I have read many stories in Puraan, Raamaayan and Mahaabhaarat, but I have never been so much fascinated and impressed by any other story as by the stories of Daitya Raaj Bali and Karn. Whenever their names come I feel so sorry for them. Why? That they were so great personalities that even Bhagavaan had to beg from them for His welfare. I retell those stories, of Raajaa Bali and Karn, here, because I love them to listen to them, to read them and to retell them. Both were the greatest donors of the whole world. I have read their story hundreds of times, still each time I read these stories my hair rise on my body and I feel something in my heart for these people. Read their story here.
Daitya Raaj Bali
Daitya Raaj Bali was very powerful and he had taken over Swarg and Devtaa were wandering around. Devtaa's mother Aditi was very sorry for her children, so she asked Kashyap Jee to give her such a son who could regain her sons' kingdom. Kashyap Jee advised her to please Vishnu, so she did and Vishnu promised her that He would incarnate in her house and regain Devtaa's kingdom.
Since Bali had seen Swarg Lok, he liked it so much that he wanted to live there forever. Daitya Guru Shukra told him that he could not live there like that. To live there permanently he had to 100 Ashwamedh Yagya. Bali had completed 99 Ashwamedh Yagya and he was going to complete now the 100th Ashwamedh Yagya. After this he could live there forever. He was very happy.
This was the time when Hari could stop him being the master of Swarg Lok. So He incarnated in Kashyap Jee's house as a Vaaman Avataar. He got dressed as a handsome Braahman boy and went to Bali's door and asked for alms. Seeing Him all got enchanted with his beauty. nobody had ever seen such an attractive Braahman boy. Bali's guards informed Bali about a Braahman boy asking for alms. Now in Ashwamedh Yagya no one should go empty handed, and Bali's Yagya was just at the end, so he did not want to spoil his Yagya too, so he immediately called the boy and asked him what did he want. He himself could not move his eyes from his look.
The boy said - "I want only three strides land." Bali laughed and said - "Are you sure what you are asking? Do you know who I am? I am the Daitya King Bali. I can give you so much wealth that even you 10 generations will need anything to ask for. And you are asking me only three strides land? You are insulting me. Ask something which after giving you I feel proud that I gave something to somebody." The boy said - "What I will do of all those things. I am a Brahmchaaree, I will never have any progeny, I just want some land so that I can do my Poojaa and Yagya etc." Bali pursued Him a lot for asking something more, but the boy did not move a bit, so Bali got ready to read the Sankalp to give him three strides land.
His wife gave him water, but the then Guru Shukra knew that he was not an ordinary Braahman, but was Vishnu Himself, so he stopped Bali to take the Sankalp and told him the secret, but once Bali had decided, he had decided, he was not ready to go back from his words. He said - "Hey Guru, If he is an ordinary Braahman, I have no problem in giving Him three strides land; but if he is Vishnu, It is my good luck that Vishnu who gives to everybody in the world is asking alms from me. It is my good luck that I am giving to Him who give to everybody in the world. So read the Sankalp."
When Bali did not listen to him, to save his Yajamaan, Shukra sat in the spout of the pot of water to stop the flow of water. When he sat there, the water flow stopped, the boy said - "It seems something is stopping the water." and He inserted a Kush (a sacred grass) straw in the spout. This straw pierced the left eye of Shukra and made him one-eyed, and it caused Shukra to cry with pain and move from there. The water started flowing freely and Bali completed his Sankalp.
As soon the Sankalp was completed, the boy expanded His body so much that His head touched the sky and His body covered the sky. Seeing His this form Bali folded His hands and greeted Him in reverence. He measured the Swarg Lok in one stride, in second stride he measured the Earth, and when he did not find any place to keep His third foot, he asked Bali - Where sould I put my third foot?" Bali said politely - "You have created the world, you gave me the world, you have taken this world from me, it is all yours. Remains only my body, you may put your third foot on my body." and saying this he laid down face down. Bhagavaan got very pleased with Bali's words, so He gave him the kingdom of Sutal Lok and appointed him the Indra of the next Manvantar.
That is how Bhagavaan regained Swarg Lok from Bali and gave it to Devtaa. Such was the character of Raajaa Bali.
Karn was the son of Kuntee and was born in her maidenhood because of her folly. Rishi Durvaasaa gave her a Mantra which could invoke any Devataa and she could fulfill her desire from him. She was young and to test the mantra, she invoked Soorya Dev. When Soorya Dev came, she could not express any wish as she did not have any; but Soorya Dev could not go without giving the fruit of Durvaasaa's Mantra, so he gave her a son clad in an armor and with a pair of protective earrings. Kuntee did not know what to do of that child so she flowed him in Gangaa River keeping him in a box. Luckily a Soot charioteer Adhirath found the box, took out the child and brought him up as his own son as he did not have a child. Thus a Kshatriya prince came to be known as Soot's son throughout his life and he had to suffer for his whole life because of this title only.
He could not get education because of this title and had to lie to get good education, but in the last could not hide his characteristics and was recognized as a Kshatriya and got cursed by his Guru Parashuraam Jee - the best Guru of the world. He was killed because of this curse.
Because of this he could not sit with Paandav. Since Duryodhan was jealous of Paandav, he found this a good opportunity to make him join by giving him the kingship of Ang Desh. And since then Karn got indebted to Duryodhan. He could never lift his head from that debt.
Since he was living with evil people many of his actions were also evil. He could not think in any other direction. He always opposed Paandav, but luckily he was never a part of Shakuni's, Duryodhan's chief adviser, evil plans, He was a true Kshatriya, and remained Kshatriya till the end.
