KARNA: The Daanveer!

by · January 24, 2013

Young Karna was keen to learn martial arts from the great teacher Parashuram. Since he taught only to individuals form Brahmin caste, Karna disguised himself as a Brahmin and beseeched the revered guru to accept him as his shishya (disciple). Parashuram accepted and trained him duly.

Young Karna was keen to learn martial arts from the great teacher Parashuram. Since he taught only to individuals form Brahmin caste, Karna disguised himself as a Brahmin and beseeched the revered guru to accept him as his shishya (disciple). Parashuram accepted and trained him duly.

When Kunti was young, she happened to serve of Rishi (sage) Durvasa – known for his curse yielding anger – with great devotion. Deeply pleased with her service, and also because he could foresee that Kunti would have no issues from her husband in the future, Durvasa gave her a mantra (hymn) with boon that “…whichever god you may summon after reciting it, he would appear before you and bless you with a son endowed with his own godly qualities.”

Once when Kunti, out of curiosity, tried the mantra and remembered Surya (Sun God) – the ordained happened! Surya appeared before her in his resplendent glory. Scared Kunti wanted the Sun God to leave, but he was bound by Durvasa’s boon to bless her with a child! Looking at reluctant Kunti, Surya however assured her that even after being blessed with a son; she would remain a virgin and would not have to suffer any infamy. And so Karna was born with Kavach (armor) and Kundal (earrings).

Afraid of social stigma Kunti placed the new born Karna in a wooden basket and drifted it away on waters of Ganges. The basket floating over the river current reached Adhirath, a sarathi (charioteer), who had no progeny. He adopted the child and raised him as his own son; that’s why Karna was also known as Sarathiputra (son of charioteer).

*

Young Karna was keen to learn martial arts from the great teacher Parashuram. Since he taught only to individuals form Brahmin caste, Karna disguised himself as a Brahmin and beseeched the revered guru to accept him as his shishya (disciple). Parashuram accepted and trained him duly.

 

One day when Parashuram was taking rest on Karna’s lap, a bee stung Karna on the lower portion of his thigh. The bite was extremely painful and Karna started to bleed. Fearing that if he moved his legs, it would awaken his guru he sat still and continued to suffer in silence. When Parashuram woke up and saw Karna bleeding, he couldn’t resist asking “Son, tell me truthfully… who you are? A Brahmin cannot bear such an intense pain.” Obliged Karna disclosed his real identity. Parashuram was greatly annoyed to hear the truth; he felt betrayed and cursed Karna that, since he had learned through deceit, he shall forget the skills learnt from him at a crucial juncture.

*

Duryodhana and his ninety nine brothers were jealous of their cousins – the five Pandavas (sons of late king Pandu). Meanwhile Duryodhana, son of king Pandu’s brother Dhritrashtra patronized Karna and made him the King of Angadesh. Duryodhana wanted Karna as a counterweight to Arjuna.

*

A scene from Vimanika's The Sixth Lok Book

A scene from Vimanika’s The Sixth Lok Book

When Krishna disclosed to Karna that he was born to Kunti; it was difficult for him to comprehend. He said “Krishna, Kunti may be my mother but she abandoned me at birth. But as soon as Adhirath found me, he lovingly carried me home and along with his wife – Radha – nurtured me like their own son. With regard to Duryodhana – we are two bodies but one soul. While the whole world was mocking me as a ‘low born’, he honored me. I went to him as nobody, but he bestowed a kingdom on me. How could I – ever – repay his debt of friendship? While declaring war on Pandavas he has mainly relied on me. How could I ever join Pandavas and betray his trust? No, KrishnaDuryodhana is my master – he means the world to me. I will stand by him and fight the Pandavas. Should I win, I shall have the satisfaction of serving my master; if I die I shall have the glory of dying while trying. So I am resolved. Now let us part.”

After listening to Karna, Krishna was, inwardly, full of admiration. “Bravo Karna! You are the very embodiment of loyalty to the master.” he said to himself and took leave from Karna without expressing his feelings.

*

 

After Krishna’s visit, next morning, while Karna was offering prayers Kunti visited him. Krishna himself had sent Kunti to pursue Karna not to kill Pandavas. On seeing Kunti, Karna respectfully touched her feet in respect. Kunti said “Karna, you are my son and elder brother of Pandavas whom you have vowed to kill. Please do not do so. Leave the camp of the Kauravas and join your younger brothers. Am I not your mother? Hear my words, Karna. Is it not your duty, as my son, to carry out the wishes of your mother?”

 

Karna replied “You are my mother – true. But, to this day people have been ignorant of this truth. Those who looked after me and brought me up are also my parents. How can I give up on them? This is the time of war, a time when all those who have sworn obedience to Duryodhana must fight for him. For last thirteen years I have enjoyed all princely privileges owing to him. His friendship has brought me everything. If at this moment, when war is imminent, I talk of joining Pandavas, then whole world will call me a traitor! Therefore what you are asking from me is unthinkable. But mother, I will comply with one of your requests. You desire that I should not kill the Pandavas. I agree; I will not kill any of the Pandavas – except Arjuna. Whether I kill Arjuna or Arjuna kills me, in either case you will be left with five sons.”

*

Duryodhana and his ninety nine brothers were jealous of their cousins – the five Pandavas (sons of late king Pandu). Meanwhile Duryodhana, son of king Pandu’s brother Dhritrashtra patronized Karna and made him the King of Angadesh. Duryodhana wanted Karna as a counterweight to Arjuna.

Duryodhana and his ninety nine brothers were jealous of their cousins – the five Pandavas (sons of late king Pandu). Meanwhile Duryodhana, son of king Pandu’s brother Dhritrashtra patronized Karna and made him the King of Angadesh. Duryodhana wanted Karna as a counterweight to Arjuna.

