I have seen many people tell that before the Kurukshetra war in Mahabharata, no war was fought between Karna and Arjuna. But some people also tell that there had been various wars between Karna and Arjuna before the Kurukshetra war in which Arjuna defeated Karna many times. What is the truth? Who was considered more powerful between the two and on which basis?
From the article "Karna and Arjuna" by Dr. Madhu Guptan and his comments under the article:
On the basis of evidence from the Mahabharata Arjuna emerges as the greatest warrior. Arjuna humbles Karna many times before Mahabharata war like Draupadi Svayamvar, Virata war and in the killing of Jayadrath. Karna ,Gandharva's attack, in spite of all his boasting, is neither able to save Jayadrath from Arjuna nor Duhshasana from Bhima. In the Virata war, Arjuna single handedly defeats the entire Kaurava army. Arjuna also has a greater character than Karna.
But Karna too has great and admirable qualities, as mentioned in my article like friendship, loyalty and charity. That is the beauty and complexity of Mahabharata.
Arjuna is superior to Karna in battle. Here is what Indra says in a message to Yudhishthira, in this chapter of the Varna Parva of the Mahabharata:
And, O bull of the Bharata race, well do I know that Karna is endued with great ardour and energy and strength and prowess that is incapable of being baffled. Well do I know that, skilled in fierce conflict, he hath not his rival in battle; that he is a mighty bowman, a hero deft in the use of fierce weapons and cased in the best of mail. Well do I know that that exalted son of Aditya resembleth the son of Maheswara himself. Well do I also know the high natural prowess of the broad-shouldered Arjuna. In battle Karna is not equal unto even a sixteenth part of Pritha's son. And as for the fear of Karna which is in thy heart, O repressor of foes, I shall dispel when Savyasachin will have left heaven.
We all know that Karna and Arjuna clashed several times, such as Swayamvara of Draupadi, Virata war and Kurukshetra.
But the war of Virata and fights before and during the day / night 14 is practically considered interpolated by Vyasa himself:
On seeing that Yudhishthira, Dharma's are, was advancing, Vyasa approached and said, 'Though he has clashed against Karna in the battle, it is through good fortune that Phalguna is still alive, I have preserved the spear, wishing to kill Savyasachi. bull among the Bharata lineage! It is good fortune that Jishnu did not engage in a duel with him.
Source: Drona-Vadha Parva Chapter 1135
So Virata war, group attacks of the 12th and 14th, as well as individual ones do not count. So in these cases we could only use two fights between them that are very famous for everyone: Swayamvara de Draupadi and fight on day 17.
Seeing Vaikartana Karna rush towards him, the wise Arjuna stretched his mighty bow and pierced him with three arrows. The impact of these sharp arrows stunned Radheya and I approached with greater circumspection. Then those two invincible warriors fought violently, each eager to vanquish the other. That was the speed that they became invisible. "Look at the strength in my arms "," See how I countered that ", they taunted each other in words that only warriors understand. Seeing the value in Arjuna's arms, unparalleled on earth, Vaikartana Karna fought even more vigorously. Repulsing Arjuna's swift arrows, Karna shouted out aloud and the warriors applauded his feat. 'Karna said, "O foremost among Brahmanas! I am pleased with the strength of your arms, which do not shoot in battle, and with your persistent control over weapons. Or supreme among Brahmanas! Are you Rama, the personification of the knowledge of weapons? Or are you Harihaya himself? Or are you Achyuta Vishnu himself? Have you assumed the form of a Brahmana to disguise yourself and are now fighting strongly with me for self-preservation, Mustering the strength of your arms? When I am angry in the field of battle, not one except Shachi's husband and Pandava Kiriti can withstand me. "Hearing these words, Phalguni replied, "O Karna! I am not the science of weapons personified. Nor am I the powerful Branch. I am only a Brahmana, chief among warriors and supreme among those who have the knowledge of weapons. Through my preceptor's grace, I have become skilled in the use of brahma and paurandara weapons. O warrior! Wait for a bit. I stand here today, to vanquish you in battle. "At these words, Radheya Karna withdrew from the battle, because the maharatha thought that Brahmana strength was invincible.
