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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, Warrior of the Sun

Karna’s Naga Ashwasena story is one of the few fascinating story in Mahabharata about Karna’s principles. This incident took place on the seventeenth day of the war of Kurukshetra.

Arjuna had killed Karna’s son, Vrishasena, in order to make Karna experience the pain that he himself had borne when Abhimanyu was brutally executed. But Karna refused to grieve his son’s death and continued to fight Arjuna in order to keep his word and fulfill Duryodhana’s destiny.

Karna, Warrior of the Sun
Karna, Warrior of the Sun

Finally when Karna and Arjuna came face to face, a serpent called Naga Ashwasena secretly entered Karna’s quiver. This serpent was the one whose mother was relentlessly burnt when Arjuna had set Khandava-prastha ablaze. Ashwasena, being in his mother’s womb at that time, was able to save himself from getting charred. Destined to avenge his mother’s death by killing Arjuna, he transformed himself into an arrow and waited his turn. Karna unknowingly released Naga Ashwasena at Arjuna. Realizing that this was no ordinary arrow, Lord Krishna, Arjuna’s charioteer, in his bid to save Arjuna’s life, sunk the wheel of his chariot in the ground by pressing his feet against its floor. This made the Naga, who was speedily advancing like a thunderbolt, miss his target and hit Arjuna’s crown instead, causing it to fall on the ground.
Disheartened, Naga Ashwasena returned to Karna and asked him to fire him towards Arjuna once again, this time making a promise that he would definitely not miss his target. After hearing Ashwasena’s words, this is what the mighty AngaRaj said to him:
karna
“It is beneath my stature as a warrior to shoot the same arrow twice. Find some other way to avenge your family’s death.”
Saddened by Karna’s words, Ashwasena tried to kill Arjuna on his own but failed miserably. Arjuna was able to finish him off in a single stroke.
Who knows what would have happened had Karna released Ashwasena for the second time. He even might have killed Arjuna or at least would have injured him. But he upheld his principles and did not use the presented opportunity. Such was the character of AngaRaj. He was the man of his words and the epitome of morality. He was the ultimate warrior.

Credits:
Post Credits: Aditya Vipradas
Photo Credits: vimanikopedia.in

When Arjun and Duryodhan, had both gone to meet Krishna before Kurukshetra, the former went in later, and seeing the latter at his head, he sat at Krishna’s feet. Krishna woke up and then gave them the choice of either his entire Narayana Sena, or he himself as charioteer on a condition, that he would neither fight nor hold any weapon. And he gave Arjun, the chance to select first, who then choose Krishna as his charioteer. Duryodhan could not believe his fortune, he had wanted the Narayana Sena, and he got it on a platter, he felt Arjun was plain foolish. Little did Duryodhan realize that while he got the physical powers, the mental and spiritual power was with Arjun. There was a reason why Arjun choose Krishna, he was the person who provided the intelligence,the guidance, and he knew the weakness of every warrior in the Kaurava camp.

Krishna as charioteer of Arjuna
Krishna as charioteer of Arjuna

Apart from that the bonding between Arjun and Krishna, goes a long way back too. The entire concept of Nar and Naryana, and the former needing the guidance from the latter. While Krishna had always been the well wisher of the Pandavas, guiding them at all times, he had a special bonding with Arjun, both being great friends. He guided Arjun during the Khandava Dahanam, in his battle with the Gods, and later he ensured his sister Subhadra was married to Arjun, when his brother Balaram wanted to marry her to Duryodhan.


Arjun was the best warrior in the Pandava side, Yudhistir while being the most wise among them, was not exactly a “great warrior”, who could take on Bheeshma, Drona, Kripa, Karna, it was only Arjun who was an equal match to them. Bheem was all brute force, and while that was needed, for physical and mace combat with the likes of Duryodhan and Dushashan, he could not have been effective in handling Bheeshma or Karna. Now while Arjun was the finest warrior ever, he also needed strategic advice, and that was where Krishna came in. Unlike physical combat, battle in archery needed quick reflexes, strategic thought, planning, and this is where Krishna was an invaluable asset.

Krishna as saarthi in mahabharata

Krishna knew that only Arjun could face Bheeshma or Karna or Drona on equal terms, but he also knew that he like any other human beings, had this internal conflict. Arjun faced an internal conflict over fighting with his beloved grandsire Bheeshma or his Guru Drona, to kill or not kill, and that is where Krishna came up with the entire Gita, the concept of Dharma, destiny and doing your duty. In the end it was Krishna’s guidance that made the entire difference to the Kurukshetra war.

There is an incident when Arjuna goes overconfident and then Krishna tells him – “Hey Parth, don’t be overconfident. If I was not here, your chariot would have been blown away long ago due to the damage done by Bheesma, Drona and Karna. You are facing the best athimaharathis of all times and they do not have the armor of Narayana”.

