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Karna-the Real Hero of Mahabharata, the World's Greatest Epic From India (Part I)

The world's greatest epic 'Mahabharata' speaks the story of a great war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas. It is written in Sanskrit by Vyasa in the 6th century BC. It has hundred thousand couplets in 18 sections and is considered to be the longest epic of the world. The bloody war lasting eighteen days concludes with the victory of Pandavas over Kauravas. It is the triumph of good over evil.

The Mahabharata is also the story of Lord Krishna, Pandavas-the five brothers-Yudhishtira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva and Duryodhana, the eldest of Kaurava and his 100 brothers. Kunti, Draupati, Dhrutarashtra, Pandu, Gandhari, Dhrona, Abhimanue, Shakuni, etc. etc. A mere mention of the character in Mahabharata itself is a Himalayan task, leave alone the story telling. And that precisely makes it the largest epic in the world.

A painting depicting Karna's ill fate from his birth onwards. Kunti, the mother abandons the baby fearing disgrace

A painting depicting Karna's ill fate from his birth onwards. Kunti, the mother abandons the baby fearing disgrace

You may be familiar with several heroes in the Mahabharata and may love or worship some warriors like Krishna, Arjuna, Yudhishtira or Bhima. Love and respect towards the brave and powerful heroes are common and justifiable. But when you go deeper into the complex stories of Mahabharata and immerse yourself into the characterization of this epic, you will find an unsung hero. Karna will definitely be your choice. Your research will undoubtedly clarify that Karna is the real hero of Mahabharata. Sadly, he is the most mistaken hero too. From his birth onward, he was a cursed, abandoned, rejected and a victim of taunts and ridicule. Listen here the sad story of Karna, which is one of the most tragic episodes of Mahabharata.

The Birth

Unmarried, yet pregnant. This would bring disgrace both to the mother and her family. Kunti had no choice when she faced such a shameful situation. She decided to take the most painful decision: abandon the baby! She cried and prayed for her baby. Her prayer was to save her child from all troubles he may have to face. She also prayed that he be reached at a safe place and at the hands of a decent family. Then, Karna, the baby, placed in a basket was left to fate on the Sona river. Karna's ill fate thus begins from his very birth onward. He is abandoned by his own mother and left to the smoothly flowing waters!

How this unwanted delivery took place, you may ask. The story goes thus: Sage Durvasa once came to Kuntibhojha's (Kunti's father) Palace. Kunti treated him so well that he was totally impressed by her kind hospitality. As a token of his satisfaction, he taught her a mantra, which would bring any god before her. He (the god) would also give her a son, who has his own qualities.

Kunti being a young girl was unaware of the impact of the boon. One day while standing on the banks of Sona river facing the rising sun, she recited the mantra with Surya, the Sun God, in mind. This resulted in Surya's sudden appearance. Suddenly, the words of Durvasa flashed on her mind. Having seen Surya in all in his splendor, Kunti pleaded with him, "Oh my God I just tested the mantra out of curiosity. Please forgive me. But Surya was not ready to listen to her request. He replied, a mantra is mantra and once invoked, it has to be executed. If you stand against me, I will curse you as well your family too. He added, 'you shall have a son by me. You need not fear disgrace because you will still be pure'.

Soon, Kunti became pregnant and delivered a beautiful boy. The boy had all the splendor features of the powerful Sun. The boy was clad in shining Armour that was part of his body. Also, his face was resplendent with the brilliance of the earring that he wore. Yet, Kunti was sad. A child to an unmarried girl is a disgrace to the entire royal family. That made Kunti take that drastic step of floating her cute baby into the river!

Karna's Safe Landing

Sometimes, one's liability is an asset for another. One's pain may be a gain for another. Here, Kunti's pain was Radha's gain. Radha, the wife of Charioteer Adhiratha found the baby when she was having her bath. For her, it was God's gift as she had no children. She was praying all these times to God for blessing her with a child. She and her husband were performing all sorts of Pujas (rituals) to please all gods. She happily lifted the basket and took the baby out. The moment was the happiest in her life. The couple took the boy to their home and named him Karna. They loved him well and brought him with utmost care. Though they had other sons later, they loved Karna so special.

