Karna: The Pupil of Drona

Karna was friend of Duryodhna before the learning (Gurukul) period with Kripa and Drona and Rama (Parshurama), Mahabharata describeThen Duryodhana, Karna and Subala’s son Shakuni tried many other means to kill the Pandavas. However, Pandavas, scorchers of their enemies, got to know about all of these. As advised by Vidura, they never revealed all this.” (BORI CE)
Mahabharata describe that Duryodhana was a tree of evil with Karna its scabrous trunk, Sakuni its crooked branches and Dusshasana its evil spreading seeded flowers and the root is Dhritrashtra.
Whereas Yudhishthara was the Tree of righteousness with Bhima and Arjuna growing from him as the smooth trunk and far reaching and shade giving branches, twins were the beautiful flowers and the wide pervading perfume of that tree with Krishna and Brahma as the roots.
Our heroes and villains are instantly described in two slokas. One is a fellowship of blood, binded by women, one a mother and other a wife and rooted on altruism. Other is fellowship of selfishness, bound by greed, ego, ahankara, and rooted on self-interest.
But the article is not for Dharma vs Adharma or Arjuna vs Karna, so continuing with the original matter.
There is four Postulate for Karna.
Postulate 1: Karna learnt the basics of weapons from Drona. When Drona refused to teach him the Brahmastra, he went to Lord Parashurama. This course of happenings is supported by many including all pro-Arjuna camp.
Postulate 2: Karna was never a student of Drona and went directly to Lord Parashurama. Some books, and TV serials support this theory.
Postulate 3: Karna went to Lord Parashurama very late in life after donating his earrings and armour to Indra upon the insistence of Duryodhana who was aghast at this turn of events. He said that ‘now Arjuna is ahead of you and only if you also have the celestial weapons, you can hope to match him’. This timeline is supported by Shivaji Sawant. In fact, Sawant further suggests that Indra took away his armour and earrings just before the war.

So Let starts….

1. Karna was never the disciple of Drona or Kripa; went straight to Lord Parashurama.
Kripa was the teacher of all (K-Team, A-Team and others as well).
Chapter 120
निहितौ गौतमस्तत्र तपसा तावविन्दत |
आगम्य चास्मै गोत्रादि सर्वमाख्यातवांस्तदा ||१९||
Through the power of his austerities, Goutama’s son got to know where they were, though no one knew the secret. He went there and told everything, including his lineage.

चतुर्विधं धनुर्वेदमस्त्राणि विविधानि च |
निखिलेनास्य तत्सर्वं गुह्यमाख्यातवांस्तदा ||२०||
सोऽचिरेणैव कालेन परमाचार्यतां गतः ||२०||
He taught him the four parts of Dhanur Veda and the usage of many different kinds of weapons, including all the secrets associated with them. He soon became a great teacher.

ततोऽधिजग्मुः सर्वे ते धनुर्वेदं महारथाः |
धृतराष्ट्रात्मजाश्चैव पाण्डवाश्च महाबलाः ||२१||
वृष्णयश्च नृपाश्चान्ये नानादेशसमागताः ||२१||
All the maharathas learnt Dhanur Veda from him(Kripa). This included Dhritarashtra’s sons, the immensely powerful Pandavas, the Vrishnis and other kings who assembled from many countries.’ (Here Karna is not specially mentioned, but in latter Part Karna will accept that.)
Drona’s Pupils
Well not only Karna was the pupil of Drona, but there is long list of his pupils like: Pandavas, Kaurvas, Vrishnis(Satyaki, etc.), Panchala (Dhristdyumna, etc…), King of Sindhu (Jayadartha) and many more… and all are mentioned in different Parvas not in only Adiparva.
Chapter – 122
ततो द्रोणः पाण्डुपुत्रानस्त्राणि विविधानि च |
ग्राहयामास दिव्यानि मानुषाणि च वीर्यवान् ||४५||
Then the valorous Drona taught Pandu’s sons the use of many weapons, human and divine.
राजपुत्रास्तथैवान्ये समेत्य भरतर्षभ |
अभिजग्मुस्ततो द्रोणमस्त्रार्थे द्विजसत्तमम् ||४६||
वृष्णयश्चान्धकाश्चैव नानादेश्याश्च पार्थिवाः ||४६||
O bull among the Bharata lineage! Other princes also came to Drona, supreme among Brahmanas, to learn the use of arms—the Vrishnis, the Andhakas, kings from many countries. (No list BTW)

