Karna in battle
|Children||Vrishasena, Chitrasena, Satyasena, Sushena, Shatrunjaya, Dvipata, Banasena, Prasena and Vrishaketu|
Karna (Sanskrit: कर्ण, IAST transliteration: Karṇa), originally known as Vasusena, is one of the central characters in the Hindu epic Mahābhārata, from ancient India. He was the King of Anga (present day Bhagalpur and Munger). Karna was one of the greatest warriors whose martial exploits are recorded in the Mahābhārata and the only warrior believed to be able to defeat Arjuna in battle, an admiration expressed by Lord Krishna and Bhishma within the body of this work. .Karna was the only warrior in the Mahabharata who single handedly successfully conducted Digvijay Yatra,conquering all kings in every direction in order to establish Duryodhana as the emperor of the world and to conduct the Vaishnava sacrifice.
Karna was the son of Surya (a solar deity) and Kunti. He was born to Kunti before her marriage with Pandu. Karna was the closest friend of Duryodhana and fought on his behalf against the Pandavas (his brothers) in the famous Kurukshetra war. Karna fought against misfortune throughout his life and kept his word under all circumstances. Many admire him for his courage and generosity. It is believed that Karna founded the city of Karnal, in present Haryana. Karna,Mahabali,Harishchandra are the three most famous personalities in Hinduism based on the merits they earned by giving charity.They are often quoted for their sacrifice,courage,charity,valour and selflessness they exhibited for helping a fellow being
- 1 Etymology
- 2 Story
- 3 Karna's family
- 4 Themes and analysis
- 5 Secondary literature and media
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
- 8 External links
The name he became renowned in the epic was Karna meaning the cutter or peeler of his own skin/natural armor.
Karna's other names according to Mahabharata are :
- Radheya - Son of Radha
- Vaikarthana - The one who gave away his impenetrable natural armour & earrings to Indra. Also mean the one who is related to or belonging to the Hindu solar deity, Surya
- Rashmirathi - One who rides the chariot of light
- Vasusena - Birth name meaning the one born with wealth,ie, golden Kavacha Kundala (natural armour and ear rings).
- Suryaputra - Son of Surya
- Parashurama Shishya - Disciple of Parashurama
- Angaraj - King of Anga
- Vijaya Dhari - One who wields the celestial bow Vijaya
- Adhirathi - Son of Adhiratha
- Daanveer - The hero possessing undying charitable nature;
- Daanshoor - One who fought like a true warrior
- Vrisha - One who is truthful in speech, engaged in penances, observant of vows, kind even to enemies. Vrisha also means bull, and Karna was referred to as bull among warriors by Vyasa)
- Souta - Son of Suta or belonging to charioteer caste
- Kaunteya - Son of Kunti
Birth, education and curses
As a young woman Kunti, the princess of the Kunti Kingdom, had been granted a boon by sage Durvasa to be able to invoke any deity to give her a child. Eager to test the power, while still unmarried, she called upon the solar deity Surya and was handed a son Karna wearing armour (Kavacha) and a pair of earrings (Kundala). Afraid of being an unwed mother Kunti, placed the baby in a basket and set him afloat on a river. The child was found by Adhiratha, a charioteer of King Dhritarashtra of Hastinapur. Adhiratha and his wife Radha raised the boy as their own son and named him Vasusena. He also came to be known as Radheya, the son of Radha.
Karna became interested in the art of warfare and approached Dronacharya, an established teacher who taught the Kuru princes. But he refused to take Karna as his student, since Karna was not a Kshatriya. After being refused by Dronacharya, Karna with his brother Shona's help started his own's education and appointed the sun god as his guru. But, Karna wanted to learn advanced skills of archery and hence he decided to learn from Parashurama, Dronacharya's own guru.
