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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.

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