सूतपुत्रश्च राधेयो गुरुं द्रोणमियात्तदा |
स्पर्धमानस्तु पार्थेन सूतपुत्रोऽत्यमर्षणः ||४७||
दुर्योधनमुपाश्रित्य पाण्डवानत्यमन्यत ||४७||
Radheya the son of the suta, also made Drona their preceptor. The suta’s son was envious of Partha and always competed with him. With Duryodhana’s support, he showed his contempt for the Pandavas.

Here clearly text mentioned that Radheya, son of Suta aka Karna(not Dhritrashtra’s son) made the Drona as his preceptor.
Well, here we can imagine one thing that Karna came late or same time when Pandavas and Kaurvas were learning in Gurukula, however Karna was almost 12-16 Years older then Yudhishthira and 20+ Years older then Arjuna. So exactly Karna was self practitioner of Archery like Eklavya, but when he saw that his Soul-mate (Duryodhna) is learning the Archery from the Great Kripa and Drona, his interest raise up. (Shivaji Sawant could be right.) that there were two of Class one for royal Princes like, Kuru, Vrishni.. etc..and other for common (Son of Poor Adhirattha, BTW he was also a Royal Person like Driver of President Trump) students Like Karna ( 30+ years student as प्रौढ़ शिक्षा ). (It’s all about imaginations.)

Coming on the points…
Now questions arises if Karna was pupil of Drona, then why he was not part of artificial bird competition and why he was not mentioned frequently in the text (Except one or two times)?
If we will read the Sambhava Parva carefully and specially the Learning period of Kaurvas, Pandavas and other Pupils of Drona, then there is only one warrior highlighted, called Arjuna (lightness), other all are explained in just one words or maximum in one and half sentence.
  • Reason is simple, because Vaishmpayana was describing the strength, achievement, learning, swiftness of Arjuna, the Great Grandfather of Janmejaya.
  • Others all were just relatives of Janmejaya, either Pandavs or Kaurvas or Karna but he was the blood or lineage of Arjuna.
  • There could be psychological reason as well, Vaishmpayan could think, Janmejaya may not like the achievements or description of Karna (Enmity toward Arjuna specially) or other reason Karna was no match with Arjuna that times.
  • So easily we can understand the reason of not mentioning or narrating the name of Karna multiple times. (I don’t want to go in comparison mode here, so it enough.) Well read below….

Only mentioned Arjuna again and again(बारम्बार).
Sambhava Parva – Chapter – 123

वैशम्पायन उवाच||

अर्जुनस्तु परं यत्नमातस्थे गुरुपूजने |
अस्त्रे च परमं योगं प्रियो द्रोणस्य चाभवत् ||१||
द्रोणेन तु तदाहूय रहस्युक्तोऽन्नसाधकः |
अन्धकारेऽर्जुनायान्नं न देयं ते कथञ्चन ||२||
ततः कदाचिद्भुञ्जाने प्रववौ वायुरर्जुने |
तेन तत्र प्रदीपः स दीप्यमानो निवापितः ||३||
भुङ्क्त एवार्जुनो भक्तं न चास्यास्याद्व्यमुह्यत |
हस्तस्तेजस्विनो नित्यमन्नग्रहणकारणात् ||४||
तदभ्यासकृतं मत्वा रात्रावभ्यस्त पाण्डवः ||४||
तस्य ज्यातलनिर्घोषं द्रोणः शुश्राव भारत |
उपेत्य चैनमुत्थाय परिष्वज्येदमब्रवीत् ||५||
प्रयतिष्ये तथा कर्तुं यथा नान्यो धनुर्धरः |
त्वत्समो भविता लोके सत्यमेतद्ब्रवीमि ते ||६||
ततो द्रोणोऽर्जुनं भूयो रथेषु च गजेषु च |
अश्वेषु भूमावपि च रणशिक्षामशिक्षयत् ||७||
गदायुद्धेऽसिचर्यायां तोमरप्रासशक्तिषु |
द्रोणः सङ्कीर्णयुद्धेषु शिक्षयामास पाण्डवम् ||८||
तस्य तत्कौशलं दृष्ट्वा धनुर्वेदजिघृक्षवः |
राजानो राजपुत्राश्च समाजग्मुः सहस्रशः ||९||