As Parshurama only taught to Brahmins, Karna appeared before him as a Brahmin. Parashurama accepted him and trained him to such a point that he declared Karna to be equal to himself in the art of warfare and archery. On a day towards the end of his training Karna happened to offer Parashurama his lap so his guru could rest his head and nap. But while Parashurama was asleep, a bee stung Karna's thigh and despite the pain, Karna did not move, so as not to disturb his guru's sleep. With blood oozing from his wound, Parashurama woke up at once deduced that Karna was not a Brahmin. Parashurama, who had sworn to teach Brahmins only, laid curse upon Karna that he would forget all the knowledge required to wield the divine weapon Brahmanda astra, at the moment of his greatest need. Upon Karna's pleading, Parshurama gave him the celestial weapon called Bhargavastra, along with his personal bow called Vijaya (bow), for being such a diligent student.
Karna was also cursed by a Brahmin for killing his cow while practising his skills with bow and arrows. The Brahmin got angry and cursed him that he would become helpless in the same way the innocent cow had become, by his chariot wheels getting stuck in the ground. Folklore from Andhra Pradesh further relates that Karna once encountered a child who was crying over her pot of spilt ghee. On asking her the reason for her dismay, she stated that she feared that her stepmother would be angry over her carelessness. Refusing to take new ghee from Karna, the child insisted that she wanted the same ghee. Taking pity on her, Karna took the soil mixed with ghee in his fist and squeezed it with all his might, so that the ghee dripped back into the pot. During this process, Karna heard the agonized voice of a woman. When he opened his fist, he realized that the voice was that of Bhoomidevi, the Earth goddess. She furiously chastised Karna for inflicting enormous pain on Mother Earth for the sake of a mere child and cursed him that at a very crucial moment in battle, his chariot wheel would be trapped as tightly as he had held that fistful of soil.
Friendship with Duryodhana
To display the skills of the Kuru princes, guru Dronacharya arranged a friendly tournament. His student Arjuna, third of the Pandava brothers, was shown to be a particularly gifted archer. Karna arrived at this tournament uninvited and surpassing Arjuna's feats, challenged him to a duel. Kripacharya refused Karna his duel, asking first for his clan and kingdom; for according to the rules of duelling, only a prince could challenge Arjuna to a duel. Duryodhana, the eldest of the one-hundred sons of the king Dhritarashtra, knew that his cousins Pandavas were better at warfare. Seeing Karna as a chance to get on even terms with them he immediately offered Karna the throne of the kingdom of Anga, making him a king and hence eligible to fight a duel with Arjuna. Neither of them knows that Karna is in fact Kunti's oldest son, born to (sun god) Surya. When Karna asked him what he could do to repay him, Duryodhana told him that all he wanted was his friendship.
Karna was a loyal and true comrade to Duryodhana. He helped him while he took Princess Bhanumati (Mahabharata) of Kalingas in chariot to marry by battling with the rest of the suitors (many legendary rulers like Shishupala, Jarasandh, Bhishmaka, Vakra, Kapotaroman, Nila, Rukmi, Sringa, Asoka, Satadhanwan etc attended the ceremony) and easily defeated the pursuing Kings, who dejected and abandoned their pursuing after seeing his fighting prowess of Karna to protect his friend . Following his accession to the throne of Anga, Karna took an oath that anyone who approached him with a request, when he worshipped the sun, would not leave empty-handed. Later after Pandavas were in exile, Karna took up the task of establishing Duryodhana as the Emperor. He commanded army that marched to different parts of the country to subjugate kings and made them swear allegiance to Duryodhana, the king of Hastinapur or else die in battle. In this military adventure, Karna waged wars and reduced to submission numerous kingdoms 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, the Ashmakas, the Rishikas and numerous others including mlecchas and the forest tribes.
