My friends, Karna was Duryodhan’s special friend. He was well known for his generosity. He never used to send back any needy person empty handed. Every morning, Karna used to go to the river bank for a bath and give oblation of water to the Sun-God. After his bath, while returning home, if any needy person came before him, he never used to return him back empty handed.
Once, Lord Shrikrushna and Arjun were engaged in a conversation. They were talking about Karna’s generous nature. Shrikrushna praised Karna for his generosity. He said, "No one is as generous as Karna." Arjun was surprised to hear this. He said, "O Shrikrushna, my brother, Dharmaraj Yudhishthir too is very generous." However, Shrikrushna argued that Karna was more generous as compared to Yudhishthir. As usual, Shrikrushna was ready to prove his point. He said, “Alright, let us settle this issue tomorrow, by going to both, Dharmaraj and Karna.”
It was a rainy season then. Shrikrushna and Arjun went to Dharmaraj Yudhishthir the next morning. Welcoming them, he asked the reason for their coming. Shrikrushna said, “Some important construction work has to be undertaken in the capital immediately and for that some wooden logs are required.” Dharmaraj called his servants and ordered them to bring wood of best quality for construction. However, the servants did not return with the wood for a long time. Finally, one servant came back and stood before them looking to the ground. Dharmaraj asked, “What happened? Did you not get the wood?” Since it was monsoon, the logs had become wet due to the rains; hence the servants could not bring them. Dharmaraj was helpless in providing the required wood. He expressed his helplessness to Shrikrushna and Arjun. Hearing this, Shrikrushna and Arjun went away.
Shrikrushna then took Arjun to Karna. When they arrived at Karna’s residence, Karna welcomed them with great respect and inquired about their wellbeing. Arjun told him about their urgent need of wood. Karna said, “O, why are you so worried for such a simple thing?” saying so, he asked his servants to fetch some wood. The servants returned after a while and reported to him about the wood being wet due to rain. Hearing this, Karna went inside. Since he did not return for a long time, Arjun and Shrikrushna went inside Karna's room. There, they saw that Karna was cutting the legs of his wooden bed. They saw many pieces of furniture were set aside. Now they realised the reason for the delay in Karna’s returning to them. Arjun asked Karna, "O, Karna, why did you cut off your precious artistic sandalwood furniture?" Karna replied, "These things can be made again, but there is no other grief than sending away someone empty handed despite his request to fulfil his desire."
Later, the same Karna gave away his golden armour and earrings, which he had received as a blessing at birth. This example of total sacrifice is recorded in history.
Friends, you just read about the generosity of Karna. Karna gave away his armour and earrings, which he had received as a blessing at birth. However, we are never willing to give even the smallest of our possessions to others. From this, we must learn that, we too should be ready to sacrifice our things for the sake of others.