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Long long ago there lived an asura(demon) named Dambhodbhava. He wanted to become immortal and so prayed to the Sun god, Surya. Pleased with his penance, Surya appeared before him. Dambhodbhava asked Surya to make him immortal. But Surya couldnt  grant this boon since anything, anyone who was born on this planet will  have to die. Surya offered him to ask for something else instead of  immortality. Dambhodbhava thought of tricking the sun god and came up  with a cunning request.

He said that he has to be protected by a thousand armors and laid the following conditions:
1. The thousand armors can be broken only by someone who performs penance for a thousand years!
2. Whoever breaks the armor should die immediately!

Surya  was horribly worried. He knew that Dambhodbhava had performed a very  powerful penance and that he could get the entire boon he had asked for.  And Surya had a feeling that Dambhodbhava was not going to use his  powers for good. However having no choice in the matter, Surya granted  Dambhodbhava the boon. But deep down Surya was worried and seeked Lord  Vishnu’s help, Vishnu asked him not to worry and he would save earth by  eliminating adharma.

Dambhodbhava asking for a voon from Surya Dev | Hindu FAQs
Dambhodbhava asking for a voon from Surya Dev


Immediately after getting the boon from  Surya, Dambhodbhava started wrecking havoc on people. People were scared  of fighting with him. There was no way of defeating him. Anybody who  stood in his way was crushed by him. People started calling him  Sahasrakavacha [meaning one who has a thousand armours]. It was around  this time that King Daksha [the father of Sati, the first wife of Shiva]  got one of his daughters, Murti married to Dharma – one of the ‘Manas  putras’ of Lord Brahma, the God of Creation

Murti had also heard  of Sahasrakavacha and wanted to put an end to his menace. So she prayed  to Lord Vishnu to come and help the people. Lord Vishnu pleased with her  appeared before her and said
‘I am pleased with your devotion! I  will come and slay Sahasrakavacha! Because you have prayed to me, you  would be the reason for slaying Sahasrakavacha!’.

Murti gave  birth to not one child, but twins- Narayana and Nara. Narayana and Nara  grew up in the ashrama surrounded by the forests. They were great  devotees of Lord Shiva. The two brothers learnt the art of warfare.The  two brothers were inseparable. What one thought the other was always  able to finish. Both of them trusted each other implicitly and never  questioned the other.

As time went on, Sahasrakavacha started  attacking the forest areas surrounding Badrinath, where both Narayana  and Nara were staying. As Nara was meditating, Narayana went and  challenged Sahasrakavacha for a fight. Sahasrakavacha looked at the calm  eyes of Narayana and for the first time since he got his boon, felt  fear building inside him.

Sahasrakavacha faced the attack of  Narayana and was astounded. He found that Narayana was powerful and had  indeed got a lot of power from the penance of his brother. As the fight  went on, Sahasrakavacha realized that the penance of Nara was giving  Narayana strength. As Sahasrakavacha’s first armour broke he realized  that Nara and Narayana were for all purposes one. They were just two  persons having the same soul. But Sahasrakavacha was not too worried. He  had lost one of his armours. He watched in glee as Narayana dropped  dead, the minute one of his armours broke!

Nara and Narayana | Hindu FAQs
Nara and Narayana

As Narayana fell down  dead, Nara came running towards him. By his years of penance and  pleasing Lord Shiva, he had gained the Maha Mritunjaya mantra – a mantra  which brought back dead to life. Now Nara took the fighting with  Sahasrakavacha while Narayana meditated! After thousand years, Nara  broke another armor and dropped dead while Narayana came back and  revived him. This went on until 999 armors were down. Sahasrakavacha  realized that he could never beat the two brothers and ran away seeking  refuge with Surya. When Nara approached Surya to give him up, Surya did  not since he was protecting his devotee. Nara cursed Surya to be born as  a human for this act and Surya accepted the curse for this devotee.

All  this happened at the end of Treta yuga. Immediately after Surya refused  to part with Sahasrakavacha, the Treta Yuga ended and the Dwapar Yuga  started. To fulfil the promise to destroying Sahasrakavacha, Narayana  and Nara were reborn – this time as Krishna and Arjuna.

Due to  the curse, Dambhodbhava with Surya’s ansh within him was born as Karna,  the eldest son of Kunti! Karna was born with one of armours as a natural  protection, the last one left of Sahasrakavacha.
As Arjuna would  have died if Karna had had the armour, on Krishna’s advise, Indra  [Arjuna’s father] went in disguise and got the last armor of Karna, much  before the war began.
As Karna was actually the monster Dambodbhava  in his previous life, he led a very difficult life to pay for all the  sins committed by him in his past life. But Karna also had Surya, the  Sun God inside him, so Karna was a hero as well! It was Karna’s karma  from his previous life that he had to be with Duryodhana and take part  of the all the evil things he did. But the Surya in him made him brave,  strong, fearless and charitable. It brought him long lasting fame.

Thus after learning the truth about Karna’s previous birth, Pandavas apologised to Kunti and Krishna for lamenting them…

Credits:
Post Credits Bimal Chandra Sinha
Image Credits: To the owners, and Gogle Images

karna from Mahabharata

Karna attaches an arrow to his bow, pulls back and releases – the arrow is aimed at Arjun’s heart.  Krishna, Arjun’s Charioteer, drives by sheer force the chariot into the ground several feet.  The arrow hits Arjun’s headgear and knocks it off. Missing its target – Arjuna’s heart.
Krishna yells, “Wow! Nice shot, Karna.”
Arjuna asks Krishna, ‘Why are you praising Karna?’
Krishna tells Arjun, ‘Look at you! You have Lord Hanuman on the flag of this chariot. You have me as your charioteer. You received the blessings of Ma Durga and your Guru, Dronacharya before the battle, have a loving Mother and an aristocratic heritage. This Karna has nobody, his own charioteer, Salya belittles him, his own Guru (Parusurama) cursed him, his Mother abandoned him when he was born and he has no known heritage.  Yet, look at the battle he’s giving you. Without me and Lord Hanuman on this chariot, where would you be?’

karna
Comparison between Krishna and Karna
on various occasions. Some of them are Myths while some are pure facts.