Duryodhana's greater faith in Karna
Karna, and duryadhana's wife, Bhanumati were playing a game of dice. The stake between them was substantial. As the game progressed, it was evident that Karna was winning and Bhanumathi was losing. Just then Duryodhana entered his queen's chamber. Karna had his back to the door while Bhanumathi was facing it. Seeing her husband coming, she was about to stand up. As she was just rising, Karna, thinking that she was trying to get away from the embarrassment of certain defeat in the game, snatched at her drape, studded with pearls. Tugged at by Karna's powerful hands, the thread snapped and all the pearls rolled on the floor. Queen Bhanumathi was stunned and did not know what to say or do. She was afraid that, for no fault of hers, she would be misunderstood by her husband. Seeing her shocked state and sensing that something was wrong, Karna turned round and saw his friend Duryodhana. He was also deeply shocked and distressed beyond words. Here he was, in the royal chamber, playing a game of dice with his friend's wife and, as if this was not enough, he had the audacity to catch her clothes, thus embarrassing and endangering her chaste reputation. He stood dumbfounded and transfixed. Surely, Duryodhana would not tolerate such immodesty. He readied himself for the inevitable punishment. As both Karna and Bhanumati look down sheepishly, unable to meet Duryodhana's eyes, the Kaurava scion only asks: "Should I just collect the beads, or string them as well." Both Karna and Bhanumati had misjudged him. He had implicit faith and great love for his queen and greater was his faith on his friend Karna. He does not suspect, does not get angry with Karna but helps him in picking up the pearls.
Hostilities with Pandavas
When the Kuru Princes come of age, a tournament is held to display their strength. When Arjuna was hailed as a master of archery by Drona, a young Karna questions the decision and challenges Arjuna for a duel. Karna easily matched Arjuna's feats but due to his low birth, Karna is not allowed to fight Arjuna. He is further insulted by Bhima by comparing him to a stray dog, for his mixed caste and lineage. This incident marks the beginning of a feud between Karna and Pandavas. Karna was invited for Draupadi's swayamvara, or her choosing of a marriage partner, based on the victory in an archery contest. Unlike most other contenders, he was easily able to wield and string the bow. But there too he was insulted by Draupadi as she refused to accept a "suta-putra" - son of a charioteer - for her husband. Arjuna disguised as a Brahmin was allowed to compete though and won Draupadi's hand and Drupada accepted Arjuna as his son-in-law. Seeing this Karna's feelings of hostility increased and when the groom turned out to be Arjuna, the rivalry with him was further intensified.
After Shakuni won a game of dice by trickery, Draupadi, now queen to all five sons of King Pandu, including Arjuna, was dragged into the court by Dushasana. Vikarna a brother of Duryodhan protests this situation. But Karna says that " ....the gods have ordained only one husband for one woman. This Draupadi, however, hath many husbands. Therefore, certain it is that she is an unchaste woman. To bring her, therefore, into this assembly attired though she be in one piece of cloth--even to uncover her is not at all an act that may cause surprise. Whatever wealth the Pandavas had--she herself and these Pandavas themselves,--have all been justly won by the son of Suvala. O Dussasana, this Vikarna speaking words of (apparent) wisdom is but a boy. Take off the robes of the Pandavas as also the attire of Draupadi." After this humiliation Bhima, another of the Pandava brothers, vowed that he would personally slaughter Duryodhana and his brothers in battle. Arjuna subsequently swore to kill Karna.
Prelude to war
Following failed peace negotiations with Duryodhana, Krishna is driven back to the Pandavas by Karna. Krishna then revealed to Karna that he is the eldest son of Kunti, and therefore, technically, the eldest Pandava. Krishna implored him to change sides and assures him that Yudhisthira would give the crown of Indraprastha to him; Draupadi who rejected him earlier will become his wife. Shaken from the discovery, Karna still refuses these offers over Duryodhana's friendship. Krishna is saddened, but appreciating Karna's sense of loyalty, accepted his decision, promising Karna that his lineage would remain a secret. In addition, Karna was elated to learn that his true father was none other than Surya.
