Seven people responsible for Karna death

People behind death of Danveer Karna

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.
Karna and Kunti
Karna and Kunti
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.

Danveer Karna – indian mythology – Mahabharata

Stories related to Danveer Karna  from Mahabharata

Karna is known for his helping nature and he never turned anyone back when someone asked for anything from him. Following are the incidents which reflect upon this virtue of him and fittingly, he is also known as Danveer Karna.

Kavach and Kundal

He was born with Kavach and Kundal and thus was impregnable. There was no way he could be parted with these things. Before the war of Mahabharata, Indra thought of a way to do that. Indra was the father of Arjuna. He knew that eventually, there would be a battle between Arjuna and Karna. He could not be defeated with Kavach and Kundal on. So Indra disguised himself as a Brahmin and asked for Kavach and Kundal as alms. Though he was forwarned by Surya. Still, he happily gave away the things which was asked of him. In return, Indra gave him the “ekaghni”, which has the power to kill anyone.

Karna born with Kavach and Kundal
Karna born with Kavach and Kundal

He eventually had to use this weapon on Ghatotkacha. Ghatotkahca, the son of Bhima, was proving too much for Kauravas. Shri Krishna summoned him to fight the Mahabharata war. Thus, we can see that Arjuna’s safety was ensured by Indra and Shri Krishna while the eldest son of Kunti was fighting this all alone. In way, this virtue of Danveer proved to be his undoing.

Karna with Kavach and Kundal - Mahabharat story
Karna with Kavach and Kundal – Mahabharat story


 Teeth of gold

While he was dying, Lord Indra and Lord Surya had a fight that whether he was the real Danveer at all. They went to him and asked for alms. Karna said that I am dying and do not have anything to give this to you. Indra and Surya have mentioned that he has teeth of gold. Hearing this, he promptly took out the gold and given to the Brahmins.

Gift of Sons

Perhaps this will not be realized in first hand, but Kunti was given four sons as a Dan by Danveer Karna. Karna promised Kunti that she will have five sons, as after the mahabharat war, either him or Arjuna will be alive. This promise was observed by him as he had a chance to kill four pandavas but he let them go.  He was indeed a real Danveer!!!

Seven little known facts about Karna from the Mahabharata

Parshurama sleeping in Karna's lap

Karna – the most virtuous but tragic warrior from Mahabharata

Karna was the eldest son of Kunti. He was born before Kunti was wedded, so Kunti had to let him go and He, being the eldest and most deserving, had to live his life in obscurity. The only fault was his timing of birth, where he had no control over. Read some of the fate’s cruelty imparted to him.

1. Curses on Karna

One afternoon,  Parashurama requested Karna to bring a pillow to sleep on under a tree shade. Karna instead offered his lap to his guru. While Parashurama was fast asleep a giant bee stung Karna’s thigh, despite of the severe pain Karna didn’t move so as not to disturb his guru’s sleep. As the bee bored deeper the wound began to bleed.  Parashurama was woken by the blood from Karna’s thigh.

Karna - Drona - Danveer - Kavach Kundal
Karna – The most virtuous warrior from Indian mythology – Mahabharat

Then Parashurama deduced at once that Karna is a kshatriya and not a Brahmin because a brahmin  can not endure such pain. So, he cursed Karna that all his martial skill including use of Brahmastra would desert him when he needed them most.

This meant that Karna would forget all that he had learned from Parashurama during his hours of crisis. Karna who was unaware of his royal lineage pleaded that any student in his place would do the same and he was son of Vasusena,  a mere charioteer and not a kshatriya.

Parshurama's curse to Karna
Parshurama’s curse to Karna

Though Parashurama regretted cursing him in a moment of anger as his curse was irrevocable. He gifted him a celestial weapon Bhargavastra along with his personal bow called Vijaya and blessed him with everlasting glory and immortal fame.

Karna kills a cow accidentally

Departing from Parashuram’s ashram Karna wandered for some time. On his way he killed a cow that was rushing towards him by shooting an arrow. Incensed by this incident, the brahmin who owned the cow cursed. He said as he had killed a helpless animal, he too would be killed in the same way i.e. when he was most helpless with his concentration being diverted away from his enemy at that crucial moment.

Curse by Bhoomi Devi

Once Karna was riding his chariot in his kingdom of Anga. He encountered a child who was crying over her pot of spilt ghee. On asking her reason, she stated that she feared her step mother would be angry over her carelessness.  Being generous enough Karna told her that he would give her new ghee. But the child insisted that she wanted only the ghee which was mixed with the soil and refused to take new ghee. Taking pity on the girl, took the soil mixed with ghee in his fist and squeezed it with all his might to extract the ghee and pour it back into the pot.During this process, Karna heard the agonised voice of a  women. When he opened his fist he realised it was voice of Bhoomidevi, furious Bhoomidevi chastised Karna for inflicting enormous pain for sake of mere child so, she cursed him that in a very crucial battle of life she would trap his chariot wheel in the same way that he held the fistful of soil.

