Monday, January 19, 2009

Arjun or Karna? Who is a greater fighter?

Like any other debatable topic, before I reach to some conclusion, I try to define boundaries of the problem. In this case, Arjun or Karna is not important to me. Rather, I am thinking what is meant by a fighter? Is it just who can fight for 24 hrs without getting tired? Or, just whoever knows how to throw arrows with right precision and accuracy? Or, just who is ambidextrous and knows to handle multiple types of weapons with due expertise ? In my opinion, all these are important and necessary but not "sufficient".

A fighter is one, who,
a) knows how to win in odd situations and whose mental strength is immense?
b) gives due respect to his/her enemies and goes for a clean fight without using unfair means
c) is ambitious but does not underestimate his enemies
d) is intelligent and plans for bad situations rather than favorable situations
e) stays beside 'Truth', 'Dharma' and 'Justifiable duties' and is not affected by emotional constraints
f) can isolate every problem to its context, is self-dependent and does not blame others for his misfortune

Now, if you also agree with me, then go ahead and read further. Otherwise, you are free to be biased and choose either Karna or Arjun as your favourite fighter.

Ok, now lets see, who fits the above bill?

a) Take Virat yudh for consideration. Arjun (A) was handling it alone against all Kauravs who attacked Virat Rajya. He single handedly defeated Vishwa, Karna, Duryodhan, Drona and many others and saved Virat Rajya. Karna (K) was also a great fighter and throughout his life, he fought mentally against the stigma of ignorance from society and yet maintained his composure and focus as a fighter. Karna was even great in sacrificing his 'Kavatch' before the Kurukhsetra war. Such was his confidence and mental strength as a fighter! So, 45(A)-55(K).
b) Karna failed to maintain his ‘clean’ fighter image when he teamed with other Kauravas to kill Arjun’s son Abhimanyu. How could he do this? He was one of the 7 killers who together mercilessly killed the brave kid Abhimanyu who troubled the Kauravas till the last point of his life. The ‘yudh’ rules were against it. People say, Karna was a great character by heart – he failed to keep this image in this case. Arjun, on the other hand was stainless in using unfair means in battles. Yes, I agree he used Shikhandi to fight against Vishwa. But, Shikhandi was not actually fighting against Vishwa, he just stood still in Arjun’s chariot; and seeing Shikhandi, Vishwa left his armor. Then Arjun threw arrows to Vishwa and Vishwa welcomed the death to be at the hands of Arjun (because Vishwa used to love Arjun the most). People will also argue that Arjun killed Jayadrath after the Sunset which was against the rule. But, they forget that it was a revenge for the merciless killing of Abhimanyu by Jayadrath. So, there is no fault if you become unfair in removing another wrong thing or person. Also, a ‘false’ sunset was created by Krishna as he guided Surya to disappear for a moment and bring out Jayadrath from hiding. As Jayadrath came out, Sun reappeared and Arjun killed him. So, as far as Arjun is concerned, he realized that the Sun has come back and he killed Jayadrath. 52(A)-48(K).
c) Arjun never underestimated anyone. He learnt this lesson in a hard way in his childhood when he ignored Ekalavya and got beaten. After that, he never underestimated anyone. He knew he can win battles alone too but he always welcomed any other fighter with due respect. Karna too, always used to respect other fighters. But, one thing I don’t like about Karna. He was always keen to fight against Arjun and beat him and prove that he is the better than Arjun. That, in one sense, shows his respect to Arjun. In other sense, it also shows his eagerness to prove Arjun inferior to him. A true soldier should not think about demeaning others and should only do his ‘Karma’, i.e to fight and leave the rest to history to decide who is better. Still, considering Karna’s misfortune of birth rights and the ignorance and stigma associated with it, I would say, 50(A)-50(K)
d) They both were intelligent in making war plans. But, I feel surprised about one thing. Much before Kurukhsetra war, Karna knew that he got 2 curses hanging on his head given by his teacher Parashuram and the Brahmin. Parashuram cursed him that he would forget his learnings at a crucial time and the Brahmin cursed him that his chariot would stop at a very needed moment. But, still Karna did not have any backup plans to come out of such situations.
On the other hand, Urvashi cursed Arjun that he would become impotent for one year because Arjun refused to marry her. Arjun used that curse in his favor when he was in Virat Rajya with a disguise of impotent, viz. Brihannala. Still, considering such curses as unavoidable circumstances, I would say, 50(A)-50(K)
e) We all know Karna was driven by emotion and he did not stand by Truth and Dharma. He was blindly following his best friend Duryodhan for anything he does. Karna’s only mission in life was to stand against Arjun in the battlefield and prove himself a better fighter. He was so emotionally biased that he even insulted Draupadi as a “Prostitute”. He knew Duryodhan was wrong but he still stood by him in Kurukhsetra just because Duryodhan made him the king of Anga Rajya (a societal status) and gave him the chance to fight against Arjun. This is so emotionally driven mindset!! Even as a friend, Karna’s duty was to stop Duryodhan from this war against his brothers. He could have even stayed away from the Yudh as a protest to Adharma. But, he took it as a chance to fight against Arjun. If your best friend is gambling in the casino and losing everytime, would you also sit beside him to give company or would you take him out of the casino?
But look at Arjun, he was always doing his duty irrespective of emotional constraints. When Draupadi was shared by 5 Pandavas, it was decided that no other brother would enter in the room when Draupadi is spending time with one of them. But, once Yudhisthir was alone in a room with Draupadi and a brahmin came to Arjun asking for help to stop thieves stealing his cows. Arjun did not hesitate to take his weapon and entered in that same room. He finished his job and accepted an exile of 12 years of staying away from the family as a punishment. So, a justifiable duty was a bigger cause to Arjun to break an emotional promise. Arjun was even reluctant to fight against his brothers in Kurukhshetra. But, it was Krishna who reminded Arjun about his duties to ‘Dharma’ and Arjun came out of emotional constraints. 70(A)-30(K)

