Duryodhana and Karna – India’s Mahabharata

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Duryodhana (Cambodia, ca. 900s AD)

Duryodhana (Cambodia, ca. 900s AD)

Who was Duryodhana?

Duryodhana was the enemy of the Pandavas in the story of the Mahabharata. He’s forced out of power when the Pandavas defeat him. His friend Karna fights for him, defeating many kings, but eventually Arjuna kills Karna in a great battle.

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Arjuna fighting Karna, with Krishna as his charioteer (Duttapara Temple, ca. 1500s AD)

Arjuna fighting Karna, with Krishna as his charioteer (Duttapara Temple, ca. 1500s AD)

Duryodhana’s becomes invincible

Duryodhana’s mother, fearing for his life, uses magic to make him invincible. She can make him invincible just by looking at him, and she looks at every part of his body. But out of modesty Duryodhana covers his man parts, so they’re still not invincible.

How does Duryodhana die?

Duryodhana, grieving for his friend and enraged by his death, kills a great warrior, his enemy Chekitana. But then Duryodhana is killed in battle himself, by a below-the-belt blow with a mace. Duryodhana’s consolation is that he will be surrounded by friends and family in the afterlife.

(Compare the story of Achilles and Patroclos. Probably the Greek story is earlier, but nobody knows for sure.)

Learn by doing: write a story about a friend who fought for you, or when you lost a friend.
More about the Mahabharata

Bibliography and further reading about the Mahabharata:

Savitri: A Tale of Ancient India, by Aaron Shepard (1992). A retelling for kids of one of the more feminist stories in the Mahabharata, with lots of pictures in a traditional Indian style.

Indian literature
Ancient India
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By |2018-10-26T08:01:07+00:00July 20th, 2017|India, Literature|0 Comments
Cite this page: Carr, K.E. Duryodhana and Karna – India’s Mahabharata. Quatr.us Study Guides, July 20, 2017. Web. January 22, 2019.

About the Author:

Dr. Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

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