Thus Karna was cursed on three separate and independent occasions. Unfortunately, each of these curses became operational at the same crucial moment in the kurukshetra war thus making him weapon less, left without chariot and helpless. These three curses are the main reason of his fall.

2. Generous Karna

On the eve of Mahabharat battle, Lord Indra disguised as an old Brahamin went to Karna asked for his Kavach and Kundal in daan (alms) Indra asked for this gift so as to reduce his strength, as he was  apprehensive that Karna by virtue of his phenomenal skill as a warrior would defeat Arjuna. Karna was being cautioned by by Sun God about such move of Lord Indra. But Karna was so great hearted that he could not refuse anyone and inspite of knowing that Indra is playing a trick he parted his kawach and kundal, which were part of his body since birth and made him invincible. Indra was pleased with Karna’s generosity and granted him a vardan (boon) Karna asked for his weapon shakti which can destroy any enemy Indra granted him that on a condition that he can use it only once.

Karna giving Kavach to Indra
Karna giving Kavach to Indra

When Karna was on his death bed, Lord Indra and Surya had a dispute regarding his generosity. To settle this they disguise as a beggar and asked for alms. Karna responded that he had nothing left with him for them. The beggar replied that he had some gold on his tooth which would be valuable for them. On realizing this fact, Karna took a stone and broke his tooth and gave it to beggar, epitomizing the ‘way of life’ he led.

Karna born with Kavach and Kundal
Karna born with Kavach and Kundal

3. Karna’s promise to Kunti

As the war approached Kunti met Karna to reveal his true identity. Kunti asked him to join Pandavas and become king. Karna stated that he can’t betray his friend Duryodhan. However he promised that he would not attempt to kill any of the Pandavas except Arjuna. Karna knew very well that Arjun is under the divine aegis of lord Krishna and hence invincible. This way he would be able to pay off Duryodhan’s debt while performing the duties of elder brother. So he told Kunti that she could only keep her 5 sons being him or Arjuna.


An excellent book by none other than Anant Pai from Amar Chitra Katha. Third one is dedicated to the battle of Kurukshetra.

4. Karna in battle field

Bhisma the commander in chief of Kaurava’s refused Karna to participate in war under his leadership saying that Karna has insulted his guru Parshuram by insulting Draupadi and nobody insulting his guru can fight under my leadership. Bhisma also knew about Karna’s true ancestry and did not want him to fight against his own brothers . Consequently Karna entered the battle field only on 11th day after the fall of Bhisma on 10th day.

5. Birth of Karna

Karna was born before his mother Kunti was married to  prince Pandu. Kunti was granted a boon from sage Durvasa who was very pleased with her service and hospitality. The boon was that she can call upon any God to beget a child. Out of curiosity Kunti still being unmarried wanted to test the power of mantra. She invoked the mantra and called Sun God (Surya), bound by the power of mantra Surya appeared and handed her a son, who was radiant and robust as Surya himself. the baby had a Kavach (armour) and kundal (ear ring) attached to his body. Though Kunti didn’t physically give birth to the baby, she was unwilling to face the world as an unwed mother so she placed Karna in a basket and set him float on the holy river Ganga.

Karna was founded by charioteer, he and his wife Radha raised Karna and named him Vasusena. He was also known as Radheya after her foster mother.

Birth of Karna and Kunti letting him go away
Birth of Karna and Kunti letting him go away

6. Karna as king of Ang Desh

Once Drone held a competition in Hastinapur to find out who is the best warrior among all the princes. Arjuna was the winner At that time Karna came forward and did all that Arjuna could do but he was not accepted as competitor because he was a son of a charioteer. This was a great disrespect which Karna has suffered in front of the public. Kunti was also sitting in the audience was a mute spectator she did not dare to say that Karna was her son. At this time Duryodhan came forward and made him king of Ang Desh. This made Karna a friend and follower of Duryodhan for life.

7. Karna, a loyal friend

On the onset of war when Kunti met Karna and revealed his identity and asked him to take the side of Pandavas he replied that he can’t betray his friend Duryodhana. Krishna also revealed his identity and asked him to join Pandava side. Krishna assured him that being the eldest Pandav he will be given the crown of Hastinapur but, Karna refused this enormous offer for his friend Duryodhan. Though Krishna was sad with his decision but appreciated his loyalty.

Further reading:

Seven little known facts from the Mahabharata(2)

Pandavas exile – seven little known facts from the Mahabharata (3)

Seven unknown facts about Karna

When incarnation of Lord Vishnu could not defeat his bhakta

Karna – the unfortunate who deserved

The reason for Karna’s suffering is no longer a myth. This story tells all.

Karna stories


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