Forest led three times and also saw Tobias Figueiredo sent off in the second-half, Tammy Abraham scoring four of Villa’s goals.
But despite conceding the lead so often, Karanka felt that overall his side deserved a lot of credit.
He said:“On days like these you can be proud of your players. It is not a day to talk about tactics or mistakes, it is a day to talk about the personality and commitment of the players at the end of a crazy game.
“We’ve played against a fantastic team in front of 32,000 people and we were still attacking even with ten men. It was difficult to enjoy the game because something was always happening and I kept having to work out what to do next.
“I’m exhausted but all the credit must go to the players, they were brilliant. Now we have to rest and think about the game on Saturday because as amazing as we were tonight, we have to focus on Ipswich straight away.”
Forest led 2-0 inside six minutes and then 3-2 after 22 minutes in a pulsating opeining to the game, with Karanka believing his side may have got too comfortable, too early.
He said “Winning 2-0 is always the most dangerous score because you are more relaxed and after they equalised it became like a tennis match.
“For me the main thing is that we competed away from home against one of the biggest clubs in the league.
“I think it is the first time in my career that my team has conceded five goals but the character we showed to fight back was amazing. We knew Aston Villa had some weaknesses so we tried to exploit them as we went forwards.
“The fourth official said Tobias’s red card was clear so it is one of those things. We have to accept that decision and move on to Saturday’s game.”
Lewis Grabban, scorer of the first and last Forest goals, also felt the visitors could be happy with a point.
He said: “It was extraordinary. I have never really been in a game like that with the rollercoaster of emotions. Being up, then behind – it was a tough game. This is a tough place to come to but in the end I think we are happy with the draw.
“Looking at the game, they are good opposition. The main thing was to come here and not lose; we would have liked to have won but being a man down for the last 20-25 minutes, we are happy with it in the end.”