The conversation between Karna and Krishna is quite fascinating.

Before the Kurukhetra war, Krishna grew restless because of the presence of Karna in Kaurava camp. Krishna was not afraid of the mighty Bheesma because he knew that Bheesma had committed a sin (by kidnapping three maiden princesses of Kashi – Amba, Ambika, Ambalika) and that time has given him a counter for Bheesma in the form of Shikhandi (the re-incarnation of Amba, she pledged to become the reason of Bhessma’s death).

Krishna was not afraid of the presence of Drona because he knew that Drupad had performed a Yagna and given birth to Dhristyadhumna, who would slay Drona in the battlefield.

Krishna is however, afraid of Karna’s presence because this man has never committed a sin. So he does not have a counter for Karna and since Karna has a Vasava shakti, it is a big barrier towards the victory of Dharma. If Karna uses his Vasava Shakti, Arjuna is dead and if Arjuna is dead, the loss of Pandavas is certain.


Karna getting the Vasava Shakti from Indra in exchange of his biggest defense – Kavach, Kundal. This is the weapon he will reserve for Arjuna but alas, for time has other plans.

So Krishna tries to trick Karna through words.


Do you know that you are the eldest Kunti Putra. You deserve to be the king of Hastinapura. Come, join us. All the Pandavas will welcome you. Draupadi will become your queen, why are you fighting with Duryodhana?

Karna –

“They are not my brothers. And I have no wish to become the king. Thank you for telling me that I am the eldest Kunti Putra, I have been searching this answer all my life.

Krishna –

Now that you know who you are, why don’t you join the camp of Dharma?

Karna –

With all due respect to you, who are you to define what is my dharma?. I am aware of my dharma and I am doing it every single day.

Krishna –

And what is your dharma, may I know?

Karna –

My Dharma is to protect my friend when he needs me the most.

Krishna –

Even at the cost of siding with a force which is doing Adharma towards hundreds of thousands of men? Do you know that your presence in the Kaurava camp ensures that Dharma has to fight harder for victory?

Karna –

The force has its own reasons, I have my own reasons. Where were you when Drona denied me to teach lessons because I do not belong to a royal family? Where was Dharma when I was not allowed to compete in the Swayamvar of Draupadi and I was insulted of being a person from lowerly caste? Where was dharma when I had to answer every single person how a suta putra became the king? Dharma or righteousness for that matter has never been my friend. I have only one friend and only one dharma.

Its called Duryodhana.

Dhoop Surya ka saath chor sakti hai,
upaj dharti ka saath chor sakti hai,
disha vaan ka saath chor sakti hai,
kintu yeh soot putra karna Duryodhana ka sath nahi chor sakta.

Krishna –

Do you agree that Duryodhana is wrong and that he is the only one responsible for this war?

Karna –

I do.

Krishna –

What is your motivation for fighting this war? Pandavas have their reasons, Duryodhana has his, what is your reason? What will you gain from this war?

Karna –

I am not fighting this war to gain anything. After Ganga putra Bheesma, I am the most unfortunate lone warrior in this battlefield. Fighting for nothing. He has his Pratigya and hence he is helpless. But I am not helpless. I can walk away from the war. But No, I won’t. I cannot leave my friend when he needs me the most. I know he is wrong but that has nothing to do with my gratitude.

Krishna –

What if both the parties decide to do peace? What if the war never starts? How are you going to re-pay your debt of friendship?

Karna –

Are you kidding me? When god is standing at my doors trying to persuade me in changing tracks, be rest assured that war is inevitable. Why would the god come to my doors if the doors of peace were open?

Krishna –

Fine. What if Pandavas win and they invite you to become the king of Hastinapura? You will have to marry Draupadi then, will you do it?

