Karna The Tragic Hero
Karna was the child of the Sun in the epic poem Mahabharata.
The Mahabharata’s Kshatriya mother Kunti was unable to support him and his Suta (low-caste) family took him in the boy.
An unfortunate series of circumstances, coupled with bad company, led to him becoming the tragic hero in the Mahabharata.
Karna was an archer of a masterclass that was as good as Arjuna Arjuna However,
his circumstances didn’t let him reach his full potential.
The desperation of his father eventually caused Karna to join Duryodhana and his unjust allies.
He had a moral heart however, he committed several unrighteous acts.
It’s up to you to decide after reading this article.
- Father Surya (the Sun god)
- Mother: Kunti
- Foster Father Adhiratha
- Foster Moms: Radha
- Brothers: Sangramjita and others
- Half-Brothers Yudhishthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula, Sahadeva
- Sons: Vrishasena, Vrishaketu, Chitrasena, Satyasena, Sushena, Shatrunjaya, Dvipata, Banasena, Prasena
Karna’s Birth: Lost in the River
A few times the Durvasa Rishi (sage) was in the royal palace, and lived for a whole year.
Kuntibhoja appointed Kunti to care for the sage. Kunti was able to serve her with lots of dedication and love.
Kunti departure, offered her a heavenly mantra.
In the event that Kunti was to invoke any god, and she chanted her mantra the
Kunti she was young, wanted to try the mantra. She recited the mantra , and
invoked Surya (the sun god).
divine appearance. Kunti stated, “I invoked only out of curiosity Lord. Return to your home.”
I am not able to disobey this mantra, or else the point of chanting my name will be in vain.
I will bless you with an infant. If you do not I’ll curse you, as well as all your loved ones.” Surya ordered.
Kunti had a predicament. If she complied with him and complied,
If she did not obey him then he could curse her. Kunti decided to make up her decision.
She stated, “I will have to follow your instructions.
However, I ask you to bless me,
Surya gave her her wish and induced her.
In the span of ten months Kunti gave birth to a boy however,
she kept it a in the dark.
Her nurse was the only one to be privy to the birth of the baby.
In the early hours of the evening, Kunti reluctantly placed the child inside a box,
and floated the box over the Asva River.
Between Kshatriya to Suta
The box floated across its source in the Aswa River to the Charmanavati
River towards it’s Yamuna River and then to the Ganga River.
It finally was deposited within the town of Champa located near the banks of Ganga River.
In that day, Adhiratha, who was the charioteer of Dhritarashtra and also a suta(low-caste) as well as his wife Radha arrived at the bank of the Ganga.
The couple decided that they would adopt the child from the box.
They gave him the name Vasusena. In the meantime, Kunti learned of Karna’s situation via her spying.
After that, Adhiratha and Radha begot more children.
Vasusena was referred to as “Karna” due to his gold earrings.
They didn’t inform Karna about his parents’ real names.
In his early years Karna was a moral boy. He was respectful and loved giving to Brahmins.
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Drona to Parshuram
As Karna was getting older, Adhiratha took Karna for Hastinapura for him to study the
art of archery under Drona who was the teacher from Drona, the instructor of
Pandavas (the five brothers of Kunti and Pandu) and Kauravas
(the hundred children from Dhritarashtra as well as Gandhari). Karna became an extremely skilled archer.
But, he was at times jealous of Arjuna the Pandava.
Drona always had a special place in his heart for Arjuna and bestowed him the most powerful weapons.
He began to develop a dislike for the Pandavas and also befriended Duryodhana who was the oldest Kaurava.
Due to this bad reputation and his jealousy Karna was prone to straying away from his the path of righteousness.
Mythbusting: The majority of individuals believe Karna was disapproved of by Drona and that is why he went to Parshuram to receive instruction in weapons.
But, Karna was actually accepted by Drona.
According to Vana Parva Chapter 307, it says
“Seeing that at the when his son had grown into a young man, Adhiratha referred Karna to the city named for the elephant.
Then, Karna endured Drona in the hope of studying arms.” This is mentioned in Adi Parva Chapter 134.
Drona did not just teach Pandavas as well as the Kauravas. He also taught Karna,
Vrishni and Andhaka princes, among others.
This raises the question of the reason Drona refused to teach Ekalavya.
It is possible to conclude that Drona agreed to Karna due to the fact that Adhiratha
was Dhritarashtra’s chariot. This means that Drona and the Pandavas and the
Kauravas were aware of Karna prior to the tournament of weapons.
A few days ago, Karna approached Drona and demanded, “I want to learn the details regarding the Brahmastra weapon. I would like to receive it.
” But, Drona knew that Karna was a part of the evil Duryodhana.
He also favored Arjuna. So, he stated “Only qualified Kshatriyas and
Brahmins are eligible to be granted the Brahmastra. I can’t offer it to you!”
Karna was devastated. He made the decision to leave the hermitage of
Drona and travel to Parshuram who was the renowned Avatar for Vishnu.
He was aware that Parshuram will only be teaching the way of a Brahmin.
So the man approached Parshuram under the disguise of an Brahmin and claimed,
“I am a Brahmin of the Bhrigu dynasty. Learn from me how to master weapons.” Parshuram gladly accepted his offer as a teacher of divine weaponry.
