Lord Krishna has told Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna on the first day of Bhishma Parva at Kurukshetra (before starting the war). And Karna was not present in Bhishma Parva as Karna had taken an oath not to fight till Bhishma is alive and acting as the Chief General of the Kaurava army. But Karna was explicitly mentioned by Duryodhana in the below verse from the Bhagavad-Gita Upa-parva of Bhishma Parva (BG 1.8):

Bhavaan bheeshmashcha karnashcha kripashcha samitinjayah;
Ashwatthaamaa vikarnashcha saumadattis tathaiva cha.8.

“Thyself(Dhronacharya) and Bhishma, and Karna and Kripa, the victorious in war; Asvatthama, Vikarna and Jayadratha, the son of Somadatta.

Does this mean Karna was present in the battlefield during Bhishma Parva and while Bhishma was still the acting General but he wasn't just involved in the war? If not, then why did Duryodhana mention Karna's name?

1 Answer 1


Yes, Karna was on the battlefield.

The Bhagavad Gita chapter you're quoting from is chapter 25 of the Bhishma Parva of the Mahabarata. In a later chapter of the Bhishma Parva, right before the battle begins Krishna approaches Karna on the battlefield and asks him to fight for the Pandavas until Bhishma dies, an offer Karna refuses:

Vasudeva then went to Radha's son on the field of battle. And the elder brother of Gada, for the sake of the Pandavas, then said to Karna,--It hath been heard by me, O Karna, that from hatred of Bhishma thou wilt not fight. Come to our side, O son of Radha, and (stay with us) as long as Bhishma is not slain. After Bhishma is slain, O son of Radha, thou mayst then again engage in battle on Duryodhana's side, if thou hast no preference for any of the parties.--'

Karna said, 'I will not do anything that is disagreeable to Dhritarashtra's son, O Kesava. Devoted to Duryodhana's good, know that I have cast off my life (for him).'

On a side note, this is right before Duryodhana's half-brother Yuyutsu switches to the Pandava side, as I discuss in this answer.

In any case, to answer your question, Karna was on the battlefield, watching but not fighting out of respect for Bhishma's wishes.

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