karna- a great hero and warrior of mahabharata.
March 26, 2007 11:48am CST
ntroduction A great hero of the 'Mahabharata'. Karna lived such a life that he became another name for generosity and loyalty. It was his misfortune to be shunned as a person of low caste. To him loyalty was more important than the emperor's throne. He sacrificed his life for his master. Karna - A Great Hero Of 'Mahabharata'. KARNA The Ganga was flowing full to the brim. An old man stood on the bank. He made obeisance with folded hands to the sun that was just rising. He prayed as usual: "Oh Sun God! You give light to the whole world. I have no children and my life is miserable. Have mercy on me. Grant me a child. Bestow light on my life." A Treasure on the Waves As the prayer ended, Adhiratha's eyes were filled with tears. This was not the first time all this had happened. Every day he would pray like this, He was already becoming old. He thought perhaps God had not heard his prayer at all. Adhiratha was about to leave. Then he saw something floating. Adhiratha stood still. The object was floating towards him. When it came near him Adhiratha bent down. Lo, it was a large basket! Inside, on a soft cushion, there was a child. It wore Shining armor; it had a glowing ear ornament. The Child was lovely; it shone like a miniature sun. Adhiratha was overwhelmed with surprise, pity and joy. At once he picked up the child from the basket. Tears of joy flowed from his eyes profusely. How strange! He had found a child just where he had stood in prayer! Did it mean that God had heard his prayer? Poor child, to whom does it belong? What did it matter! In future it would be his, and only his. Adhiratha joyfully took child in his arms and went home. Radha was Adhiratha's wife. Like her husband she was also pining for a child. When she saw the child she could not contain her joy. They brought up the child lovingly. They named the child Vasushena. But the name Karna stuck to the child. "I Must Become His Disciple" Karna grew up to be a boy. He was brighter than his friends, stronger and more determined. Even as a boy he liked bows and arrows. He was far ahead of others in archery and in marksmanship. Those who watched him were surprised. "He is so young, but already so intelligent and so sure of his aim!" they said. Karna wished to improve his mastery of archery. He longed to become an outstanding archer and a great warrior. But he needed a teacher to train him, didn't he? He was looking for such a teacher. Once when he was talking to somebody, the great Parashurama's name was mentioned. Karna asked: "Who is Parashurama?" "He is the son of the sage Jamadagni. Although a sage, he is an outstanding warrior. "Who is Parashurama?" "How is that?" "He has gone round the whole country twenty-one times. No Kshatriya could vanquish him. When he lifts his bow the whole world trembles. He knows the intricacies of archery. Do you know what people say about him?" "What do they say?" "He is the very embodiment of the art of archery. He is God born on this earth to wipe out injustice." When Karna heard this, admiration and respect for Parashurama grew in him. He wished to become the disciple of such a great man and learn archery only from him. But there was one nagging doubt: would Parashurama accept him as his disciple? Parashurama's Disciple Karna made bold and went to the hermitage of Parashurama. He prostrated before him. Parashurama asked: "Who are you, Child?” "They call me Karna." "Why did you come to me?" "You are regarded as a matchless and outstanding warrior. You know the intricacies of archery. I wish to become your pupil. Do not reject me." When he observed Karna's humility and love of learning, Parashurama took pity on him. As Parashurama desired Karna gladly demonstrated his skill. Parashurama was surprised at his dexterity andconcentration. He felt Karna's skill was beyond his years. He also felt that Karna deserved to be his pupil. He agreed to teach Karna the art of archery. Karna was overjoyed. In those days only Kshatriyas and Brahmins were allowed to stay with and learn archery from a teacher. Parashurama hated that Kshatriyas. Therefore he had decided to teach archery only to Brahmins. He thought Karna was a Brahmin. And Karna refrained from telling him that he was not a Brahmin. Karna's training proceeded without any hindrance. He would grasp his teacher's instructions instantly. He would carry them out perfectly, at the first attempt. Thus Karna grasped the technique of archery from the teacher. And he served his teacher with affection. Quite some time passed. The Curse of Parashurama One afternoon Parashurama was somewhat tired. He rested with his head in Karna's lap. He fell asleep. At that time a bee flew in from somewhere. Flying hither and thither it settled on Karna's thigh. Within a few minutes it began to bore Karna's thigh. Karna could not attempt to drive it away. Even a slight