It’s a fascinating conversation between Karna and Krishna. As the Kurukhetra war becomes imminent, Krishna grew restless on the fact that there are excellent warriors in Kaurava camp. Attempts were to be made to bring some of them to the Pandava’s side. He did a detailed analysis of all the excellent warriors. For example:
Bheesma: The oldest and the mightiest force was Bheesma. Bheesma however had committed a sin of kidnapping three maiden daughters of Kashi king– Amba, Ambika, Ambalika. One of the princesses was reborn in the form of Shikhandi. Krishna knew the truth of the re-incarnation of Amba, who had pledged to become the reason of Bhessma’s death.
Dronacharya: The teacher of Pandava and Kaurava, Drona was also another great warrior. But, Krishna knew about Drupad’s Yagna and the birth to Dhristyadhumna, who would kill Drona in the battlefield.
On the other hand, Karna hadn’t committed a grave sin and he was one of the greatest and undefeated warrior and Duryodhana’s closest friend. In addition, he was also the son of Kunti, that made Karna the best candidate to approach. Karna’s presence in Pandava side would ensure victory.
Karna had obtained Vasava Shakti from Indra in exchange of his by-birth defense – Kavach, Kundal. Karna has reserved Vasava Shakti as the weapon to defeat Arjuna. That was also another reason Krishna tries to influence Karna through witty words.
Krishna: Hey Karna, did you know that you are the eldest son of Kunti? You actually deserve to be the king of Hastinapura.
Karna: Is that so? How come I be the son of Kunti?
Krishna: You are the maiden son of Kunti as a boon of Surya Dev. (Krishna explained how a boon of Rishi Durbasha helped Kunti to invite Surya Dev and impregnate her.)
Karna: Thank you for telling this to me. I have been searching for that for my entire life.
Krishna: Now you know that you are the eldest of the Pandavas, you should join us. All the Pandavas will welcome you as their older brother, a Panduputra.
Karna: They are not my brothers. And I have no wish to become the king of Hastinapura.
Krishna: How about Draupadi becoming your queen? Now that you know who you actually are, you should join the camp of Dharma.
Karna: With all due respect to you, I am well aware of my dharma, and I am following my Dharma’s path every single day.
Krishna: Your Dharma? What is that? Is it different from my Dharma?
Karna: Well Krishna, my Dharma is to protect my friend when he needs the protection the most.
Krishna: You mean, even at the cost of siding with Adharma? Do you realize that you being in the Kaurava camp would cause Dharma to fight harder to gain the victory?
Karna: Everything has its own reasons. I have my reasons. Where was Dharma when Drona denied me to teach me lessons only because I didn’t belong to Chhetriya clan? Where was Dharma when I was not allowed to compete in the Swayamvar of Draupadi and when I was unfairly insulted of being a person from lower caste? Where was your dharma when I had to answer everybody the reason behind becoming a king despite of being a Suta Putra? My friend, your kind of Dharma has never on my side throughout my life. You know, I have only one friend in this entire world, Duryodhana. He is the only Dharma I have. So, I would never leave the company of my friend Duryodhana.
Krishna: Fair enough. But, do you agree that Duryodhana is in the wrong side of fairness? Don’t you think he is the only person who is responsible for this war?
Karna: Yes, I do.
Krishna: Then, what is your motivation for fighting this war? You know Pandavas have their reasons to fight this war, Duryodhana also has his. But, what is your reason? What do you expect to gain from this war?
Karna: Krishna, you are wrong in asking this question. I have nothing to gain from this war. In this entire war, I am the most unfortunate lone warrior, only after Ganga putra Bheesma. We are fighting for nothing. For Bheesma, he has his Pratigya and he is helpless. Although I am not helpless in that sense, I have the full liberty to walk away from the war. But I won’t! I cannot leave my only friend when he needs me the most. Although he is wrong in many ways, that has nothing to do with my gratitude towards him.
Krishna: In that case, what if both the parties decide not to go for the war. Then, how would you re-pay your debt of the friendship?
Karna: That is an absurd question. You are at my doors to beg me to abandon my friend even if you know I wouldn’t consider that. In the current situation, the war is inevitable. If that were not the case, why would you come to my doors like this?
Krishna: Okey fine. What if Pandavas win the war and you being the eldest of them, invite you to become the king of Hastinapura? Will you marry Draupadi?
Karna: No! That is not possible. By the end of this war, one of us have to die. Either I will live or Arjuna, not both. As for Draupadi I regret that I have wrongly insulted her. I shouldn’t have called her a whore in the court room. That was a mistake I regret. That is the reason I am not worthy for her. Even if she asks me to marry her, I won’t because it is too late now.
Krishna had tough time in the conversation with Karna. Later during the war Karna was killed and Pandava won the war.
This is a story from Mahabharata, an ancient epic about the war between brothers for their kingdom.
A story of Karna’s mother Kunti: