Ghatotkacha – The pot headed warrior


Amar Chitra Katha cover
Amar Chitra Katha cover

Read my earlier post [Link to post] about how Bhima defeats the demon Hidimba and marries his sister Hidimbi. However on condition that Kunti agrees to this marriage was that while Hidimbi could spend time with Bhima during the daytime, she would have to return to her forest by dusk. Hidimbi agrees to this condition and after a few months, they have a son Ghatotkacha.

Ghatotkacha got his name from his hairless head which was shaped like a pot. The sanskit word utkaca means hairless and the word for pot was ghatam, and therefore his name was Ghatotkacha, the pot headed hairless one.

Ghatotkacha was very attached to his father and his uncles and was Yudhisthira’s favorite nephew as well. When their exile was about to come to an end Kunti summoned him and instructed him that he would always be considered the eldest son by all the Pandava brothers. And on this occasion Ghatotkacha also promised that he would provide them with any assistance as and when they required it from him.

By virtue of a boon granted to him by Krishna, Ghatotkacha was unmatched with his magical abilities by anyone in this world with the exception of Krishna himself and these magical abilities were enhanced multi fold during night times by virtue of the fact that this son of Bhima was half demon. This particular trait of his would prove to be especially useful to the Pandavas during the Kurukshetra war.

During the Kurukshetra war, Ghatotkacha wrought havoc on the Kaurava forces when he took to the field. Using his formidable magical powers, he defeated and killed many Kaurava warriors and Duryodhana and his armies did not have any answer for his might and valor on the battlefield.

One incident which assumes significance in this context is that before the war, Indra realizes that Karna would prove to be invincible in battle and would not be killed as long as he wore the golden armor and golden earrings that Surya had bestowed him with. He conceives a plot to weaken Karna to enable Arjuna to defeat him in battle. He approaches Karna in the guise of a poor Brahmin and asks for his golden armor and earrings as alms.

Despite the fact that Karna had been warned by Surya of Indra’s plans and intentions, it was against Karna’s principles to refuse alms to anybody who asked him for the same. He therefore gladly parted with his armor and earrings. Shamed by Karna’s generosity, Indra granted him one time use of his most powerful weapon the Vasavi Shakti. Karna decides to save this weapon to defeat his greatest rival, Arjuna.

Coming back to the Kurukshetra war, Duryodhana realizes that conventional methods of war would not be sufficient to defeat Bhima’s son. He then requests Karna to use the Vasavi Shakti to defeat Ghatotkacha before he can inflict more substantial damage on the Kaurava army.

At this point in time Ghatotkach was using extremely unconventional tactics against the Kaurava army. Given that the war extended into the night as well after Jayadratha’s death, his magical powers were multiplied and he was flying down from the skies and using them to great effect. Understanding the gravity of the situation and unable to refuse his friend Duryodhana, Karna uses Indra’s celestial weapon against Ghatotkacha which results in his death.

While the rest of the Pandava army was shocked by this turn of events, only Krishna sported an enigmatic smile. He knew something that the rest of the Pandavas did not.

It was only a day earlier that Krishna had summoned Ghatotkacha and informed him about the fact that Karna was in possession of Indra’s celestial weapon which could be used only once. He also told that Karna intended to use this to defeat and kill his uncle Arjuna and that the only way this could be prevented was if Ghatotkacha dueled with Karna and forced him to use this weapon.

On hearing this Ghatotkacha immediately promised Krishna that he would do all that he could to ensure Karna used this weapon against him, knowing fully well that it would ultimately result in his demise. Such was his love for his uncles and the word of Krishna. The young asura son of Bhima ultimately sacrificed himself so that Karna and the Kauravas would have no possible way to kill Arjuna, the greatest Pandava warrior.

ghatotkacha-killed-by-karna-mahabharata

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”.

 

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.

The last battle of Karna


http://agasthyarashram.com/
http://agasthyarashram.com/

On the sixteenth day of the Kurukshetra war when Karna was the commander of the Kaurava army, he single-handedly defeated all of the Pandava brothers with the exception of Arjuna. He stuck by the promise that he made to Kunti that he would not kill any of the Pandava brothers with the exception of Arjuna.

When he defeated Bhima, he leaves him alive stating that as Bhima was younger than him he wouldn’t kill him. When he defeated Yudhisthira, he leaves him alive asking him to practice all that his gurus and teachers have taught him. Similarly he refuses to kill Nakula and Sahadeva after defeating them in one to one battle on that day.

Finally Karna asks his charioteer to take him to where Arjuna was on the battlefield. In the fierce battle that ensues between these two great warriors, neither one budged or hesitated. When Karna shot the powerful Nagastra at Arjuna, Krishna gently presses Arjuna’s chariot downwards using his divine powers, enabling the Pandava prince to survive this assault. Not to be outdone, Arjuna showers Karna with all his arrows, but Karna manages to neutralize all of them with arrows of his own.

Finally when all of Arjuna’s weapons are exhausted and he is defenseless, the only thing that saves him on the sixteenth day was nightfall, and since it was against the code of war to battle at night, Arjuna managed to escape the wrath of Karna that day.

However, as a parting shot, Karna shouted out “Oh Arjuna, today you were saved from the powerful Nagastra due to the insidious tactics of your beloved Krishna. But mark my words Pandava prince, tomorrow will be your last day on this earth.

On the seventeenth day, both the warriors resumed their dueling, which was so fierce that it is said that even the Gods from heaven were witnessing this spectacle. Karna managed to cut Arjuna’s bowstring many times, but Arjuna managed to tie it back so soon that Karna had to acknowledge his rival’s skills with the bow as a weapon.

As the duel went on, Karna slowly began to forget all the divine incantations that were revealed to him during his training with Parasurama. This was the result of a curse of his guru Parasurama as a punishment for lying about his caste.

And suddenly his chariot wheel also got stuck in the wet mud of the battlefield. Descending from his chariot, when Karna was trying to pry open the greasy chariot wheel from the mud, Krishna reminded Arjuna of all the rules and etiquettes that Karna had violated in the past, by assisting Duryodhana in trying to kill the Pandavas in the house of lacquer, by encouraging Duhshasana to disrobe Draupadi after the game of dice. Krishna advices Arjuna that he would not get a better opportunity to kill Karna and that he should go ahead and kill him despite the fact that he was unarmed and the rules of war forbade attacking an unarmed warrior.

Reminded of these incidents, an enraged Arjuna uses the Anjalika weapon grievously injure Karna and leave him dying on the battlefield of Kurukshetra.

Thus, Karna, the charioteer’s son died on the battlefield tending to his chariot. Now, if that wasn’t poetic justice, what else is.

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This post has been written for the Three Word Wednesday prompt where the post had to include the words greasy, insidious and reveal, and that is the reason that these words have been underlined in the post.