Who was Karna
Whilst most of us see Karna as a tragic hero, he was sure beyond any such tags. Karna was Kunti’s eldest son who was born with the blessing of Lord Sun before her marriage. He later came to be known as Surya Putra Karna. He was born with golden earrings and a body armour as a symbol that he was born to be undefeated.
Story of Karna’s Birth
Kuntibhoja was Kunti’s father. One fine day as Sage Durvasa graced their palace with his presence, Kuntibhoj knew better to appoint Kunti as his maiden, for Durvasa was known for his rampant temper. Durvasa stayed in their palace for some days and was touched by Kunti’s hospitality, who was just a little girl at that time.
At last, it was time for Durvasa to bid adieu. He was immensely happy with Kunti’s hospitality and regards for him. Before his departure, he called for Kunti and bestowed upon her a life changing Mantra. The Mantra was to manifest sons from whoever she wished to, even the God Deities. Durvasa left happily, thereafter, but Kunti was left perplexed.
Kunti had hatched a plan and gave it a serious thought to test if Durvasa was not joking and was serious about the Mantra. Kunti chanted the Mantra in her mind and thought about Surya Dev. Lord Sun appeared moments after she had manifested him through her chant.
Karna was born
Kunti was clueless as Lord of the Sun appeared before her and she feared to have a baby before marriage, however, Surya Deva was helpless and he was bound to bestow her a baby – Kunti accepted her fate and gave birth to Karna at a very young age. He was born with a divine ‘Kavach’ and ‘kundals’ (body armour and earrings).
Kunti abandons Karna
Kunti was not ready for a child before her marriage, thus, she decided to abandon Karna and with a heavy heart she left Karna in a basket and left him on the river ‘Ashwa’. As destiny played its part the Kaurava Charioteer, Adiratha and his wife Radha were bathing in the river. They happily adopted the baby as a blessing, for they were childless.
Karna got to know about his from three people
Throughout his life, Karna held unhealed wounds of humiliation for being a ‘low-born’. His birth was a great secret as it played a major role in the Epic War of Kurukshetra. Mahabharata would have turned out different had not been for Karna’s unperturbed support to Duryodhan. He got to know about his birth from three people
The very first person to reveal the truth to Karna was his father himself; Lord of the Sun. Surya Deva blessed him and told him how Kunti had conceived him because Durvasa had bestowed upon her a gift to manifest a child with whoever she wished. He also warned him to be wary of any man who would come asking for his ‘kavach and kundals’.
The second person to reveal the truth to Karna was Krishna. However, Karna stood in front of him not flinching, for he already knew what was to come. However, Krishna told him the entire story of his birth and enlightened him how future was about to unfold for them all.
The third person was Kunti, his own mother who decided to finally break her silence and tell her eldest son the truth. However, where she was expecting a warm and teary acceptance, she only saw Karna’s steely eyes and accusation of her abandoning him. He told her he was not disappointed in her because she abandoned him, rather, she never stood up for him, while Pitamah Bheeshm insulted in the royal court.
Karna was married to Supriya and Vrusahli. Vrushali was Karna’s first wife, who was a charioteer’s daughter whilst Supriya was a friend to Duryodhana’s wife Bhanumati. It is said, Karna fathered 10 children with both his wives and nine of them saw all the horrors of the war and were killed except for one.
Karna had eight sons with Vrushali, all of whom participated in the epic war of Kurukshetra and they were killed by the Pandavas. His youngest son, Vrishaketu was the only one who survived the horrors of the war and later became an ally to Arjuna.
Vrishasena the eldest, was killed by Arjuna in front of Karna’s eyes, while Prasena, the youngest was slain by Satyaki. The second, Chritasena, third, Satyasena and fourth son, Sushena were killed by Nakula. Arjuna also killed Karna’s fifth and sixth born – Shatrunjaya and Dvipata. And the seventh born Banasena was slain by Bhima in the Kurukshetra war.
They were all born to Karna and Vrushali. The pain was deeply inflicted on both the Parents. As Karna was killed by Arjuna, Vrushali opted for Sati, as she was much in love with her husband. She sat on the pyre.
Vrishaketu; Last mortal on earth to know how to use a Brhmastra
Vrishaketu is believed to be the last mortal on earth to understand and know the use of Brahmastra, Varunastra, Agni and Vaayuastra. Krishna has enlightened him to not share this valuable yet, destruction worthy information with anyone. He fought many battles with Arjuna. In the end, he was killed by Arjuna’s son Babruvahana, with his death, died the knowledge of using the weapons too.
It is unclear who was the mother of Vrishaketu
When Vrushali sat on the pyre for Sati, Vrishaketu ran towards his parents, it was only for his grandmother Radha, he was saved. However, it is unclear if Supriya or Vrushali was his mother. Karna was also married to a Kshatriya woman, Uruvi, the princess of Pukeya. She is believed to be the actual second wife of Karna, Vrishaketu could very well be her son, too.
Vrishaketu was Arjuna’s greatest ally
Vrishaketu had lost all after the war of Kurukshetra, Arjuna knowing that Karna was his elder brother opened his heart for last living prodigy of his brother and Vrishaketu became his greatest ally, protecting Arjuna like a shadow in other epic wars. He was very dear to both, Krishna and Arjuna.