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Another prayag, the place where Alakananda meets Pindar, is called Karna prayag.

View of Alakananda and Pindar from the bridge

This is the place where you will see the things you don’t expect to see in the midst of idyllic life of Himalayan villages like death and cremation ceremonies, women and child labours etc. Scenic beauty and cruel reality make this place somewhat different.

Women earning her bread with her child

It is also the place where Karna, the half brother of the Pandavas, is believed to have performed austerities to please his father,the sun-god, Surya. There is also a small shrine dedicated to Karna, careless and half-ruined, which reminded me of Karna’s tragic story.

A tree under which Karna performed austerities

Karna was born as the son of Kunti and Surya, before she was married to Pandu and before the other Pandavas were born. Karna was Kunti’s first son but because of being unmarried at that time, she placed the baby in the basket and set him afloat in the Ganges. He was found by a chariotheer who raised him.

He had a happy childhood but as he grew up, he became more interested in the art of warfare. He approached Drona, the master of military arts, who was the teacher of Pandavas and Kauravas, but was rejected by him.

At her own svayamvara, Draupadi humiliated him by calling him the son of a charioteer altough he was the right match for her.

After Shakuni won a game of dice and Duhshasana dragged Draupadi into the court by her hair, Karna insulted her by saying that woman with more then four husbands is nothing but a whore. The enemity between brothers raised and Arjuna swored that he will kill Karna. Indra, the father of Arjuna, was aware that as long as Karna has the golden armour he would be invincible in war. So he cheated him by coming disguised as a poor Brahman and asking for the armour. Karna generously gave his armour to Indra.

Just before the great war of Kurukshetra, Kunti approached him and revealed that he is her son and the brother of Pandavas. Karna was broken and felt betrayed but it was to late. On the seventheenth day of the war, after the fierce battle, while Karna was descending from the chariot to remove the broken wheel, Arjuna killed him. 

Altough he was a friend of Duryodhana, Karna is praised as one of the greatest warriors of all times. He was the tragic hero, but also a brave hero with terrific courage and immeasurable generosity.

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One thought on “Karna prayag

  1. What a great story. I can never remember all the different hindu stories, as there are always so many twists and turns, and it spans so many incarnations. But this very trait, makes them great re-reads for someone like me, because I forget most of the details in the story. Also interesting is how in the Indian stories, there is always the good character who comes either in disguise or by trickery, and will take away something valuable from the “not so good” character. It seems like cheating, but the motive always is how to protect the virtuous and the innocent, and so in that context it is acceptable. There was an Indian sage, who said that it is okay for a person to lie, if his lie will save an innocent person from death or great injury.

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