According to Vaishampayana, Karna withdrew because Arjuna dominated Karna, but look at this:
Shalya, king of the Madras, rushed at Bhimasena. Duryodhana and the others rushed at the Brahmanas, but they fought with them lightly and carelessly.
Also remember that Karna had great devotion to the Brahmins, obviously fought softly against Arjuna. But the Kshatryas applauded Karna that Arjuna, so Karna had to overcome Arjuna in their fight, but to confirm that Arjuna was Brahmin left.
Now your final battle, because it is long and I do not want to extend my answer much, I'm just going to put on exploits:
Karna first pierced Arjuna with ten arrows:
With ten great arrows, Karna struck Partha first.
Karna dominated Arjuna so much that Krishna himself offered him Sudarshana Chakra:
On seeing that Partha's arrows were being repulsed, Vasudeva spoke to him." O Kiriti! How is it that in every way, your weapons are being countered by Karna's weapons? Or brave one! Why do you look like someone who is confused The Kurus are cheerfully roaring.All of them are honoring Karna, knowing that all your weapons have been destroyed by his.In yuga after yuga, you have used fortitude to destroy the weapons of darkness and terrible rakshasas.You slew Dambhodbhava and other asuras in meetings Use that fortitude and slay the son of a suta Or use this sudarshana chakra now and slice off his head.
Karna destroyed Brahmastra of Arjuna with normal arrows:
I have invoked the invincible brahmastra in his mind, in accordance with the prescribed rites." All the directions and sub-directions were covered by extremely energetic arrows. "O bull among the Bharata lineage!" Many hundreds of swift arrows were released from it. Also, I have performed a superhuman deed and pierced Bhimasena, Janardana and Kiriti with three arrows each.
There is no narration after the Brahmastra of Arjuna, obviously it had to be destroyed by the arrows of Karna.
Arjuna killed Sabhapati:
He then shot ten excellent arrows and killed Sabhapati, who was clad in golden armor. The head and arms of that prince were severed. He was without his charioteer, bow and standard. He was mangled and fell down from the chariot, like a shala tree sliced down with an ax.
Arjuna killed a lot of Karna's support and several lines after Arjuna kept doing it until Karna had no support:
I slew four hundred elephants, stocked with weapons, eight hundred rathas, one thousand horses and riders and eight thousand valiant foot soldiers.
In the battle, Savyasachi slew all of them. I have killed two thousand of the foremost Kurus, bulls among the Kuru lineage. O king! In a short instant, the brave one single-handedly destroyed all of them, with their chariots, horses and charioteers. They fled, abandoning Karna. And so did your son and the Kurus who were left.
Arjuna broke the rope of Gandiva, possibly he wanted to kill Karna faster or Karna was faster than Arjuna and the latter wanted to match him:
Pandava's bowstring was being drawn with great force and snapped, with a loud noise
Arjuna pierced the armor of Shalya:
Partha pierced Shalya's body armor with ten arrows and laughed
Karna pierced the armor of Krishna, and the arrows he used came back to him:
However, Adhiratha's are struck him with three arrows." Wishing to slay Achyuta, I have shot five arrows that were like flaming serpents They were decorated with gold and were aimed well They pierced Purushottama's armor with great force and passing through, entered the Having bathed there, they returned to Karna. "
Karna decided to use Ashwasena, he wanted to decapitate Arjuna but thanks to Krishna, he did not do it but he destroyed the celestial crown of Arjuna:
Karna affixed an extremely sharp and flaming arrow that was capable of slaying the enemy This had a serpent in its mouth That terrible arrow had been carefully preserved and washed well, protected well for Partha's destruction. on a bed of sandalwood paste That immensely virulent weapon was lying down in a golden quiver It was generated from the lineage of Airavata and flamed. "
After chatting with Shalya he shot the arrow:
On seeing that Karna had affixed the serpent, Madhava, supreme among strong ones, used his strength to press down on the chariot with his feet. The chariot sank down on the ground and the horses sank down on their knees. '"The arrow struck down the intelligent one's diadem. The ornament that adorned Arjuna's head was famous throughout the earth, heaven and the waters. In his anger and through the strength of his weapon, the son of a suta used the arrow to bring it down from his head. It possessed the flaming radiance of the sun, the moon and the planets. It was decorated with nets of gold, pearls and gems. Using his austerities and efforts, this had been crafted for Purandara by the earth's are himself. It was extremely expensive in form and generated terror among the enemy. It was fragrant and brought happiness to the one who wore it. When I killed the enemies of the gods, the Lord of the gods was delighted and himself gave it to Kiriti. It could not be destroyed by Hara, the lord of the waters or the protector of riches, and by the pinaka, pasha or vajra and the best of arrows. The supreme gods were incapable of withstanding it. However, using the serpent, Vrisha now destroyed it.