On the eve of the famous Mahabharata battle, Lord Indra – King of Heavens – disguised as an old Brahmin approached Karna and sought his Kavach (armor) and Kundal (earrings) in daan (donation). Indra was apprehensive that Karna, by virtue of his phenomenal skills as a warrior, may be able to overwhelm Arjuna. He therefore asked this daan to reduce his strength.

Though cautioned by Surya about this, magnanimous Karna knowingly donated his Kavach and Kundal to Indra, which were an integral part of his body since birth. Lord Indra, pleased with his generosity, said “Karna, you have done something which no ordinary mortal soul could afford. I am immensely pleased with your generosity. Ask for any vardaan (boon) of your choice.” Karna replied “If you are really pleased then let me have your weapon Shakti which has the potential to destroy any enemy.” Lord Indra gave Shakti to Karna but with a condition that he could use it only once; thereafter the weapon shall return to him (Indra).

*

 

Parashuram’s curse proved to be Karna’s undoing. In battle of Kurukshetra, while face-to-face with Arjuna, Karna forgot the Brahmastra mantra taught to him by Parashuram himself.  Amid chaos wheels of his chariot sank in soft earth and he was immobilized. It was at this very moment that Arjuna defeated him.

While Karna was on his death bed, Krishna came to him disguised as a beggar. Karna responded to the beggar by saying that he had nothing left to give him amidst battle field and that he could get anything he desired from his wife in Angadesh. The beggar indicated Karna still had some gold in his tooth which would be valuable to him. On realizing that fact, Karna took a stone and broke his tooth with the gold and gave it to the beggar, epitomizing the “way of life” he led. However, on seeing the displaced tooth the beggar says that it’s dirty. Not finding water nearby Karna shoots an arrow and starts to rain, in whose water he cleans it before passing it on to beggar. Disguised beggar – Krishna ­– was pleased and said that his “legend will live in hearts of people till the end of times” and that “he’d be remembered for his great qualities of Daan (donation) and Veer (heroism).” And so we know him as a Daanveer Karna. 

Author of this article, U. Mahesh Prabhu, is distinguished fellow of Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, London (UK).

Title10 Comments

  1. Seo katalogi says:

    I can hardly believe how lucky I am that I visited such a well-written blog.

  2. john says:

    I will immediately take hold of your rss feed as I can not find your e-mail subscription hyperlink or e-newsletter service. Do you have any? Kindly allow me realize in order that I may subscribe. Thanks.

  3. janani says:

    Thank you so much for your article. really Iam blessed to read this and know some more facts about my lord. Iam really feel proud to be a devotee of lord karn.Even at the last minute of his life he keep on doing daan which is impossible for others to do.Karn will always remain in our hearts with lot of respects and love.Only pandavas are unlucky to get karn as their brother,Mata kunthi, even she gave birth to the noblest spirit she cant able to make him as her son. How unlucky she! Karn will always be radhaye and a great friend. DANVEER KARNA KO JAI

  4. kiranyadav says:

    I am feel proud to be fan of karna.

  5. […] Credits: Post Credits: Aditya Vipradas Photo Credits: vimanikopedia.in […]

  6. […] Image sourceKarna the child of Surya ( Sun god) was born with a shield that protected him from weapons and atrocities of the war. It might be similar to the organic shield like exoskeleton found in tortoise, still extremely solid. Not at all like fake exoskeleton used by people, Karna’s Kavach was mixed with his body. He later gave it to Indra, the father of Arjuna, who was threatened by Karna’s skill, perseverance and strength.Fact Source 2. Hand Carved Sundials (clock ) at Konark Temple […]

  7. Ayushi says:

    Can anyone tell me that was Karn a better worrier than Arjuna

  8. Anonymous says:

    yes he was… Karna attaches an arrow to his bow, pulls back and releases – the arrow is aimed at Arjun’s heart. Krishna, Arjun’s Charioteer, drives by sheer force the chariot into the ground several feet. The arrow hits Arjun’s headgear and knocks it off. Missing its target – Arjuna’s heart.
    Krishna yells, “Wow! Nice shot, Karna.”
    Arjuna asks Krishna, ‘Why are you praising Karna?’
    Krishna tells Arjun, ‘Look at you! You have Lord Hanuman on the flag of this chariot. You have me as your charioteer. You received the blessings of Ma Durga and your Guru, Dronacharya before the battle, have a loving Mother and an aristocratic heritage. This Karna has nobody, his own charioteer, Salya belittles him, his own Guru (Parusurama) cursed him, his Mother abandoned him when he was born and he has no known heritage. Yet, look at the battle he’s giving you. Without me and Lord Hanuman on this chariot, where would you be?’

  9. sudarshan says:

    yes he was… Karna attaches an arrow to his bow, pulls back and releases – the arrow is aimed at Arjun’s heart. Krishna, Arjun’s Charioteer, drives by sheer force the chariot into the ground several feet. The arrow hits Arjun’s headgear and knocks it off. Missing its target – Arjuna’s heart.
    Krishna yells, “Wow! Nice shot, Karna.”
    Arjuna asks Krishna, ‘Why are you praising Karna?’
    Krishna tells Arjun, ‘Look at you! You have Lord Hanuman on the flag of this chariot. You have me as your charioteer. You received the blessings of Ma Durga and your Guru, Dronacharya before the battle, have a loving Mother and an aristocratic heritage. This Karna has nobody, his own charioteer, Salya belittles him, his own Guru (Parusurama) cursed him, his Mother abandoned him when he was born and he has no known heritage. Yet, look at the battle he’s giving you. Without me and Lord Hanuman on this chariot, where would you be?’

Leave Comment