Karna : A cursed demigod in human avtar

Karna undoubtedly  was amongst important characters of ancient and great hindu epic “Mahabharat”.
As we know that Karna was biological son of “Surya” and “Kunti”. He  was raised by Adhirath the royal charioteer of Hastinapore and his wife Radha as  Kunti being an unwed mother, had to abandon baby Karna  to avoid social stigma.

I come across something amazing while studying origins of the  characters of Mahabharat in Skandh  Puraan , I would like to share the information with all Karna fans. I hope this new piece of information will make you aware about unheard story of Karna and Shanidev.

Surya is one among 11 Adityas and son of Sage Kashyap and Aditi  is an important deity. Surya got married to Sanjya [ also called Sangya/Sanjana]  daughter of Demigod Architect Vishwakarma.
Sanja bore two sons , Shani , Yama and one daughter Yamuna [ who later became river] , thereafter she couldn’t bear radiance of Surya and went for penance , while leaving for penance she created her image from shadow and instructed her to look after her husband [Surya] and children in her absence. Chhaya gave birth to Tapti[ who later became river] and  Savarni Manu [ The first human ]. Initially Chhaya looked after and loved  Sanja’s children as her own but later when she given birth to her own children , she started being partial. Shani being eldest of his siblings  was very stubborn kid , he got agitated by partial attitude of Chhaya  towards him and his siblings [Yama and Yamuna]. On seeing his mother holding young manu in her arms , Shani got jealous of his brother manu  and tried to pull him down. Chaya scolded Shani and asked him  to behave , and in a fit of anger he raised his feets to hit his mother. Chhaya got furious of the actions of Shani and immidiately cursed him to be born as mortal human , and suffer for his karma in his life in Dwapaar Yuga. She said since you tried to pull your younger brother from my arm  out of jealously and just to seek my attention may you be deserted by your human mother and be alienated from your siblings. You are so proud to be son of Powerful Devtaa , may you  be born to unwed woman ,face public disgrace , suffer misfortune , your human siblings unaware of your identity will hate you and never respect you , since you are jealous of your younger brother Manu.

Shani was shocked by the curse and cried , ran to his father and narrated him the whole incident sobbing complaining that “Mother doesn’t loves me neither she treats us equally , so I tried to hit her in anger it was my mistake , mother got angry at this and has cursed me. Please forgive me and free me from mothers’ curse”

Surya replied to Shani that a mother would never curse her child despite of 1000 crimes and that he cannot undo the curse of Mother but  in his next birth as human, he will be fathered by Surya himself  , he will retain some of his devta like attributes in his human incarnation but will suffer a lot , has to face condemnation and  bad luck through out his life  and will be liberated of Manushya Yoni by 8th avtara of Lord Vishnu.

Source : Kashi Section , Skandha Puraan

There is another account of Lord Shani’s involvement in Mahabharat . In Shani Mahatmya , Lord Shani while speaking to Kali Yugan King Vikramadiyaa tells him that did not spared even Lord Krishna.
When Lord Shani entered in horoscope of Lord Krishna. People blamed Lord Krishna for stealing Syamantak Mani and killing Satrajit , when Lord Krishna realized this he worshipped Shanidev , he  removed his gaze and asked Lord Krishna that he will come out of the false allegations.
Lord Krishna asked Shani  that in upcoming great war between Kauravas and Pandavas which is the side that  upholds dharma  at this Shani replied “Pandavas”. Lord Krishna requested him to favour Pandavs . Shani has given an interesting reply ” I and Yama are two judges. I deliver fruit of ones’ deeds through ones’ life through the punishment and rewards while Yama grants fruit of one’s deeds after death. Since am living curse of my mother in my human incarnation  and my human incarnation is great friends with Duryodhana , I am  governed by  laws of karma so I can’t influence the outcome of war directly or indirectly  as my human incarnation has to take part in the war but as you are supreme lord I cannot deny your request and hence I am in crisis , whether to follow the duty or deny the request of lord. Since you are Ultimate Lord , please free me from this crisis situation”

Lord Krishna smiled at this  and replied Shani that he will get him liberated from  crisis and also ensure that his amshavatara attains salvation.

Source : Shani Mahatamya , Shreemad Bhagwat Puaranam

It is evident from above two stories that Shani was born as Karna in human form. As cursed by his mother he was immediately abandoned by Kunti , he suffered through out his life he was humiliated by Kripacharya , Dronacharya his own brothers and society. He was unfortunate to bag another 2 curses in his human life and hence Chhayas’ word came true that he will suffer misfortune through his life.

Although above stories are not mentioned  by Sage Vyaas in Mahabharat yet it seems quite likely that Karna is Shani’s incarnation since many other characters of Mahabharat , like Bhishma, Draupadi,Ashwatthama, Pandu were in fact cursed souls. Karna had some attributes of Shani Deva like spirituality , generosity etc. Even though being in company of evil Duryodhana Karna didn’t leave his devotion and spiritual qualities.