Here would have to be the part where Arkuna cuts Karna's armor, crown and earrings but look at this:
Karna had possessed armor, ornaments, garments and weapons.
This is the state of Karna's corpse when Duryodhana came to see him. Obviously for ornaments refers to the earrings and the crown. Therefore, Arjuna destroying Karna's earrings, crown and armor was simply a glorification of the hypocritical Sanjaya.
Karna destroyed Aindra weapon of Arjuna:
Arjuna invoked mantras and released aindrastra. Dhananjaya also invoked mantras on the bowstring of Gandiva and the arrows. I have released showers of arrows, like Purandara pouring down rain. Those energetic arrows issued from the immensely valuable Partha's chariot and were about to destroy Karna's chariot. However, when they arrived in front of him, Maharatha Karna repulsed all of them.
Karna destroyed a bowstring of Gandiva:
But Karna used extremely energetic arrows to angrily sever his bowstring.
Karna invoked Brahmastra but Arjuna neutralized him:
Karna again invoked brahmastra against Dhananjaya. I have showered down arrows and tried to extricate his chariot. Pandava countered those weapons with his own weapons.
Arjuna invoked Agneyastra but Karna neutralized him with Varunastra:
Kounteya then released another weapon, beloved of the fire god, towards Karna, It blazed fiercely, Karna pacified the fire through a varuna weapon.
Arjuna destroyed Karna's banner:
Kiriti used a razor-sharp arrow that was gold-tufted and pointed with that, I have brought down the handsome and blazing standard of the great-souled maharatha, Adhiratha's are.
Arjuna finally killed Karna in an apparent fair battle, but unfortunately Arjuna killed Karna by cheating, according to Krishna and gandharvas, apsaras and siddhas:
On hearing that Bhishma, Drona, Karna and Bhurishrava had been slain through adharma, they grieved and wept in sorrow. The Pandavas were distressed and immersed in thought. On seeing this, Krishna spoke these words, in a voice that rumbled like clouds and drums. 'All of them were swift in the use of weapons and were Maharathas. In a fair fight, even if we fought bravely, we were incapable of defeating them in the battle. That is the reason I thought of means to slay those lords of men. Otherwise, the Pandaveyas would never have obtained victory. Those four great-souled ones were atirathas on earth. 56 Following dharma, even the guardians of the world would not have been able to kill them. Even when he is exhausted.
After the war, Krishna got off the divine chariot of Arjuna burned due to the Brahmastra of Karna, not the one of Drona since Arjuna had destroyed it:
Take pleasure to the wielder of Gandiva and spoke to him." Take down Gandiva and the two great and inexhaustible quivers.O supreme among the Bharata lineage! I will get down after you have dismounted .O unblemished one! Descend. your own good. 'Dhananjaya, Pandu's brave are, did as he had been asked, Thereafter, the intelligent Krishna discarded the reins of the horses and got down from the chariot that belonged to the wielder of Gandiva. The extremely great-souled one, the lord of all beings, descended The celestial ape, stationed on the standard of the wielder of Gandiva, disappeared Earlier, it had been burnt by the divine weapons of the maharathas, Drona and Karna O Lord of the earth! amidst a fire and was swiftly burnt The chariot of the wielder of Gandiva was burnt, with its yokes, its harnesses, its horses and its lovely joints O Lord! On seeing that it had been reduced to ashes, Pandu's sons were astounded. O king! Arjuna joined his hands in sa lutation and bowing down affectionately, asked, 'O Govinda! O illustrious one! Why has the chariot been burnt down by the fire? Or descendant of the Yadu lineage! What is this extremely wonderful thing that has occurred? O mighty-armed one! If you think that I deserve to hear it, tell me. 'Vasudeva replied,' O Arjuna! This has been burnt by many different kinds of weapons. O scorcher of enemies! It is because I was seated that it was not destroyed in the battle. It has now been destroyed, consumed by the energy of brahmastra.
