Tomorrow is the seventeenth day of the war. After Guru Dronacharya’s demise; Karna was appointed as the commander of Kuru army. Today, he fought valiantly. Duryodhana was very happy and sing praises for him. He hopes that; Karna can do what Bhishma and Drona failed to do! Karna was aware of this expectation from his friend and that does not bother him much. The world might still debate on who is the greatest warrior among Arjuna and Karna but he is very confident of his own skill. His mind is however disturbed with other things. He needs an answer to those questions. He decided to meet Bhishma.
For Bhishma both Karna and Arjuna are great but only time can tell who is the greatest warrior
Lord Bhishma was waiting for his own death, on the bed of arrow designed by Arjuna. The death bed of Bhishma is no different from his throne. Even though, he was the caretaker of the kingdom; Duryodhana makes him feel helpless. And here with this bed of arrow, Arjuna made him feel helpless! He smiled at his own helplessness. He was helpless then and he is helpless now.
He heard someone approaching him. Karna stands a few feet away from the bed of arrow with folded hands.
Karna – Please accept the greetings of Karna.
Bhishma – So, you are finally here my child! I was expecting you, Kounteya!
Karna was taken aback! Kounteya means son of Kunti. He only came to know about his own birth story a few days back! But it seems, Bhishma knew his past very well. As if reading his mind, Bhishma answered in his feeble voice.
Bhishma – Yes my child. I knew your birth story. I knew it since I first saw you.
Karna – Is that the reason, you did not allow me to fight Pandavas under your leadership?
Karna asked this question more to himself as the realization comes to him.
Bhishma – I tried my best to avoid the battle among you and Arjuna. But God has his own plans and it’s beyond our power to change!
He sighed! And after a momentary pause, he continued.
Bhishma – My child; tell me, what is that disturbs your mind and which makes you visit this old man?
Karna – Tomorrow, I have to face my brother Arjuna in the battle field. I seek your blessings.
Karna came forward and touched the feet of Bhishma and sat near his legs.
Bhishma – My blessings are always with you dear. But you don’t need my blessings; you are the student of Lord Parshurama. You are strong enough to face any one in the battle field.
Karna – I need your blessing not to win the war but to be strong enough to fight the battle as the commander of Duryodhana and not letting my brotherly love overpower my duty.
Bhishma – If you love your brother so much; why you are fighting with him?
Bhishma asked with a desperate voice with a hope to make Karna see the reason.
Karna – I can’t let Duryodhana down.
Bhishma – Sighed! I know my child; you are as helpless as me! My blessings are with you.
Karna empathizes with Arjuna’s mental dilemma!
Karna – Can I ask you something?
Bhishma – Go ahead my child.
Karna – Is Arjuna a better warrior than me?
Bhishma – Who am I to answer that? Only the time can tell who is the greatest among Karna and Arjuna. But tomorrow, Arjuna will fight his greatest rival where as you my child Karna; you have to fight with your brother; you have to fight with your emotions and you have to fight for the sake of your friend Duryodhana. You have a larger battle to face in compare to Arjuna.
Karna – Sir…
Bhishma – Call me grandfather, my child.
Karna – Grandfather…I recently came to know about my relationship with Pandavas and I feel so much of pain at the thought of fighting with them! Whereas Arjuna fought with his Kuru brothers, with you and with his favorite teacher since the war started! How much he must have endured! Still, he bravely fought the battle. No wonder, the world says Arjuna is a better warrior than me. And I too acknowledge his skill as a warrior. I have seen him fighting…undoubtedly he is the greatest warrior on the earth. And of course, he is a better human being than me! I will always regret the incidents of Kurusabha and the killing of Abhimanyu. These two incidents are blots on my life. And I think, tomorrow I will be punished by my brother for my wrong deeds!
Bhishma – My child; we all have done some or other mistakes in our life. Be it you, be it Arjuna or be it Bhishma! And we all will be punished on the hands of Karma. But as Govind says; don’t bother about the result; do your work. I am sure, along with Arjuna, you will also be remembered by the world for your good deeds. My blessings are with you.
Karna can see some tears in this old veteran warrior’s eyes. He sat there silently and gave company to Lord Bhishma. They did not speak any words after that but communicated a lot with their silence.