Indra, the king of the (Devas) and the father of Arjuna, realized that Karna would be invincible in battle and unable to be killed as long as he had his kavach and kundal. He approaches Karna as a poor Brahmin during Karna's sun-worship. Surya warned Karna of Indra's intentions, but Karna thanked Surya and explained that he was bound by his word and could not send anyone from his door empty-handed. When Indra approaches, Karna reveals that he knew the Brahmin's true identity but assured that he would never turn anyone away. Cutting the armor and earrings off his body, Karna handed them to Indra. For Karna's generosity Indra decided to reward him and Karna asked for Indra's powerful weapon, the Vasavi shakti. Indra granted the boon, with the stipulation that Karna could only use the weapon once.
As war approached, Kunti met Karna and in desperation to keep her children alive asked Karna to join the Pandavas. But Karna denies the offer again. Knowing that Arjuna was under the divine aegis of Krishna he would be invincible. Knowing that Karna will fight against Arjuna with a motive to kill, Kunti extracted couple of promises from Karna that he will not kill any of the Pandavas and against Arjuna he will not use a same celestial weapon twice. This particular request by Kunti as suggested by Lord Krishna led to the death of Karna in the war as he did not use Nagastra and Rudra-astra twice against Arjuna. Lord Krishna knew that Lord Parasurama gifted entire celestial weapons to Karna and Arjuna don't have any counter to many of these weapon. Karna requested his mother to keep their relationship a secret till his death as pandava brothers will not fight against their own brother if she reveals the truth to them, due to dharma and after his death she is supposed to reveal his birth identity to everyone and also promised that at the end of war she would still have five sons.
Bhishma was appointed as the commander-in-chief of the Kaurava army. But giving the reason that Karna had humiliated Draupadi and disrespected his guru Parshuram, Bhishma refused to take him in the Kaurava army. He secretly knew of Karna’s lineage and hence did not want him to fight his own brother. Only after Bhishma fell on the eleventh day did Karna enter the war. Dronacharya took the commander-in-chief position on twelfth day and the thirteenth day ended with Abhimanyu’s (Arjun’s son) death in the specially organized Chakravyuha/Padmavyuha formation.
Uncharacteristically, the battle on fourteenth day extended into the dark hours. Taking advantage of that, Krishna introduced Ghatotkacha, Bhima’s half-Asura son, as asuras gained extraordinary power at night time. Ghatotkacha’s destroyed the Kaurava force and also injured Dronacharya. Seeing the desperate situation, Karna used his Vasava Shakti, that was the boon from Indra, against Ghatotkacha, thus killing him. Krishna however was pleased with the fact that the powerful weapon could not be used against Arjuna in future as Karna had only one chance to use it.
Karna Parva, the eighth book of the Mahābhārata, describes sixteenth and seventeenth days of the Kurukshetra war where post Dronacharya’s death Karna took over as the commander-in-chief. Anticipating a likely battle to the death between Karna and Arjuna, Krishna warned Arjuna calling Karna to be the foremost of the heroes.
|“||Hear in brief, O son of Pandu! I regard the mighty Karna as thy equal, or perhaps, thy superior! In energy he is equal to fire. As regards speed, he is equal to the impetuosity of the wind. In wrath, he resembles the Destroyer himself. Endued with might, he resembles a lion in the formation of his body. He is eight ratnis in stature. His arms are large. His chest is broad. He is invincible. He is sensitive. He is a hero. He is, again, the foremost of heroes. He is exceedingly handsome. Possessed of every accomplishment of a warrior, he is a dispeller of the fears of friends. No one, not even the Gods with Vasava at their head, can slay the son of Radha. No one possessed of flesh and blood, not even the Gods fighting with great care, not all the warriors (of the three worlds) fighting together can vanquish the son of the chariot-rider.||”|
As promised to Kunti, Karna aimed at killing only Arjuna. On the sixteenth day, he fought with all the Pandava brothers but Arjuna and spared each one of them. After defeating them, he ordered his charioteer Shalya to move towards Arjuna. He used Nagastra, the same celestial weapon that was used by Indrajith against Rama in Ramayana, in an attempt to kill Arjuna, but Krishna saved Arjuna from certain death by lowering their chariot wheel into the earth. Karna and Arjuna then waged a rough war against each other. As promised to Kunti, Karna used a celestial weapon only once against Arjuna. Karna had a chance to kill Arjuna but spared the latter as the sun was about to set.