As Krishna’s promise to Shani , Krishna freed Shani out of intervention by putting Karna in to crisis situation. When he was coming back from Hastinapur after negotiations failed , he disclosed identity of Karna. This is where the Karna refuses to join Pandav side by deserting Duryodhan. He cited reason about “Mitra Dharma” later when Kunti asks Karna not to kill the Pandavas , he gives a diplomatic answers that she will always be mother of five sons.

Thus Karna took beautiful decision , he did not violate “Mitra Dharm” and was able to follow his “Putra Dharm” by sacrificing his life just to keep his words which he had given to his mother.


21 thoughts on “Karna : A cursed demigod in human avtar

  1. thanks for ur informations
    I would be so greatful to know more abt son of god SUN , ‘ Karna ‘
    he is my most dearest character in Mahabaratha.


  2. sir thnks a lot 4 updatng dis info.i m also in research of karna and i m tryng 2 write a book if god help me.bt cn u say me wht abt SAHASRAKAVACH story if dis is correct bcz nar narayan brkn d 999 kavach of damvaidayam sahasrakavch and flew frm battlefld thn fatherd by surya in d form of karna sir cn u plz correlate d shanimahatma karna and sahasrakavach whch one is acceptd


    1. Above query of Mr. Yubaraj Bhattacharya really demands an answer. I think MB mentions sahasar kavach. My honourable friend the parmgyaani chiraan also firmly supports sahasra kavach theory.


  3. There’s a mistake here, Lord Shani was the son of Chhaya devi, not Sanjana devi. To prove my point there’s even a famous hymn to Lord Shani

    Om Neelaanjana Samaabhaasam Raviputram Yamaagrajam |
    Chhayamaartand Sambhootam Tam Namami Shanaishcharam |

    note the second line…’Chhaya Maartand Sambhootam’ meaning one born of the union between Chhaya and Maartand ( Surya)….hence Sanjana devi had 3 children – Manu, Yama and Yamuna/ Yami ; and Chhaya Devi had three children – Shani, Tapti, and Savarni Manu. Hence the story is somewhat wron regarding the curse.


    1. @Abhiram

      There is no mistake in the story , note that Shani Stotra was written after this unfortunate event.

      Shani was step son of Chhaya and was elder to Yama , the same reflects in the first line of the hymn “Yamagrajam”

      If Shani were born to Chhaya and Surya (Martaand) he couldn’t be an “elder” to Yama that is “Yamagrajam”

      Shani Yama and Yami were indeed children of Sanjya/Sanjana but as per the story Sanjya leaves her family and creates her image to take care of her children.

      In our Hindu Society the foster mother has got higher status than biological mother.

      The evidence is that Krishna’s foster mother Yashoda is still reverred by many and Devaki doesn’t gets same respect.

      And this is not the first incident in Hindu Mythology that biological ancestry of some characters go un acknowledged here are few examples

      -Kunti’s 6 sons were born to different demigods yet 5 of them are called Pandav i.e. Pandu Putras

      -Krishna’s ancestor was Daityaguru Shukracharya – grand father of prince yadu from whom yadav clan originated.

      To answer your question as why Shani was called Chhaya Martand Sambhootam – Is because later Surya accepts Chhaya as his wife , her relation with Sanjya’s children remained intact as for them she is ‘mother’

      Later when Surya persuades Sanjya and when she arrives her image Chhaya merges in to her.Effectively Chhaya and Sanjya making the single entity.


      1. I am sorry, I forgot about the part ‘Yamagrajam’, I thought that it means that Shani is leder to Yama, but it is like the name of Saraswati i.e. ‘Shivaanuja’ the sister of Shiva. Thanks for clearing my doubt. Fully understood the story now. I had never heard of this story about Lord Shani being Karna. Om Sham Shanaishcharaaya Namah |


        1. By the way I have seen the eyes of Lord Shani once when I was chanting this very stotra i.e. the Shani Stotra. I was chanting the first part ‘Neelaanjana’ the one with blue eyes, and I closed my eyes, and I saw ‘someone’ opening His blue eyes 😀 Afterwards I realized that it was Lord Shani’s eyes that I had seen !


  4. I am a great admirer of Karna… Thanks for this info as it is new to me. Just thinking, how can any human live with so many curses……


  5. Amazing fact you have provided.I always knew karna was a demigod as he is son of Sutya dev, but never knew that he was an avtar of Shani dev. Now regarding 2 more curses that yu mentioned..One i know it was by his Guru parashuram. and i am not sure what was the second curse, i think its from drauadi. Do let me know that. thanks. keep up the good work bro.


  6. Hello “author of this article”,

    I promise you that I have never found this incarnate history of karna anywhere in internet. I was so much influenced by the role of karna. Indeed, It was one of the major turning point in my life made me to understand hinduism better. I was identified as saturnian by palmists. I like the article when you quote the evidence from Shani mahatmaya and skanda purana. Thanks lot. I will be happy if i found english translation of this both scriptures. Please mail me if it is possible to have a copy. Thanks again.


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