Karna, aka: Karṇā, Karṇa, Kārṇa; 17 Definition(s)


Karna means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, the history of ancient India, Marathi. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Hinduism

Shaktism (Shakta philosophy)

Karṇā (कर्णा, “long-eared”):—Name of one of the sixty-four mātṛs to be worshipped during Āvaraṇapūjā (“Worship of the Circuit of Goddesses”, or “Durgā’s Retinue”), according to the Durgāpūjātattva. They should be worshipped with either the five upācāras or perfume and flowers.

Her mantra is as follows:

ॐ कर्णायै नमः
oṃ karṇāyai namaḥ.

Source: Wisdom Library: Śāktism
Shaktism book cover
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Shakta (शाक्त, śākta) or Shaktism (śāktism) represents a tradition of Hinduism where the Goddess (Devi) is revered and worshipped. Shakta literature includes a range of scriptures, including various Agamas and Tantras, although its roots may be traced back to the Vedas.

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1) Karṇa (कर्ण).—The eldest son of Kuntī. Though he was the brother of the Pāṇḍavas he joined sides with the Kauravas and became the King of Aṅga. So the name of Karṇa comes in the genealogy of the Aṅga royal family. Genealogy. Descending in order from Viṣṇu:—Brahmā-Atri-Candra-Budha-Purūravas-Āyus-Nahuṣa-Yayāti-Turvasu-Vahni-Bharga-Bhānu-Tribhānu-Karandhama-Marutta-(Marutta had no son and he adopted Duṣyanta)-Duṣyanta-Varūtha-Gāṇḍīra-Gāndhāra-Kola-Druhyu-Babhrusetu-Purovasu-Gharma-Ghṛta-Viduṣa-Pracetas-Sabhānara-Kālanara-Sṛñjaya-Purañjaya-Janamejaya-Mahāsāla-Mahāmanas-Uśīnara-Titikṣu-Ruṣadratha-Paila-Sutapas-Bali-Aṅga-(The Aṅga dynasty begins)-Dadhivāhana-Dravīratha-Dharmaratha-Citraratha-Satyaratha-Lomapāda-Caturaṅga-Pṛthulākṣa-Campa-Haryaṅga-Bhadraratha-Bṛhatkarmā-Bṛhadbhānu-Bṛhadātmā-Jayadratha-Bṛhadratha-Viśvajit-Karṇa. (See full article at Story of Karṇa from the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani)

2) Karṇa (कर्ण).—A son of Dhrtarāṣṭra. Bhīmasena killed this Karṇa. (Chapter 67, Bhīṣma Parva).

3) Karṇa (कर्ण).—Younger brother of Ghaṇṭa. See under Ghaṇṭākarṇa.

Source: archive.org: Puranic Encyclopaedia

1a) Karṇa (कर्ण).—See jīva.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa IV. 3. 79 & 83.

1b) Born of Kuntī as a virgin and abandoned by her; brought up by Adhiratha; became a king and father of Vṛṣasena.1 Pāṇḍavas defeated his army. Arjuna was saved from Karṇa's arrows by Kṛṣṇa. Joined Duryodhana in insulting Vidura, and was his evil adviser.2 Resented Sāmba's action in carrying away Lakṣmaṇā but vanquished by Sāmba. In charge of gifts in Yudhiṣtira's rājasūya. Joined Duryodhana's army and succeeded Droṇa as commander for two days, but was killed by Arjuna.3 Failed to hit the mark in the svayaṃvara of Lakṣmaṇā.4 Identified with Cakravarman, the son of Bala.5 Was called son of Sūta as he was brought up by Adhiratha the Sūta.6

  • 1) Bhāgavata-purāṇa IX. 23. 13-14; X. 49. 2; Viṣṇu-purāṇa IV. 14. 36; 18. 28-9; V. 35. 5 and 7; 38. 16.
  • 2) Bhāgavata-purāṇa I. 15. 15-16; III. 1. 14; 3. 13.
  • 3) Bhāgavata-purāṇa X. 68. 5 and 9; 75. 5; 78 [95 (v) 16] & [37].
  • 4) Ib. X. 83. 23.
  • 5) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 6. 32.
  • 6) Vāyu-purāṇa 99. 118.

1c) A son of Āṇḍira.*

  • * Matsya-purāṇa 48. 5.

