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Life Hacker from Indian epic - Karna

Krishna may be the most popular Indian god, a central figure from the Mahabharata - an epic battle story.

But Karna is the modern hero from this great tale. Sparked by a discussion with some friends, I set down to write up the reasons why I think he is.

Everyone should know his story.

Stripped of all that is due his station in life and at birth, Karna is the quintessential underdog. A non-standard output of an unknowing virgin princess/queen-to-be, he is orphaned at birth and falls into the care of a charioteer. In spite of his current station, he is uncontrollably led into archery - his warrior roots. A self-studied hacker, unable to participate in an archery competition among kings, he gets a break from the Kaurava king (bad guy) Duryodhana on the spot. He is anointed a King, thereby given the opportunity to show his prowess. Karna considers Duryodhana a dear friend and only customer for the rest of his life - even going to war against his own brothers for the sake of Duryodhana.

It seems everything conspires against Karna from the day he was born, but he simply gets up and walks and walks every time. His trademark quality is  -- giving without expectations. He gives away his primary strength granted to him by his father Surya -- the Sun god. He acquires the greatest weapon in archery, only to lose the ability to use them due to curses [ah! curses: a favorite pastime for angered teachers and powerful gods in epic stories].  He also loses the use of his second most powerful weapon more than once - as a promise to his real mother. On top of this, his arch opponent (and own brother) Arjuna - is the best archer in the world bar Karna, has the support of the lord of the universe and master strategist (Krishna), and is protected by the lord of the infinite winds (Hanuman). In short, everything he does leads him straight into the finality of fate.

All of these events happen even before his crowning moment of glory -  of leading the Kaurava clan in the greatest war to be fought.

Even in war, he is prevented from leadership until the 13th day by none other than the greatest grand warrior in the Kaurava army - Bheeshma, his grandfather. Even his charioteer casts doubts at crucial moments and runs away at the most inopportune moment. Nearing death, Karna had to give away all his past good Karma to lord Krishna -- who shows his infinite form to him as a return for the ultimate sacrifice done by Karna -- before he finally leaves the world.

Karna's world was a permanent war from day one -- waged by many actors, in many ways, seen and unseen, up front, behind. Yet he simply refuses to bend his fundamental principles/instinct, even with the explicit knowledge imparted to him about the cost of that pursuit to his own life. He stands for something - giving - till the end.
 
That, in my mind, is the story of a life hacker, a life warrior - an unflinching fumble towards greatness while thumbing your nose against bias, intimidation, insults, bad judgment and bad counsel every step of the way. 

Most popular renditions of his story in India emphasize the tragedy of his life or the bad counsel and habits that deter him from his greatness

In my opinion, his life is the epitome of human conquest - imperfection's never-ending attempt to secure immortality.


Comments

  1. For all karna's Fans:

    (SOURCE-TRANSLATION OF ORIGINAL MAHABHARAT OF VYAS BY KESARI MOHAN GANGULY
    & WHICH IS THE ONLY PRECISE TRANSLATION AVAILABLE ON PUBLIC DOMAIN):



    Incident 1:Karna fled rom battlefield from Arjuna(Virata Yudh):

    http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m04/m04060.htm




    Incident 2:Karna defeated by Gandharwa chitrasena:

    http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m03/m03239.htm

    http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m03/m03240.htm




    Incident 3:Arjuna defeat Ghandarwas & rescued Duryodhan & kurus:

    http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m03/m03243.htm

    http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m03/m03244.htm



    Incident 4:Karna defeated & freightened by Abhimanyu in chakruvyuhu:

    Hearing these words, Karna, afflicted with the shafts of Arjuna's son, once more said unto Drona, 'Exceedingly afflicted with the shafts of Abhimanyu, I am staying in battle, only because (as a warrior) I should stay here. Indeed, the arrows of this south of great energy are exceedingly fierce. Terrible as they are and possessed of the energy of fire, these arrows are weakening my heart.'

    http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m07/m07045.htm




    What Karna's own friend Ashwathama & kripacharya think of karna:

    http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m04/m04049.htm

    http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m04/m04050.htm




    what Lord Krishna think of karna's bravery:

    Krishna said(To Arjuna):.I swear by Truth to thee, O friend, that my limbs are burning at the thought that while the son of Subhadra was thus advancing, consuming the hostile army with his shafts, even on that occasion the wicked-souled Karna was engaged in acts of hostility to that hero,Unable, O Partha, to stay in that battle before Abhimanyu's face, mangled with the shafts of Subhadra's son, deprived of consciousness, and bathed in blood, Karna drew deep breaths, inflamed with rage. At last, afflicted with arrows, he was obliged to turn his back upon the field.

    http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m08/m08073.htm



    & Finally karna himself accepting Arjuna's supeority:

    FINAL KARNA ARJUNA BATTLE(DAY 17 OF MAHABHARATA):


    http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m08/m08089.htm

    http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m08/m08090.htm

    http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m08/m08091.htm

    ACCORDING TO MY ANALYSIS OF THIS TRANSLATION IN THE FINAL BATTLE OF MAHABHARATA,ARJUNA & KARNA ASSAULTED EACH OTHER 35 TIMES WITH NUMEROUS, THOUSANDS & LAKHS OF ARROWS ………8 TIMES THEY NULLIFIED EACH OTHER ARROWS ,12 TIMES BOTH KARNA & ARJUNA PIERCED EACH OTHER BUT THE REMAINING 15 TIMES ARJUNA PIERCED KARNA IN EVERY PART OF HIS BODY & KARNA’S LIMBS,YOKE,STANDARD,STEEDS,CHARIOT WERE RIPPED APART & KARNA WAS LEFT MANGLED BATHED IN BLOOD & KARNA HAD NO ANSWER FOR ARJUNA’S ARROWS!!!



    Authenciaty of vyas original mahabharat by km ganguly:

    http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/maha/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kisari_Mohan_Ganguli

    ReplyDelete
  2. "In my opinion, his life is the epitome of human conquest of imperfection's never-ending attempt to secure immortality."
    You are right here Ramki! With the Vishvarupa darshanam Karna did secure what we humans strife for-immortality ! Though Arjuna won the battle and survived ,he couldn't fully appreciate the Vishvarupa darshanam.That was Arjunas fall and Karnas Victory!

    ReplyDelete
  3. TO FIND OUT WHO IS THE GREATEST WARRIOR KARNA OR ARJUNA FROM ORIGINAL VYAS'S MB,VISIT:

    https://www.facebook.com/karnavsarjuna

    ReplyDelete

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