On the seventeenth day of battle the two foes faced each other once more. This battle between Arjuna and Karna is perhaps the most cataclysmic and awesome of the great epic. The warriors on the battlefield and the devas in heaven watched the battle in speechless amazement and terrified admiration of the strength and skill of these greatest of warriors. On the seventeenth day, Karna cut the string of Arjuna’s bow many times. The epic states that initially, the battle was even between the two foes, but then Karna's chariot wheel was trapped in the mud as a result of the curse he received earlier from a Brahmin. He still defended himself, but at the crucial moment forgot the incantations to invoke Brahmanda astra, as a result of his guru Parshurama's curse. Karna got down from his chariot to free the wheel and asked Arjuna to pause, reminding him of the etiquette of war. But Krishna reminded Arjuna of all the incidents - Abhimanyu’s death, the Laksha-Griha conspiracy, Draupadi’s insult and others - and attacked Karna while he was trying to lift his sunken chariot wheel. Karna defended himself and invoked Rudraastra against Arjuna and this astra hit Arjuna on his chest. Arjuna lost his grip on his bow, Gandiva, which fell down from his hand for the first time and Arjuna fell down in a swoon. Following the rules of engagement of war, Karna did not try to kill him but instead tried to utilize the time in extracting the wheels of his chariot. Arjuna recovered and using the Anjalika weapon decapitated the weaponless Karna, who was still trying to lift the sunken chariot wheel. Though it was highly forbidden according to the rules of engagement of the war to attack a weaponless warrior or to attack an enemy from the back, Arjuna was spurred by Lord Krishna to do so. It was later revealed that Karna could be killed only when all the 3 curses acted upon him, and this made Krishna employ deceit to kill Karna.
Later, when it was revealed that Karna was actually Arjuna's older brother, Arjuna became haunted by Karna's killing, and took it upon himself to treat Vrishakethu, Karna's only remaining son, with great care.
Another part of this event is that Karna's guru Parasurama appears in Karna's dream during the period of the Kurukshetra War and when Karna asks him to release him from Parasurama's curse, Parashurama revealed that he had known all along Karna was a Kshatriya, but because he was a worthy student Parashurama had instructed him regardless. The avatar explained to Karna that the Brahmanda astra had to fail him when he needed it most. If he killed Arjuna, Duryodhana would be king instead of Yudhishthira, and chaos would ensue. Parashurama asked Karna to accept his curse and asked him to die at the hands of Arjuna,so that the world might live in peace. Karna accepted his gurus words and in return the grateful guru, Parashurama blessed Karna with immortal glory and everlasting fame. Also,Lord Krishna asks Karna to accept the above destiny to enable Dharma to triumph.Thus Karna submits to be killed by Arjuna so that Dharma may triumph.
In some versions as Karna lay dying on the battlefield, his father Surya and Arjuna's father Indra fell into a debate as to who among their sons was superior and decided to test Karna's generosity and appeared before him as Brahmins asking for alms. Karna said that at this point he had nothing to give them while one of the Brahmins remark that he has some gold in his teeth which could be of use to them. Karna on realizing this promptly took a stone and broke his teeth handing them over to the Brahmins,thus proving his superiority. In other versions of the epic, Krishna appears as a Brahmin and asks for Karna's punya or merit and once Karna gifted his life's Punya to him, Krishna rewarded Karna with the Darshan of Krishna's Vishwaroopa. Karna's wife Vrushali went sati on Karna's pyre after his death. A play is staged in South India known as Kattaikkuttu which is based on the events that occurred in Karna's life on the day of his death.
