On the sixteenth day of the Kurukshetra war when Karna was the commander of the Kaurava army, he single-handedly defeated all of the Pandava brothers with the exception of Arjuna. He stuck by the promise that he made to Kunti that he would not kill any of the Pandava brothers with the exception of Arjuna.
When he defeated Bhima, he leaves him alive stating that as Bhima was younger than him he wouldn’t kill him. When he defeated Yudhisthira, he leaves him alive asking him to practice all that his gurus and teachers have taught him. Similarly he refuses to kill Nakula and Sahadeva after defeating them in one to one battle on that day.
Finally Karna asks his charioteer to take him to where Arjuna was on the battlefield. In the fierce battle that ensues between these two great warriors, neither one budged or hesitated. When Karna shot the powerful Nagastra at Arjuna, Krishna gently presses Arjuna’s chariot downwards using his divine powers, enabling the Pandava prince to survive this assault. Not to be outdone, Arjuna showers Karna with all his arrows, but Karna manages to neutralize all of them with arrows of his own.
Finally when all of Arjuna’s weapons are exhausted and he is defenseless, the only thing that saves him on the sixteenth day was nightfall, and since it was against the code of war to battle at night, Arjuna managed to escape the wrath of Karna that day.
However, as a parting shot, Karna shouted out “Oh Arjuna, today you were saved from the powerful Nagastra due to the insidious tactics of your beloved Krishna. But mark my words Pandava prince, tomorrow will be your last day on this earth.”
On the seventeenth day, both the warriors resumed their dueling, which was so fierce that it is said that even the Gods from heaven were witnessing this spectacle. Karna managed to cut Arjuna’s bowstring many times, but Arjuna managed to tie it back so soon that Karna had to acknowledge his rival’s skills with the bow as a weapon.
As the duel went on, Karna slowly began to forget all the divine incantations that were revealed to him during his training with Parasurama. This was the result of a curse of his guru Parasurama as a punishment for lying about his caste.
And suddenly his chariot wheel also got stuck in the wet mud of the battlefield. Descending from his chariot, when Karna was trying to pry open the greasy chariot wheel from the mud, Krishna reminded Arjuna of all the rules and etiquettes that Karna had violated in the past, by assisting Duryodhana in trying to kill the Pandavas in the house of lacquer, by encouraging Duhshasana to disrobe Draupadi after the game of dice. Krishna advices Arjuna that he would not get a better opportunity to kill Karna and that he should go ahead and kill him despite the fact that he was unarmed and the rules of war forbade attacking an unarmed warrior.
Reminded of these incidents, an enraged Arjuna uses the Anjalika weapon grievously injure Karna and leave him dying on the battlefield of Kurukshetra.
Thus, Karna, the charioteer’s son died on the battlefield tending to his chariot. Now, if that wasn’t poetic justice, what else is.
This post has been written for the Three Word Wednesday prompt where the post had to include the words greasy, insidious and reveal, and that is the reason that these words have been underlined in the post.