Sunday, August 30, 2015

14. Karna

Surasena was a chief of Yadavas. He was the father of Vasudeva, (father of Krishna). Surasena  had a daughter by name Pritha. As per a promise he had made to his cousin Kuntibhoja, Sura gave his daughter in adoption to him. After becoming the adopted daughter of Kuntibhoja, Pritha came to be known as Kunti. She was engaging herself in extending hospitality to the guests of Kuntibhoja, by taking care of their needs.

Once, Sage Durvasa, known for his rigid vows and short temper visited Kuntibhoja’s palace. Kunti  looked after his needs diligently as she would of any other guest. Gratified by her care and attention, Durvasa imparted to her a formula for invoking certain gods, who summoned by her would bless her with children. Being an ascetic endowed with the knowledge of the future, Durvasa  had known that Pandu, whom Kunti would marry, won’t be able to beget any children because of a curse. He gave this boon to Kunti to enable her to get children so that Pandu’s lineage would continue.  

Sometime after the sage had left, Kunti  became curious to find out whether the formula would work. She pronounced the Mantra invoking Surya, the Sun God. Immediately, Surya  appeared before her, the effulgent light emanating from him momentarily  blinding her. 

He asked her, “Tell me what you want.” 

Kunti said that  she was just testing the Mantra given to her by Sage Durvasa and pleaded with him to pardon her for her impropriety. 

Surya  said, “Since you have summoned me, I can’t leave without granting you a child.”  

He tried to allay her fears and then embraced her. Instantly, a male child was born to Kunti as a result of her union with Surya. The child, who would become famous for his valor, had natural armor embedded on him. Surya  restored the maidenhood to Kunti and then took leave of her.

Kunti  reflected  on what she could do with the child. Since she would be shamed if the birth of the child was known to anyone, she cast the child into the waters of the river Yamuna. The child was picked up by Suta, a charioteer and was brought up by him and his wife Radha. Since the child was born with a natural armor and ear rings, they named it Vasusena, meaning born with wealth.

As Vasusena  grew up, he became skilled in all weapons. He adored the Sun and would worship the Sun from the dawn till mid-day. During that time, he would give anything sought by Brahmins. Taking advantage of this, Indra, the Lord of the Celestials, intending to protect his son Arjuna, came to Vasusena in the guise of a Brahmin and asked for his natural armour. Without any hesitation, Vasusena  cut off his armor and gave it to Indra.  This feat earned him the name Karna (Peeler of his own cover).

Pleased by Karna’s magnificent gesture, Indra gifted him a Dart named Indrashakti , which he said had the power to kill anyone whether he was a  human being, a celestial or a demon.

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