Arjuna destroying Drona's Brahmastra:
The immensely intelligent Drona invoked brahmastra. It scorched Partha and all the invisible beings. The earth, with all its mountains and trees, began to tremble." Turbulent winds began to blow and the oceans were agitated. weapon, there was terror among the Kuru and Pandava soldiers and all the beings and a great uproar arose.O Indra among kings!, Partha was not frightened.He counted that weapon with his own brahmastra and everything became peaceful again.
Using his strength, I have invoked brahmastra. On seeing this, Arjuna invoked mantras and released aindrastra Dhananjaya also invoked mantras on the bowstring of Gandiva and the arrows. the immensely valuable Partha's chariot and were about to destroy Karna's chariot, however, when they arrived in front of him, maharatha Karna repulsed all of them.
There is no narration of Arjuna counteracting that Brahmastra.
Conclusion: Karna was much better warrior than Arjuna, even in piercing the armor of Krishna, although Arjuna also did what Karna was more impressive since the arrows returned to him.
As per the authentic Mahabharata verses, texts, quotes, scriptures & reality it is clear that Arjuna is more superior to Karna, he was considered more powerful than karna.
Let me debunk one argument of Karna fans this arguments has evidence in the text not a fake one like the chariot pushing story.
- Vyasa claiming that the fights between Karna and Arjuna (before the 14th night are interpolated) none of this is true because Vyasa himself said that karna did encounter Arjuna before the 14th night.
"Vyasa said, By good luck, Phalguna liveth still although he had encountered Karna in battle."
Note the "he had encountered". This means that karna and arjuna fought eachother before the 14th night, so none of those wars were interpolated.
Reasons why Arjuna is better than Karna.
Arjuna defeated Karna many times but karna never defeated Arjuna.
Arjuna defeated warriors like Drupad, Gandharvas etc (these are the same warriors that defeated Karna with ease).
Arjuna defeated the 30 million Nivatkavacha demons while he was battling underwater (karna was defeated by a group of foot soldiers from Ghatotkatcha's army, and even Ghatotkatcha defeated karna too a few times), Arjuna defeated more demons than karna ever did.
Arjuna strung the bow that Karna failed to string. (Note that karna failed to string Draupadi's bow as per authentic texts of Mahabharata).
Arjuna slayed Karna's comrades infront of his eyes. (Examples: Karna's foster brother Sangramajit in virat parva, Karna's two other foster brothers on the 12th day, Jayadratha on the 14th day, Vrishasena [karna's own son] on the 17th day). Ghatotkatcha was killed with a divine weapon, all of karna's comrades (with the exception of Jayadratha) were slain by ordinary arrows that Arjuna used. Abhimanyu was killed by Duhsasana's son, that too when Arjuna was not their.
Arjuna trained warriors that defeated karna many times. Arjuna trained krishna's son Pradyumna (the same Pradyumna that tied up karna and tossed him into a cave of illusion according to Harivamsa), Abhimanyu (he trained him during his Indraprastha days) defeated karna many times on the 13th day, Satyaki (defeated karna on days 12, 14, 15, 16, 17 and night 14).
If people want to say Krishna saved Arjuna from a arrow that never hit him like Ashwashena then they should realize that Sakuni also saved Karna from Bhima's dart that never hit karna.
Mahabharata says in many places that karna was jealous of Arjuna but nowhere is it ever written that Arjuna was jealous of karna.
Arjuna was praised by many characters like Shiva, Parshurama, Vyasa, Bhishma, Drona, Duryodhana, Dhritarashtra as the greatest archer and warrior of Mahabharata far better than karna. Krishna praised karna twice but also said that Arjuna is better than Karna.
"There are also Bhishma, and Drona, and this Karna, and Kripa, and Bhurisrava, and Somadatta, and Aswatthaman, and Jayadratha. All these together are incapable of fighting against Dhananjaya. Indeed, Arjuna is incapable of being vanquished in battle even by all the gods, Asuras, men, and Gandharvas. Do not set thy heart for battle."
