Karna – The last few moments


Courtesy : mythindia
Courtesy : mythindia

After having lived a life in which he was ridiculed for being a charioteer’s son, in which he had to battle his own brothers due to his loyalty and friendship with Duryodhana, the end was finally drawing near for Karna.

As he lay there on the battlefield fatally wounded by Arjuna’s anjalika astra, Karna could recollect Kunti’s last visit to him. That was the only time that she had even visited him in all these years.

And then, the sun streamed through. His father, Surya, the Sun God had arrived to take him away from this mortal world.

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This post has been written for the 100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups – Week # 111 challenge where the post had to include the phrase “the sun streamed through”.

 

Shakuni and his craft


Image courtesy : wikimedia
Image courtesy : wikimedia

At one point in time Duryodhana was completely bereft of ideas as to how to overcome his Pandava cousins. He had tried burning them alive in the palace of wax at Varnavrata, and as if that weren’t enough his nemesis, Bhima had not only managed to escape the wrath of Bakasura at Ekachakra but also managed to kill him instead [Read about that incident here].

It was at this point in time that his maternal uncle Shakuni, unable to see his favorite nephew so despondent and depressed, proposed the idea of getting rid of the Pandavas and making them relinquish their right to the throne of Hastinapura without so much as shedding a drop of blood.

Shakuni was renowned for his skill as a gambler and was such a master of this craft that he was undefeated at the game of dice. Little did his opponents know that he always played with loaded dice and that was the only reason that he never tasted defeat. He therefore decided to make full use of this craft of his to enable Duryodhana to eliminate the threat of his Pandava cousins.

Invite the Pandavas for a game of dice. Yudhisthira has a weakness for the game of dice, even though he is not a good player. Ask him to throw the dice with me. As you are well aware, nobody in the three worlds is my equal in this game. I will ensure that his kingdom becomes yours before the game is finished” Shakuni told Duryodhana.

For the first time in his life, he believed his opinion mattered and Shakuni also put in a word with his brother in law, the blind king Dhritarashtra to invite the Pandavas to Hastinapura for a friendly game of dice.

Although Dhritarashtra knew that Shakuni was upto some mischief, his unbridled love for his son and his anxiety at Duryodhana’s depressed state forced him to accede to this request.

Thus, the stage was set for one of the most memorable episodes in this great epic.

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This post has been written for multiple prompts :

Today’s Author Write Now prompt for Nov 5, 2013 where the post had to include the phrase – for the first time in his life, he knew his opinion mattered

Trifecta Week 102 prompt where the post had to include the following meaning of the word craft – skill in deceiving to gain an end

Day 3 : When Krishna attacked Bhishma


Arjuna chooses Krishna
Arjuna chooses Krishna

While it is a well known tale that when Krishna was approached by both Duryodhana and Arjuna to take their respective sides in the Kurukshetra war, Krishna made two offers. The first offer was that one person would get the entire Vrishni army totaling almost 10,000 soldiers or more and the second offer was his own personal support albeit under the condition that he would not actually lift any weapons and fight in the battlefield. Since Arjuna was the younger one, he was given the first right of choice and he chose the unarmed Krishna thus leaving Duryodhana with Krishna’s army.

On Day 3 of the Kurukshetra war, Bhishma arranged the Kaurava army in the eagle formation and proceeded to lead the same from the front. To counter this formation, Arjuna and Dhristadyumna decided to arrange the Pandava army in the crescent formation with Bhima leading the right flank and Arjuna himself leading the left flank.

During the course of the battle, Bhima managed to wound Duryodhana who lay down in a swoon in his chariot. When his charioteer took him close to Bhishma, Duryodhana accused the Kaurava commander of being too soft on the Pandavas, which enraged the grand old sire a lot.

Stung by the young Duryodhana’s reproaches, Bhishma fought during the second half of the day with extremely high intensity and delivered quite a severe attack on the Pandava army. Despite attempts by several brave Pandava warriors, the onslaught of Bhishma was causing a great number of fatalities in the Pandava army.

Spurred on by Krishna, young Arjuna took it upon himself to fight the grand old commander of the Kaurava army. While Bhishma was very impressed with his grand nephew’s prowess on the battlefield, Krishna sensed that Arjuna was not fighting at his best on that particular day. He could clearly see that Arjuna simply did not have the heart to fight Bhishma, someone he had always admired and treated as a role model from his childhood.

Krishna approaches Bhishma with the Sudarsana Chakra
Krishna approaches Bhishma with the Sudarsana Chakra

This angered Krishna and he dropped the reins of the chariot, jumped down and went forward towards Bhishma with his Sudarsana Chakra. Ecstatic at this turn of events, Bhishma welcomed Krishna by dropping his weapons and stated that it would be his absolute joy to die at the hands of Krishna, the Lord of the World.

Completely distressed at this situation, Arjuna raced down towards Krishna and reminded him of his promise of not lifting any weapons on the battlefield in this war. He also promised him that he would not flinch anymore at the thought of fighting his own kith and kin in the Kaurava army and that he would unfailingly do his duty to Dharma. It was only when the young Pandava prince provided these assurances that Krishna put away his weapon and came back to Arjuna’s chariot.

Thus, Day 3 of the Kurukshetra War almost saw Krishna break his promise and kill Bhishma.

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This post has been written for the Week at the Merge, Week 45 writing prompt where the post had to be about the William Shakespeare quote – “The third day comes a frost, a killing frost.

Bhima and the Saugandhika flowers


Image courtesy: deviantart.com
Image courtesy: deviantart.com

Right from a very young age Bhima had always been very proud of his physical prowess. So much so that his pride bordered on arrogance due to the fact that but for Duryodhana, nobody else in this world could pretty much match up to his physical strength.

