Karna and Duryodhana

Whenever people talk about friendship, they always refer to Kama and Duryodhana. For, they had a very strong bond of friendship between them.
Drona had taught the princes everything about warfare. He had also told them about the methods to be followed during a war. He had explained about the right and the
wrong, the do’s and the don’ts a Kshatriya should follow. Arjun attained excellence in archery under Drona’s training. Dharmaraja was adept at fighting from atop a chariot. Bhima and Duryodhana acquired mastery in using the mace. Nakul and Sahadev were good as horse-riders.
Drona wanted the entire Hastinapur to know about the expertise of the princes in waging wars. So he made suitable arrangements for such a day.
On the appointed day, the citizens of Hastinapur flocked to the arena of war sports. For, they had an opportunity to watch the princes demonstrate individually, their skill and knowledge. And compete with each other.
Dhritharashtra, Gandhari, Knuth, Vidhura, Bhishma, Krupp and Drona were seated on the dais. The commoners were also provided with seats. The entire Hastinapur wore a festive look.
Shortly, all the princes, that is Dharmaraja with his four brothers and Dhuryodhana accompanied by his ninety-nine brothers entered the arena. They were all dressed in a war-like fashion and were armed suitably.
The competition began after the Vedic chant by the Raj Purohit. Conches were sounded and drums were beaten to indicate the opening of the games. It was then announced that the princes should exhibit their capabilities. The archers, the fencers, the wrestlers amongst the princes demonstrated their talent. “Bravo! Bravo,” shouted the excited crowd. Bhima’s and Duryodhana’s deftness in using the mace also delighted the crowd. Nakul,
Sahadev and the other Kauravas also drew appreciation from the spectators.
It was now Arjun’s turn. Partha (Arjun) was Drona’s prize student. When he entered the arena, the spectators clapped their hands and cried out, “Hail Arjun! Hail Arjun!.” Arjun, the warrior, demonstrated before the public all that he had learned from his teacher. The crowd applauded each and every feat of Arjun. Kunthi felt very happy and proud of him.
The only person who could not tolerate this adulation towards Arjun was Duryodhana. He felt restless and agitated, that none of his younger brothers could excel Arjun. If he were to score victory over the Pandavas, he ought to have a very able person who could defeat Arjun. Otherwise his ambition to rule Hastinapur would be shattered, thought Duryodhana.
Suddenly a man stood up from amongst the spectators and entering the arena proclaimed that he too would like to demonstrate his skill as a warrior and prove himself to be far better than Arjun.
Drona was annoyed that a stranger trespassed into the arena which was meant only for the princes. He was all the more angry that this stranger had ridiculed Arjun. But Arjun accepted this challenge from a newcomer and Drona had no other option but to give permission. But he was curious to know more about this person whose face radiated an inner strength. He had a pair of ear rings which dazzled in the sunlight. He was Kama.
These dazzling ear rings also caught the attention of Knuth and it immediately occurred to her that the stranger was none other than her eldest born. She was filled with anguish to her two children facing each other in a challenge.
When Kama displayed all the feats of Arjun effortlessly, Duryodhana was delighted.“Finally, I have found someone who can combat with Arjun,” he rejoiced. He immediately went to Kama and embracing him said, “From now on, you are my brother.”
The contest between Arjun and Kama created a lot of excitement amongst the spectators. They knew that this would be a very significant contest, for both Arjun and Kama were great warriors.
Knuth, the mother for both Kama and Arjun just couldn’t witness the scene. She knew for certain that Kama was the child she had set adrift in the river long ago. Moreover, at close quarters one could make out a striking resemblance between the two brothers. Thinking about the outcome, she fainted.
Suddenly an idea occurred to Drona. He decided that he would allow only princes to take part in this contest. He immediately conveyed this suggestion to Kripa. Kripa at once entered the arena and told Arjun, “Arjun! Dronacharya has agreed to this combat. But prior to this, both of you have to proclaim about yourselves.”
Arjun had no difficulty in proclaiming about his royal origin. It was now Kama’s turn to reply. The warrior told the spectators that his name was Kama. But what next? He did not know who his real parents were, what his clan was, or any other information about himself. Red in the face, Kama felt distressed that fate had cheated him. He felt utterly humiliated. Kripa took advantage of this opportunity and spoke again.
“You do not know who you are. You are just an ordinary soldier. So, you do not qualify yourself to take part in a contest meant only for the royal blood. You may leave the arena,” he said in an insulting tone.
Drona and Krupp did not have any grudge against Kama. But to avoid Arjun’s defeat by this warrior, they had to prevent Kama’s participation in the contest.
Kama could not say anything. He did not know who he was, except that he had been brought up by a charioteer.. He had no status in the society.
Duryodhana too, did not like Kama being humiliated in such a fashion. He desperately needed someone to fight
against Arjun. So, he quickly ran upto Kama and said, “I am the prince of Hastinapur and upon my authority, I am appointing you as the king of Anga. You are now a king. So, I dare anyone to say anything against you.” So, saying he placed a crown on Kama’s head. He also performed all the necessary rites to bestow the kingdom of Anga on Kama.
Bhishma, Drona and Vidura were speechless. The Pandavas found Duryodhana’s behaviour very strange. Bhima thought it to be ridiculous. He roared with laughter and said, “A charioteer’s son! King of Anga! Ho… Ho !”
But Duryodhana ignored them all and hugging Kama in a friendly way, drove away in his chariot.
The contest ended and the crowd dispersed. Some praised Arjun, others
Kama but none knew that Kama was the eldest among Kunthi’s children.”
From that day onwards Duryodhana and Kama became very close friends and Kama remained loyal to his friend till the very last.
Kama was a great warrior and a good human-being. But his only drawback was that he did not know about his origin. He had learnt archery under Parasurama by representing to him that he was a Brahmin. This was because Parasurama hated Kshatriyas and had vowed not to teach anyone of them. Kama became a favourite student of Parasurama and learnt from him the usage of a master weapon known as Brahmastra.
One day Parasurama was taking his afternoon nap reclining on Kama’s lap, when a bee bit Kama’s thigh. Blood started flowing but since Kama did not want to disturb his Guru’s sleep, he bore the pain without flinching. When the blood oozed to Parasurama’s cheek, he woke up, Kama tried to explain his action to his Guru but Parasurama was not convinced. Angered that Kama had told him a lie about being a Brahmin, he cursed his student, “Kama! You have deceived me by uttering a lie. I hereby curse you that whatever you have learnt from me shall fail you when you need it most.”
Kama was aghast. All his dedication had become futile. He fell at his Guru’s feet. “Please forgive me,” he pleaded. “In my determination to seek knowledge from you, I lied about me being a Brahmin.” But Parashurama did not relent . “Kama, you have been one of my best students. But I am punishing you for your lie. You may remain a great warrior. But you will be unable to recall the Brahmastra when you need it most.” Dismayed, Karna was forced to give up the school.
Karna was a very generous man.He was reputed for his charity. To test him, Indra once put on the garb of an old man and begged Karna for his ear-rings and armour. Karna donated these without any hesitation. Pleased with his generosity, Indra revealed himself and bade him to ask for any boon.
“I ask for your weapon, the Shaktya,” Karna replied. It was a very powerful weapon and had never failed to destroy anything that it touched. Karna wanted to use this weapon against Arjun for he knew beforehand that a war was inevitable between the Pandavas and the Kauravas.

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