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The Birth of Karna

Karna – The Birth Of Angaraja

Mahabharata is an epic that every Indian knows about. Mahabharata has been showcased in various forms from a series on Doordarshan to animated series and has also inspired many other literary works. The main plot of the epic revolves around the conflict of two clans: Pandavas and Kauravas. There are several subplots and stories that make the epic super interesting. One such plot is the life of Karna. Karna was the son of Kunti but he sided with the Kauravas and fought against his own real brothers. Let us see why Karna had to part with Kunti at his birth.

Kunti was the adopted daughter of King Kuntibhoja, who ruled Kuntirashtra. It so happened that once Sage Durvasa visited the kingdom and King Kuntibhoj hosted him with warmth and fervour. He appointed Kunti to look after Sage Durvasa. Kunti left no stone unturned to impress Durvasa. Durvasa was highly impressed with the hospitality of Kunti and gave her a boon. The boon was that she could chant the divine Mantra that the sage gave, remember a God, and she could have a child from that God.

Kunti was overwhelmed with this boon that the sage gave her. She was also a bit sceptical as to how such a boon would turn out. Her curiosity and scepticism made her try out the mantra once and she remembered Surya, the Sun God. Surya appeared in front of her in his divine and pure form. Kunti was shocked and surprised to see the Mantra work so perfectly. Kunti was now in a serious plight.

She confessed to Surya that she only used the Mantra out of her curiosity and had no intention to have a child. Surya did sympathize with her but he was bound to the magic of the boon. He assured that Kunti would not lose her virginity and would face no opprobrium from society. He has to abide by the boon or he would lose his temper and would have to curse her and her family.

A helpless Kunti had no choice but to accept Surya’s child. She kept her pregnancy a secret. Only her private nurse knew about this. After ten months, she gave birth to a baby boy who was born with a divine Kavach and Kundal ( armour and earrings). She was delighted to see such a healthy baby but she had no choice but to abandon him. With a heavy heart, she wrapped the baby with proper clothes and food and put it in a basket on River Asva with the hope that someone would adopt him.

The baby ended up floating to the City of Champa in River Ganga where Adhiratha (Dhritarashtra’s charioteer)  and Radha happily adopted him and brought him up with proper care and affection.

That was the birth of Karna, who was such a layered and complex character of Mahabharata divided between loyal friends and family bonds. The birth of Karna is a complex story in itself which lays a foundation for the readers of the story to expect some dilemmas in his story arc.

Click here to know the story behind Karna’s martial arts training and the curse of Parshurama.