Lessons that you can learn from Mahabharata’s Karna


The Mahabharata is one of the greatest epics of all times. It narrates the battle between the Kauravas on the one side and the Pandavas on the other. The Pandavas, who represented righteousness, were outnumbered by the Kauravas during the time of the war. Nonetheless, the Pandavas, headed by Yudishthir, emerged stronger than the opponents because they had Shri Krishna, the God by their side. The Pandavas, though fewer in number, won the battle of Kurukshetra, that witnessed human values degenerating. It was a war that not only saw warriors breaking the rules and disobeying the Kshatriya Dharma but redefined treachery, falsehood, deceit and greed.

Interestingly, one can learn invaluable lessons from each of the characters of the great Indian epic. In this web-post, we shall learn more about Karna, popularly known as Karan, one of the greatest warriors of all times.

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1. A revengeful instinct can only lead to one’s doom
Mahabharata may revolve around the war of duty. But we cannot escape the fact that the major reason behind the destruction of all was revenge. The Kauravas lost everything to their blinded desire to ruin the Pandavas. The war did not even spare the children, including Draupadi’s five sons and Abhimanyu.

2. Stand by what’s right; even fight for it
Arjuna was initially hesitant to wage war against his kin. But Krishna reminded him that one has to stand by Dharma (duty), even it meant going against one’s own family. Therefore, Arjuna had to fulfill his responsibility as a great warrior of Dharma.

3. The eternal bond of friendship

The friendship between Krishna and Arjuna is something all of us look up to. It is perhaps because of Krishna’s unconditional support and motivation that the Pandavas managed to survive the war. None of us can forget the epic dice scene where it was Krishna who came to Draupadi’s rescue while her husbands gambled her away to disgrace. The friendship between Karna and Duryodhan, on the other hand, is no less inspiring.

4. Half knowledge can be dangerous

Arjuna’s son Abhimanyu teaches us how half-knowledge can have an adverse impact. While Abhimanyu knew how to enter the Chkaravyuh, he did not know the way out.

5. Don’t be swayed by greed
What did Yudhishthir win out of greed? On the contrary, he lost everything he possessed–from his kingdom to his wealth. And to gamble away a woman in the pursuit of hubris! How can one possibly justify that?

6. We cannot give up on life despite all hurdles
Who can be a better example for this than Karana? Right from his birth, the ‘suta-putra’ battled his way through life, fighting discrimination and disgrace at every stage. He almost became a puppet in the hands of fate. But no obstacle could ever deter him from pursuing his goal. And his devotion towards his mother knew no bounds, to the extent that he even gave up his kavajkundal (his life-saving power) on her demand.

7. Being a woman does not make you a lesser individual
Yes, Draupadi was manoeuvred into taking five husbands, she was humiliated by the Kauravas for the fault of her own husband. She was violated but she was bold enough to take a stand. She ensured she got justice by vowing to wash her hair with the blood of Duryodhana and Dushanana–perhaps another reason that led to the war. A woman like Draupadi will not be passive, she will be fiery, she will fight for herself.