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  • Writer's pictureanjali mohapatra

Lord Krishna went to meet Karna!

Updated: Sep 8, 2023

(Vyasa Mahabharata)


The blind king Dhritarashtra was too anxious to know about the conversation between Lord Krishna and the son of Suta- Karna. Excitedly he asked, ‘O Sanjaya tell me what the slayer of Madhu told Karna. Was it amicable or in words sharp?’

Then Sanjaya said, ‘O noble king! The words were sharp and mild, sweet leading to virtue. Now hear from me, O Scion of kings!’———————


Just before the beginning of the Kurukshetra war, Lord Keshava went to Karna and asked him to join the Pandavas. Beholding Karna, Vasudeva said, ‘O high-souled Karna, you worship the Brahmanas who are conversant in Vedas, Vedangas, and scriptures! You, yourself is very knowledgeable and expert in all the shastras and the scriptures. According to Shastras, you are not Radha’s son, so you are morally the son of Pandu. You should be the King being the Jestha Pandava.

So, O Karna! Be the king of these three worlds and the five Pandavas with me, Vrishnis, and Andhakas will wash your feet. Both your father’s and mother’s side will be happy and follow your command. All your brothers and the kings will duly perform the coronation ceremony carrying holy water in gold and silver vessels. The most sacred lady Draupadi too will accept you as her husband during the sixth period.

O the wisest man! Let that best among the twice-born Dhaumya pour a libation on the fire and let him anoint you today itself. O Karna, let the five sons of Draupadi and the son of Shubhadra with the princes of Panchala and Chedi call you as the king of the Universe. King Yudhishthira would also hold the white chamara, and the mighty Bhimsen would carry the white umbrella over your head. Your chariot will be driven by Arjun and Abhimanyu will be near you. All the princes of Panchala with Nakul and Shahadev will follow you. Everybody will serve at your feet and wait for your command. The princes of Panchal- Dhristadyumna, Shikhadin, and the mighty Satyaki will follow you behind your chariot.

O you long arms! Let the professional bards and singers praise in various songs and let the Pandavas proclaim the victory of Vasusenas. Let all the brothers united together with joy.’

Hearing the words of Lord Krishna, Karna said, ‘O Krishna! O Scion of Vrishnis race, I know it very well that I am not Radha’s son. I am Kunti’s son and I am the Jestha (eldest) Pandava! But, O Keshava! I was abandoned by Kunti when I was born. She left me destitute the day I was born. O Madhava, at that crucial time of my life I was accepted by Adhiratha and Radha as their son. O Lord, I grew up with their love and affection. O Hrishikesh, my father had performed all the rituals and even he chose the brides for me.

O the slayer of Madhu, they trusted me and I am the one who would offer Pinda after their death. You tell me, how can I betray my foster parents by joining Pandavas? O Keshava! When I was nowhere, King Duryodhana bestowed everything upon me. He has selected me to perform the single combat with Savyashachi. And O Lord, for thirteen years I have been enjoying the sovereignty under his protection. The son of King Dhritarashtra has prepared the war against Pandavas trusting upon my valor thinking that I would vanquish all the Pandavas and win over the battle. From a fear of being slain or a fear of being captured, I do not want to betray Duryodhana at this juncture in time. O Lord! If I do not fight with Arjun, it would be an infamy to me and in fact to both of us.

O Krishna! Whatever you have told me is for my benefit and with goodwill, you have spoken. All the Pandavas too will follow your instructions, there is no doubt of it. O Lord! Let our conversation be a secret. If the virtuous-minded Yudhishthira would come to know about this, he would never accept the kingdom. And even if I would obtain this large and prosperous kingdom, I shall offer it to wicked-minded Duryodhana. Let the high-souled Yudhishthira be the king of this universe who has on his side the mighty Bhimsen, invincible warrior Arjun, Nakul, and Sahadeva. All the best of the men- the princes of Panchala, the great-minded Kuntibhoja, and King Virat have taken his side.

O the slayer of Madhu! There will be a great sacrificial ceremony of weapons performed by Duryodhana. And O Madhava, no one but you are the supervisor of that grand ceremony. O Janardana, you will be the Adhvaryu (priest) of that ceremony and Arjun will be the Hotri. When Gandiva bow will function, it will be the sacrificial ladle and the might of the soldiers will become the clarified butter to be poured as libation on the fire. The weapons Pashupatastra, Brhmastra, and Aindra used by Parth will be the incantation (mantras) in the sacrifice.

And O Achyuta, Abhimanyu, the son of Dhananjaya will recite the Vedic hymns. When the mighty Bhimsen will roar, it will appear as if the udgatri is repeating the incantation. O Lord! The Homa and Japa (meditation) of King Yudhishthira will perform the work of the Brahmana. Whatever you have spoken, O Krishna is beneficial for me, and with goodwill, you have done it. But, O Keshava, it is too late now. Neither for gaining the three worlds nor out of fear or a fear of being captured, I can not act treacherously to Duryodhana now!

O Lord! Nakul and Sahadev will duly perform the sacrifice of the animals in that sacrifice. Karnir (the sharp projection of an arrow), Nalikas, and arrows will be the spoon and vessels for the Soma juice and the bow will be the substitute for Pavitrus ( Kusha leaves) for springing clarified butter. The sword will be the substitute for the Kapalas and the head of the soldiers ( killed on the battlefield) will be for Purodasha in that sacrificial ceremony.

O Janardana! Satyaki will be the chief assistant of the head priest. Duryodhana will be the performer and his vast army will take the place of his wife. When I will be slain by Arjun, the second part of the ceremony will begin. When Bhishma and Drona will be overthrown by the Panchala princes, and Duryodhana and Dusashana will be slain by mighty-armed Bhimsen, the ceremony will almost come to an end. Gandhari with all her daughters-in-law will cry on the battlefield for their husbands, sons, and grandsons, that will be the final bath of the ceremony, O Lord!

O Keshaba! The harsh words I used to Pandavas were for the gratification of Duryodhana. I am now struck with remorse for that misdeed.

At least, let the best of the warriors get a heroic Kshatriya death. And let the glory of this Mahabharata battle be told by the people for ages to come! And O Janardana, bring here the son of Kunti- Arjun for me to fight. Keep the conversation a secret, O Krishna! O Lord! You know that the destruction of this entire world is at hand.’

Thus, after a long conversation, Karna closely embraced Krishna and both of them departed from each other waiting for the final War- Mahabharata!

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