Curse One Wheel of Chariot Wheel
One time, as Karna was shooting archery, Karna accidentally shot a cow that was killed.
He ran into his Brahmin who owned the animal, and asked, “Please forgive me.
I accidentally killed the cow.
” However, the Brahmin was angry and cursedhim “You have killed the cow.
You deserve to die. I curse you that , just like the cow that is helpless the chariot wheel of
your horse will become stuck in battle, and you’ll be unable to breathe!
” Karna tried to calm the Brahmin but the Brahmin did not relent. In despair, Karna returned to Parshuram.
The Curse Two: Forget the Brahmastra
When the time came, Parshuram taught Karna the Brahmastra weapon.
A few days later, Parshuram asleep on the seat of Karna.
Then the insect was poisonous and swarmed up Karna’s leg and began biting it.
Karna was unable to eliminate it as he did not want to wake Parshuram.
Therefore, he sat in silence and suffered the discomfort.
When the blood of Karna’s drew near to Parshuram’ hand,
he awoke and inquired what had happened. Karna pointed at the insect.
Parshuram was looking at it and the insect swam away.
On top of it, there was an Rakshasa (monster).
The Rakshasa put his hands in his pockets and said “Thank You, Lord Parshuram.
You have freed me out of the body and soul of this insect.
In the past I abducted his wife Bhrigu’s rishi. Bhrigu cursed me into becoming an insect.
When I inquired when the curse would be over the king replied that his ancestral ancestor Parshuram would be freed.
You have released myself!” Saying this, the Rakshasa was humbled and left.
Parshuram was then looking at Karna and screamed,
“You are no Brahmin! The Brahmin would never be able to endure this suffering.
Only a Kshatriya is able to endure such pain.” Karna then revealed his real identity.
Parshuram was furious and cursedhim “I curse you to lose the knowledge of the Brahmastra when you require it.”
The Tournament: Arjuna vs. Karna
After princes Pandava as well as the Kaurava princes had completed their studies,
Drona arranged a friendly competition to showcase their fighting skills.
When Karna was informed of the tournament,
he knew that it was the ideal opportunity for him to show off his skills.
Arjuna was showing off various magnificent weapons and entertaining the crowd.
In the midst of all the energy, Karna entered the arena. The crowd was astonished who he was.
“I will do what Arjuna did. In fact, I’ll outdo what he did,
” Karna proclaimed. Duryodhana was thrilled, whereas Arjuna was furious.
With the blessing by Drona, Karna exhibited an amazing array of magnificent weapons.
King of Anga
The Kauravas were embraced by Karna and Duryodhana stated,
“I am truly fortunate to have you. You can ask for anything you’d like and I’ll offer it to you.”
“I only want your friendship and the opportunity to fight Arjuna,
” Karna replied. So, Karna and Arjuna were ready to fight.
When she saw her two sons fighting, Kunti fainted.
However, before the started fighting, Kripa interrupted,
“Arjuna is an Kshatriya. What caste do you belong to. Kshatriya is not able to fight an individual from lesser caste.”
When Kripa’s words came to mind, Karna did not know what to think of his response.
Knowing the plight of his friend Duryodhana declared
“I will now appoint Karna as the King of Anga. Once he is an emperor,
as per Scripture, he becomes capable of fighting Arjuna.”
Duryodhana followed by Karna’s coronation ritual.
Then, Adhiratha entered the arena. Karna accepted his father’s embrace and bows down.
his father. Afterward, Bhima insulted Karna by saying”an son born to a charioteer’s son is not
worthy of the title of King. But Duryodhana was adamant about his friend,
and said that heroism shouldn’t be founded on caste, instead, it is based on merits.
At this point, sun was setting and the match was over. All left, some in the support of Arjuna and others who wished to support Karna.
Karna Defeats Jarasandha
Karna has been spending time either Champapuri (the capital city of Anga) or
Hastinapura together with Duryodhana. Duryodhana as well as Karna became close friends over time.
A few years ago, Chitrangada, the king of Kalinga was the host of an
Swayamvara (self-choice wedding ceremony) for his daughter Bhanumati.
Many kings and princes such as Duryodhana and Karna who were there, arrived at
Rajapura the capital of Kalinga. After they had all been seated inside the room,
Bhanumati was the first to enter and walked through the hall.
As she passed by Duryodhana He was enraged.
He could not bear the rejection. He jumped up and grabbed Bhanumati.
Duryodhana was able to get into his chariot and began riding away.
Karna joined him in his chariot. In rage, the suitors chased Duryodhana however Karna beat the entire group. The kings were devastated and left to go home,
and Duryodhana went on to bring Bhanumati and brought her to Hastinapura and wed her.
The incident led to Karna well-known throughout Bharatvarsha as a mighty warrior.
Jarasandha the king of Magadha Karna, challenged him to one-on-one fight.
The battle was fierce where both players used a variety of divine weapons.
As their arrows were exhausted the two began to fight with their hands.
The fight lasted for many hours. At last, as Karna was poised to win, Jarasandha surrendered.
In awe of Karna’s bravery Jarasandha gave him with the town of Malini.