(Other names: Vasusena, Radheya, Karan)
Karna was the son of Surya Dev (Sun God) born to Kunti. Sage Durvasa gave Kunti a mantra (secret word) with the help of which she called Surya Dev and gave birth to Karna before her marriage.
Due to regards for public opinion, Kunti let the child Karna borne down the river.
The child was picked up by King Dhritarashtra’s charioteer, Adhiratha who was a Suta by caste.
Karna was raised by him and his wife Radha as their own son and they named the child Vasusena.
Karna also came to be known as Radheya – son of Radha (His foster mother). As he was brought up by these low caste parents, Karna is also known as Sut-Putra.
Karna wants to learn archery from Dronacharya but being a carpenter’s son, Dronacharya did not teach him the use of Brahmastra (the most powerful weapon).
Karna went to Parshurama to learn this by lying to him that he was a Brahmin.
When Parshuram came to know the truth, Parshuram was angry that he was deceived to accept a low caste fellow as his disciple.
Therefore, he cursed Karna saying: “O Karna, even though you are great in bravery, art of archery, and in service to me, still as you have deceived your Guru, I send a curse to you that at a crucial time on the battle-field the wheels of your chariot will get stuck on earth. The consequences would be grave.”
Karna is famous for his valour, knowledge of archery and being a generous person. Hence he is still known as “Daan Veer Karna”. When Karna could not take part in the exhibition of archery for not being a King or a prince, Duryodhan made him chief of Angdesh and gave him the status of a King.
Since then, Karna and Duryodhan became close friends. For the sake of his friendship with Duryodhan, Karna always stood by him and took part in the war of Mahabharata from side of the Kauravas.
Karna was born with a divine armour and earrings. Indra tried to ask for this armour and earrings from Karna by fraud.
Even though Karna knew about the fraud, he gave away both the things to Indra. This shows how generous Karna was.
During the last phase of Mahabharata war, Karna came to know that he was Kunti’s son and elder brother of the Pandavas but just for the sake of his friendship with Duryodhan, he fought from the side of the Kauravas.
During the last few days of Mahabharata, Karna became the commander of Kauravas’ army.
Arjun and Karna were staunch rivals and Arjun knew that if there was someone who could match his skills of archery, it was Karna. Karna was killed by Arjun during the war.