All posts in Stories of Karna in Mahabharata

Story when before dying Duryodhana instructs Ashwatthama, Kripacharya, and Kritvarma to take revenge with the Pandavas

When the coast is clear, Ashwatthama, Kripacharya, and Kritvarma, having witnessed the fight and not wanting to interrupt so as to rob Duryodhana of his honour, come to Duryodhana’s broken body. Duryodhana commands them to take revenge on the Pandavas, and to specifically kill all the Pandava brothers and Panchalas. Using the blood from his body, Duryodhana appoints Ashwatthama as the army’s supreme commander and the protector of his wealth, country, family, and honor. Already angry at the deceitful killing of his father Drona, Ashwatthama ambushes the Pandava camp at night. The three maharathis lay waste to the sleeping, drunk, and unaware army. Other than those who had been staying in the Kaurava camp, few escape the slaughter. The trio rushes to tell Duryodhana of the news. After destroying the entire Pandava camp, Ashwatthama proceeds towards Duryodana with the cut-off heads of the Upapandavas. He told Duryodhana that he only managed to kill the Pandava’s children as the Pandavas were not there, and this makes Duryodhana happy, as that means the Pandava lineage would die out. Duryodhana then, having heard the news that was so agreeable to his heart, regained his senses and praised Ashwatthama for achieving what Bhishma, Drona, and Karna had failed to accomplish. Duryodhana died happily with a smile in his face.

Story when Duryodhana rises above caste & creed to make strong friendship with Karna

The friendship between Karna and Duryodhana is considered to be a great one, and is used as an example of friendship and loyalty. In the epic, Duryodhana decries the means of discrimination employed by Dronacharya. He goes one step further to accord Karna a place among the royals, by crowning him the King of Anga and standing by him whenever anyone pointed a finger at his lower-birth. He seems to not care about the low birth of Karna and is the only one to vocally support Karna candidature in the archery contest without caring about caste inequality. When Draupadi refuses to allow Karna to string the bow at her Swayamvara because of his low birth, Duryodhana defends him saying “great sages, philosophers, and warriors have no source. They are made great, not born great”. In modern light, his disrespect for discrimination and blind following of tradition is seen more positively.

Story of intense friendship of Duryodhana and Karna in Mahabharata

At the martial exhibition where the Kaurava and Pandava princes demonstrate their skills before their elders, their guru Drona and the people of the kingdom, the great effulgent warrior Karna appears and challenges Arjuna, who is considered by Drona to be the best of the warrior princes. But Karna is humiliated when Kripa asks him to ascertain his caste, as it would be inappropriate for unequals to compete. Duryodhana immediately defends Karna, and makes him king of Anga so that he is regarded as Arjuna’s equal. Karna pledges his allegiance and friendship to Duryodhana, as Duryodhana had rescued him from a source of continuing humiliation and hardship. Neither of them knew that Karna is in fact Kunti’s oldest son, born to (sun god) Surya, before her marriage to Pandu. A very intense bond of friendship develops between the two, and Duryodhana becomes very close to Karna. It is held that if there was one good quality in Duryodhana, it was his deep affection for his friend Karna. In the Kurukshetra War, Karna is Duryodhana’s greatest hope for victory. He truly believes that Karna is superior to Arjuna, and will inevitably destroy him and his four brothers. When Karna is killed, Duryodhana mourns his death intensely, even more than the death of his brothers.

Story of division of kingdom between Yudhishthira and Duryodhana

When the princes come of age, Yudhishthira is named as the crown prince due to his superior merits. After the Pandavas reveal that they have survived the wax house, with a new wife to boot, Bhishma suggests that the kingdom be divided in order to ease the obvious tension. Yudhishthira is given half the kingdom and made king of Khandavprastha, so as to avoid a clash with the Kaurava princes over the whole Kuru Kingdom. Duryodhana becomes the prince regent of Hastinapur, and owing to the age and blindness of his father, he accumulates much control and influence, managing the state affairs himself with a group of his advisers that include his uncle Shakuni, brother Dushasana and friend Karna.

Story when Duryodhana tries to humiliate Pandavas during their exile but gets captured by Gandharva king Chitrasena

During the exile of Pandavas, Duryodhana attempts to humiliate the Pandavas by flashing his wealth in their forest of exile. He is however caught in a conflict with the Gandharva king Chitrasena, who captures him. Yudhishthira asks Arjuna and Bhima to rescue Duryodhana. They rescue him, and Duryodhana offers Arjuna a vow that he will fulfill one demand of Arjuna anytime in his life. However, Duryodhana also feels humiliated. Setting his mind to die, Duryodhana pledges to fast unto death. He is pacified by Karna, who vows he will kill Arjuna in battle and to never drink wine until he does so.

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