More trivia

Krishna was always closer to Arjuna than Yudishtra. Krishna made his sister marry Arjuna, not Yudishtra, when Balarama planed to have her married to Druyodana. Also, when Aswathama asked for the Sudarshana Chakra from Krishna, Krishna told him that even Arjuna, who was his dearest person in the world, who was even dearer to him than his wives and kids, never asked that weapon. This shows Krishna’s closeness to Arjuna.

Krishna had to protect Arjuna from Vaishnavastra.  Bhagadatta had the Vaishnavastra which would kill the enemy for sure. When Bhagadatta sent that weapon to Kill Arjuna, Krishna stood up and took that weapon around his neck as a Garland. (It was Krishna who gave that Vaishnavastra, the personal astra of Vishnu to Bhagadatta’s mother after Killing Narakasura, who was the father of Bhagadatta.)

Credits: Post Credit Ratnakar Sadasyula
Image Credits: To Original Post

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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

Five thousand years ago, the Kurukshetra war, between the Pandavas and the Kauravas, was the mother of all battles. Nobody could remain neutral. You had to be either on the Kaurava side or the Pandava side. All the kings – hundreds of them – aligned themselves on one side or the other. The king of Udupi however chose to remain neutral. He spoke to Krishna and said, ‘Those who fight battles have to eat. I will be the caterer for this battle.’

Krishna said, ‘Fine. Somebody has to cook and serve so you do it.’ They say over 500,000 soldiers had gathered for the battle. The battle lasted 18 days, and every day, thousands were dying. So the Udupi king had to cook that much less food, otherwise it would go waste. Somehow the catering had to be managed. If he kept cooking for 500,000 people it wouldn’t work. Or if he cooked for less, soldiers would go hungry.

The Udupi king managed it very well. The amazing thing was, every day, the food was exactly enough for all the soldiers and no food was wasted. After a few days, people were amazed, ‘How is he managing to cook the exact amount of food!’ No one could know how many people had died on any given day. By the time they could have taken account of these things, the next day morning would have dawned and again it was time to fight. There was no way the caterer could know how many thousands had died each day, but every day he cooked exactly the volume of food necessary for the rest of the armies. When someone asked him, ‘How do you manage this?’ the Udupi king replied, ‘Every night I go to Krishna’s tent.

Krishna likes to eat boiled groundnuts in the night so I peel them and keep them in a bowl. He eats just a few peanuts, and after he is done I count how many he has eaten. If it’s 10 peanuts, I know tomorrow 10,000 people will be dead. So the next day when I cook lunch, I cook for 10,000 people less. Every day I count these peanuts and cook accordingly, and it turns out right.’ Now you know why Krishna is so nonchalant during the whole Kurukshetra war.
Many of the Udupi people are caterers even today.

Credit: Lavendra Tiwari

Karna, Warrior of the Sun

So here is another story about Karna and his DaanVeerta. He was one of the greatest Daanshur (the one who Donates) ever witnessed by humanbeings.
*Daan(Donation)

Karna, Warrior of the Sun
Karna, Warrior of the Sun


Karna was lying on the battlefield gasping for breath in his last moments. Krishna assumed the form of an indigent Brahmin and approached him wanting to test his generosity and proving it to Arjun. Krishna exclaimed: “Karna! Karna!” Karna asked him: “Who are you, Sir?” Krishna (as the poor Brahmin) replied: “For a long time I have been hearing about your reputation as a charitable person. Today I came to ask you for a gift. You must give me a donation.” “Certainly, I shall give you whatever you want”, replied Karna. “I have to perform the marriage of my son. I want a small quantity of gold”, said Krishna. “Oh what a pity! Please go to my wife, she will give you as much as gold as you need”, said Karna. The “Brahmin” broke into laughter. He said: “For the sake of a little gold have I to go all the way to Hastinapura? If you say, you are not in a position to give me what I ask I shall leave you.” Karna declared: “As long as breath remains in me, I will not say ‘no’ to anyone.” Karna opened his mouth, showed the gold fillings for his teeth and said: “I shall give this to you. You can take them”.

Assuming a tone of revulsion, Krishna said: “What is it you suggest? Do you expect me to break your teeth and take the gold from them? How can I do such a wicked deed? I am a Brahmin.” Immediately, Karna picked up a stone nearby, knocked out his teeth and offered them to the “Brahmin”.

Krishna in his guise as Brahmin wanted to test Karna further. “What? Are you giving me as gift teeth dripping with blood? I cannot accept this. I am leaving”, he said. Karna pleaded: “Swami, please wait for a moment.” Even while he was unable to move, Karna took out his arrow and aimed it at the sky. Immediately rain dropped from the clouds. Cleaning the teeth with the rainwater, Karna offered the teeth with both his hands.

Krishna then revealed his original form. Karna asked: “Who are you, Sir”? Krishna said: “I am Krishna. I admire your spirit of sacrifice. In any circumstance you have never given up your spirit of sacrifice. Ask me what you want.” Beholding Krishna’s beauteous form, Karna said with folded hands: “Krishna! To have the vision of the Lord before one’s passing is the goal of human existence. You came to me and blessed me with your form. This is enough for me. I offer my salutations to you.” In this way, Karna stayed DAANVEER till the very end.