Although born to Yadav Princess Kunti as a result of ‘divine virgin birth,’ with blessings of the Sun God, Karna was raised by a family of charioteers and hence, suffered lifelong humiliation for having lower social status.
His was a life full of trials and tribulations. Had the turn of events, right from his miraculous birth and education to alliance with the Kauravas and death in the battlefield shifted even a bit, this warrior would perhaps have far surpassed Pandavas in popularity.
Here, we present before you a set of 23 lesser known facts about this warrior:
She was afraid that hardly anyone would believe the ‘divine virgin birth’ story. From birth, the child had divine earrings and a vest that would protect him from all dangers, including all kinds of weapons. She prayed to the Sun God to protect their son and lowered the basket into the river.
Only the Kshatriya clan (the warrior class) had this privilege. Adhiratha feared that his son, due to his divine vest & earrings, and a possible superiority in archery over princes, could easily offend the high and mighty in the capital.
The royal preceptor to Kuru princes, Dronacharya even insulted Karna for aspiring to learn military arts alongside the royals despite having come from the family of charioteers. Obviously, the young boy was infuriated. He swore to become a disciple of the one who trained Dronacharya himself. On that very day, he was on his way to Parshurama’s abode.
He faked his identity to become a disciple of Parshurama, a legendary Brahmin warrior who had earlier trained Guru Dronacharya and Pitamah Bheesma.
Although it is hard to believe that a saint and warrior of Parshurama’s stature would get beseeched by Karna, the sage anyhow agreed to train the young boy in military arts.
An honest confession by Karna could not save him from the wrath of Parshurama.
The Brahmin, whose cow had died, cursed Karna – ‘The wheels of your chariot will get stuck in the mud, just like the feet of my cow, when you would need it the most.’ The curse later conjured at the scene of his death.
This was the moment when Parshurama’s curse materialized.
Karna showed up during military arts demonstration by Kauravas and Pandavas in the arena when Dronacharya proclaimed the Pandav prince Arjuna to be the greatest archer on the planet. There was no way Karna could accept Arjuna, a disciple of Dronacharya, to be the greatest archer.
The spectators, royals and elite at the arena insulted Karna for challenging a prince despite having a lower social status.
Duryodhana, sworn enemy of Arjuna and his brothers, saw in Karna a counterweight to Pandavas. He at once declared Karna as the king of a small state, putting concerns regarding his social status to rest.
On this day Karna, although a great archer, was humiliated by one and all in the capital, in front of his foster parents and Kunti, his biological mother.
For having stood by his side, Karna swore to forever serve Duryodhana.
Adhiratha informed Pitamah Bheesma, who in turn headed straight to rescue Kunti and Pandavas. By then, all 6 of them had escaped.
Karna, anyhow, was saved from the sin of partaking in an evil plan, designed to murder his kin.
This is how Karna acquired the name Daanveer – a hero with undying charitable nature.
Even though Karna was well aware of this treacherous plan, he still decided to rip apart the divine vest & earrings and hand them over to Indra, the spiritual father of Arjuna.
No mortal could have had the courage to do what Karna did on the eve of Mahabharata. So, Indra was obliged to reward him with the finest weapon.
Lord Krishna knew well that Karna would use the weapon on Arjuna. The battle on the previous night continued beyond sunset and that’s when Lord Krishna advised Bheema to call in his son, Ghatotkach (a brave warrior who was half demon, half human) to unleash hell on Kaurava army during the wee hours of night.
A helpless Duryodhana had to request Karna to use amogh shakti on Ghatotkach instead. Arjuna’s life was thus saved.
“They might not fight me, if they hear the truth,” he said.
He had several opportunities to kill other four Pandava princes but spared their lives.
The same was disclosed in a story in which Draupadi reveals the names of men she has loved to a tree, in order to save herself from the wrath of a meditating saint.
It was Lord Krishna who performed the last rites of Karna.
In South India, a famous play titled ‘Kattaikkuttu’ is staged on the life events of Karna.
The temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna, for his role of the charioteer in the Kurukshetra war.
It is one of the most popular works of Dinkar. The famous, ‘Do nyay magar to aadha do’ poem is a part of this very novel.
Here at this temple, Karna is believed to have acquired the form of Bee God.