Since there seems to be too many varying opinions, I would like to add the concrete points of comparison. I will list my points objectively and give my conclusion later.
Teachers and Education
Arjuna was taught by Kripacharya and Dhronacharya in all the arts and politics needed for a prince. Meanwhile Karna was rejected by Dhrona and learnt everything on his own with his brother by appointing Lord Surya as his guru. The famous eye shot account of Arjuna in which he could see only the eye of the bird which was his target is known. When Karna heard of this, he hung a bird =, strung two arrows and shot both eyes of the bird in dark, since he always practises in the after hours.
Weapons, Boons and Curses.
Arjuna was taught to use the astras by Indira who also gifted him with his Vajra. He could also use the astras of all the devas and the major astras including Brahmastra and Pasupathastra. He wielded Gandipa created by Brahma and rode a chariot gifted by Lord Agni with Lord Hanuman as the flag protecting him from everything. He also had Lord Krishna on his side protecting him from all the dangers that could ever harm him. Arjuna was also one of the two people who could use Brahmadhanda, a weapon 4 times more powerful than Brahmastra.
Karna was born with earrings and armor which would protect him from all harm. Lord Indira disguised as a Brahmin asked for them as alms and Karna gave them away, thereby loosing his most powerful defense. In retrospect, Indra gave him his most powerful weapon to be used only once, but Karna was forced to use it to slay Kadochgadha. He trained under Parasurama but was cursed with the inability to use Brahmastra when he needed it the most. The curse of chariot getting stuck in mud has already been told.
The reference to Adhiratha and Maharatha
Bhisma knew about the ancestory of Karna and he did not want him to enter battle. He knew he will fall in the war and wanted someone to protect Duryodhana when he is gone. Thus he insulted Karna and made him enter the battle only when he was gone.
Looking at all the things said above, it would look like Arjuna is the greatest warrior. Even without Lord Krishna, he had many powerful astras and an almost indestructible chariot.
But what does a warrior make? Is it his brute strength or just skill with weapons? If yes, Karna is superior to Arjuna in even that facet. One the sixteenth day of battle, Karna defeats all the Pandavas in battle. He destroys all the weapons thrown at him by Arjuna and disarms him completely. Arjuna is saved by the end of the battle day since it was the ethics that both sides observed to not fight after the decided time.
Both Arjuna and Karna are warriors of equal skill and forte. Either one of them could have easily destroyed each other on equal footing. But for me, Karna is the best warrior of the two.
Karna did not have the upbringing or the status of Arjuna. Arjuna was taught by the best teachers while Karna learnt every basic skill himself. Arjuna was praised and welcomed where ever he went while Karna was always shunned because of his birth. Karna was not invincible. He did not have a god protecting him, nor an indestructible chariot which could stand against any attack. Arjuna had the best of everything, upgringing, education and blessings. Still Karna was able to fight on equal footing with Arjuna and cut his bowstrings and even managing to disarm him while Arjuna killed Karna only because of all the curses on him , tricks of Krishna and the repercussions of his alliance with Duryodhana.
Arjuna was one of the best warriors and without doubt THE best warrior on the side of Pandavas. But for the above reasons, Karna is the greater warrior of the two.
Who's more powerful?
When the piece of Karna Vs Arjuna is taken in Mahabharatha it shows clearly how a person better in all aspects can end up losing because of his choice of right or wrong !
So if you take Dharma out of the equation, Karna is better than Arjuna. But Dharma being the multiplying factor can multiply or diminish strengths.
Krishna never suffered ! He is the paramatma himself who ran all the show ! He is a factor to be considered outside the Mahabharatha equation !
Further the so called tricks are not tricks and the fall of Yadava empire is due to a different story and certainly not due to the "tricks" played by Krishna.