Following the end of the war, Tarpan vidhi were performed for all the fallen. Kunti then requested her sons to perform the rites for Karna and revealed the truth of his birth. The brothers were shocked to find that they had committed fratricide. Yudhishtira, in particular, was furious with his mother and laid a curse upon all women that they should never thereafter be able to keep a secret. Other versions claim Kunthi and Karna's foster mother Radha become aware that he is dying and rush to his side.His birth is then revealed to the Pandavas and Kauravas and the Pandavas perform Karna's final rites.(In this version,no boon is requested by anyone as Karna lies dying)
Ascension to svarga
The Mahabharata mentions that after his death in the Kurukshetra war, Karna's soul ascended to Suryalok (the abode of his father, Sun god), and along with his sons and "attained" the "state" of a god.
According to the Mahabharata, Karna was married to Vrushali. He had nine sons; Vrishasena, Vrishaketu, Chitrasena, Satyasena, Sushena, Shatrunjaya, Dvipata, Banasena and Prasena; eight of them took part in the Kurukshetra war. Prasena was killed by Satyaki, Shatrunjaya, Vrishasena and Dvipata by Arjuna, Banasena by Bhima, Chitrasena, Satyasena and Sushena by Nakula. Vrishakethu was his only son who survived the war as he was too young to participate in the war. After the war when Pandavas were made aware of Karna's lineage, Vrishakethu was offered to be the King of Indraprasth, being the son of their eldest brother. He was under the patronage of Arjuna and took part in various battles that preceded the Ashvamedh yagna.
Themes and analysis
Within the various Hindu mythologies, Karna draws resemblance with various other characters. The attributed author of Mahabharata, sage Vyasa, is also noted to be born from an unwed union of Satyavati and sage Parashara, just the way Karna is born before Kunti's marriage. Philologist Georges Dumézil also compares him with his father Surya in the sense that he too has two mothers, Kunti and Radha, just the way Surya in Vedas has two mothers, the night and the dawn. German indologist Georg von Simson, notes the similarities in the names of Karna and of the Kumbhakarna, the demon brother of the main antagonist Ravana of the epic Ramayana. He also notes that both Karna and Kumbhakarna did not take part in the great wars of their respective epics at the start. Scholars internationally have also drawn parallels with various European mythologies. Karna's kawach (armour) has been compared with that of Achilles's Styx-coated body and with Irish warrior Ferdiad's horny skin that could not be pierced. He has been compared to the Greek character Achilles on various occasions as they both have powers but lack status.
Secondary literature and media
Rabindranath Tagore wrote a poem, "Karna Kunti Sangbad" based on the meeting of Karna and Kunti before the war. Karna also has been topic of various contemporary literary works. The Marathi books of Radheya (1973) authored by Ranjit Desai and Mrityunjay (1967) authored by Shivaji Sawant bring forth Karna's private and personal life on paper. Sawant also received Moortidevi Award, instituted by Bharatiya Jnanpith, for his work and was translated into nine languages. Ramdhari Singh Dinkar in 1978 published an epic poem Rashmirathi (translation: One who rides the Chariot of light, 1952) which narrates Karna's life. The poem has later also been adapted as play.
Film and theater
The 1964 epic Tamil film Karnan depicted his life and friendship with Duryodhana, starring Sivaji Ganesan in title role. In 1977, the Telugu movie Daana Veera Soora Karna starred the Indian film actor, director and producer N. T. Rama Rao. Shyam Benegal's 1981 film Kalyug adapted the Mahabharat as a conflict between rival business houses with Shashi Kapoor playing Karan, the character based on Karna. One of the songs from the 1991 Indian movie Thalapathi, based upon the friendship between Karna and Duryodhana, has been voted number 4 in the BBC's 'World's Top Ten Revealed' worldwide music poll. In Peter Brook's filmed version of the epic (1989), Karna was played by British actor Jeffery Kissoon. Recently in 2010, Prakash Jha directed the Bollywood film Raajneeti, a fictional adaptation of the Mahabharata, set within a backdrop of Indian politics and starring the actor Ajay Devgan, playing a character based on Karna. Karna was portrayed by Pankaj Dheer in 1988, in the television series Mahabharat, for which he is popularly known. Aham Sharma portrayed the role of Karna in the Mahabharat (2013 TV series) and won the award for Best Actor Supporting at Indian Telly Awards for the same role.