f) I agree that Karna was insulted a good many times as “Soot Putra” by others. That ignorance created a stigma in Karna’s mind. For that he was so depressed that every time he used to blame his fate. The more he blamed his fate, the more people insulted him. I think this was a vicious cycle. In management science, it is important not to think about uncontrollable costs. Karna’s birth was not in his hand. So, then why did not he take it in his stride to forget it and just do his job? It is because he remembered it, people remembered it even more. He never took initiative to ignore this stigma in his mind. He was a great fighter, he got great friendship from Duryodhan, he was king of ‘Anga Rajya’, then why did he not take the positives to ignore just the ‘uncontrollable’? I agree that caste system was very intense in those times in India, but then how did caste stigma drove him to say his mother Kunti that ‘5 of your 6 sons will be alive, either Karna or Arjun would die’? Was the stigma so important for him to send back his own mother with a promise to kill one of her 6 sons? That means he brought his birth-issue in the battlefield also.
For Arjun, it was more of his friendship with Krishna that turned into a kind of dependence. Take Subhadra’s abduction for that matter, there was no need of it but still Arjun went by Krishna’s advice to abduct her. But, he was completely independent in Virat Yudh where he single-handedly defeated all Kauravas and that too without Krishna’s presence. 55(A)-45(K)

The above analysis makes it look like Arjun as a better fighter than Karna. But, I am still not impressed. Because, many questions remained unanswered. What if Karna’s chariot was not stopped? What if Krishna was not there to save Arjun’s life from the deadly arrow that Karna sent to Arjun (for which Arjun had no answer) during the war? Some people argue that if Krishna was not there, Arjun would have surely got beaten. Still, I would say that is a guess and we are not sure about it. Also, why should we leave Krishna out of it? Krishna was a mark of Truth, he is the Almighty, He is the Supreme ‘Dharma’. It was expected that he would be beside Arjun and not beside Duryodhan. Why did not Karna realize the power of Truth?

Overall, I feel their individual fight remained incomplete. That is the greatness of Mahabharata. The debate of Karna and Arjun always reminds a hero (even today) in any domain that his competitor is still out there and unconquered. To me, they both are equally great of all times and we should learn from them.

16 comments:

SOMAK said...

hey nice piece of writing .....i actually could recall my mahabharat days in school...on DD....nice to bring back some old memories and also the deep underlying meaning beneath

roby said...

Nice thought...but i wonder what motivated you to write about Arjun and Karna in todays context!

Shivam said...

Hey there ur points were good bt u did'nt really justified it that well well go and see Mahabharat again Karna was a better Warrior than Arjuna.Karna was alone in everything he did nd he insulted Draupadi bcoz Draupadi also insulted him at a very important time(Swayamwar) Takin away of Kawach nd kundal nd he also felt sorry for insulting Draupadi nd himself said that he won't forgive himself for such a deed and u say that he assisted his friend Duryodhan in everything he did sorry friend but he was against Lakshagrah nd always advised duryodhan not to listen to Shakuni he was the most noblest character nd the reason he was always with Duryodhan was that he was indebred to him cz when he was alone only Duryodhan stood by him nd made him his friend.80(K)20(A)

Anik said...