Karna –

No that is not even a possibility. At the end of this war, either I will be alive or Arjuna will be. No matter who wins this war, one of us is going to die. And as far as Draupadi is concerned, that is the only regret I have. I have wrongly insulted her, called her a whore in the court room. I shouldn’t have said that. So even if she approaches me, I am not worthy of her now. At one point, I was. But not now. It’s too late.

Later, Krishna discusses this situation with Satyaki and how he failed to persuade Karna. He says that time must have an answer to this and that we should wait for that counter to evolve (that counter to Karna was Ghatotkacha – Bheema’s asura son)

This conversation just shows how much virtues and valor Karna had and how dutiful he was towards his Dharma (protecting his friend when he needs him the most).

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  • Sas das

    This article shows the arrogance and also the height of desires of Karna.

    First, when Krishna wanted to teach him the definition of dharma, he denied to be receptive saying he knows his dharma. On the other hand, in difficult time, Arjun, Yudhistira completely surrenders to Krishna and received the ‘Brahma Gyana’ and the real meaning of dharma. ‘Tad viddi pranipatena/ pariprasnena sevaya/ upadeksyanti te jnanam/ jnaninas tattva-darsinah’ (Gita 4:34).

    Second, Karna defined his only dharma to be loyal towards Duryadhana despite knowing all the wrong deeds he was performing. The definition of dharma is not binary and straightforward, rather it has to determined by considering all possible outcomes of an action and then weighing them accordingly. Dharma is not defined just by good actions but also by how much bad actions being nullified. Its a complex equation. For example, telling a lie to save somebody’s life is a dharma, because degree of dharma of saving somebody’s life is much greater than the degree of adharma of telling a lie. Similarly, if Karna had switched the side towards Pandava, the drama of providing justice towards Pandavas, Amba(Shikhandi) would have been much more weightful than the adharma of leaving the side of a true friend Duryodhana. Krishna was telling this towards Karna, but Karna never understood it due to his revengeful thoughts and vindictive mind towards Arjuna.

    Third, Karna was a self-obsessed person. He always chase his passion of being the best archer of the world and that was sole aim of life for him, no matter whether his best skill of archery is being used by Duryodhana for fulfilling his evil causes. This is a selfish dharma defined by himself. On the other hand, in all Indic religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism), desires are said to be the root cause of all misery. Prajahati yada Kaman, sarvan partha mano-gatan (Gita 2:55).

    Fourth, he could not forgive his past insults when he was denied into Swamvara by Draupadi or Drona’s denial of knowledge for being a low caste person by birth (not by profession though, everybody accepted Karna as a Kshatriya by his skill, even by Drona later). Now, which one is better? To forgive and let go the old revengeful thoughts or rather act upon those insult for whole life? Karna did the later. He insulted Draupadi as prostitute along with Duryodhana in the dice-game, although later he realized his mistake, but its too late. But, he never forgot the insult of being denied in the fight with Arjuna and rather remain vindictive towards Arjuna for whole life and unite with Duryadhana by the common of vindictiveness towards Arjuna to justify his evil decisions of assisting Duryodhana. Consider the situation otherwise from the point of view of Arjuna. In the beginning of the war, when he realized that he has to kill all his relatives and the calamity of war just to fulfill his selfish desire of gaining his own kingdom and revenge Draupadi’s insult, Arjuna decided to rather beg in the forest for rest of life and to forgive all the evils of Kauravas. His revengeful thoughts and actions are completely gone despite receiving suffering in his own life, ten times more than what Karna had received in life. Still, he was able to let go the past insults and his desires (Gita 1:45-46). That is why Arjuna was greater human being than Karna. Krishna has to give him the ultimate knowledge then to convince him to fight, not for fulfilling his selfish desire, but as a duty towards society and as a will of Lord himself.

    Last, but not least, Karna could have decided not to fight in any sides similar to Vidura, not because of his newly known ancestry, but by convincing Duryodhana that giving Panadavas their fair share of Kingdom is the real dharma. If he walked away from the war after this conversation of Krishna, the whole war could have been avoided.