige), Kreeta (bought for a price) Punarbhava (son begotten on a re married woman) Self offered (swayam datta) and Shaudra (born to Shudra woman).
Karna was a Kanina. Being adopted by Yudhishthir as brother after battle is meaningless. At best it gave Yudhishthir the right to perform his funeral rites. If at all anyone had the right to adopt him it was Pandu, who died lbissfully unaware. Even Bhishma's knowledge of Karna's birth could not alter the facts that as a Kanina son , he did not have a stake in Pandu's kingdom.
As far as Vrishketu is concerned, he may have been treated like a son, but formal adoption in to the Pandav Parivar was out of question since he was legally born to Karna and his wife (Vrushali?) into the Suta family of Adhiratha.
As regards Bhishma recognizing the legitimacy of Dritarashtra and Pandu, their births were not hush hush. It was common knowledge that VV had died w/o leaving an heir behind and Veda Vyasa (nearest blood relative) was called upon specifically for this purpose. A son born out of Niyoga had all the rights and duties of a natural born son.
Gooda Uttpanna and Apraviddha- the two kinds of sons who though low in order but are still both kinsmen and heirs is a very unique case. In both the cases, the child is born in the husbands house after marraige, but the mother is not sure who the father is (Am i supposed to issue some kind of "Adult Content" warning here ? OK all those of you below 18, please leave... Go and watch Chhota Bheem ) . But since the child is born in under the Husband's roof, he is still given the status of Son.
So the main point while considering the status of a child is where was he born? Since Karna was born in his mother's Maternal house, he loses the right to be called Pandu's heir
Edited by varaali - 11 November 2011 at 2:09am