To shivam,
I think I mentioned most of the things about Karna's noble character. But, you said some cases where he did not assist Duryodhana or told him not to listen to..., My point is he was so cautious by conscience, then he could have avoided taking part in the Kurukhshetra. He took part because of 2 reasons - a) to prove he is better than Arjun b) because he was indebted to Duryodhana.
I dont think there is any debt in this world which may compel anyone to go against "Dharma" or Justice. If such things happen then many of us have to come on the streets with weapons in hand to prove our points.

Banikinkar said...

Hi, very nice analysis, though I am not particularly impressed by the conclusion. I have answers to some of your questions. Why didn't Karna take another chariot as other warriors did when chariots were broken? Even Lord Krishna also pointed it out.It's bcoz Karna knew that he would be killed anyway. About Karna's deadly arrow, remember Arjun vowed not to use very destructive divine weapons in the Mahabharat war despite having all of them. Did Karna have any answer to the likes of Pashupat Astra? Had Arjun used such weapons, the war would have ended in a moment. Moreover, what about Virat war? Only the best can beat an army of finest warriers, and Arjun did it single-handedly, without Krishna. And if it is not enough, Arjun beat Karna after Draupadi swayamvar when Karna fought him; Karna was also beaten by Drupad. Karna could not free Duryodhan from Gandharvas' clutch but Arjun did. And during all these wars, Karna had his kavach and Kundal in tact and without the effect of Parsuram's curse. Karna was also beaten massively by Abhimanyu. Arjun again beat him when he had to go for the murder of Jayadrath. If Karna was the best, he should not have been defeated so many times. And, Karna's great advantage was he did not have to fight against finest archers like Bhisma, Drona and Kripacharya ever while Arjun had defeated them all. And these are just few examples. Moreover, if the finst warriors on earth-- Bhisma, Drona, Kripacharya and the Lord Himself-- considered Arjun the best archer, then it has to be right. Bcoz the Lord never flatters somebody just for the heck of it. Sympathy for a character for his humble origin and subsequent stuggle must be kept aside while immortalising somebody as the greatest archer. Moreover, the Mahabharat never mentioned that Arjun was beaten by Eklavya; it only said the duel between the two ended with the intervention of Drona. And Drona asked for Eklavya's finger as a sort of punishment for stealing "vidya", and that's why he did not deserve that "vidya" too.

Deepak said...

Karna was not so weak as depicted in few of these articles.He followed what was his dharma.
How can one justify that innumerable insults pandav hurled at him ,for what? Actually he was the most eligible person to rule,but destiny had other ideas.Even Kuru clan and Krishna did not do when it was needed to rectify the problem.later when it has taken monstrous prorportions they blame Karna for that,very unfair. If injustice has been done to any one in the entire epic its to him.
Why did Kunti,Indra and Krishna had to go to him just before the war ,if he was not invincible.For that matter Pashupat astra and even Sudharshan Chakra would have been rendered ineffective in front of the Kavach.
It was he who followed the rules of war laid by Bheeshma ,otherwise Arjun would have been gone a day earlier than Karna.In Abhimanyu's case he was just following his commander's instructions.
He always told Duryodhan not to adopt devious means to finish Pandav and instead fight like Kshatriya.
here was a person in front of whom even Dev--Indra and Bhagwan Krishna took a back stage for some time,such was his persona.In calibre he was the most favourite student of Parshuram and equal to his prowess.

Prateek Pandey said...

I am sure Arjun prooved himself a better warrior than Karna. Because:

1. Gurudakshina to Drona: When drona asked for kauravas for gurudakshina, kaurav went with their army along with karna but dhrupad defeated karna and kaurav army. After that pandavas took the same challenge and went without any army and succeeded.

2. The incident of Draupadi swayamvar: When karna challenged Arjun for a battle, and arjun broke his bow. Even though the battle was initiated by karna.

3. Virat Yudha: Arjun single handedly defeated all warriors of kaurava side, including karna and at that time there was a fair war between them. Even arjun was about to kill karna but he was saved by his divine kavach and kundal. The arrow of arjun fetched his chest. Also karna showed his back and took his charriot away from him.
Some may argue that arjun used divyastra(sleeping gas) to defeat the warriors from kaurav's side, but he used it only after defeating karna and also because those warriors were attacking his charriotere who was virat's yuvraj.

4) In kurukshetra , it was not the karna's skills but it was his divine weapons like shakti and brahmastra which can kill arjun, but arjun also posseses those destructive weapons, but he did not use them for the welfare of mankind(eg.pashupatastra)and many others.