One fine day when the Pandavas were in exile, Draupadi was enchanted by the sweet soulful fragrance of a flower. When she asked Bhima about the smell, he told her that it was of the Saugandhika flower. She immediately insisted that he get her some of these flowers so that she could adorn herself with them.

As he was walking in the forest searching for the source of these flowers, he thought he heard someone call out his name in a low tone. At first he dismissed it believing it to be a figment of his imagination. However, he heard it again. This time he was alone in the middle of an empty field, but was certain that he heard someone whispering his name.

Going closer to the source of the sound, he happened to be moving along a very narrow path on which only one person could walk at a time. He then suddenly noticed that his way was blocked by an old monkey which was sleeping right in the middle of the path.

Bhima then asked the monkey to move aside and make way for him. When the monkey did not even respond to him, he was enraged and ordered it to make way for him. To his order, the monkey replied “I am too old and weak to move. Push my tail aside and make way for yourself.

By now Bhima did not even have the patience to argue with this monkey who was wasting his time. He bent down with the intention of pushing the monkey’s tail aside and continue on his quest of finding the flowers. But he could not move the monkey’s tail even an inch. Despite his best efforts, he could not even lift the tail, let alone move it aside. He then realized that this was no ordinary monkey and he then asked “You sir, are no ordinary monkey. Please tell me who you are.

When Bhima asked this question, the monkey mysteriously smiled and then revealed his true form. He was none other than Hanuman, the elder son of Vayu and therefore a brother of Bhima who was also the son of the Wind God. “I am Hanuman, your brother. I have come to warn you that the path that you and your brothers have chosen is perilous and fraught with dangers.

Bhima unsuccessfully trying to lift the monkey's tail
Bhima unsuccessfully trying to lift the monkey’s tail

Hanuman then proceeded to show Bhima where the Saugandhika flowers would be found and then before bidding farewell embraced his brother. The purpose of this embrace was two-fold. While it increased Bhima’s already formidable strength and physical prowess, the second and more important purpose of the same was to help Bhima shed his ego so that his modesty and humility would add even more prowess to his already powerful personality.

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This post has been written for Today’s Author Write Now Prompt for Nov 1, 2013 where the post had to include the phrase he was alone in the middle of an empty field, but was certain that he heard someone whispering his name which is the reason why this phrase has been specifically highlighted in the post.

Karna – The curse of Parasurama


Courtesy : Ashish Khare
Courtesy : Ashish Khare

As a teenager Karna was never interested in his traditional occupation of being a charioteer like his father Adhiratha. He had always been more interested in the art of warfare. One fine day, he mustered enough courage to approach Dronacharya, the guru of the Kuru princes and requested him to take him as a student and teach him as well.

Drona refused to do so citing the fact that Karna was not a kshatriya and that he only taught kshatriyas who were the only caste of people who deserved to learn warfare. Although he was dejected at this, Karna did not lose heart and set upon teaching himself the various forms of warfare. After learning various forms of martial arts, he once again approached Drona to teach him the advanced skills of archery, especially the ability to use divine weapons known as astras. Drona once again refused to teach Karna.

parashurama-incarnation-of-vishnu-QN41_lIt was then that he decided that he would approach the great warrior sage Parasurama, who had taught Drona himself and request him to take him as a student. However, faced with the fear of rejection due to his birth, Karna represented himself as a brahmana and requested Parasurama to take him as his disciple.

Parasurama accepted Karna as a disciple and trained him in the various methods of warfare. As a result of his dedication, hard work and commitment to learning, Karna quickly learnt all that his guru had to teach him, and in a short time he had reached such proficiency that his guru declared him to be his equal in the art of warfare and archery. In fact he was so overcome with joy at his pupil’s efforts that he went ahead and taught him the method to invoke the elusive and extremely powerful Brahmastra.

All of these events were closely being followed by Indra, Arjuna’s celestial father. He had vested interests in ensuring that Karna did not become stronger or more skilled than his son Arjuna and he was looking for an opportunity to somehow thwart Karna’s efforts in this direction.

1368773637_Karna3One fine day, toward the end of Karna’s training, he offered his lap to his teacher to have a quick nap. While Parasurama was sleeping, Indra saw an opportunity to cause some mischief. He took the form of a bee and stung Karna’s thigh. Despite the pain caused by this sting, Karna did not want to disturb Parasurama’s sleep and therefore quietly bore the pain without moving an inch. Not to be outdone, Indra, as the bee stung and bore deeper into Karna’s thigh causing him to bleed. Even then, Karna did not move or even make a sound.

When Parasurama awoke and saw the blood oozing out of Karna’s thigh, he was immediately overcome with his infamous rage. Looking at Karna, he said “Dear pupil, you are surely not a brahmana. Only a kshatriya can remain unmoved under such bodily torment which causes so much physical pain. Tell me the truth.

Karna’s silence at this statement confirmed his guru’s suspicions. Parasurama’s rage overcame the love he had for his pupil and he cursed him “Since you have deceived your guru, the Brahmastra that you learnt shall fail you at the moment  you require it the most. Your brain will atrophy and you will not be able to invoke the most powerful and potent of all astras when the hour comes.

When Karna told the truth about him being a charioteer’s son and not a kshatriya , Parasurama’s anger subsided a little. However, since his curse was irrevocable, he gifted Karna with a celestial weapon called the Bhargavastra and his own bow, Vijaya, for being a diligent student.

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This post has been written for Velvet Verbosity’s 100 Words # 352 prompt where the post had to include the word atrophy. I know my post is more than a 100 words, but this story couldn’t possibly be narrated in 100 words, could it.