I am reading some sections of mahabharata Over here. I am surprised to know certain passages, indicates that , Karna is actually incarnation of Narakasura . It is pretty well known that , Karna is incarnation of Sun.

Here is the passage,where danavas address Duryodhana , when he tries to fast unto death.

With respect to the fear that is in thy heart rising from Arjuna, we have already settled the means for slaying Arjuna. The soul of the slain Naraka hath assumed the form of Karna.

Here they indicates that , even bhisma and Drona are possessed

Other Asuras will also possess Bhishma and Drona and Kama and others. Possessed by those Asuras, these heroes will cast away their kindness and fight with thy foes.

Indeed, when the Danavas will enter their heart and possess them completely, flinging all affections to a distance, becoming hard-hearted, these warriors will strike every body opposed to them in battle without sparing sons, brothers, fathers, friends, disciples, relatives, even children and old men

So does this mean that , Karna's soul was basically possessed by Narakasura ?

  • 1
    Karna was known to be a rebirth of Sahasrakavacha as mentioned in this other answer: hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/6909/… Karna was also born as the son of Surya, not as an incarnation. Also, when someone possesses a human, the human does not become an incarnation of the person as the current title states. Could you edit the title? Jul 10, 2017 at 2:11
  • Thanks for the link . But I am not sure , how to interpret "The soul of the slain Naraka hath assumed the form of Karna" .
    – tekkk
    Jul 10, 2017 at 5:44
  • Karna was older than Krishna, and Narakasura was killed by Krishna. You do the math about when Narakasura's soul was available and when Karna's soul was available. Jul 10, 2017 at 5:58
  • Meta physics of soul can be hard to understand. But if that is the case , what is the meaning of "The soul of slain naraka hath assumed the form of Karna" ?
    – tekkk
    Jul 10, 2017 at 6:08
  • It's just a poetic way of saying the same statement in different forms. You should try to get the Sanskrit verse and see how it is translated. Jul 10, 2017 at 6:11

2 Answers 2


Although I doubt the source, I think it shows that Karna is not an incarnation of Naraka, but Naraka is possessing him as a separate entity and not long enough for them to start having the same name (like what happens with Varchas).

And Karna also, his soul and faculties possessed by the inmost soul of Naraka, had at that time cruelly determined to slay Arjuna.

If Karna was Naraka, this wording makes no sense as Karna would be Naraka's soul himself. Also, this could be a misunderstanding of the translation saying Karna was the inmost soul of Naraka i.e was in Hell.

Was Karna's soul possessed by Narakasura?

No. Karna was portion of Surya (deity represented by Sun). From Adi Parva:

And the son of Surya was at first known in the world by the name of Vasusena. But, for his deeds, he subsequently came to be called Karna. And because that hero of great fame had taken off his natural armour, therefore was he--the first son of Pritha--called Kama. And, O best of kings, the hero began to grow up in the Suta caste.

Karna's other names (as above) are: Vasusena, KAma, RAdheya.

Source of how Karna was born:

the amiable Kunti (Pritha) became curious, and in her maidenhood summoned the god Arka (Sun) ... Surya (Sun) replied, 'I know that Durvasa hath granted this boon. But cast off thy fears, timid maiden, and grant me thy embraces. Amiable one, my approach cannot be futile; it must bear fruit ... Thus speaking unto the daughter of Kuntibhoja, the illustrious Tapana--the illuminator of the universe--gratified his wish. And of this connection there was immediately born a son known all over the world as Karna accountred with natural armour and with face brightened by ear-rings.

You may also refer this answer, on how Karna merged back to Surya upon his death.

The other logical & strong reason is that, when Narakasura was killed by Krishna, Karna was already born.

  • I am pretty sure that the name is Karna not Kama. Karna means who has taken off or cut off something. I think it's an error by the publisher. Jul 11, 2017 at 16:59
  • The problem is that it is the same Mahabharata which says that Narakasura possessed Karna.
    – Surya
    Jul 12, 2017 at 11:39
  • I think there is typo and Karna is written as Kama in the site..
    – YDS
    Nov 28, 2020 at 13:25
  • @Sarvabhouma Karna is called Kama in quite a few places. Seems intentional and trying to hint at something too controversial to say explicitly. Dec 13, 2021 at 20:59
  • @YDS I've seen it in other places too. Can only guess it is something to avoid directly saying something too controversial to say explicitly, as these things often are. Dec 13, 2021 at 21:08

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