This time I have come up with a solid subject to write in my blog. (Thanks to one of my best friends who gave me an idea to write about this) Everyone knows about Mahabharata! Whenever we talk about Mahabharata, there has always been a controversy as to who is the actual hero of the epic! Arjuna? or Karna?
Karna , also known as Vasusena or Radheya(son of Radha,his foster mother), was one of the central characters of Mahabharatha. Born to Surya and Kunti devi, he always faced humiliation for being a Suta-putra. Little did people know that he wasn’t a Suta-putra, but a Surya-putra.(during that time) As a young women,Kunti was granted the boon to invoke any God to give her a baby. In order to test this, she called upon Surya and was handed a son,Karna, wearing a kavacha and a kundala. So,this fact always fascinated me..where did those Kavacha actually come from? This blog is going to explain about that.
Much before Mahabharatha ,there lived an asura named Dhambhodbhava. He was a devotee of Surya. In order to gain immortality he performed great tapasyas. As a result of this , Lord Surya appeared before him and said ‘I’m pleased by your devotion. Ask me anything you want’.
Dambhodbhava hid a smile, ‘My Lord! Please make me immortal!’
Surya frowned, ‘That is not possible! Everything that is born has to die! Immortality is out of question!’
Dhambhodbhava knew that his wish won’t be granted and all his penance were wasted. Surya,waited for him to ask for another boon . Dhambhodbhava , now came up with an idea of asking a proper boon which Surya couldn’t avoid. He asked for thousand armors to protect him. He also laid a condition stating that whoever tries to break that kavach would die immediately. (this kavach could only be broken by someone who has performed penance for thousand years).
Surya was horribly worried. He knew that Dambhodbhava had performed a very powerful penance and that he could get the entire boon he had asked for. And Surya had a feeling that Dambhodbhava was not going to use his powers for good. He had no other choice but to grant the boon. But deep down , Surya was too scared about the consequences of granting that deadly boon.
Surya’s worries came true. Soon , Dambhodbhava started to misuse his powers. He treated everyone in the worst way possible. He was known by the name ‘Sahasrakavacha’ (man with thousand armors) .
It was at the same time, King Daksha (father of Sati, Lord Shiva’s first wife) ,got one of his daughters Murthi get married to Dharma ( one of Lord Brahma’s sons) . Murthi also heard about Sahasrakavacha and wanted him to get killed. She started performing penance to Lord Vishnu . Vishnu was pleased by this and promised her that he would bring his atrocities to an end. He also said she will be the reason for Sahasrakavacha’s death. (onnu vaangina ,onnu free) Soon, Murthi gave birth to twin sons; Nara and Narayana.
The two brothers were inseparable. What one thought the other was always able to finish.They grew up in an ashram. Sahasrakavacha started attacking the forest around the ashram where Nara and Narayana stayed.
Nara went to Sahasrakavacha, ‘Sahasrakavacha! I challenge you to a fight!‘
‘I can be killed only by performing penance for a thousand years. You cannot….’ ,Sahasrakavacha replied.
Nara said ‘I have not done any penance….But my brother Narayana is doing it for me!’
Sahasrakavacha was not able to control his laughter, ‘He is separate and you are separate. How can you think of his penance helping you in any way? Get out of my way child’ he said.
But Nara was not ready to give up. Fight started among the two. Sahasrakavacha found it extremely difficult to fight with Nara, because he gained powers because of Narayana’s penance. Soon, to Sahasrakavachas’ surprise Nara broke the first armor worn by him. But, as soon as his armor was broken , Nara dropped dead ! Narayana got up and ran towards his dead brother. He closed his eyes and muttered a mantra. Sahasrakavacha could not believe his eyes when he saw Nara wake up! That was when Sahasrakavacha understood that it was the ‘mritunjaya mantra’ that was uttered by Narayana. (It was the mantra that can bring the dead back to life and could possibly used only if someone has the power that equals the power gained by performing penance for thousand years)
Now Narayana picked up the weapon and started to fight with Sahasrakavacha while Nara went to the forest and started performing the penance for the strength of his brother. This went on and on . One of the brothers die as a result of breaking the armor and the other used the mantra to bring the dead back to life.
Sahasrakavacha lost his 999 armors and has only one left. He came to the realization that he isn’t going to defeat the kids. So,he decided to take refuge within Surya ,who granted him the boon. Sahasrakavacha became a part of Lord Surya.
When Nara and Narayana went to Lord Surya and asked him to hand over Sahasrakavacha, Surya politely refused to do so because it was his moral duty to protect his devotee. As a result, Nara cursed Surya that he would be born as a human and suffer for sheltering a monster within himself. Immediately after this incident,Treta yuga came to an end and Dwapara yuga began.
To fulfill the promise given to Murthi , Nara and Narayana were born again in dwapara yuga as Arjuna and Krishna respectively. And Sahasrakavacha was none other than Karna himself. The kavacha which he had was the last one of the thousand kavachas .
As Karna was actually the monster Dambodbhava in his previous life, he led a very difficult life to pay for all the sins committed by him in his past life.
But Karna also had Surya, the Sun God inside him, so Karna was a hero as well! A hero, who was the most powerful, bravest and the most tragic warrior in the Mahabharatha.!
-References from Bhagawatha purana.