Though I am a product of inter-caste/inter-religion marriage, I only got chance to read Bible stories in my childhood. Dad never tried to share his knowledge of Hinduism, especially stories from Mahabharatha and Ramayana. So I was unaware of one side of ancient religion and its stories until I got internet. My deep interest in digital painting, paintings about life, led me to stories of Mahabharata and Ramayana. I am uninterested in painting happy faces and almost all of my paintings are about suffering and death. One of the most mind-bending characters of Hindu mythology is Karna. This painting, that i did 2 years ago, is about Karna story — “the final donation.”
Karna Story — The final donation | About the painting
Karna is the paragon of magnanimity. He never leaves anyone who seeks his help empty-handed. Even the heaven praise Karna’s generosity. The central part of epic Mahabharatha is the great Kurukshetra war. The two brothers, Arjuna and Karna, are fighting fiercely against each other and one must die for this fight to end. While the whole world was shocked to see such an earth-shattering battle, Karna’s chariot sunk a few inches down the earth(This happened because of a previous curse). Karna asked Arjuna to pause the battle, like pausing a fight in a video game. Arjuna agreed to stop until Karna fixes his sunken chariot.
Karna was fixing his chariot and Arjuna was waiting. Sudden;y, Lord Krishna who is lord of all worlds and Arjuna’s charioteer, instructs Arjuna to make use of this golden opportunity.
“This is it! Kill him. It is now or never, Arjuna,” reiterated Krishna.
“but..b..but It is against ethics,” replied Arjuna
“Karna didn’t care about ethics when he was one among the murderers of your son. Can you forget your son’s murder on the battlefield? Your son Abhimanyu who stood defencelessly” reminded Krishna.
Words of Krishna deeply influenced Arjuna and he did it — Arjuna shoots an arrow and pierced the chest of Karna, who was fixing his chariot.
Krishna decides to test dying Karna. Lord Krishna disguises in the form of a Brahmin and approaches Karna. Brahmin(Krishna) asks Karna for charity. Karna who is in a life and death situation replies, “Oh Brahmin, I am on the battlefield and dying. If you visit my palace, you will get food and money.”
Brahmin – “I can’t travel long distance. One of your teeth is gold. I would like to have your golden tooth.”
Karna didn’t think twice and looked at the ground and found a stone. He hits his golden tooth with stone and gifts the golden tooth to Brahmin.
Brahmin – “This tooth contains blood. I can’t accept a gift that has blood on it.”
Karna struggles to take his bow and arrow. But he takes a divine arrow and shoots it on the ground. Suddenly water flows from the ground and Karna washes his golden tooth. Hiding his unbearable pain, Karna gifts his clean golden tooth to Brahmin.
Brahmin was completely stunned by this generosity. Brahmin reveals his true form — Lord Krishna — to dying Karna. Lord Krishna, the supreme God was so impressed. Krishna reveals his true from – Vishwaroopam – to Karna. Vishwaroopam is endless stretching heaven, earth and hell.
Lord Krishna – “I have never seen anything like this!!! Ask whatever you want…”
(Karna could have asked for immortality or victory in war. )
Karna – “Since birth, I am suffering. My mother abandoned me. My teacher/guru cursed me. I was humiliated by the society and the woman I loved. Oh Lord, Please liberate me from Maya.”
Krishna grants boon.
(Maya in Hinduism means “illusion”. Hinduism teaches this world is a Maya. Even quantum physics and holographic principle questions the nature of our reality)
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