1d) Born in after-birth as Cakravarma, the son of Bali.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 68. 32; Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 6. 33.

1e) The son of Aṅga.*

  • * Matsya-purāṇa 48. 102-4; Vāyu-purāṇa 99. 112.
Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purana book cover
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The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

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Vastushastra (architecture)

Karṇa (कर्ण).—A type of aṅgavibhakti (‘indendations’ in a wall line);—Karṇa is another important aṅgavibhakti of the temple plan. Karṇas are always found at the comers of the structure. Karṇas are always square projections. Similarly pratikarṇas are also found as an aṅgavibhakti of the temple plan. Pratikarṇas are square projections made in the interspaces of the wall between the karṇa and the bhadra.

Source: Shodhganga: Temples of Salem region Up to 1336 AD
Vastushastra book cover
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Vastushastra (वास्तुशास्त्र, vāstuśāstra) refers to the ancient Indian science (shastra) of architecture (vastu), dealing with topics such architecture, sculpture, town-building, fort building and various other constructions. Vastu also deals with the philosophy of the architectural relation with the cosmic universe.

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Kavya (poetry)

Karṇa (कर्ण) is the name of an important person (viz., an Ācārya or Kavi) mentioned in Rājaśekhara’s 10th-century Kāvyamīmāṃsā.—One of the kings of the southern geographical part of India. In the fifteen chapter of Kāvyamīmāṃsā, Rājaśekhara refer his name in a stanza.

Source: Shodhganga: The Kavyamimamsa of Rajasekhara
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Kavya (काव्य, kavya) refers to Sanskrit poetry, a popular ancient Indian tradition of literature. There have been many Sanskrit poets over the ages, hailing from ancient India and beyond. This topic includes mahakavya, or ‘epic poetry’ and natya, or ‘dramatic poetry’.

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Jyotisha (astronomy and astrology)

Karṇa (कर्ण).—1. Hypotenuse, lateral side. 2. Distance of planet from Earth. Note: Karṇa is a Sanskrit technical term used in ancient Indian sciences such as Astronomy, Mathematics and Geometry.

Source: Wikibooks (hi): Sanskrit Technical Terms
Jyotisha book cover
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Jyotiṣa (ज्योतिष, jyotisha or jyotish) basically refers to ‘astronomy’ or “Vedic astrology” and represents one of the six additional sciences to be studied along with the Vedas. Jyotiṣa concerns itself with the study and prediction of the movements of celestial bodies, in order to calculate the auspicious time for rituals and ceremonies.

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Itihasa (narrative history)

Karṇa (कर्ण) is a name mentioned in the Mahābhārata (cf. I.108.3) and represents one of the many proper names used for people and places. Note: The Mahābhārata (mentioning Karṇa) is a Sanskrit epic poem consisting of 100,000 ślokas (metrical verses) and is over 2000 years old.

Source: JatLand: List of Mahabharata people and places
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Itihasa (इतिहास, itihāsa) refers to ‘epic history’ and represents a branch of Sanskrit literature which popularly includes 1) the eighteen major Puranas, 2) the Mahabharata and 3) the Ramayana. It is a branch of Vedic Hinduism categorised as smriti literature (‘that which is remembered’) as opposed to shruti literature (‘that which is transmitted verbally’).

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General definition (in Hinduism)

Karna is one of the most tragic characters in the Mahabharata. He was born to Kunti through Surya, who was drawn to Kunti by the power of a Mantra (incantation) taught to her by the sage Durvasa. As Kunti was unmarried at that time, she abandoned her beautiful child, who was born with divine armor and earrings in the river.

Source: Apam Napat: Indian Mythology

Karṇa (कर्ण): A matchless warrior, son of the Sun god and Kunti. Disciple of Parasurama. Also son of Radha, his foster-mother, and was known as Radheya.

Source: WikiPedia: Hinduism

Karṇa (कर्ण).—The eldest son of Kuntī before her marriage to Pāṇḍu. She had received a mantra from Durvāsā Muni that she could call any deva and conceive children. In her innocence she called Sūrya, the sun-god and conceived Karṇa. She was forced to abandon the child out of fear of her relatives. Karṇa was then raised by Adhiratha and Rādhā. He fought against the Pāṇḍavas and was killed by Arjuna in the battle of Kurukṣetra.

