Hardly was the display over
when Duryondhana raced to the arena, embraced Karna and said, "You matchless warrior,
your Valor and knowledge of arms have overwhelmed me. Here, my kingdom and I are all
yours. Tell me what you desire. I want to fulfil your wish at once."
In reply said Karna: "Maharaja, I do not want anything else. Your friendship and a
bout of archery with Arjuna: These are the only two I want." Duryondhana said,
"If so, your wishes are as good as fulfilled. From today you are my bosom friend; you
are my equal. Need I fear anybody in future?"
All this talk provoked Arjuna who was nearby. Said he, "You Karna! We did not
invite you but still you came. We did not ask you to speak, still you are talking too
much, You have disturbed a quiet assembly. I will kill you at once. Be armed and get ready
Karna flared up at this and said:
"You Arjuna! This arena is not reserved for you. This is a public place. Whoever
knows archery may exhibit it here. What is your objection? You are insulting me. Does a
true warrior blabber? Come, fight. I will kill you with my arrow here and now."
Both of them got ready to fight. Dronacharya, who had trained the princes, had to agree
to this. There was utter confusion in the assembly. Kunti, the mother of the Pandavas,
fainted when she heard that Karna and Arjuna were to fight.
Kripacharya walked up to the arena. He knew well the rules of a duel. He said to Karna:
"Look, Karna. This person who is ready to fight against you is Arjuna. He is a
prince of the race of the Moon, son of king Pandu. The person to oppose him should be his
equal in all these respects. Whose son are you? To what race do you belong? Whose pupil?
Tell it to the assembly."
Karna bowed his head overcome by a sense of shame and sorrow. 'I am the son of a
charioteer. Therefore, it seems I belong to a low race. These people are making it a big
issue. What does it matter who I am 7 Is not courage important for a man?' thought Karna.
But that was the practice of the time. What could be done? Karna stood silent.When
Duryondhana saw what had happened he was furious. "You Kripacharya, what are you
talking about? You think that Arjuna is a prince and Karna is not, don't you?
Well, then, here and now I make Karna a king. He can then challenge Arjuna, cannot
he?" So saying, he then and there crowned Karna, King of Anga State. The people
shouted in approval. Karna was overwhelmed with gratitude. "Maharaja, how can I repay
you for this favor?" he asked. Duryondhana said, "Karna, I value your friendship
more than anything else. Let it always be mine" and embraced him.
Arjuna and Karna were about to fight. At that moment Adhiratha came there. He had just
heard that his son had become a king. Karna went to him and saluted. Adhiratha lovingly
embraced his son and blessed him thus: "Child, may your fame increase." Bhima
who observed this understood that Karna was the son of Adhiratha. He said in a slighting
voice: "You, Karna, are you not the son of Adhiratha, the charioteer? How can you be
the equal of Arjuna born in the lunar race? Because he stands by the side of the sacred
fire, does a dog get the right to eat the sacred offering? You are unworthy of the Anga
kingdom; you are not even fit to be killed by Arjuna in a battle" so insulted Bhima.
When Duryondhana heard this he became furious. He turned to Bhima and shouted: "Your
words are not worthy of a Kshatriyas. For a Kshatriyas, valor is most important. How do
Karnas caste matters? Indra's mighty weapon, Vajraayudha, was forged out of sage
Dadhichi's bone; Dronacharya was born in a s sacred pot; they say that Kripacharya was
born in a handful of sacred grass. Why should birth matter? Karna was born with sacred
earornament and armor. He shines like the sun. How is such a person unworthy of the
kingdom of Anga? if anybody does not approve of the coronation of Karna let him fight
against Karna and win."
There was commotion in the assembly. As it was getting dark, the assembly ended. People
went home, praising Karna's prowess.