Part II & III of this Hub (Article) can be read on the following link:

Karna's sad destiny

The fate of Karna, who was a prince by birth is destined to grow as an ordinary child for an ordinary couple. He had been denied his lineage of divinity and royal blood and brought up by an issue-less charioteer and his wife.

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Karna's birth story was a topmost secret. Nobody including Kunti's family had an idea about it. Only Kunti and her most devoted nurse and, of course, the Sun God knew the truth. There was one more person aware of all these developments. It was Lord Krishna, but who kept it as a secret till a crucial moment in the Mahabharata war.

Being Kunty's first son, he should have part of the Pandavas. But destiny took him to grow as an ordinary child. Karna had no idea of his royal blood. His real brothers, the Pandavas too were ignorant about it. The case of Kauravas was too not different. None of them knew that big secret until Lord Krishna revealed it at a very later stage.

The poor Karna who was to have lived in a royal palace had to live in an ordinary house of an ordinary couple. It was his destiny. He had more to suffer in the days to come. That too was due to his ill fate.

How was his childhood, education, mastery on archery, to who he declared his loyalty, positioning in the great war.....A lot of troubles, turbulent turn of events. His life was full of dramas. These all will be discussed in the second part of this hub. Please wait for the same to know more about Karna.

+++++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++++++

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Sunil Kumar Kunnoth


Sunil Kumar Kunnoth (author) from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India) on September 01, 2015:

@Vijay Kumar, your visit and comments are appreciated.

vijay kumar R on August 21, 2015:

ya i agree the karna is real hero of mahabharatha .... i like karna so match, without lord Krishna Arjuna cannot killed karna ...Karna only one person had capable to change the whole victory of Kurukshetra .... on November 06, 2014:

Karna is the real hero.Ilike him.

Kushleshwar singh on September 22, 2014:

Karn was really a great hero;he never comprosied with his honesty anddignity.That was aperson who teachs us never go under lure and never leave the company of such person who has been thankful for u .Hlnduism also convey message that's why there is no national religion.

Nkumar on September 21, 2014:

If we read more and more about karna and so of Mahabharata, we may conclude thinking of human civilization of 3000-5000 years ago whereof the so called scientific evidences are not there, but we can imagine the life of that period...

Sunil Kumar Kunnoth (author) from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India) on September 19, 2014:

Thanks for reading my hub and leaving some comments. Bharat and Hindus always stood for communal harmony and respected all religious practices. For us, it is 'Vasudeva Kudumbam" means all citizens of this world is one family. Dharma should be prevailed the whole universe. God bless all.

Ashutosh Tiwari from Lucknow, India on September 16, 2014:

@sunil Do you know something about Barbarik, the most powerful warrior in Mahabharata ?

KUMARAN on September 12, 2014:

Karna is the great warrier.He had the qualities of five pandavas.One karna is equal to five pandavas.unfortunately due to his curse,karma etc he was defeated.Mahabaratha teaches dharma.It is really a happened one.We should be proud that dharma is established in India and not in other land like England,Israel etc.We should follow the teachings of lord Krishna in the epic. It is the only way to know the truth of life.

Sunil Kumar Kunnoth (author) from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India) on July 24, 2014:

Sunny, you are very much on the wrong track. You still need to learn a lot about Hinduism, the world's oldest religion. It never attacks other religions and instead welcome all faiths. That shows why India became the land of Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs. We Hindus have no hatred towards other religion and we often visit Churches and Mosques and other religious place also. Stop thinking negatively. Try to love and respect all religious faiths. Jesus never acted against other religions and loved all. If you love Jesus, learn what he taught the world. God bless you.

Sunny on July 24, 2014:

This is what Hinduism teaches, kill your brothers, teachers, friends, etc...Stop this foolish stories and start believing Christ, Jesus the true wholy spirit. Save India...