Source: ISKCON Press: Glossary

In Buddhism

Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)

Karṇa (कर्ण) is the name of a painter (citrakāra) according to the 2nd century Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra (chapter XIX).—“Thus in the city of Fou kai lo (Puṣkarāvatī) of the Ta Yue tche, there was a painter (citrakāra) named Ts’ien na (read Kie na = Karṇa) who went to the kingdom of To tch’a che lo (Takṣaśilā) of the eastern region (pūrvadeśa). Having painted there abroad for thirty years, he received thirty ounces of gold. Returning with it to his own native land, Puṣkarāvatī, he heard the drum being beaten to announce a great gathering (mahāpariṣad)”.

Note: The story of Karṇa takes place at a time when the Kuṣāṇa already reigned in Gandhāra but did not yet extend their sovereignty over Takṣaśilā. Thus we are in the reign of the Kuṣāṇa monarch Kujula Kadphises.

Source: Wisdom Library: Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra
Mahayana book cover
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Mahayana (महायान, mahāyāna) is a major branch of Buddhism focusing on the path of a Bodhisattva (spiritual aspirants/ enlightened beings). Extant literature is vast and primarely composed in the Sanskrit language. There are many sūtras of which some of the earliest are the various Prajñāpāramitā sūtras.

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In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

Karṇa (कर्ण) participated in the war between Rāma and Rāvaṇa, on the side of the latter, as mentioned in Svayambhūdeva’s Paumacariu (Padmacarita, Paumacariya or Rāmāyaṇapurāṇa) chapter 57ff. Svayambhū or Svayambhūdeva (8th or 9th century) was a Jain householder who probably lived in Karnataka. His work recounts the popular Rāma story as known from the older work Rāmāyaṇa (written by Vālmīki). Various chapters [mentioning Karṇa] are dedicated to the humongous battle whose armies (known as akṣauhiṇīs) consisted of millions of soldiers, horses and elephants, etc.

Source: archive.org: Een Kritische Studie Van Svayambhūdeva’s Paümacariu
General definition book cover
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Jainism is an Indian religion of Dharma whose doctrine revolves around harmlessness (ahimsa) towards every living being. The two major branches (Digambara and Svetambara) of Jainism stimulate self-control (or, shramana, ‘self-reliance’) and spiritual development through a path of peace for the soul to progess to the ultimate goal.

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India history and geogprahy

Karna (“ear”) is one of the exogamous septs (divisions) among the Malas (considered the Pariahs of the Telugu country) of the Sarindla section. The Mala people are almost equally inferior in position to the Madigas and have, in their various sub-divisions, many exogamous septs (eg., Karna).

Source: Project Gutenberg: Castes and Tribes of Southern India, Volume 1

Karṇa.—(IE 7-1-2), ‘two’. Note: karṇa is defined in the “Indian epigraphical glossary” as it can be found on ancient inscriptions commonly written in Sanskrit, Prakrit or Dravidian languages.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Indian Epigraphical Glossary
India history book cover
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The history of India traces the identification of countries, villages, towns and other regions of India, as well as royal dynasties, rulers, tribes, local festivities and traditions and regional languages. Ancient India enjoyed religious freedom and encourages the path of Dharma, a concept common to Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.

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Languages of India and abroad

Marathi-English dictionary

karṇa (कर्ण).—m (S) An ear. 2 The sense of hearing. 3 The name of the half-brother to the pāṇḍava princes, famed for munificence. Hence used appellatively of a liberal man: also karṇāvatāra or karṇācā avatāra in this sense, or, ironically, of a niggard. 4 The hypotenuse of a triangle, or diagonal of a quadrangular figure. 5 Rudder or helm. karṇa (or kāna) ōḍhaṇēṃ or ōḍhaviṇēṃ To stretch out the attentive ear. Ex. jō māyāniyantā || tō vaśiṣṭhāpuḍhēṃ vōḍhavī karṇa ||. karṇē spṛṣṭē kaṭiṃ cālayati Used of one who answers wildly from the question; i.e. a dolt or booby.

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

karṇa (कर्ण).—m An ear. The hypotenuse of a triangle or diagonal of a quadrangu- lar figure. Radius vector. Helm. A half-brother of the Pâṇḍavas, well- known for his generosity-hence, karṇācā avatāra means (ironically) karṇa incarnate.

