Karna the uncrowned hero is one of the most captivating characters of Mahabharat. A legend, he is not only known for his unmatched skills but also for his generosity and integrity. A great warrior, he is often considered as “anti-hero” because of his loyalty towards Duryodhan, the leader of the wrong side. Here, for a change we will not judge him whether he was right or wrong in his doings but about his various names that was bestowed on him for various reasons:
This is Karna’s original name given to him by his foster parents – Adhiratha, the charioteer of Dhritarashtra and his wife Radha. They gave the name of Vasusena because he was born with wealth – natural armor (Kavach) and a pair of earrings (Kundal). Vasusena was actually born to Kunti in her teens way before she married to Pandu. She accidentally gave birth to Karna in curoisity to test her boon given by Durvasa Rishi. She had invoked Surya, the Sun God to give her a child. But, when the child was born she was afraid of being an unwed mother along with the society’s repercussion. So, she secretly abandoned him by setting the baby float on a river. This baby was received and raised by childless Radha and her husband Adhiratha.
Although his name was Vasusena, he was popularly known as Radheya – the son of Radha. Radha loved him immensely and bestowed him with all the love and care. She nurtured him as if he was his real son. Radheya too loved his foster parents immensely. He didn’t knew that they were not his real parents till Lord Krishna exposed the reality of he being the son of Solar Deity Surya and Kunti, few days before the Kurukshetra War.
Once Dronacharya arranged a tournament of archery in Hastinapur. Vasusena, who was a skilled archer himself also wanted to participate. No wonder he had the skill and talent of beating Dronacharya’s most favored pupil Arjun. However, Dronacharya was shocked to see somebody challenging Arjun, one of the most talented archer. Somewhere he was even afraid what if he wins over Arjun? And so he made excuse by not allowing Karna to contest in the tournament.
According to the customs, only a prince could take part in such tournaments. On the basis of that, Dronacharya smartly shunned Vasusena bu asking him his kingdom and clan. Duryodhan who saw cousin Arjun as a rival was happy to see somebody challenging Arjun. He liked Vasusena’s guts and immediately shaked his hands with Vasunsena by giving him the land of Anga. This is how Karna became Angaraja – The King of Anga. This gesture of Duryodhan was never forgotten by Angaraj and he remained loyal to him till he breath his last.
Karna actually means the peeler and cutter of one’s own cover. The name Karna was given to Vasusena only after he peeled his own natural armor from his chest to grant it to the Brahaman in disguise who approached him during his sun worship. Till that time, he was either known as Vasusena, Radheya or Angaraja. This Brahmin in disguise was none other than Lord Indra who in order to benefit his own son Phalguni (Arjun) wanted to make Karna vulnerable by taking away his natural combat – kavach and kundal.
It is said that Karna knew who this Brahmin was through Surya, his father, who a fortnight ago had warned him of Indra’s cruel intention. However, despite knowing the fact that the Brahmin is Indra, he gave his natural armors. Mainly because, Karna was bounded by his words that he shall never let anybody go from his door empty handed. Therefore, he happily peeled his own chest and gave away his kavach despite knowing the true intentions of Lord Indra. This is the reason why he is also called Vaikartana.
Karna and Vaikartana almost mean the same. Besides, Karna he is also known as Vaikartana. While Karna means the peeler of one’s own cover, the title Vaikartana was given to Karna mainly because he had peeled his Kavach along with his kundal to offer it to the Brahaman in disguise, “Lord Indra.”
Karna was also called as Vrisha because of his righteous nature. Right from the very beginning he was engaged in penances. He was kind even to his enemies – Though he knew the Brahaman in disguise was Lord Indra (who wanted to help his son and Karna’s arch rival) he still helped him. Besides, he was a person who kept his vows!
By: Deepti Verma
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