महाभारत के युद्ध में भीष्म पितामाह ने यह शर्त रखी थी की जब तक वह कौरवों के प्रधान सेनापति है तब तक कर्ण कौरवों के पक्ष से युद्ध में हिस्सा नहीं ले सकतेl भीष्म पितामह की इस शर्त के कारण विवश कर्ण अपने पड़ाव में बैठे युद्ध का समाचार सुनते रहते और छटपटाते रहते थेl
जब अर्जुन के प्रहारों से भीष्म पितामह बाणों के शरशय्या पर पड़ गए तब गुरु द्रोण कौरव सेना के प्रधान सेनापति हुए तथा दुर्योधन के कहने पर गुरु द्रोण ने कर्ण को इस युद्ध में हिस्सा लेने की आज्ञा दे दीl अब कर्ण भी युद्ध में शामिल हो चुके थे और महाभारत का यह युद्ध अपनी चरम सीमा पर थाl
भगवान श्री कृष्ण हर समय यह प्रयास करने की कोशिश करते कि युद्ध में कहीं अर्जुन और कर्ण का एक दूसरे से सामना ना हो जाएl एक बार कुरुक्षेत्र में अर्जुन और कर्ण का एक दूसरे से सामना हो ही गया तथा दोनों एक दूसरे पर तीरों की वर्षा करने लगेl कर्ण अब अर्जुन पर हावी होने लगे थेl कर्ण ने अर्जुन पर अनेक तेज बाणों से प्रहार करना शुरू कियाl कर्ण का जब एक भयंकर आघात अर्जुन पर आया तो श्री कृष्ण ने अपना रथ नीचे कर दियाl
कर्ण का वह बाण अर्जुन के मुकुट के ऊपरी हिस्से को काटता हुआ निकला और आश्चर्य की बात तो यह थी की वह बाण वापस कर्ण के तरकस में आ गया तथा क्रोधित होकर कर्ण से तर्क-वितर्क करने लगाl
कर्ण के द्वारा छोड़ा गया वह बाण क्रोधित अवस्था में कर्ण के तरकस में वापस आया था बोला- कर्ण अबकी बार जब तुम अर्जुन पर निशाना साधो तो ध्यान रहे कि निशाना अचूक होना चाहिएl अगर में लक्ष्य पर लग गया तो हर हाल में अर्जुन मृत्यु को पा जाएगा तथा उसकी रक्षा किसी भी हालत में नहीं हो सकतीl इस बार पूरा प्रयत्न करो तुम्हारी प्रतिज्ञा अवश्य ही पूर्ण होगीl
कर्ण ने जब यह सुना तो उन्हें बड़ा आश्चर्य हुआ तथा उन्होंने उस बाण से उसका परिचय पूछा व बोले मेरा अर्जुन के वध करने का संकल्प लेने के पीछे कई कारण है परन्तु मैं यह जानना चाहता हूँ कि आखिर आप के मन में अर्जुन के वध को लेकर इतनी प्रबल इच्छा क्यों है ?
