Karna was one of the major characters in the Hindu epic Mahabharata. He was a true warrior, a faithful friend and the most skilled archer of the Mahabharata. Despite of so many qualities, his life was unfair from beginning. He was the spiritual son of Surya (the sun deity) and the princess Kunti. Kunti was given a boon to have a child with desired qualities of divine Gods. To know whether the boon was correct or not, she invoked Sun God and then Karna was born to unmarried teenage Kunti who abandon the new born Karna in a basket on the river. The basket was later discovered floating in the river Ganga. He was then adopted and raised by foster suta parents named Radha and Adhiratha nandana who was working as charioteer for King Dhritrashtra.
Karna grows up to be accomplished warrior of extraordinary abilities, a gifted speaker and later on a loyal friend of Duryodhana. He was known by a number of names and he did justify each and every one of it. In this article, I am going to tell you about the different names by which Karna was known and the reasons behind them.
When Karna was born, his mother Kunti was unmarried. She thought that he could become a threat to her reputation and so she decided to give him up. She abandoned the new born child on a basket in the River Ganga where he was found by his foster parents Radha and Adhiratha. Vasusena was the name given to him by his foster parents because of the wealth he was born with i.e; kavach and kundal.
The most common name of the Karna is Radheya. Radha and her husband Adhiratha, the charioteer of the Hastinapur did not have any child. One day while praying to God for a child, they found Karna in the basket along the river bank. They took him to their home unaware about his whereabouts. Radha loved him so much and took great care of him. The love between them was unconditional. Radheya means the son of Radha and eventually this became his nickname.
Once Dronacharya organized an archery tournament in Hastinapur. Karna went there without any invitation and challenged Arjuna for a duel but he was not allowed to enter the tournament because it was only meant for kings. He was insulted there as he was the son of a suta. Everyone was well aware that Arjuna is very good in archery and no one could defeat him but Duryodhana wanted to see Arjuna’s defeat. So he gave a part of his kingdom “Anga” to Karna and made him the king of “Anga”. Since then he was named as Angaraj meaning the king of Anga.
Once Radheya visited Dronacharya’s home along with his father Adhiratha (a suta). He wanted to learn Archery from him but Dronacharya did not make him his disciple because he was not from a high profile family. When Dronacharya asked him his name, his father replied that his name is Radheya. Dronacharya then said that the radiation coming from his forehead makes him to give a unique name. His name should be Karna means radiant energy. In sanskrit, Karna means radiant. Literally, this name means spreading light.
Vaikartan means the peeler of one’s own cover. This name was given to him because once when he just completed his prayer to God sun, a Brahman came to him and asked him to offer him his kavach and kundal. These kavach and kundal was with him since his birth and he was born with this wealth. Even after knowing the importance of the kavach and kundal, he gave it to the Brahman. Although he was well aware that the Brahman was none other than lord Indra but still he did not refused him and peeled of his kavach and kundal to give lord Indra.
This means the one who is truthful in speech, engaged in penances, kept his vows and remains kind to enemies. Karna was having all these qualities due to which he was given the title of Vrisha.
Suryaputra means the son of Surya. Once sage Durvasa visited for kuntibhoj. Being pleased by the service and comforts offered by Kunti, he offered her a boon to invoke any God to bear a child. At that time, Kunti was unmarried but still she was curious to know whether the boon was correct or not. So she invoked the Sun to give her a child. Surya handed over a son with natural armour and a pair of earrings to her. Since he was the son of the Surya that’s why he was known as Suryaputra.
8) Parshuram shishya
When Dronacharya did not agree to teach him archery, he went to Parshuram ji to learn from him. He spoke lie to him that he was a Brahman and wanted to learn archery and other teachings from him. Then he became the student of Parshuram and had his entire education from him, and was known as Parshuram shishya means the student of Parshuram.
It means wielder of Vijay bow. As the name of Arjuna’s bow was Gandhiv, similarly Karna had a bow named Vijay. That bow was having many powers and used to make a protective shield around the person who used it. The person with the bow cannot be defeated by anyone. That bow was made by Vishwakarma ji. It belonged to lord Shiva and then he gave it to lord Indra which later on was given to Parshuram ji. When Karna was taking his lessons from him, he gave him his bow Vijay. Since then he was known as Vijaydhari.
Karna was known as Sutaputra because his foster father Adhiratha was a suta (a charioteer in Hastinapur). Sutaputra means the son of a suta.
He was also known as Daanveer because he never used to say no to any person who comes to ask anything from him. In the evening, after offering his prayers to God Sun, if anyone comes to ask anything; he used to give him/her what they wanted without even thinking twice. His nature of donating things and never letting anyone to go without taking whatever they wanted earned him the title “Daanveer”.
He was known as Kaunteya as the name of his biological mother was Kunti.
Do you know any other name of Karna? Let us know in the comments section!