movement of his thigh would disturb his master. So inspire of the increasing pain Karna sat still. He thought that his suffering did not matter if the teacher's sleep was not to be disturbed. The bee continued to bore Karna's thigh. Blood began to ooze from the thigh. The blood touched Parashurama's cheek. He woke up. He was taken aback and said: "What is this, child? Where did so much blood come from?" Karna explained what had happened. Asked Parashurama: "Did you put up with so much pain without a murmur?" "The pain did not seem unbear able to me." Parashurama was surprised. He looked at Karna from head to foot. He had all along assumed that Karna was a Brahmin boy. But a soft-bodied Brahmin could not have endured so much pain. Karna was not a Brahmin. Parashurama suspected strongly that Karna was a Kshatriyas. Angrily he spoke to Karna in a harsh voice: "You, Karna I" "Yes, master?" "Tell me the truth, who are you? Have you not hidden something from me?" "What have I hidden, I do not "Are you a Brahmin boy? Tell me, tell me the truth." Karna did not reply. He stood silent, with his head bowed. He had assumed that he was really the son of Adhiratha whobrought him up, Adhiratha was a charioteer. He Karna, was a charioteer's son; neither a Brahmin nor a Kshatriyas. What answer could he give to his teacher? He was Miserable and filled with fear. Karna's silence convinced Parashurama that his suspicion was confirmed. Karna's modesty, courage, reverences for the teacher and love of learning- he forgot all in his wrath. "You, boy! Have you not deceived your teacher and received training? I have taught you the use of mighty weapons; but when you most need this knowledge may you forget it all!" So Parashurama cruelly cursed Karna. Karna felt as if the ground on which he stood gave way. He had hurt his teacher's feelings. Besides he had acquired the curse by which he would forget all he had learnt, when he needed it next, he left Parashurama's hermitage. In Hastinavati The education of the princes, the Pandavas and the Kauravas, in archery had just concluded. A display of their skill had been arranged. This news reached Karna. He went there, curious to see the exhibition of the skill of archery by the princes. There was a large field outside the capital Hastinavati City. A stadium had been constructed there. In the center there was a huge arena. The rest of the stadium was for the spectators. There was a huge gathering of people to witness the display. Members of the royal family were also there. The display began. The princes gave an exhibition of riding swift horses. They performed strangle feats of horse riding. They drove chariots in breath-taking ways. They sat on elephants and fought. They swung and brandished swords in various ways and showed a variety of tricks. Arjuna all by himself gave an effortless display of archery. He showed the use of mighty arrows, which amazed the audience. Everybody began to praise him: "There is nobody to equal Arjuna. He is supreme in archery." I shall display for greater mastery than yours. "Partha, Do Not be proud" At that time there was a sound of thunder near the door. The people turned to look. A youth was striking his arms as if in challenge and advancing. His radiance, his well-built body, his tall stature, his bright armor and ear-ornament-all dumbfounded the people. A murmur rose on all sides: The youth who had stepped forward was none other than Karna. When he came to the arena he turned towards Arjuna and said: "You, Partha, do not think that there is no better archer than you and be puffed up with vanity. I shall display far greater mastery than your." So saying, Karna demonstrated his skill. He shot the Parjanya weapon into the sky and brought down rain; with the Vayavya weapon he checked the rain. By Agneya weapon he checked the rain. By Aneya weapon he kindled fire, and with the Varuna weapon he put it out. Into the mouth of a swiftly turning metallic figure of a boar he drove five arrows. He shot an Antardhana weapon, which made him disappear; swiftly he appeared in another part of the arena. After their display he took a mace and showed in how many ways he could wield it. People were astounded at this superb mastery. There was uproar on every side. The wheel of his chariot would not move up in spite of krna's best efforts The King of Anga Hardly was the display over when Duryondhana raced to the arena, embraced Karna and said, "You matchless warrior, your Valor and knowledge of arms have overwhelmed me. Here, my kingdom and I are all yours. Tell me what you desire. I want to fulfil your wish at once." In reply said Karna: "Maharaja, I do not want anything else. Your friendship and a bout of archery with Arjuna: These are the only two I want." Duryondhana said, "If so, your wishes are as good as fulfilled. From today you are my bosom friend; you are my equal. Need I fear anybody in future?" All this tal