Karna is my role model, I keep on reading about him but I am unable to find the moment of his death, I also read that Lord Krishna tested him when he was on deathbed, I would like to know what exactly happened?

Thanks in advance!!!


Detailed story related to Karna death can be read in Mahabharata, Karna Parva, Section 90 and Mahabharata, Karna Parva, Section 91.

Krishna testing Karna at time of death is not mentioned in Mahabharata. Karna's last moment is described in Mahabharata, Karna Parva, Section 91 as follows:

Meanwhile the diadem-decked and high-souled Arjuna, recovering his senses, took up a shaft, fatal as the rod of Death, and called anjalika. Then Vasudeva, addressing Partha, said, "Cut off with thy arrow the head of this enemy of thine, viz., Vrisha, before he succeeds in getting upon his car." Applauding those words of the lord Vasudeva, and while the wheel of his enemy was still sunk, the mighty car-warrior Arjuna took up a razor-headed arrow of blazing effulgence and struck the standard (of Karna) bearing the elephant's rope and bright as the spotless sun. That standard bearing the device of the costly elephant's rope, was adorned with gold and pearls and gems and diamonds, and forged with care by foremost of artists excelling in knowledge, and possessed of great beauty, and variegated with pure gold. That standard always used to fill thy troops with high courage and the enemy with fear. Its form commanded applause. Celebrated over the whole world, it resembled the sun in splendour. Indeed, its effulgence was like that of fire or the sun or the moon. The diadem-decked Arjuna, with that razor-headed shaft, exceedingly sharp, equipped with wings of gold, possessed of the splendour of fire when fed with libations of clarified butter, and blazing with beauty, cut off that standard of Adhiratha's son, that great car-warrior. With that standard, as it fell, the fame, pride, hope of victory, and everything dear, as also the hearts of the Kurus, fell, and loud wails of "Oh!" and "Alas!" arose (from the Kuru army). Beholding that standard cut off and thrown down by that hero of Kuru's race possessed of great lightness of hand, thy troops, O Bharata, were no longer hopeful of Karna's victory. Hastening then for Karna's destruction, Partha took out from his quiver an excellent Anjalika weapon that resembled the thunder of Indra or the rod of fire and that was possessed of the effulgence of the thousand-rayed Sun. Capable of penetrating the very vitals, besmeared with blood and flesh, resembling fire or the sun, made of costly materials, destructive of men, steeds, and elephants, of straight course and fierce impetuosity, it measured three cubits and six feet. Endued with the force of the thousand-eyed Indra's thunder, irresistible as Rakshasas in the night, resembling Pinaka or Narayana's discus, it was exceedingly terrible and destructive of all living creatures. Partha cheerfully took up that great weapon, in the shape of an arrow, which could not be resisted by the very gods, that high-souled being which was always adored by the son of Pandu, and which was capable of vanquishing the very gods and the Asuras. Beholding that shaft grasped by Partha in that battle, the entire universe shook with its mobile and immobile creatures. Indeed, seeing that weapon raised (for being sped) in that dreadful battle, the Rishis loudly cried out, "Peace be to the universe!" The wielder of Gandiva then fixed on his bow that unrivalled arrow, uniting it with a high and mighty weapon. Drawing his bow Gandiva, he quickly said, "Let this shaft of mine be like a mighty weapon capable of quickly destroying the body and heart of my enemy, if I have ever practised ascetic austerities, gratified my superiors, and listened to the counsels of well-wishers. Let this shaft, worshipped by me and possessed of great sharpness, slay my enemy Karna by that Truth." Having said these words Dhananjaya let off that terrible shaft for the destruction of Karna, that arrow fierce and efficacious as a rite prescribed in the Atharvan of Angiras, blazing with effulgence, and incapable of being endured by Death himself in battle. And the diadem-decked Partha, desirous of slaying Karna, with great cheerfulness, said, "Let this shaft conduce to my victory. Shot by me, let this arrow possessed of the splendour of fire or the sun take Karna to the presence of Yama." Saying these words, Arjuna, decked with diadem and garlands, cherishing feelings of hostility towards Karna and desirous of slaying him, cheerfully struck his foe with that foremost of shafts which was possessed of the splendour of the sun or the moon and capable of bestowing victory. Thus sped by that mighty warrior, that shaft endued with the energy of the sun caused all the points of the compass to blaze up with light. With that weapon Arjuna struck off his enemy's head like Indra striking off the head of Vritra with his thunder. Indeed, O king, with that excellent Anjalika weapon inspired with mantras into a mighty weapon, the son of Indra cut off the head of Vaikartana in the afternoon.


On the 17th day, Arjuna and Karna are face to face. Karna uses Bhargavastra against Pandava army. Arjuna is not unable to counter this weapon. So Krishna told him to withdraw temporarily. They visited Yudhishthira who was outside the battlefield, wounded by the weapons of Karna.

But after insulted by Yudhishthira for retreating, Arjuna returned to the battlefield. Now both of them are face to face with each other once again.

Everyone including Devas, celestial Rishis, Apsaras, Gandharvas and all the beings in the higher realms witness this battle between two of the greatest warriors.

The fight started between Arjuna and Karna. Both are equally capable warriors. As the battle intensified, Arjuna pushed back Karna’s chariot 10 steps backwards every time but by the energy of the arrows. But Karna was only able to push Arjuna’s chariot 2 steps backwards.

Krishna praised Karna and admired the skill of Karna. When questioned by Arjuna, Krishna said it is impossible for any human ever to push his chariot backwards because the chariot of Arjuna contains both Hanuman and Krishna, thus holding the entire weight of the universe. Krishna said no human ever had or ever will attain this feat as it is impossible to even to shake the chariot.

Curse of Brahmin, Parashurama and Mother Earth to Karna begin to fructify:

During the war, suddenly Karna’s chariot wheel was trapped in the mud as a result of the curse that he had received earlier from Mother Earth.

Karna still defended himself, but forget the incantations to invoke Brahmanda Astra due to the curse of his guru Parashurama.

Karna asks Arjuna to pause as he gets down from his chariot to free the wheel. He reminds Arjuna of the etiquette of war.

But Krishna encourages Arjuna to attack Karna against the rules of the war. Arjuna attacked Karna when he was trying to lift the wheel of his chariot.

Karna somehow defended himself and invokes Rudra Astra, hitting Arjuna on his chest. Arjuna’s bow Gandiva for the first time fell down as he loses his grip on it.

Following the rules of the war, Karna did not try to kill unconscious Arjuna but instead use this time to lift the wheel.

Arjuna recovers and uses the Anjalika weapon against weapon. Though it is prohibited to attack a weaponless warrior or to attack an enemy from the back according to the rules of the war.

Now the curse of Brahmin fructifies that he will be killed by his enemy when his attention is diverted in the middle of a combat.

Still, Arjuna attacked weaponless Karna from the back and killed him as suggested by Krishna.

To know more about Suryaputra Karna and his death, read the complete article:


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    Parashu Rama didn't curse Karna. The curse of Mother Earth has no scriptural basis. He used divyastras in the war and he remembered them. "Arjuna pushed back Karna’s chariot 10 steps backwards every time but by the energy of the arrows. But Karna was only able to push Arjuna’s chariot 2 steps backwards." What is the source of this? Don't say it is from a TV serial. When did Arjuna fall unconscious? lol. Quote from authentic scriptures besides your own blog.. – Sarvabhouma Oct 17 '17 at 16:59

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