Another pitiable thing that he was not allowed to fight in the war till Bheeshm was the Commander-in-Chief of Kaurav army.
The most pitiful event of his life is that since he was invincible, and Arjun was also invincible and only one invincible has to be in the war field, Indra (Arjun's father) had to cheat on him with such a mean action that he came to him in disguise and asked him his armor and earrings which were a part of his body and were his life, in donation - it was the "asking his life" to save his own son. Indra knew that Karn used to give alms after worshiping Soorya Dev, so he chose the same time to ask for them as he could not say no to give them to him, and he really did not do that, even after being warned by his father Soorya Dev. This alms made him vulnerable to death. Even Indra admired him for this alms and granted him a boon for this. He gave him his Power to be used only once, but that power also he used for his friend Duryodhan - on Ghatotkach.
Karn's Two Very Rare Stories
There are Karn's two very rare stories which I present here in his praise --
Karn Gives Alms to Krishn-1
had wounded Karn, in the evening, Arjun was praising himself and denouncing Karn. Krishn could
not tolerate this, so He said to Arjun - "This is all right that you have
killed Karn, but he was a brave and mighty warrior and a great donor." Arjun
could not tolerate his enemy's praise so he contradicted Krishn- "How do you
say this?" Krishn said - "I can give you proof." Arjun asked
"How?" Krishn said - "Come with me." So both went to the battle
field where Karn was still counting his moments to die.
Krishn assumed the form a
Braahman and asked Arjun to stay behind and watch Him closely secretly. Krishn went to Karn asked him to give Him something. Karn said helplessly - "O
Braahman Devtaa, You are coming now when I am about to die, I have lost everything,
even my body is leaving me. What can I give you? I am so sorry." Krishn said -
"Karn, You are a great donor, you can never be empty-handed, you still have
something to give me." Karn got surprised to hear this, he asked - "What do
I have which I can give to you now at this time?" Krishn said - "You have
a gold tooth, give it to me, I can manage with it." Karn said - "Thanks for
reminding me, it just got off my mind. I give it to you just now, but get me that
stone to break it, I cannot move." Krishn said - "I cannot commit this sin, if you want to
give it to me, you pick that stone yourself and give it to me, otherwise I go."
Karn could not return the Braahman empty handed, so he crawled very slowly
towards the stone, picked the stone, broke his tooth and said to Krishn giving
that to Him - "Take this, O Braahman, Today I have returned your debt also. I
think now I am free from all debts, I can die now peacefully." Krishn said -
"This tooth is smeared with blood, I cannot take such donation." Karn said -
"Hey Braahman Devtaa, Where can I get water to wash this tooth now? You take it
and wash it yourself at your convenience." But Krishn refused to take it as
such, He said - "I don't accept such dirty things. I am a Braahman, if you really want
to give give something, give me the clean thing."
Then Karn looked here and
there and found a stream flowing nearby. With great difficulty he went near the
stream, washed his tooth and gave it to Braahman Devtaa. Krishn took it. Karn
asked Krishn's forgiveness several times that he could not serve him well. At
this Krishn blessed Karn showed him His Chaturbhuj Roop and then Karn died. Krishn
came back to Arjun. Arjun agreed what Krishn said to him. Such was Karn.
There is another version also of this story. While Karn was on the verge of dying, Indra and Soorya had a dispute regarding Karn's
generosity and to settle the same they came to him disguised as beggars. Karn responded
to the beggars by saying that he had nothing left to give, to which the beggars
replied that he still had some gold in his tooth which would be valuable to
them. On realizing that fact, Karn took a stone and broke the tooth with the
gold and gave it to the beggars, epitomizing the "way of life" he led.
Karn Gives Alms to Krishn-2
This story is from Villiputturaar Mahaabhaaratham. When Arjun wanted to kill Karn, his arrows could not kill Karn because Dharm
Devtaa was encircling him. Seeing this Krishn assumed the form of a Poor
Braahman and went to Karn as a beggar to ask for alms from him. At
that time Karn told Him that he was sorry that he had nothing to offer at the war field
to that Braahman. Then, Krishn asked Karn to give his all Punya Phal that he had
so far gained by his alms (Daan). Karn gives away all the gains, Punya, Punya
Phal and virtues he had earned so far, immediately, without any hesitation
whatsoever, and also the Punya and Punya Phal which he was going to earn by this
alms to Krishn. Then only Arjun could kill him.
He never got his proper regard his whole life. He lived all alone and died all alone. In the whole Mahaabhaarat, everybody was busy in some or the work and plan, but he never had his own life, own plan, and own actions - his everything was for his friend Duryodhan.
He was not less than Bheeshm or Arjun in any way ---
Similarities Between Karn and Arjun
--Both had divine birth.
--Both had divine Astra
--Both were master archers.
--Both were very brave and called as Atirathee
--Both competed for Draupadee's hand
--Both had to fight with their own brother
--Their decisions, and the consequences of these decisions to themselves and to
their families, are used to emphasize the importance of doing one's duty, as
explained in the Bhagvad Geetaa.
Karn had the five perfect
qualities of a husband for Draupadee, but being with Duryodhan and Soot Putra
nullified them to be her husband and allowed Arjun to take her instead.
Similarities Between Karn and Bheeshm
--Both had divine birth
--Both had divine Astra
--Both were left by their mothers, Karn at just his birth and Bheeshm after 16 years
--Both were the disciples of Parashuraam
--Both were very brave and called as Atirathee