Sunil Kumar Kunnoth (author) from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India) on July 20, 2014:

Thanks for stopping by and leaving some insightful comments.

Truth on July 19, 2014:

Karna was more powerful than arjun... Even lord krishna knew about it.... So only he told arjun to shoot the arrow when karna was busy removing his chariot wheel from ground....

If arjun was powerful than karna then why would lord krishna ask arjun to shoot arrow at karna when he was busy removing his charriot wheel from thr ground!!!!

Sunil Kumar Kunnoth (author) from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India) on June 08, 2014:

Karna is a valiant fighter and hero in Mahabharatha. The cruel destiny changed his life and played a bad role. But he is honest, energetic, powerful and full of virtues. People love him like anything.Thanks for your comments.

Sunil Kumar Kunnoth (author) from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India) on June 08, 2014:

You are right. the destiny played a bad role in his life.

joya on June 08, 2014:

Thank u for opening this hub. By reading this we can know about karna's life. I think karna is the best person.

joya on June 08, 2014:

I feel bad for karna . What a miserable life he have!

Sunil Kumar Kunnoth (author) from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India) on May 26, 2014:

@Lady E

Thanks for commenting. Happy to my hub touched you as well you find it an interesting one. Keep on reading other parts of the story I already wrote.

Elena from London, UK on May 26, 2014:

Very touching and interesting story.

Shukriya. :-)

rohit on May 10, 2014:

pooja before blaming someone look at u r own path later on u can do et u want

Sunil Kumar Kunnoth (author) from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India) on April 06, 2014:


Enough of stuff is available in internet. You can simply Google search and extracts tons of information. Try Wikipedia also. Also read my whole hubs (three numbers) on Karna. Some of the people who commented on these three part series have left some valid links on the topic, which I hope you will find.

suresh on April 06, 2014:

kindly send the reseacrh detail of Karna in mahabharat on

Pooja on March 28, 2014:

It was really nice to read this blog. According to me Karan is a bad person. If he was really good than why did he have to support bad and make bad choices even though he knew how dhuryiodhan was? When druapadi was getting molested why did he abuse druapadi instead of standing against this Hedious act by his beloved friend? If he really did have principle thn he would have walked out as a friend to dhuryiodhan. I'm sorry for me he is a hopeless character.

Akshadh Katyal on March 22, 2014:


ajoy kumar bhattacharjee on January 30, 2014:

The readers are showing inclination to Karna that's why he remained immortal even being killed by Arjuna. I am not going for or inviting any debate on this matter.I am not convinced about opinion of some commentators that the poets had not made justice to the character of Karna but I opine that it is the writing skill of the poet who glorified Karna in spite of the fact that his presence in the whole epic is limited.

Ajoy Bhattacharjee, Guwahati.

ktnptl from Atlanta, GA on December 23, 2013:

Karna, was definitely one of the main character in Mahabharat. He was as great archer as Arjun. He fall in bad company of Duryodhana and Shakuni. Beside his bad company, Karna was really a great warrior.

Sunil Kumar Kunnoth (author) from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India) on October 11, 2013:


Joyfully noted your valid comments. You are right that Karna didn't get his apt share in the epic. He deserved more. But still millions of people have understood his values and life of high principles. Your book suggestion is welcome. I should read it. Thanks for your visit and comments.

Talha Rehman from Lucknow India on October 11, 2013:

Thanks for sharing this hub. I agree with you...Karna's life forms the most tragic episode of Mahabharata. Surprisingly he does not feature as prominently as the other characters. Yet there is one book in which he is very prominent...The Palace of Illusions, in which Chitra Bannerji beautifully narrates the story from Draupadi's point of view!

Sunil Kumar Kunnoth (author) from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India) on October 07, 2013:


So glad to note your previous comments. I am happy that my hub gave you a nice read.

Thanks for stopping by and leaving some precious comments.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on October 07, 2013:

Karna-The Real Hero of Mahabharata, The World's Greatest Epic From India (Part I) A strong and powerful culture and so well mentioned. A moat interesting and thoughtful hub

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