Aranya Parva - 6
Vaishampayana then narrated the story of Karna to Janmejaya when the king asked why Yudhishthira was scared of Karna.
Karna was born to a young Kunti when she childishly tested a boon she had received from Durvasa. Surya appeared before her. When she fearfully refused to have a son and asked him to go, the sun God threatened to curse her father. At her request, Surya entered Kunti through Yoga and gave her a son. The son was born with Kavacha (armour) and Kundalas (earrings), which game him protection.
During the exile of the Pandavas, Surya appeared before Karna in a dream and told him that Indra would come to him disguised as a Brahmana and ask for his kavacha and kundalas. Surya told him not to give it. But Karna refused, saying he had taken an oath and was obliged to give whatever Brahmanas asked. Surya then told him to ask for a celestial weapon in exchange for the kavacha and kundalas.
Indra then came to Karna and asked for the kavacha and kundalas. As per his conversation with Surya, Karna demanded a celestial weapon to be given. Indra then gave him his Vasavi Shakti weapon with the condition that Karna could use it only once. Karna then removed his kavacha and kundalas and gave them to Indra, thus losing the divine protection he had.
A Brahmana who stayed with the Pandavas was performing a yajna when his fire stick was stolen by a deer. He appealed to the Pandavas to bring back the fire stick. They chased the deer but couldn’t find it. Tired and thirsty, Yudhishthira asked Nakula to search for water. Nakula climbed a tree and saw a lake. When he reached the lake, he heard a Yaksha’s voice asking him not to drink the water without answering the questions of the Yaksha.
Nakula did not care, drank the water and ended up dead. In the same way, Sahadeva, Arjuna, and Bheema came there one by one and died after drinking the water. Finally, Yudhishthira reached the lake and was shocked to see his dead brothers. He then saw a crane that asked Yudhishthira to answer its questions before drinking water. He agreed to this.
There were many questions asked by the crane and Yudhishthira answered them all. The answers to the question revealed that wife was the best friend, mother was more powerful than the earth and father was higher than the sky.
The pleased Yaksha told Yudhishthira he could bring back one of his brothers to life. Yudhishthira told he wanted Nakula to come back to life. When the yaksha asked why he didn’t choose his own brothers, Bheema or Arjuna, who were more powerful, Yudhishthira replied he wanted one son each of Kunti and Madri to be alive.
The happy Yaksha revealed his true form. He was Yama, the god of death who was Yudhishthira’s father. Yama restored the lives of all the dead Pandavas. He advised Yudhishthira to go to the kingdom of Virata to spend the last year of exile.
End of Arnaya Parva