In consequence of the curse of Rama (his preceptor in arms) as also of the words of a Brahmana (who cursed him on another occasion), owing also to his deprivation of the accoutrements of battle, he, in my judgment, is only half a Ratha. Having approached Falguni (in battle), he will not certainly escape with life!' Hearing this, Drona, that foremost of all wielders of weapons, said, 'It is even so as thou hast said. That is not untrue! He boasteth on the eve of every battle, but yet he is seen to retreat from every engagement. Kind (out of season) and blundering, it is for this that Karna, in my judgment, is only half a Ratha!'

Source Here

Here Drona humiliates Karna more than Bhisma itself, yet Karna decided not to fight under Bhisma alone, but took up arms and fought under Drona's command.

It is for this that thy heart hath been such. Through pride, and owning also to thy companionship with the low, thy heart hateth even persons of merit! It is for this that I spoke such harsh words about thee in the Kuru camp! I know thy prowess in battle, which can with difficulty be borne on earth by foes! I know also thy regard for Brahmanas. thy courage, and thy great attachment to alms-giving! O thou that resemblest a very god, amongst men there is none like thee! For fear of intestine dissensions I always spoke harsh words about thee. In bowmanship, in aiming weapon, in lightness of hand and in strength of weapons, thou art equal to Phalguni himself, or the high-souled Krishna! O Karna, proceeding to the city of Kasi, alone with thy bow, thou hadst crushed the kings in battle for procuring a bride for the Kuru king! The mighty and invincible king Jarasandha also, ever boastful of his prowess in battle, could not become thy match in fight!

source here

Here Bhisma reveals why he hurt Karna during the tales of Ratha and Atiratha and says his reason for claiming him to be Half a ratha (during his death bed). Yet Drona with no clue of what's going in the mind of Bhisma, just blatantly agreed to him or is this a hint of Drona too was aware of Karna's birth secret ?

So is this a custom way back then, of focusing on the one who started the conversation than the one who joins in the middle ? I don't see how he ignored Drona's comment, but was deeply concerned about Bhisma's comment alone.

  • 2
    Interesting post. BTW, you should highlight (with bolds) the part of the scripture which is directly relevant to the Qn. IMK, Karna did not have any reservations to fight even under Bhishma. It is just that Bhishma did not want him to fight at all. Drona did not have such problems.
    – iammilind
    Jul 11, 2017 at 4:27
  • @iammilind What were Bhishma's reservations to Karna fighting? Can you post link to source please. Thanks. Jul 11, 2017 at 5:00
  • @LakshmiNarayanan, Above thing I am saying from the BR Chopra's TV series. I scantly remember that, probably I read it somewhere. But for now I don't have it handy. However, it's encouraged if you can post a Qn on that topic. Someone would surely find that. I will also try. :-)
    – iammilind
    Jul 11, 2017 at 5:25
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    @LakshmiNarayanan Bhishma humiliated Karna more than once even before the Kurukshetra war. Karna too was not respectful towards Bhishma. Bhishma supported Pandavas before Karna's Digvijaya. I think Drona was not that harsh towards Karna. That might be a reason. But there could be more reasons for Karna not to fight under Bhishma. Jul 12, 2017 at 17:08

1 Answer 1


Bhishma, being grand father of both Kauravas and Pandavas did not want Karna to fight in the war, because he knew that Karna was also the son of Kunti.

Thou art Kunti's son, not Radha's! Nor is Adhiratha thy father! O thou of mighty arms, I heard all this about thee from Narada as also from Krishna-Dwaipayana! Without doubt, all this is true! I tell thee truly, O son, that I bear thee no malice! It was only for abating thy energy that I used to say such harsh words to thee!

Drona just seconded that idea of Bhishma. And, Drona had no such reservations on Karna.

It was Karna, who proposed the name of Drona for anointing the latter as the Commander-in-Chief of Kaurava's army. And, Karna too had no such animosity towards Drona. Further, Drona was his preceptor.

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