कर्ण के यह पूछने पर उस बाण में से एक सर्प प्रकट हुआ, वास्तविकता में उस बाण में एक सर्प का वास थाl उसने कर्ण को अर्जुन से द्वेष रखने का कारण बताते हुए एक कथा सुनाई l
सर्प बने बाण ने अपना परिचय देते हुए कर्ण से कहा, हे ! वीर मैं कोई साधारण तीर नहीं हूँ, मैं महासर्प अश्वसेन हूँ l अर्जुन से प्रतिशोध लेने के लिए मेने बहुत लम्बी साधना और प्रतीक्षा कर रखी है इसलिए आज मैं तुम्हारी तरकश में हूँ क्योकि एक तुम ही हो जिसमे अर्जुन से समाना करने का सामर्थ्य हैl
अर्जुन ने एक बार खांडव वन में आगलगा दी थीl आग इतनी प्रचण्ड थी कि उस आग ने वन में सब कुछ जलाकर राख कर दिया थाl उस वन में मैं अपने परिवार के साथ रहता था तथा उस प्रचण्ड अग्नि ने मेरे पूरे परिवार को जला दिया व मैं उनकी रक्षा नहीं कर पायाl
इसके प्रतिशोध के लिए मेने बहुत लम्बी प्रतीक्षा की है l तुम सिर्फ ऐसा करो कि मुझे अर्जुन के शरीर तक पहुंचा दो इसके आगे का शेष कार्य मेरा घातक विष कर देगाl
उस ने सर्प से कहा हे ! मित्र मैं आपकी भावनाओ का सम्मान करता हूँ परन्तु मैं यह युद्ध अन्य साधन के साथ नहीं बल्कि अपने पुरुषार्थ व नैतिकता के रास्ते पर चलकर जितना चाहता हूँ l
मैं दुर्योधन के पक्ष से युद्ध में खड़ा हूँ किन्तु इसका यह अभिप्राय न निकाले कि मैं सदैव अनीति का साथ दूंगा, यदि नीति के रास्ते पर चलते हुए अर्जुन मेरा वध भी कर दे तो मैं हँसते हँसते मृत्यु को गले लगा लूंगा परन्तु यदि अनीति के राह पर चलते हुए मैं अर्जुन का वध करू तो यह मुझे बिलकुल भी स्वीकार नहीं हैl
अश्वसेन ने बोला कि हे ! वीर तुम में एक सच्चे योद्धा की विशेषता है अतः मेरी नजर में तुम अभी से विजय हो चुके होl यदि तुम ने अपने जिंदगी में कोई अनीति का कार्य किया भी तो वह तुम्हारी असंगति का कारण थाl यदि आप इस युद्ध में पराजित भी होते हो तो भी आपकी कीर्ति बनी रहेगीl
Followers of Indian mythology always wonder why Karna had to suffer so much in life despite being a good human being. As we know, every incident in Indian mythology has some reason behind it, this time also, we have a riveting story of Karna sufferings.
The boon of Dambodhav
Much much before Mahabharata there lived a asura named,a Dambhodbhav. He wanted to be powerful so he prayed to Sun God. Pleased with his devotion God appeared before him and granted him a boon. Dambhodbhav asked God to make him immortal. Surya said it was impossible to make him immortal. Then he asked for thousand kavach (armour). It was not only this Dambhodbhav also asked that these armour could be broken by someone who perform penance for thousand years. And also, whoever break the armour should die immediately.
Surya granted him the boon despite knowing that he is not going to use his powers for good.
He becomes reckless
Immediately after getting the boon, Dambhodbhav started wrecking havoc on people. people were scared of him and started calling him Sahasrakavacha (one who has thousand armour).
Lord Vishnu agrees to kill Dambodhav
Meanwhile, King Daksha (father of Sati) got one of his daughter Murti married to Dharma, son of Brahma. Murti knew about Dambhodbhav and wanted to put an end to to his menace. So she prayed to Lord Vishnu for help.Vishnu pleased with her devotion appeared before her and agreed to kill Sahasrakavacha.
Avatar of Nara and Narayana
Murti gave birth to twins and named them Narayana and Nara. Twin brother were noble, brave and great warrior. They decided to kill Sahasrakavacha. First Nara went for the fight and Narayana went for penance After thousand years, Nara broke his first armour, but lost his life. On other hand Narayana also completed his penance and obtained Mrityunjaya Mantra (it was mantra to bring back dead to life) and he brought his brother back to life.
The fight begins
At this moment Sahasrakavacha realised that Narayana and Nara are two persons with one soul. Thus the penance done by one brother gives the other one more power. After thousand years, Nara retired to forest to perform penance while Narayana started the fight.
The fight went on like this. One brother performed penance for a thousand years while the other one fought with Sahasrakavacha. The minute his armour broke, the person fighting with him fell dead and was brought back to life by the other.
Dambodbhava takes shelter
when Sahasrakavacha lost his 999 armour to twins. He gave up and ran away. He decided to take refuge with Surya.
Narayana and Nara both went to Surya and asked for Sahasrakavacha. Surya said that Dambhodbhav and is his great devotee and has worshipped him with great devotion and he came to him help so he has to help him.
Nara on hearing this got angry and cursed Surya that he will be born as human and suffer for this. Surya bowed his head, he knew that he should not shelter a demon but he was willing to pay the price for his devotee.
Dambodhava reborn as Karna
This incident occurred at the end of Treta yuga. In next yuga (Dwapara yuga), Surya and Dambhodbhav and both were born as Karna. Karna was born with his kavach or armour, the one left with Sahasrakavacha.
End of Karna by Shri Krishna and Arjuna
To fulfill the promise to kill Sahasrakavacha, Narayana and Nara were reborn as Krishna and Arjun. As Arjun would have died if Karna had the kavach so, Indra went to him in disguise and got the kavach much before the Mahabharata war begin. As Karna was a demon in his previous life so he had a very difficult life to pay for all the sins he committed in his previous life. But Karna also had Surya within him so he was a hero as well. He was the most powerful, bravest and tragic warrior in Mahabharata.
Perhaps the most respectable character in Mahabharata, because he cannot be faulted for his actions. Perhaps the most deserving and worthy who achieved nothing, because everyone around him was plotting against him. From Indra to Krishna. Perhaps the odds were stacked against him, perhaps this was his destiny that his own guru cursed him. Even on the battlefield,everyone was on Arjuna’s side and he lost the duel inspite of fighting better. In my opinion, he was better archer, a better human being who did not get his due.
For those who want to know more about this character, please read Rashmirathi penned by Ramdhari Singh Dinkar. You will not find a better representation of this character. Perhaps I am taking too much time and not going into the details – so here is the story of Karna for you.
Karna is one of the central figures in Hindu epic Mahabharata. He was the first son of Kunti, and was thus brother to the Pandavas, and the eldest of them. Although Duryodhana of the Kauravas appoint him king of Anga, his role in the legend far exceeds the importance of a king. He fought for the Kauravas in the great battle at Kurukshetra.
The princess Kunti, while young attended to the sage Durvasa for a full year, while he was a guest at her father`s palace. The sage was pleased with her service and so he granted her a boon whereby she could call upon any of the gods through a mantra and the god would grant her a son equal to the god in splendour. Unsure of whether the boon would actually be granted, Kunti, while still an unmarried young girl, decided to test the mantra and called upon Lord Surya, the Hindu deity of the sun. When Surya appeared before her, she was completely overawed. Bound by the power of the mantra, Surya granted her a son as radiant and strong as his father, although she did not want a child. Through his divine power, Kunti retains her virginity and honor. Thus Karna was born. As Surya`s son, Karna is born with an armour (`Kavacha`) and a pair of earrings (`Kundala`) which are dipped in Amrit the nectar of immortality.
Kunti was now in the embarrassing position of being an unwed mother. Unable to face the world with her divine child, she placed Karna in a basket and floated him down a river with his jewelry, praying fervently that he would be kept safe.
The child Karna was borne down the river and picked up by King Dhritarashtra`s charioteer, Adhiratha, a suta(meaning son of a Kshatriya man and a Brahmin woman). Karna was raised by him and his wife Radha (not the same Radha who was Lord Krishna`s Companion at Mathura) as their son and named Vasusena (born with wealth), due to his natural set of armour and earrings. They knew something of his parentage by the jewellery he was found with, and never hid from him the fact that he was not their biological child. He was also known as Radheya because of the name of his mother Radha. His younger brother, Shon, was born to Adiratha and Radha after Karna`s arrival.
The bond between Karna and his foster family was one of pure love, respect and affection despite the lack of blood relationship. Adhiratha was honored by Karna in front of all the warrior kind, and Karna lovingly performed his duties as a son and brother within his foster family, despite his rise as king of Anga and the eventual revelation of his true birth.
As he grew into adulthood, Karna sought to be a warrior – being a Kshatriya and divine at that, it is said to have run in his blood. He correspondingly moved to Hastinapura. He approached Dronacharya, who at that time had established his school and was training the Kuru princes, requesting admission into his school. Drona refused to teach him, as he was a sutaputra. Karna realized his caste would continue to be a barrier in his quest for knowledge. He decided eventually to approach Parashurama himself. He did so, and was accepted as a student by Parashurama, who was under the impression he was a brahmin. Karna is spoken of as a diligent student, whose attention and concentration mirrored Arjuna`s. Parashurama trained him, to the point where he declared him his equal in the arts of war and fighting. During his stay in Vishnuavatar Parashurama`s hermitage, Karna befriended many Rakshasas, Yakshas, Gandharvas and Nagas.
As Karna`s training comes to completion, Parashurama learns the truth. One afternoon, when he is tired, he requests Karna to bring a pillow for him, so he may sleep outside in the shade. Karna instead offers him his lap as a pillow. While Parashurama is asleep, an insect comes by, and alighting on Karna`s thigh, bites him. Despite the pain, Karna does not move as it would disturb his Guru. The insect bites deeply into his leg, causing blood to flow out, the warmth and feel of which wakes up Parashurama. He asks Karna how he could withstand the pain and the sight of blood, neither of which brahmins are capable of. He deduces he is a kshatriya, as only they possess the resolve to withstand such pain. He curses Karna, stating that when he requires an astra (divine weapon) the most, he will be unable to recall its incantations. Radheya pleads with him, upon which Parashurama tells him, in a mollified tone, that while his curse is irrevocable, Karna will eventually achieve what he senses as his goal – fame. He tells Karna that eventually, his name will become immortal.
Karna leaves Parashurama`s hermitage, and wanders about for some time. One day, seeing something flash by him, he shoots an arrow at it out of reflex reaction. The arrow kills his target which turns out to be another brahmin`s cow. Its owner, seeing it dead, curses Karna stating that when he is fighting the most crucial battle of his life with his dearest enemy, his chariot wheel will sink and he will be helpless.
Cursed twice over, Karna returns to his home. He does not tell his family about the curses, merely that his training is complete. Eventually, he decides to seek out a position at the court in Hastinapura.
Tournament of Hastinapur and becoming King of Anga desh
Drona held a tournament at Hastinapura, to display the skills of the Kuru princes, whose training was also complete. Arjuna emerges in this tournament as a particularly gifted archer. Karna, who was at that time a member of the audience, decided to challenge Arjuna, who was fairy complacent about his position and ability. He repeated all of Arjuna`s feats, to the chagrin of Drona and the Pandavas, and the amazement of Duryodhana. To establish a clear winner, Karna challenges Arjuna to single combat. Drona, however refuses Karna his duel, asking first for his clan and kingdom – according to the rules, only a prince may challenge Arjuna who is a prince of the Kuru house. Duryodhana, eldest of the Kauravas, offers Karna the throne of Anga (today`s Bhagalpur in Bihar), so that Karna would be a king and thus eligible to participate in the contest. This act is considered one of the few truly noble actions carried out by Duryodhana. When Karna, who is emotionally overcome at this, asks him what he can do to repay him, Duryodhana tells him all he wants is his friendship. `I want your heart` he tells Karna, to which Karna says it is already his.
Friendship with Duryodhana
This event establishes key relationships in the Mahabharata, namely, the strong bond between Duryodhana and Karna, the intense rivalry between Karna and Arjuna, and the enmity in general between the Pandavas as a whole and Karna.Karna is spoken as a loyal and true friend to Duryodhana. While he was later party to the infamous game of dice to please Duryodhana, he was opposed to it to begin with. Karna disliked Shakuni, and advised Duryodhana continuously to use his prowess and skill to defeat his enemies, rather than deceit and trickery. When the attempt to kill the Pandavas in the house of lac fails, Karna chides Duryodhana in his despondence, telling him the ways of cowards are doomed to failure and exhorting him to be a warrior and obtain what he wants through valour.
As a king, warrior and friend of Duryodhana, Karna became part of the Hastinapura court. He went on to repeat Bheeshma`s actions in bringing the princesses of Kashi to Duryodhana as wives, appearing at the Kashi court, seizing the princesses, and challenging the kings and princes to take them from him if they can.
Another story goes that Karna aided Duryodhana in marrying the princess of Chitragandha(not to be confused with Princess Chitrangada of Manipur). In her swayamvar, the princess rejected Duryodhana and was going to garland some other king when the eldest son of Dhritarasthra forcibly lifted and carried her away. The other kings present at the swayamvar pursued Duryodhana. However, Karna defeated them single-handedly.Among the kings present in the princess of Chitragandha`s swayamvar were Jarasandha, Shishupala, Dantavakra and Rukmi.
