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KARNA - A STUDY OF ELEMENTS
by Priyadarshini R. Banati
Karna as the son of Surya is a fascinating story in the Mahabharata. In one’s horoscope Sun reflects one’s father and yet Karna was father-less. One can argue his kavach and kundal were his father’s but even that he gives away. This rejection of his lineage and roots is striking. Karna wants nothing to do with his lineage nor his identity. As a child, though he feels different from that of a suta putra he doesn’t dream of a fond reunion with his ‘true’ parents. Despite Kunti and Krishna offering him his lineage and welcoming him to his ‘true’ family, he declines. This further speaks of a quality of the Sun in the horoscope especially when exalted in the Rasi of Aries. The quality is the result of a powerful concoction of both self confidence and arrogance. Those with a strong Sun in their horoscopes can find within themselves huge reserves of confidence and when this is thwarted they are big enough to arrogantly dismiss & obliterate any objections to their personal identity. Imagine the plight of Karna – the very son of Sun who was forced to grow up constantly being thwarted by those around him. He perhaps had a very good idea of the error of his lineage and each time he was taunted about the same, he responded by shirking the very need for any lineage. In a culture where lineage is everything, this made Karna stand outside the square of culture. This is one of the reasons his defeat at the hands of Arjuna and Krishna was inevitable.
The Sun in a horoscope also reflects an individual’s leader-like potentials. Yet in giving up his identity, Karna’s story explains how he is unfit to assume the role of a leader – despite it being given to him twice by Duryodhana: Once when he’s made King of Anga and second when he’s made the senadhipati.
The fact that Karna was Duryodhana’s military strength is akin to not Arjuna but Bhima’s role perhaps in the Mahabharata. Here again he reflects the Krura, aggressive role of the Sun, ready to take up righteous battle. What is righteous, you might wonder. For Karna, blind for his love for Duryodhana, Duryodhana’s insults became his righteous battles.
However Karna chooses Indra’s son Arjuna as his adversary and not Vayu’s son Bhima. Here again Indra who represents the rain [water] and Krishna who is the God in Moon bring together the clash between fire[Sun] and water[Moon] – Both adversial elements and also counter-balances of nature itself. Human actions and time is recorded in Jyotish in the form of an interplay between the Sun and Moon. It is this interplay that also gets enacted out in the Mahabharata.
Karna had a luminous quality to his character – Even in death his body is supposed to have shone despite the soul having abandoned it. This is another charaterization of Sun. Karna is also famous for his generous spirit. The more he gives the stronger he gets. Once again this is similar to the characteristics of the Sun. Karna can seem fixated at times – in his devotion to Duryodhana especially. Contrast this with Arjuna and Krishna who both tend to flitter from one stance to another, in no apparent logic to the reader. The Sun here in Karna reflects his steadfast character, that is firm in good times and stubbornly fixed in bad times.
Karna’s sometimes referred to as destiny’s child. Most people love him because they pity his plight, his condition. Yet, he choose and followed the path he was given, uncomplaining and immensely proud. This kind of strength of inner conviction can come from nowhere else but his father, the Sun. This is what makes his character so alluring – this is the aura that draws people to leonine individuals. Despite all the charm of Krishna, Karna did not sway – perhaps the only example of such behavior in all of the Mahabharata.