There win occur one opportunity for his slaughter. When his car-wheels will sink in the earth, availing thyself of that opportunity, thou shouldst slay him in that distressful situation. I will make thee a sign beforehand. Warned by it, thou shouldst act. The vanquisher of Vala himself, that foremost of heroes, wielding his thunder, is incapable of slaying the invincible Karna while the latter stands weapon in hand
The above text is krishna telling Arjun that the only way to kill Karna is when he is unarmed. I think that is enough proof that Krishna definetely considered Karna better than Arjuna
for your second question :
I am a huge admirer of Karna, but after reading KMG from here .
I had to change my opinion on "Karna was the best warrior from Mahabharata" because from the war it is clear Karna's first best day as a warrior was the first worst day for Arjuna as a warrior.
The main reason I am siding with Arjuna is that he's consistent from day 1, whereas Karna lacked consistency be it Gandharva skirmish, Virata war, Karna always had to find excuses.
The only day I find Karna to be untouchable was during the 14th night and 17th day,but still Arjuna maintained his consistency for instance after Krishna interferes with Nagastra of Karna, Arjuna escapes from sure death, but his comeback after that just humbles Karna, but sure Karna too comes back that day
But in the end who knows what would have happened if Karna had used his Vijaya bow from day one,a different charioteer in the 17th day would have changed everything.
Sure Arjuna is a god-like warrior,but someone who's matching that level must also be a god-like warrior.
If I had to choose the best warrior from Mahabharata, I can either choose Arjuna or Karna (from the 17th day alone) , I don't see any other warriors like Bhisma,Drona taking up these two places, I believe it is reserved for Arjuna and Karna alone.
Draupadi Swayamvara war
Karna was fighting mildly as he did not wanted to kill him. Both Karna and Arjuna fought vigorously. Karna cut down all arrows of Arjuna and later he realised that he was a Kshatriya. Karna realised that he could not defeat him fighting mildly and retreated. On other hand, Arjuna told lie to Karna to save himself. So, It was a tie.
Kurukshetra war day 17
Parthas indicate Arjuna and Bhima. In the last lines, it is written that all warriors fled away in different directions. Here,Karna defeated Arjuna.
Conclusion:- So both the warriors conquered each other once. Other combats between them were either not clear or there was no real and fear combat like final encounter so I did not included it.
I am giving answer to Syamantak Sinha article. I am simply asking you to learn any skill on your own and compete with another who learned with skillful gurus. There must be a clear difference.
- first point Arjuna can have more celestial powers than karna (is it true or not)
- things gone in Arjuna's favour at each and every occurrence.
- If Arjuna is superior than Karna, why Indra begged his kavach kundal as brahmin saint.
- As karna resides behind adharma, bcoz of this only he got bad.
- Why Arjuna was not faced Karna when he was having powers given by Indra?
- One thing I would like to say "Winners write history" i.e. the main thing.
- In the war, there is no sympathy to any character.
- If Parasurama has not given curse, karna would have fired Brahmastra on Arjuna.
- How Arjuna escaped "Thakshaka"'s celestial power?
- During fighting Salya (i.e. Sarathi) disturbed Karna in the war (loosing concentration).
- How Arjuna escaped Narayana Astra fired by Karna.
- On 16th and 17th day, Karna only killed 1.8 akshouhini (count of army) pandava's army.
- He has not killed remaining pandavas giving life to them in the war. Think once my points
SOURCES:Mahabharata epic:- Karna Parva and Shanti Parva
Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia
Arjun and Karna were great warriors.But I strongly believe that Karna was stronger than Arjuna.There are a lot of misconceptions about the Virat war. During the Virat war lord hanuman were sitting on the chariot of arjuna and thus protected his chariot from the weapons of maharathis.
During the virat war arjuna used his gandiva bow whereas karna used his ordinary bow and thus his bow was broken by arjuna.
karna possessed the vijaya dhanush which was the strongest bow of all the bows.It was the bow of lord shiva and therefore there cannot be any impact of even the mighty pashupatastra on it which made karna invincible.The name of the bow itself suggest "victory".
It was karna who knew that he was pandavas elder brother and thus when he fought during the war there was a feeling of sympathy for the pandavas.
Also karna finished 3 akshauhini sena in 6.5 days whereas arjuna killed 5.5 akshauhini sena in 18 days.This shows the superiority of karna.