As a token of his appreciation of Karna`s valour, Jarasandha is said to have gifted Karna a portion of Magadha (modern day Bihar).
During the Pandavas` exile, Karna took upon himself the task of establishing Duryodhana as the World Emperor. Karna commanded an army to different parts of the country to subjugate kings and made them swear allegiance to Duryodhana, the king of Hastinapura or else die in battle. While Karna succeeded in all the battles, subjugating even the allies of the Pandavas, the conquest was not permanent. In this military adventure, Karna is stated to have waged wars and reduced to submission numerous tribes including those of the Kambojas, the Shakas, the Kekayas, the Avantyas, the Gandharas, the Madarakas, the Trigartas, the Tanganas, the Panchalas, the Videhas, the Suhmas, the Angas, the Vangas, the Nishadas, the Kalingas, the Vatsa, theAshmakas, the Rishikas (i.e south-western Rishikas located in Maharashtra) and numerous others including mlecchas and the forest tribes.
Karna is most famous for his generosity, which was said to surpass that of the gods. Following his appointment as king, he took an oath : Anyone who approached him with a request at midday, when he would worship the Sun, would go away with his request fulfilled. He would never let anyone leave empty-handed. This practice contributed to Karna`s fame as well as to his downfall, as Indra and Kunti took advantage of it.
Several stories are told as to Karna`s generosity. One goes that a brahmin, who required sandalwood to cremate his departed wife, approached Karna for it. It was raining heavily and the brahmin needed dry sandalwood (an alternate version is that there was a shortage of sandalwood in the city). Karna, unable to procure sandalwood from the market, noticed that the pillars of his palace were of sandalwood, and calling for an axe, cut them down to give the brahmin his wood.
Karna was the eldest son of Kunti and Lord Surya. There is not much available about his family, but following briefly tells about the family of this great archer, the rashmirathi.
In some texts, Vrushali has been names as the wife of the great warrior Karna, but there is not much material available on her. The son of Karna, Vrishketu is mentioned more frequently and it is also known that Pandavas developed good liking towards him, especially Arjuna.
Karna had two wives- Vrushali- from whom he had seven sons – and Supriya- a friend of Bhanumati. Bhanumati was the wife of Duryodhana. Vrushali committed sati on Karna’s funeral pyre.
Vrishketu and other sons
Vrishketu was Karna’s only son to survive the horror of the Kurukshetra war. He later came under the patronage of the Pandavas. Vrishketu accompanied both Bhima- to acquire the sacrificial horse and Arjuna, where he famously fought – (and was killed by) Babruvahana.
Shri Krishna’s first response was to revive Vrishketu with the magical Nagmani and only then turn his attention to Arjuna. During that campaign, Vrishketu married the daughter of king Yavanaath, probably a King in the west. It is recorded that Arjuna developed a great affection for his nephew Vrishketu and trained him to be one of the best archers in the world.
Mahabharata mentions the names of Karna’s seven sons – Vrishasen, Sushen, Bhanusen, Satyasen, Prasenjit and Satyasandh, and Vrishketu.
Out of these, four of them were killed by Pandavas. Vrishasen was killed by Arjun, who contrasted the situation with Abhimanyu and told Karna that just as he killed Abhimanyu when Arjun wasn’t there to protect him, Arjun would kill Vrishasena despite Karna’s presence, and went on to do just that. The next day, Nakula was involved in a battle with Bhanusen, Sushen and Satyasen, and killed them.
In some texts, this is mentioned that one of Karna’s son was killed during the chaos, which was followed after Draupadi’s swayamvar.
Kavach and Kundal are significant in terms of Indian mythology or to be specific, Mahabharata epic.
These were the insurance for Karna, the tragic hero from Mahabharata, as he was impenetrable from any weapon, as long as he was wearing them.
It happens that Karna was born to Kunti as a divine intervention from Surya, the Sun god. He was born with Kavach and Kundal of him. Kavach refers to body armour and Kundal are the ear-rings.