Source: DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English
context information

Marathi is an Indo-European language having over 70 million native speakers people in (predominantly) Maharashtra India. Marathi, like many other Indo-Aryan languages, evolved from early forms of Prakrit, which itself is a subset of Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world.

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Sanskrit-English dictionary

Karṇa (कर्ण).—a. Ved.

1) Having long ears.

2) Furnished with chaff (as grain).

-rṇaḥ 1 The ear; अहो खलभुजङ्गस्य विपरीतवधक्रमः । कर्णे लगति चान्यस्य प्राणैरन्यो वियुज्यते (aho khalabhujaṅgasya viparītavadhakramaḥ | karṇe lagati cānyasya prāṇairanyo viyujyate) || Pt.1. 35, 34 also;

-karṇe dā to listen; [karṇamāgam] to come to the ear, become known; तद्गुणैः कर्णमागत्य (tadguṇaiḥ karṇamāgatya) R.1.9; [karṇe kṛ] to put round the ear; Ch. P.1; कर्णे कथयति (karṇe kathayati) whispers in the ear; cf. षट्कर्ण, चतुष्कर्ण (ṣaṭkarṇa, catuṣkarṇa) &c. also.

2) The handle or ear of a vessel; उभा कर्णा हिरण्यया (ubhā karṇā hiraṇyayā) Rv.8.72.12.

3) The helm or rudder of a ship; सेना भ्रमति संख्येषु हत- कर्णेव नौर्जले (senā bhramati saṃkhyeṣu hata- karṇeva naurjale) Rām.6.48.26.

4) The hypotenuse of a triangle.

5) The diameter of a circle; Sūrya.

6) An intermediate region or quarter (upadigbhāga); Mb.6. 6.1.

7) (In prosody) A spondee.

8) Name of a tree (Mar. bāhavā, ruimāṃdāra) Rām.5.56.34.

2) Name of a celebrated warrior on the side of the Kauravas mentioned in the Mahābhārata. भवान् भीष्मश्च कर्णश्च (bhavān bhīṣmaśca karṇaśca) Bg.1.8;11.34. [He was the son of Kuntī begotten on her by the god Sun while she was yet a virgin residing at her father's house (see Kuntī). When the child was born, Kuntī, afraid of the censure of her relatives and also of public scandal, threw the boy into the river where he was found by Adhiratha, charioteer of Dhṛtrāṣṭra, and given over to his wife Rādhā, who brought him up like her own child; whence Karṇa is often called Sūtaputra, Rādheya &c. Karṇa, when grown up, was made king of Aṇga by Duryodhana, and became by virtue of his many generous acts a type of charity. On one occasion Indra (whose care it was to favour his son Arjuna) disguised himself as a Brāhmaṇa and cajoled him out of his divine armour and ear-rings, and gave him in return a charmed javelin. With a desire to make himself proficient in the science of war, he, calling himself a Brāhmaṇa went to Parasurāma and learnt that art from him. But his secret did not long remain concealed. On one occasion when Parasurāma had fallen asleep with his head resting on Karṇa's lap, a worm (supposed by some to be the form assumed by Indra himself to defeat Karṇa's object) began to eat into his lap and made a deep rent in it; but as Karṇa showed not the least sign of pain, his real character was discovered by his preceptor who cursed him that the art he had learnt would avail him not in times of need. On another occasion he was curse by a Brāhmaṇa (whose cow he had unwittingly slain in chase) that the earth would eat up the wheel of his chariot in the hour of trial. Even with such disadvantages as these, he acquitted himself most valiantly in the great war between the Paṇḍavas and Kauravas, while acting as generalissimo of the Kaurava forces after Bhīṣma and Droṇa had fallen. He maintained the field against the Paṇḍavas for three days, but on the last day he was slain by Arjuna while the wheel of his chariot had sunk down into the earth. Karṇa was the most intimate friend of Duryodhana, and with Śakuni joined him in all the various schemes and plots that were devised from time to time for the destruction of the Paṇḍavas.]

--- OR ---

Kārṇa (कार्ण).—a. Relating to an ear.

-rṇam 1 The wax of the ear.

2) An ear-ring.

-rṇaḥ Name of Vṛṣaketu.

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary
context information

Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family. Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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