Mahabharata is one of the greatest literature’s in the world. The beauty of Mahabharata is such it reflects our emotions and questions our wisdom every time you read. There is no equivalent work in history which brings out the complexity of human problems in such a profound and entertaining way. It shows us the application of philosophy when it comes to deciding between the right and wrong in such cases where the answer is not straightforward.
It always puzzles on who is the greatest warrior in Mahabharata whether its Bhisma, Drona, Arjuna or Karna. I would narrow down to these two as Arjun and Drona were greatest warriors but unmatchable against Bhisma or Karna.
Bhisma vs Karna
Its almost tough decide on who is greatest between these two as both were disciples of parsuram and favorite too. Bhisma was invinsible, Had boon of Ichyamrityu-no chance of being killed. Truly invincible. Bhishma Pitamaha is the one who first called Krishna by name of “Vasudev”. He is Ganga Putra and he is the only person ever who had the right choose his own death.
On the other hand we have Karna who could only be defeated only by a combination of curses that dwindled his prowess and also foul play by others. He was truely invincible through his skills. Its merely impossible to defeat had he not given his kavach and kundal to Indra.
Reasons for Karna’s Death:
1. Parashuram curse
2. Bhoomadevi curse
3. Krishna’s idea of using Ghatotkach, to complete his powerful vajra weapon.
4. Indra seeked Kavach and Kundal from him.
5. Arjun puts aside the rules of warfare.
6. His vachan to his mother- Kunthi.
7. If kunti reveals that karna is first son then the war wouldn’t have started or Karna may not fight on the side of Duryodhana
Then Bhishma he is the only reason that the war lasted for 18 days. Bhishma is inconquerable because:
1. His mastery in weaponry and warfare.
2. Even Parashuram cannot defeat him,
3. ICCHA maran varadan from his father.
4. Excellent Archer and use of other weapons also,
But both were killed because of the side which they stood for, they bide dharma but stood on the side of adharma. so they were conquered through illegal means.
Bhishma Vs Krishna
Bhishma being Bhishma was just too powerful. He was completely dominating the battlefield and the Pandavs were losing. Regardless of whether Arjuna had the will or not, he most certainly lacked the strength to back it in face of Bhishma so Krishna, partly due to frustration (since Pandavas winning is his only reason) and partly to hasten Arjuna to arrive at “defeat Bhishma by ‘any means'”, picks up a chariot wheel and charges at Bhishma.
Krishna wants to break that pride of Bhishma. He wants to tell him that “Dharma” is not just about following “Rules”. If following a “vow” is causing wrong repercussions then one must not hesitate to break it. Therefore, Krishna in-spite of his vow to not fight in the war lifts the cart wheel. He tells Bheesma that he doesn’t even need a weapon to kill him and only a cart wheel is enough for him. It is now when Krishna tells Bheesma about his mistaken sense of “Dharma”. Bhishma lays down his weapon and asks Krishna to end his life.
This incident really shows us that if you act against the welfare of society, dharma, truth and morality, you’re screwed.
Karna Vs Krishna
As Karna lay there on the battlefield mortally wounded, his life would not leave him. Krishna transformed himself into a brahmin and approached Karna. He came beside the wounded warrior and said, “Karna, I have heard you are a person of great generosity. Will you not give this poor brahmin something?”
Karna looked at the brahmin and said, “What would you have me give you? I lie here wounded, waiting for my death. I have nothing to give you.”
The brahmin said, “Your life has been one of great generosity and goodness. I ask that you give me the effects of all that goodness (punya).” Karna signalled to the brahmin that he take out the arrow that pierced his heart. As Krishna did that, the blood flowed out of Karna and he breathed his last. So finally, the great warrior met his end at the hands of Krishna and attained salvation.
This incident proves the the superiority of Karna. Throughout his life Karna indeed did limitless dhana, and during his end times instead of being roused to uncontrollable anger , Karna was happy that even at death he could donate something. He pulled over an arrow from his body and , with the gushing blood , gave away all his punya ( merits ) earned through his charity.The whole battle field was amazed.Krishna assumed Visvarupa,showed His grace on Karna and granted him moksha. Though Karna was killed,he attained immortality through his charity and loyalty.
That’s why people say there is nothing superior than giving dhaan/helping others.
If you belive that krishna is a god then you have to accept that karna was the greatest warrior. He was the unsung hero, the deserving winner, the struggler, the fighter, in courage more powerful than others. His only fault was he took the side of Duryodhana in Mahabharata, but alas- even then he was following his Dharma of friendship as it was Duryodhana who was Karna’s one and all.