Karna and Arjuna were sworn enemies in the epic, each having taken an oath to kill the other in the battle. Anticipating a likely battle to the death between Karna and Arjuna, Krishna warned Arjuna calling Karna to be the foremost of the heroes and in some versions he also referred Karna as greater archer than Arjuna.
On the sixteenth day, he fought with all the Pandava brothers, defeated them all in direct combat and spared each one of them after insulting them with harsh words. After the terrible death of Dussasana, he ordered his charioteer Shalya to move towards Arjuna, Karna deciding to finish him off for once and all. So violent and offensive were Karna's attacks that Arjuna's defenses soon crumbled before it. Karna then moved in for the kill. He arms his Nagastra, the same celestial weapon that was used by Indrajit against Rama in Ramayana. Intervening, Shalya tells him to aim at Arjuna's chest. Frustrated at Shalya's constant insults, Karna believes that the advice must be bad, and instead aims at Arjuna's head. Krishna saved Arjuna from certain death by lowering their chariot wheel into the earth; the arrow strikes Arjuna's helmet instead of his head. Karna and Arjuna then waged a rough war against each other. As promised to Kunti, Karna used a celestial weapon only once against Arjuna. Regaining the upper hand, Karna has a chance to kill Arjuna but spares the latter as the sun was about to set. In some versions, Lord Krishna realized that only miracles can save his ward Arjuna from death and caused the Sun to set prematurely.
On the seventeenth day of battle Karna used Bhargavastra against the Pandava army. When Bhargavastra was invoked into existence for the first time in history, there appeared millions and millions of ultra sharp arrows with blazing appearance. The sky was so filled with arrows that it appears like a cloud of arrows and even visibility was lost in the rain of arrows. The earth trembles and these arrows hit and killed hundreds of thousands of men, steeds, elephants and destroyed countless chariots .This astra almost exterminated the Panchala's and the Chedis. Whoever opposes the weapon become dead and the entire Pandava army ran away from the battlefield fearing this weapon. Even Krishna and Arjuna had to run away from the battle field in order to escape from that weapon.
Krishna then took Arjuna away from the battlefield in order to escape from Bhargavastra and visited Yudhisthira who were outside the battlefield mortally wounded by Karna's astra's. Seeing their plight, Karna repeatedly challenged Krishna and Arjuna to come face him in battle, but Krishna kept Arjuna away from the battlefield. The Bhargavastra destroyed an Akshauhini of Pandava forces and earth appeared like an ocean of dead beings. Yudhisthira insulted Arjuna for running away from Karna
In some versions of Mahabharata, Parasurama appeared in Karna's dream during the night of 15th day of battle, as requested by Lord Krishna. In order to protect Arjuna and Dharma, Krishna sought the help of his previous avatar. The avatar Parasurama explained to Karna that if he killed Arjuna, Duryodhana and chaos would ensue. Parashurama asked Karna to accept death and asked him to die at the hands of Arjuna, so that the world might live in peace. Karna protested to this idea but Parasurama asked this as his Guru Dakshina. Previously, Karna never had a chance to pay his Guru Dakshina; Parasurama never asked for it either. Severely, Parasurama reminds Karna that whatever he became or attained in his life is due to the knowledge he gained from his guru. Karna accepted his guru's words and promised he would never kill Arjuna.
also after the war finished lord krishna told that it was due to lord hanuman and himself that his rath is still in a good condition. Lord hanuman told arjuna that he protected arjuna from all the weapons but was not able to protect him from the weapons of karna. Then arjuna said that the chariot is still in a good condition.Then lord hanuman removed his flag from the chariot and at that particular point of time the chariot was destroyed and the chariot got blasted.
These all instances show that karna was greater warrior than arjuna.
Karna , drona and Bhishama , all parushram students were superior to Arjuna. This clearly came out in the Mhabharat war when Arjuna /Krishna had to resort to cheating. Every warrior wants to win fairly to satisfy their sense of achievement or superiority and only when this is not possible , he may resort to cheating. Why was it not possible to defeat Karna, Drona or Bhishma in a straight fight if Arjuna was superior. That is million dollar question which any fan needs to ask. The logical explanation is simple. That is , each of the 3 archers were non-def-eatable if they fought with full vigor. That is Arjuna was not superior to any one of them.