Conclusion:
Apart from kurukshetera war, at no other place, karna's curse's came into play.So in all the trysts with arjun karna faught at his level best and yet defeated. In kurukshetra karna wanted to use shakti(deadly divine weapon)against arjun, so krishna had to come into action. There is no answer to these weapons and should not be as they are given by the gods. And even if arjuna had some answer for them he could not do it as it was considered as disrespect to the god. So all in all, Karna could not kill arjun with his skills , he had to use divine weapons against arjun. I am sure, Arjuna was better than karna.

Hectacon said...

(1)First of all , Karn was not the student of Dronacharya. When Dronacharya asked for Gurudakshina from Duryodhan and his brothers Karn was not with them. It was only meant for their students not outsiders.
.(2)During Draupadis swayamvar, when every great warrior including Jarasandh,Salya failed to fixed the string, Karna did it with ease .but when he was about shoot the target he was stopped by princess Draupadi.

Thereafter Arjun was victorious. But there was a fight between Arjun and Karn that was so intense that bows and arrows of both the warrior were shattered into pieces. But since karn was fighting with Arjun who was disguised as a Brahmin ,Karna backaway not becs he was scared of defeat but not to be cursed one more time by one more Brahmin.

Hectacon said...

Hey i agree that Arjuna was the greatest archer of his time along with Bhisma. When the Kurukshetra war was fought there were Five prominent Maharathis from Pandava side,they were Arjun, Bhimsen, Abhimanyu Ghatockacha and Satyaki and five prominent Maharathis from Kaurava side they were Bhisma, Dronacharya, karna, Ashwathama and Bhagdatt.
They were Maharathis that means they were very much equally matched. And best of days any could humble the other. But we have to determined who was the best among the best.
So if we consider Arjuna to be best who had the capabilities to kill him according to order
(1) Bhisma ofcourse who was not only the best student of Lord Parashurama but also disciple of Devguru Brihaspati and Devrishi Narad and was well versed with So many devine weapons that makes him second to none.
(2) Karna, he was very much well matched with Arjuna in Archery skill and he had shown that during Exihibition, Draupadi's swayanvar and during 16th and 17th day of war where he had the upperhand over Arjun till the time curses took affect.
(3) Third one , i think Bhimsen.In strength nobody is closed to him, and in skill he can give everyone sleepless night. But i seriously doubt He could have killed Arjun becs he had no Knowledge of the foremost of devine astras like Pasupatastra, Narayana astra, Brahmastra,Vaishnastra etc.so he could have matched Arjuna till 9th 10th round but eventually Arjuna will be champ by points or Knockout.
(4) Drona= How can we forgot Dronacharya the elementary teacher of Arjuna. But to be fair Arjuna had moved way ahead in terms of skill. So him killing Arjuna is slim.
Next who are left Abhimanyu .without doubt he was better in archery Than every other Maharathis but what he lacks was war experience which is very crucial and which ultimately led to his death.
(6) Here Everyone is posting that If Arjun had launched Pasupastra than Karna wouldhave died Instantly, but that day wouldn't have never came since Arjuna couldhave died on 11th day of war,yes both Arjuna and Bhimsen was dead for sure if not saved by Lord Krishna . Arjun had no answer to Vaishnastra of Bhaggdatt. The war could have been over on 11th day Duryodhana would have been in power. But "jishe rakhe Hari maar sake na koi" .
So it is clear that Arjuna could have been killed only by two who were fighting from kaurava side they were Bhisma and Karna. But But Bhisma have already announced that he won't kill any of Pandavas or their Sons becs they were his own blood. But Without the death of Arjuna the war cannot be won . So only Karna was left .

KD said...

Go by what Lord Krishna said...what you do and say is what defines you and your fate and the results of your action and not how great a warrior you are or how great a sage you are.
Karna was a loyal friend to Duryodhan, but like all loyal friends you are supposed to help your friends for their well being. The well being of dharam is even bigger than that. Karan could have told Duryodhan not to insult her, a woman someone who holds the highest honor in the living world. He could have chosen not to sit their for and participate in the whole draupadi insult. Instead we know what he as per the history. Hence what you do matters, what you say matters, hence be aware of what you are about to do!!

M.J said...

karn is alway great warrier then arjun coz . he hav no support such as krishna. to told what hi ill do what time.karnas each n every desicion is his own . n arjun killed him when he is in truble . so i realise karana is great warrier.

By - M.j.
8149211817.

Vaibhav Gupta said...