South Indian film actor Mohanlal performed Karna on the stage in Karnabharam, a Sanskrit play that was premiered in New Delhi in 2001 as part of the Bharat Rang Mahotsav directed by Kavalam Narayana Panicker. The play depicts Karna's mental agony a day before the Kurukshetra War, as he thinks about his past and his faith.
- Ganguli, Kisari Mohan. The Mahabharata, Book 7: Drona Parva. Netlancers Inc, 2014.
- Ganguli, Kisari Mohan. The Mahabharata, Book 3: Vana Parva. Netlancers Inc, 2014.
- "Karnal". District of Karnal. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Website dedicated to the story of Karna
- James L. Fitzgerald (2003). The Mahabharata, Volume 7: Book 11: The Book of the Women Book 12: The Book of Peace. University of Chicago Press. p. 173. ISBN 0226252507.
- Text Archive, Internet Sacred. "Mahabharat : Adi Parva-Sambhava Parva; SECTION CXXXVIII". Internet Sacred Text Archive. Evinity Publishing INC.
- MBH 8.8.18–20.
- "Vaisampayana continued, 'When the spectators, made way for that subjugator of hostile cities, Karna, that hero with his natural mail and face brightened with ear-rings, took up his bow and girded on his sword, and then entered the spacious lists, like a walking cliff. That far-famed destroyer of hostile hosts, the large-eyed Karna, was born of Pritha in her maidenhood. He was a portion of the hot-beamed Sun and his energy and prowess were like unto those of the lion, or the bull, or the leader of a herd of elephants. In splendour he resembled the Sun, in loveliness the Moon, and in energy the fire. Begotten by the Sun himself, he was tall in stature like a golden palm tree, and, endued with the vigour of youth, he was capable of slaying a lion. Handsome in features, he was possessed of countless accomplishments. And that foremost of eloquent men, the offspring of the Sun, in a voice deep as that of the clouds, addressed the son of (Indra) saying, 'O Partha, I shall perform feats before this gazing multitude; excelling all thou hast performed! Beholding them, thou shall be amazed.' And, O tiger among men, Duryodhana was filled with delight, while Vibhatsu was instantly all abashment and anger. Then with the permission of Drona, the mighty Karna, delighting in battle, there did all that Partha had done before. 'Arjuna, after this, deeming himself disgraced, said unto Karna, 'That path which the unwelcome intruder and the uninvited talker cometh to, shall be thine, O Karna, for thou shall be slain by me. Karna replied, 'This arena is meant for all, not for thee alone, O Phalguna! They are kings who are superior in energy; and verily the Kshatriya regardeth might and might alone. What need of altercation which is the exercise of the weak? O Bharata, speak then in arrows until with arrows I strike off thy head today before the preceptor himself! And beholding both the warriors with bows strung in their hands Kripa, addressed Karna, saying 'This Pandava, who is the youngest son of Kunti, belongeth to the Kaurava race: he will engage in combat with thee. But, O mighty-armed one, thou too must tell us thy lineage and the names of thy father and mother and the royal line of which thou art the ornament. Learning all this, Partha will fight with thee or not (as he will think fit). Sons of kings never fight with men of inglorious lineage.' 'When he was thus addressed by Kripa, Karna's countenance became like unto a lotus pale and torn with the pelting showers in the rainy season. Duryodhana said, 'O preceptor, verily the scriptures have it that three classes of persons can lay claim to royalty, viz., persons of the blood royal, heroes, and lastly, those that lead armies. If Phalguna is unwilling to fight with one who is not a king, I will install Karna as king of Anga.'..... http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m01/m01139.htm
- THE MAHABHARATA, BOOK1, ADI PARVA: SAMBHAVA PARVA, translated by KM Ganguli :......"Vaisampayana said, 'After this, with his sheet loosely hanging down, Adhiratha entered the lists, perspiring and trembling, and supporting himself on a staff. Seeing him, Karna left his bow and impelled by filial regard bowed down his head still wet with the water of inauguration. And then the charioteer addressed Karna crowned with success as his son. And the charioteer embraced Karna and from excess of affection bedewed his head with tears, that head still wet with the water sprinkled over it on account of the coronation as king of Anga. Seeing the charioteer, the Pandava Bhimasena took Karna for a charioteer's son, and said by way of ridicule, 'O son of a charioteer, thou dost not deserve death in fight at the hands of Partha. As befits thy race take thou anon the whip. And, O worst of mortals, surely thou art not worthy to sway the kingdom of Anga, even as a dog doth not deserve the butter placed before the sacrificial fire.' Karna, thus addressed, with slightly quivering lips fetched a deep sigh, looked at the God of the day in the skies.".......
