Brave, generous, ill-fated prince
Karna is the tragic hero of the Mahabharata. Born as a gift of the sun-god to maiden Kunti, he was abandoned by her. Found and brought up by a charioteer couple, he was denied the class that his mother's other sons, the Pandavas, belonged to. He achieved proficiency in archery, only to be cursed that on account of his 'lower' class, he would forget his skills at the most crucial point in the battle. Karna was rejected as contesting suitor for Draupadi, for the same lack of birth in a high family. The eldest of the Kauravas anointed him king for which Karna was loyal to him to the last. In the great war, he did not change sides at the request of Kunti even after she revealed the secret of his birth. As prophesied, in his battle against Arjuna, Karna's chariot broke down. Karna alighted to fix his chariot but was struck by Arjuna's arrows, who breaking all the rules of war, targeted an unarmed Karna. Kunti, the mother abandoning Karna in life, acknowledged him in death, by insisting the Pandavas pay ritual homage to him.