Hi, there is no need to debate over such topic when no-one can say anything with full justification. I liked Arjun's "role" more than Karna's in the Mahabharat,but to nullify the scores as posted in the blog and in the posts, Karna defeated the rest of the four Pandavas atleast once in the battle of Kurukshetra, Mahabharat. And even he had to face greats like Arjuna, Satyaki, Abhimanyu, Bhima.

Also, to know about his calibre, you all should check this page --

http://www.urday.in/mghatotkachadeath.htm

Jitendra Kumar Mahapatro said...

It is very difficult to say who is more powerful person. On the Arjuna's chariots Lord Hanuman was sitting still Karana had capability to move the Chariots. Krishna also appreciated for that reason. But Arjun did not understand that why ? then Krishana Explain that reason.

Jitendra Jain said...

If one watches the only 2 episodes of mahabharat tv series of 16th and 17th day or reads in texts how karan died...result comes out as karan being the great as i thought initially.......
But when one finishes the story from beginning to end with all possible logical explanation arjun had upper hand on bhishma, drona and karna (the big three of kaurava side) combined......

Akshadh Katyal said...

For all karna's Fans:

(SOURCE-TRANSLATION OF ORIGINAL MAHABHARAT OF VYAS BY KESARI MOHAN GANGULY
& WHICH IS THE ONLY PRECISE TRANSLATION AVAILABLE ON PUBLIC DOMAIN):



Incident 1:Karna fled rom battlefield from Arjuna(Virata Yudh):

http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m04/m04060.htm




Incident 2:Karna defeated by Gandharwa chitrasena:

http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m03/m03239.htm

http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m03/m03240.htm




Incident 3:Arjuna defeat Ghandarwas & rescued Duryodhan & kurus:

http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m03/m03243.htm

http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m03/m03244.htm



Incident 4:Karna defeated & freightened by Abhimanyu in chakruvyuhu:

Hearing these words, Karna, afflicted with the shafts of Arjuna's son, once more said unto Drona, 'Exceedingly afflicted with the shafts of Abhimanyu, I am staying in battle, only because (as a warrior) I should stay here. Indeed, the arrows of this south of great energy are exceedingly fierce. Terrible as they are and possessed of the energy of fire, these arrows are weakening my heart.'

http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m07/m07045.htm




What Karna's own friend Ashwathama & kripacharya think of karna:

http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m04/m04049.htm

http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m04/m04050.htm




what Lord Krishna think of karna's bravery:

Krishna said(To Arjuna):.I swear by Truth to thee, O friend, that my limbs are burning at the thought that while the son of Subhadra was thus advancing, consuming the hostile army with his shafts, even on that occasion the wicked-souled Karna was engaged in acts of hostility to that hero,Unable, O Partha, to stay in that battle before Abhimanyu's face, mangled with the shafts of Subhadra's son, deprived of consciousness, and bathed in blood, Karna drew deep breaths, inflamed with rage. At last, afflicted with arrows, he was obliged to turn his back upon the field.

http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m08/m08073.htm



& Finally karna himself accepting Arjuna's supeority:

Source:origial mahabharat by vyas..trans by km ganguly!

http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m08/m08079.htm




FINAL KARNA ARJUNA BATTLE(DAY 17 OF MAHABHARATA):


http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m08/m08089.htm

http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m08/m08090.htm

http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m08/m08091.htm

ACCORDING TO MY ANALYSIS OF THIS TRANSLATION IN THE FINAL BATTLE OF MAHABHARATA,ARJUNA & KARNA ASSAULTED EACH OTHER 35 TIMES WITH NUMEROUS, THOUSANDS & LAKHS OF ARROWS ………8 TIMES THEY NULLIFIED EACH OTHER ARROWS ,12 TIMES BOTH KARNA & ARJUNA PIERCED EACH OTHER BUT THE REMAINING 15 TIMES ARJUNA PIERCED KARNA IN EVERY PART OF HIS BODY & KARNA’S LIMBS,YOKE,STANDARD,STEEDS,CHARIOT WERE RIPPED APART & KARNA WAS LEFT MANGLED BATHED IN BLOOD & KARNA HAD NO ANSWER FOR ARJUNA’S ARROWS!!!



Authenciaty of vyas original mahabharat by km ganguly:

http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/maha/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kisari_Mohan_Ganguli

Akshadh Katyal said...

TO FIND OUT THE TRUTH WHO IS THE GREATEST WARRIOR OF MAHABHARATA- KARNA OR ARJUNA FROM ORIGINAL VYAS'S MB,VISIT:

https://www.facebook.com/karnavsarjuna