So basically, he was born with an added advantage over anyone. So in the epic of Mahabharata, when he decided to fight with Duryodhana, he was unknowingly giving him a massive advantage. The consequence of this could have resulted in Duryodhana winning the war.
How this could have happened? After all, we hear every time that truth always prevails. So, heavens have other designs. Like in every story, where the evil is so strong, there is invariably a small chink in armour, a small opening which is exploited by good forces. Like Ravana was vulnerable to humans, Lord Vishnu also found a way to neutralize Hiranyakashyap.
So what was his achilles heel? Being a good person, it is equally difficult to defeat him by wrong means. Indian gods, especially Indra have always descended to not so sporting means, when it comes to their advantage. This time again, he finds a way, and rather exploits a virtue in Karna.
Karna was famous for his benevolence. And he never returned anyone when someone requested him. So Indra, this time, disguises himself as a brahmin, and asks for his Kavach and Kundal.
Karna didn’t hesitate for a moment and took out Kavach and Kundal which were never separated from his body and handed over his advantage to Indra, and eventually to Arjuna and Pandavas.
Following seven incidents were the reason for demise of Karna. Though we remember him as Danveer Karna, but if we see the following incidents, we would realize that perhaps this was the reason of his not getting his due in Indian history.
1. Parshurama’s curse – Parshurama has cursed him so that he would not use the brahmastra weapon when he would need it most. So Karna would not be able to use this weapon at the most critical time. How would he expect to win the battle against Arjuna with this curse?
2. Brahmin’s curse – A Brahmin has cursed him that his wheels of chariot will be stuck in the ground. During Mahabharat war, when fighting with Arjuna, this thing happened. This caused him to step down from his chariot. Ramdhari Singh Dinkar has summarised this well in Rashmirathi.
“Jara si keech mein syandan phansa hai”
Above line and lines followed aptly describes the frustration. How a small mass of soft earth has held Karna’s chariot.
3. Indra’s manipulation – Confident of Karna’s charitable character, Indra approached him in the guise of a brahmin and asked for alms. Karna agreed to give him whatever he wanted. Indra asked for Kavach and Kundal to which Danveer Karna obliged. Ashamed of his activity Indra awarded him with Shakti. This weapon had the power to complete its task. The only caveat was that this could be used only once. Karna saved this for Arjuna. But Ghatotkacha, Bhima’s son, was creating havoc on Kaurava’s army. Upon the insistence of Duryodhana, karna has to use Shakti, thus saving Arjuna’s life.
4. Karna’s promise to Kunti – Kunti told Karna about his birth story before the Mahabharat war. She wanted him to fight the Mahabharat from Pandava’s side. Karna was the true friend of Duryodhana. He denied this request. Instead he gave a promise to Kunti. If there would be situation where I am able to kill any of the Pandavas, I would not do so except for Arjuna. In this way, Kunti will always have five sons.
5. Shalya’s reluctance towards Karna – Shalya, the charioteer of Karna never wanted to be on kaurava’s side. He never supported Karna during the Mahabharat war. Imagine this, how it is difficult when your navigator is not your side. On the other side, Shri Krishna was there to guide Arjuna.
6. Shri Krishna asking Karna for his righteousness : All over his life, Karna was the person, who was rightful. Despite all of the above reasons, Arjuna was not able to defeat him. Shri Krishna explained the reason to him. Goddess of rigtheousness was protecting Karna. How to defeat him because weapons were turning into garlands. Shri Krishna went to him as a Brahmin and asked Karna to gift his rigtheousness. Karna again, readily agreed and obliged Arjuna charioteer. Pleased of this, Krishna shown him his vishwaroopa. Shri Krishna also granted him a boon. Because of this, he was cremated on Shri Krishna’s hand.
7. Arjuna killing when he was not on the chariot: On advise of Shri Krishna, against the rules of the war, Arjuna beheaded Karna with the weapon anjalika. This happened when Karna was trying to take out the wheel of the chariot from the ground. This is how, the great archer, the great danveer, met his death.
Perhaps destiny has to do more here rather than the capability. unfortunately he was fighting the war from the wrong side. Nevertheless he has got the everlasting fame.