- Ganguli, KM. THE MAHABHARTA, BOOK1, ADI PARVA, SAMBHA PAVA CONTINUED. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
- "Yajnasena always cherished the desire of bestowing his daughter on Kiriti (Arjuna), the son of Pandu. But he never spoke of it to anybody. And, O Janamejaya, the king of Panchala thinking of Arjuna caused a very stiff bow to be made that was incapable of being bent by any except Arjuna. Causing some machinery to be erected in the sky, the king set up a mark attached to that machinery. And Drupada said, 'He that will string this bow and with these well-adorned arrows shoot the mark above the machine shall obtain my daughter.' 'With these words king Drupada proclaimed the swayamvara......Adorned with crowns, garlands, bracelets, and other ornaments, endued with mighty arms, possessed of prowess and vigour and bursting with strength and energy, those princes could not, string that bow of extraordinary stiffness. And (some amongst) those kings in exerting with swelling lips each according to his strength, education, skill, and energy,--to string that bow, were tossed on the ground and lay perfectly motionless for some time. Their strength spent and their crowns and garlands loosened from their persons, they began to pant for breath and their ambition of winning that fair maiden was cooled. Tossed by that tough bow, they began to utter exclamations of woe. And that assemblage of monarchs, their hope of obtaining Krishna gone, looked sad and woeful. And beholding the plight of those monarchs, Karna that foremost of all wielders of the bow went to where the bow was, and quickly raising it strung it and placed the arrows on the string. And beholding the son of Surya--Karna of the Suta tribe--like unto fire, or Soma, or Surya himself, resolved to shoot the mark, those foremost of bowmen--the sons of Pandu--regarded the mark as already shot and brought down upon the ground. But seeing Karna, Draupadi loudly said, 'I will not select a Suta for my lord.' Then Karna, laughing in vexation and casting glance at the Sun, threw aside the bow already drawn to a circle......"
- "The Mahabharata, Book 2: Sabha Parva: Section LXII". Sacred-texts.com.
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- Parashurama#Fate of Karna
- The Mahabharat:BOOK 8-KARNA PARVA : Thus cut off with that Anjalika, the trunk of Karna fell down on the earth. The head also of that commander of the (Kaurava) army, endued with splendour equal to that of the risen sun and resembling the meridian sun of autumn, fell down on the earth like the sun of bloody disc dropped down from the Asta hills. Indeed, that head abandoned with great unwillingness the body, exceedingly beautiful and always nursed in luxury, of Karna of noble deeds, like an owner abandoning with great unwillingness his commodious mansion filled with great wealth. Cut off with Arjuna's arrow, and deprived of life, the tall trunk of Karna endued with great splendour, with blood issuing from every wound, fell down like the thunder-riven summit of a mountain of red chalk with crimson streams running down its sides after a shower. Then from that body of the fallen Karna a light passing through the welkin penetrated the sun. This wonderful sight, O king, was beheld by the human warriors after the fall of Karna.
- Ganguli, Kisari Mohan. "The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa; Book 8- KARNA PARVA". Internet Sacred Text Archive. Evinity Publishing INC,. Archived from the original on 2 January 2015. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
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