Choice of Friendship costs his Dharma – life of Karn

Friendship is the highest virtue which connects two different individuals on a same path. While relations are decided by the Almighty, friends are left to an individual to choose. Although friendship is a virtue to be done with a pure heart, the selection of friends is as important as fulfilling it with a pure heart and a best example to quote on this the life of the great warrior Karn.


Born as the son of the Suryadev and having an illustrious lineage, Karn’s destiny was however different. Being abandoned by Kunti, Karn grew up to be Radhei, the son of a charioteer. But just as a diamond shines even when covered with dust, Karn went on to become a great warrior and reaches the court of Hastinapur to display his skills. However, he gets ridiculed by Guru Dronacharya for his lineage. But, Duryodhan comes as his saviour and makes him the king of Angadesh and forever earns Karn’s trust and friendship.
The first meeting of Karn and Duryodhan is a beautiful lesson of friendship wherein Duryodhan questions the inequalities of the society and takes a step ahead in recognising Karn’s talent as a warrior rather than giving importance to his family. Friendship is pure and doesn’t see any high and low of the society. At the same time, just all the virtues end up in the preservation of Dharma, friendship too has to be done in the adherence of Dharma, which the two friends fail to follow.

The life of Karn is a perfect example to show as to how important the choice of friendship is. Karn was a virtuous person known for his honesty, benevolence and courage, but all his virtues were overshadowed in the company of the pride and ego of Duryodhan. Duryodhan does many mistakes in the evil influence of Shakuni, but Karn obliged with the virtue of friendship doesn’t have anything to say about it in spite of not being in favour of his acts. As a friend, it was the foremost duty of Karn to advise Duryodhan from doing evil deeds, as nothing is greater than Dharma, but Karn ignores it and supports Duryodhan as he only sees the angle of friendship between them. It is important that one supports friends, but when Dharma is disturbed, then supporting Dharma is the greater need than friendship which Karn fails to comply.

Before the war of Kurukhsetr, when Shri Krishna reveals to Karn his original identity of being the son of Kunti, Karn is shocked, but does not step back on his friendship with Duryodhan. Shri Krishna tries to persuade him in all ways to leave Duryodhan and fight for Dharma. But Karn doesn’t agree.Karn mentions to Shri Krishna that friendship was on the higher side to him and stays with Duryodhan although he knew that he was on the losing side. Bound by his word, Karn finally gives the ultimate sacrifice of giving his life for Duryodhan in the battle, giving up his most priceless life as a cost of their friendship.


Karn’s life teaches two things. While the first one is to do friendship with a pure heart and sacrifice, the second one is that Dharma is greater than anything and even the one who has good virtues and is a good friend, yet perishes if he stands against it. Hence choice of being friends with good or bad company is a very important deciding factor in life.