1. Immediately after Krishna’s birth, he was transported across the river by his father, Vasudeva to be brought up by his step-parents – Nanda & Yasoda
Immediately after Karna’s birth, his Mother – Kunti placed him in a basket on the river. He was transported to his step-parents – Adhiratha & Radha – by the watchful eye of his father, Surya Dev

2.  Karna’s given name was – Vasusena
– Krishna was also called – Vasudeva

3. Krishna’s mother was Devaki, his Step-Mother – Yasoda, His Chief Wife – Rukmini, yet he is remembered mostly for his lila with Radha. ‘Radha-Krishna’
– Karna’s birth mother was Kunti, and even after finding out she was his mother – He told Krishna that he will not be called – Kaunteya – son of Kunti, but will be remembered as Radheya – Son of Radha. Till date, the Mahabharata refers to Karna as ‘Radheya’

4.  Krishna was asked by his people – Yadavas- to become, King. Krishna refused and Ugrasena was King of the Yadavas.
– Krishna asked Karna to become Emperor of India (BharataVarsha- Extending to Pakistan, Bangladesh & Afghanistan at the time), thereby preventing the MahaBharat War.  Krishna argued that Karna being elder to both Yudhisthira & Duryodhana – he would be the rightful heir to the throne. Karna refused the Kingdom on account of principle

5. Krishna broke his vow of not picking up a weapon during the War, when he impulsively rushed at Bhishma Dev with his Chakra.

Krishna rushing towards Bhishma with his Chakra

6. Krishna vowed to Kunti that all 5 Pandavas were under his protection
–          Karna vowed to Kunti that he would spare the lives of 4 Pandavas and battle Arjuna (In the War, Karna had a chance to kill – Yudhisthira, Bhima, Nakula & Sahadeva at different intervals. Yet, he spared their lives)

7. Krishna was born in the Kshatriya caste, yet he played the role of Arjuna’s charioteer in the War
–          Karna was raised in the Suta (Charioteer) caste, yet he played the role of a Kshatriya in the War

8. Karna was cursed to his Death by his Guru – Rishi Parusharam for deceiving him for being a Brahmin (In actuality, Parusharam knew about Karna’s true heritage – however, he also knew the big picture that was to be played out later. Aside from that – along w/ Bhishma Dev, Karna was his favorite disciple)
–          Krishna was cursed to his Death by Gandhari as she felt he allowed the War to unfold and could have done more to prevent it.

9. Draupadi called Krishna her Sakha (Brother) & loved him openly. (Krishna cut his finger from the Sudarshan Chakra and Draupadi immediately tore a piece of cloth from her favorite sari that she was wearing, soaked it in water and  rapidly wrapped it around his finger to stop the bleeding. When Krishna said, ‘That is your favorite Sari!’. Draupadi smiled and shrugged her shoulders as if it was no big deal. Krishna was touched by this – hence when she was being stripped by Dushashana in the Assembly Hall – Krishna by his maya supplied Draupadi with never ending Saris.)
–          Draupadi loved Karna secretly. He was her hidden crush. When Dushashana strips  Draupadi of her sari in the Assembly Hall.  Which Krishna replenished one by one (Bhima had once told Yudhisthira, ‘Brother, do not give Krishna your sins. He multiplies everything.’)

10. Prior to the War, Krishna was looked upon with great respect and reverence.  Even among the Yadavas, they knew Krishna was great, nay The Greatest…yet, they didn’t know his Divinity.  Very few knew for sure who Krishna was. After the War, many Rishis and people were angry with Krishna as they felt he could have prevented the atrocity and millions of deaths.
–          Prior to the War, Karna was looked upon as an instigator and right-hand man of Duryodhana – jealous of the Pandavas. After the war, Karna was looked upon with reverence by the Pandavas, Dhritarashtra & Gandhari. For his endless sacrifice & they were all sad that Karna had to face such ignonimity his whole life

11. Krishna/Karna had an enormous amount of respect for each other.  Karna somehow knew about Krishna’s divinity and surrendered himself to his Lila.  Whereas, Karna surrendered to Krishna & gained glory – Ashwattama could not accept the manner in which his father, Dronacharya was slayed and unleashed a vicious guerrilla warfare against the Panchalas – men, women & children. Ending up being a bigger villain than Duryodhana.

12.  Krishna asked Karna how he knew the Pandavas would Win the MahaBharat War.  To which Karna responded, ‘Kurukshethra is a sacrificial field. Arjuna is the Head Priest, You-Krishna are the presiding deity. Myself (Karna), Bhishma Dev, Dronacharya and Duryodhana are the sacrifice.’
Krishna ended their conversation by telling Karna, ‘You are the best of the Pandavas.’

13. KARNA is the creation of Krishna to show the world the true meaning of sacrifice and to accept your fate. And in spite of all the bad luck or bad times you come across maintain: Your Spirituality, Your Generosity, Your Nobility, Your Dignity and Your Self- Respect and Respect for others.

Arjuna killing Karna Arjuna killing Karna

Post Credits: Aman Bhagat
Image Credits: To the Owner