Karna-the Real Hero of Mahabharata, the World's Greatest Epic From India (Part Iii)
The war began. The Kurukshetra war or the Mahabharata war. The world’s greatest war between two super powers- the Pandavas and the Kauravas. On the war front, Kauravas outnumbered Pandavas. But the Pandavas were least bothered. And why should they, when they have Lord Krishna on their side. His mere presence itself would give them extra energy and confidence.
The war progressed each day under the commandership of great leaders. And came Karna’s role when Bhishma fell. Before taking control of the war for the Kaurava camp, Karna went to meet the great Bhishma, who was lying on a bed of arrows in a corner of the battlefield. He was waiting for the northward turn of the Sun, an auspicious time, to die.
When Karna sought the blessing of Bhishma, he replied, “You are the son of Kunti, you must know that the Pandavas have right on their side. So you should join them and I shall tell them the truth. Having known all these truths, I always tried to protect you from joining the war”.
Karna was cool and adamant. He was not ready to betray his side at a crucial juncture. He replied, “I cannot betray Prince Duryodhana. It is he who saved me when I was in trouble. And after all, how I, a Kshatriya, can betray my friend at a battlefield?”
Bhishma was happy on hearing Karna’s words and his loyalty to the Kauravas despite the advantages that may come out of the best offers thrown to him from many quarters. He blessed him. With Bhishma’s blessing, Karna entered the battlefield and took commandership of the Kaurava force.
Karna’s entry had a dramatic change on the war front. It created great confidence among the Kaurava camp. Karna’s war strategies were superb and they fought with great might. The Pandavas suffered great casualties and struggled very much.
Karna Series: Part I & Part II (Links given below)
- Karna-The Real Hero of Mahabharata, The World's Greatest Epic From India (Part I)
Karna is the most tragic character in the great Hindu epic Mahabharata. From his birth onward he faced the cruel fate. He was abandoned by his own mother. His life is a tragic episode of the epic.
- Karna-The Real Hero of Mahabharata, The World's Greatest Epic From India (Part II)
Karna is the most tragic character in the great Hindu epic Mahabharata. From his birth onward he faced the cruel fate. This part explains two incidents that Karna had to suffer as his fate on later part of his life-the story of two curse!
Karna was hopeful of killing Arjuna. He thought he can end the war soon by finishing off Arjuna using his great weapon, the trident gifted to him by Indra. Though he had several chances to kill the other four Pandava brothers, he didn’t take advantage for he had given promise (not to kill them) to Kunti, his real mother.
Lord Krishna’s Role at a Crucial Moment
Lord Krishna was well aware of the strategies of Karna and his plan to kill Arjuna. Krishna thought of saving the life of Arjuna. He decided that Karna should not get an opportunity to use the trident against Arjuna. He designed strategies accordingly.
On the war front, a fierce fight was going on. The sudden entry of Ghatotkacha, Bhima’s son resulted in great casualties to the Pandavas. He made a strong attack and the Kauravas were fearing with trouble. Having found the situation worse, Duryodhana met Karna. He asked him to use the trident against Ghatotkacha.
Thus, Karna was forced to use the most powerful weapon, the trident, which he had kept for killing Arjuna. As the fate of the war (and, of course, his fate too) demanded a sudden action, Karna had no choice but to use the trident. He used it and the giant Ghatotkacha fell. It was happy news for the Kauravas; but surely not for the Karna.
The Arjuna-Karna Duel
Krishna was all smiling as he knew that Karna sans the trident is weak. He did not prevent Arjuna when the latter decided to meet Karna. It was a great moment. Two greatest warriors are meeting on the battle field- Arjuna, the most powerful on the Pandava side and Karna, the most powerful on the Kaurava camp.
Their war began. The arrows rained on both sides. Different types of arrows fired. All so powerful of making heavy damage. Each arrow was met by equally powerful one fired by both the great warriors. The duel was so fierce that it created fire, wind, and water. The whole universe was shaking on its impact. Even the gods too came to witness the great duel. No one can predict who will win the war for it was such a fierce fight between the two great heroes on the war front.
In the second part of this series on Karna, I had narrated two incidents- two cruel fate Karna had to face during his lifetime. He had to suffer the curse of two people. It was pronounced by the great Parasurama and a Brahmin for the mistakes Karna unknowingly committed.
A curse is a curse. It should have its impact at the right time if it is made by some powerful or dignified souls. Whoever great you are, you are bound to suffer if a curse is made against you. No one can escape it. Karna too had no option but to face the cruel fate.
On the war front, even gods too were anxious while watching the fierce battle between Arjuna and Karna. Both were super powers. Then suddenly the tragedy struck. One of the wheels of his chariot sunk into the ground. Then what came to Karna’s mind was the curse of the old Brahmin- “when you are fighting for your life, the wheels of your chariot will sink in the battlefield exactly as the legs of this cow did in the mud."
Karna requested Arjuna time to save his chariot. He asked him to hold his arrow until the recovery is made. The request was out rightly rejected by Arjuna on the compulsion of Krishna. Krishna questioned Karna’s call for maintenance of the rule of fair play at the war front. He asked Karna if the Kauravas applied the principles when Shakuni cheated them at dice. He also asked where these principles were when Abhimanyu (Arjuna’s son) was cornered and killed by a cheat. Krishna even reminded Karna the sad incident of Draupadi’s humiliation at Hastinapur.
Facing the volley of questions and the cruel play of fate, Karna was standing helplessly. He is alone and even without his chariot. On the other hand, Arjuna was under the protection of the mighty Krishna, the Lord.
Krishna was not ready to entertain the request of Karna. He ordered Arjuna to shoot his arrow. Arjuna was waiting for the occasion. He aimed Karna to shoot. Karna was never fearful. He too took his arrow and aimed Arjuna boldly. Arjuna’s arrows were fired at Karna. The brave Karna started to retaliate. But sadly he could not remember the usage of the weapon techniques. Karna’s memory on the proper usage of weapon lost. It was due to the curse of his guru Parasurama that took effect here. He is totally helpless and powerless. His cruel fate played heavily.
Soon things were easy for Krishna and Arjuna. One of Arjuna’s arrows hit Karna’s head. It severed the brave Karna’s head from his neck. The greatest warrior of Mahabharata fell. He died only because of his cruel destiny!
Krishna was well aware of the power of Karna. He was sure that Karna would have killed Arjuna if Karna had not been incapacitated keeping him weaponless. The two incidents that Karna had faced at his prime time was ‘designed’ to control or tame his power. These incidents resulted into the great curse and which finally took the very life of the powerful warrior Karna. The story of Mahabharata is also the story of the brave Karna and his sad destiny. He lives in the hearts of millions of readers even today.
+++++Mahabharata is the greatest epic in the world. Naturally, to extract even some simple stories from this great book, we need to refer and research a lot. I too referred a lot of available materials, both print and electronic, to tell you this story. My thanks to all those known and unknown authors, whose great efforts made my work comparably easier++++++
© 2013 Sunil Kumar Kunnoth