Puranic encyclopaedia

by Vettam Mani | 1975 | 609,556 words | ISBN-10: 0842608222

This page describes the Story of Adhiratha included the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani that was translated into English in 1975. The Puranas have for centuries profoundly influenced Indian life and Culture and are defined by their characteristic features (panca-lakshana, literally, ‘the five characteristics of a Purana’).

Story of Adhiratha

Foster father of Karṇa.


Descended from Viṣṇu thus: Brahmā-Atri-Candra-Purūravas-Āyus-Nahuṣa-Yayāti-Anudruhyu-Sadānara-Kālanara-Sṛñjaya-Titikṣa-Kṛśadratha-Homa-Sutapas-Bali-Aṅga-Dadhivāhana-Draviratha-Dharmaratha-Citraratha-Satyaratha-Romapāda-Caturaṅga-Pṛthu-Camba-Haryaṃga-Bhadraratha-Bṛhadratha-Bṛhanmanas-Jayadratha-Dhṛtavṛta-Satyakarmā-Adhiratha-Karṇa (foster son).

Foster father of Karṇa.

Sage Durvāsas had taught Kuntī some mantras to get children, and Kuntī, then unmarried, tested the first mantra with the Sun-god as her object. The Sun-god appeared before Kuntī and from his power she conceived and duly delivered a child, Karṇa. Fearing obloquy Kuntī concealed the child in a box and floated it on the river, Ganges. At the time Adhiratha, a great comrade of Dhṛtarāṣṭra came to the river for a bath. His wife was one grieving over not having a child of her own. So, when Adhiratha found a child in the floating box, he took it home, and himself and his wife Rādhā brought up the child with pleasure. The child was named Vasusena, and the child grew up to become the famous Karṇa and favourite friend of Duryodhana. (Mahābhārata Ādi Parva, Chapters 67 and 130; Vana Parva, Chapter 309; Devībhāgavata, Skandha 2).

Some particulars.

Adhiratha was King of Aṅga. He was a Sūta (charioteer) and Karṇa grew up as his son. Karṇa was sent to Hastināpura to be trained in the uṣe of weapons, and it was here that Duryodhana and Karṇa developed their friendship and alliance. (Mahābhārata Ādi Parva, Chapter 147, Verse 3). Śrī Mahādevībhāgavata, in Chapter 3 relates the following incident: "Thus lamenting Kuntī sent the box concealing Karṇa, by the nurse, to be floated in the river, and after bath, food etc. she spent the hours in the normal way within the inner apartment. Rājā Adhiratha bathing in the river saw the box floating in the river". These facts prove that Adhiratha was not only the King of Aṅga but a good charioteer as well, and further a very good friend of Dhṛtarāṣṭra.

4) We come across Adhiratha on the occasion of the trial of skill in the use of arms between the Kauravas and the Pāṇḍavas. When Karṇa entered the lists the Pāṇḍavas questioned his nobility of birth. Seeing Karṇa’s great humiliation and discomfiture Duryodhana enthroned him immediately as King of Aṅga. Vyāsa, who witnessed the scene has given a picturesque description of it.

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