Karna (Devanāgari: कर्ण) is one of the central characters in the Hindu epic Mahabharata. He was the closest friend of Duryodhana. He knew that Pandavas are his brothers but to fulfill his promise to Duryodhana, he fought on his behalf against the Pandavas in the Kurukshetra War. If he wanted, he could kill all the Pandavas alone but for only the sake of his promise to his mother Kunti he spared their lives.
- O Duryodhana, all of us seek to accomplish thy will and, O king, I see that unanimity at present prevaileth among us! The sons of Pandu, with passions under complete control, will never return without passing away the promised period. If, however, they do return from failing sense, do thou defeat them again at dice.
Quotes about Karna
- It is not difficult to fall in love with Karna. He has all the elements of a hero but is not allowed to be one – by his mother, his brothers, his teacher, even God. Our heart goes out to him.
- In India, for people who are conversant with the Mahabharata, there is a whole culture where Karna is a kind of anti-hero. He is a sweet mango gone bad. He was a wonderful human being gone totally bad because he invested in bitterness. His bitterness took him into a disastrous life story. He was a man with a phenomenal sense of integrity and generosity but all this was lost. He died in the battle in a bad way.
- Duryodhana’s life could have been saved if only Karna used his intelligence rather than his loyalty and gratitude. He failed to use his intelligence and continuously went from one blunder to another.
- Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev in: Karna – Hero or Villain?
Chapter 1: Verse 8, by Duryodhana
- There are personalities like you, Bhishma, Karṇa, Kṛpa, Aśvatthāmā, Vikarna and the son of Somadatta called Bhurishrava, who are always victorious in battle.
Chapter 11: Verse 26, by Arjuna
- Thou Refuge of the World!
Lo! to the cavern hurled
Of Thy wide-opened throat, and lips white-tushed,
I see our noblest ones,
Great Dhritarashtra's sons,
Bhishma, Drona, and Karna, caught and crushed!
- Edwin Arnold, tr. (1885)
Chapter 11: Verse 34, by Krishna
- Strike, strong-armed Prince, at Drona! at Bhishma strike! deal
On Karna, Jyadratha; stay all their warlike breath!
'Tis I who bid them perish! Thou wilt but slay the slain;
Fight! they must fall, and thou must live, victor upon this plain!
- Edwin Arnold, tr.