Mahabharata: Karna’s Last Test

Mahabharata: Karna’s Last Test

The Mahabharat is one of the two major epics in Sanskrit of ancient India. It contains over one lakh couplets and is thrice as long as the Bible. However, only a fraction of the narration actually deals with the main story with the rest containing additional myths and teachings.

It clearly states: “what is found here may be found elsewhere but what is not found here cannot be found elsewhere.” 

The last generosity test

Karna was lying on the battlefield gasping for breath in his last moments. Krishna assumed the form of an indigent Brahmin and approached him wanting to test his generosity. Krishna exclaimed: “Karna! Karna!” Karna asked him: “Who are you, Sir?” Krishna (as the poor Brahmin) replied: “For a long time I have been hearing about your reputation as a charitable person. Today I came to ask you for a gift.” “Certainly, I shall give you whatever you want”, replied Karna.

“I want a small quantity of gold”, said Krishna. Karna opened his mouth, showed the gold fillings for his teeth and said: “I shall give this to you. You can take them”. Assuming a tone of revulsion, Krishna said: “Do you expect me to break your teeth and take the gold from them? How can I do such a wicked deed?” Karna picked up a stone, knocked out his teeth and offered them to the “Brahmin”.

Krishna in his guise as Brahmin wanted to test Karna further. “What? Are you giving me as gift teeth dripping with blood? I cannot accept this. I am leaving”, he said. Karna pleaded: “Swami, please wait.” Even while he was unable to move, Karna took out his arrow and aimed it at the sky. Immediately rain dropped from the clouds. Cleaning the teeth with the rainwater, Karna offered the teeth with both his hands.

Karna asked: “Who are you, Sir”? Krishna said: “I am Krishna. I admire your spirit of sacrifice. In any circumstance you have never given up your spirit of sacrifice. Ask me what you want.” Beholding Krishna’s beauteous form, Karna said with folded hands: “Krishna! To have the vision of the Lord before one’s passing is the goal of human existence. You came to me and blessed me with your form. This is enough for me. I offer my salutations to you.”

The end

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