Vaishampayana said, ‘Arjuna took a great deal of care in worshiping his preceptor and showed the greatest devotion in learning the art of weapons. He became a great favorite of Drona’s. Drona summoned the cook and told him secretly,Never give Arjuna any food when it is dark.One day, when Arjuna was eating, a wind arose and blew out the lamp and its light. Arjuna continued to eat in the dark………….. Then Drona taught Arjuna the art of fighting from horses, elephants, chariots and on the ground. Drona taught the Pandava how to fight in narrow confines with clubs, swords, spears, javelins and lances. On witnessing his skills, thousands of kings and princes assembled to learn the science of Dhanur Veda
Here Eklavya incident mentioned… then again Arjuna.

द्रोणस्य तु तदा शिष्यौ गदायोग्यां विशेषतः |
दुर्योधनश्च भीमश्च कुरूणामभ्यगच्छताम् ||४०||
Among all the Kurus who were Drona’s students, two became particularly skilled in fighting with clubs—Duryodhana and Bhima.

अश्वत्थामा रहस्येषु सर्वेष्वभ्यधिकोऽभवत् |
तथाति पुरुषानन्यान्त्सारुकौ यमजावुभौ ||४१||
युधिष्ठिरो रथश्रेष्ठः सर्वत्र तु धनञ्जयः ||४१||
Ashvatthama excelled in the use of all secret weapons. The twins were better than all other men in the use of the sword. Yudhishthira was supreme in fighting with chariots. However, Dhananjaya was the best in fighting with every weapon.

प्रथितः सागरान्तायां रथयूथपयूथपः |
बुद्धियोगबलोत्साहैः सर्वास्त्रेषु च पाण्डवः ||४२||
The Pandava was famous on earth, right up to the frontiers of the ocean, for his intelligence, perseverance, strength and enterprise in all weapons. He was thus the foremost among all warriors.

अस्त्रे गुर्वनुरागे च विशिष्टोऽभवदर्जुनः |
तुल्येष्वस्त्रोपदेशेषु सौष्ठवेन च वीर्यवान् ||४३||
एकः सर्वकुमाराणां बभूवातिरथोऽर्जुनः ||४३||
Arjuna was special, not just in his knowledge of weapons, but also in his devotion to his preceptor, though the instructions were the same for everyone. Alone among all the princes, Arjuna became an ATIRATHA (Atiratha can take/handle 60000 in one time, Maharatha can take 10000 only – I’ll upload soon Ratha, Maharatha and Atiratha spreadsheet).

प्राणाधिकं भीमसेनं कृतविद्यं धनञ्जयम् |
धार्तराष्ट्रा दुरात्मानो नामृष्यन्त नराधिप ||४४||
O lord of men! Dhritarashtra’s evil-souled sons could not stand Bhimasena’s great strength and Arjuna’s great skill and hated them.

Again there is more and more narrative on Arjuna, however there were also some Great archer like Vikarna, Bhima, Duryodhna, Vrishni’s, Andhaka’s warriors (those all were Great archers, but he was no match with the Arjuna, so they are not mentioned in Adi Parva. Read Udyoga and War Parvas for more.) are not mentioned or other reason I have explained above. (Psychological reason)

Artificial Bird competition

Well, There was hunting (Shikari aayega, Jaal Bichhayega, Dana Dalega but Jaal me Fashna nhi…) banned by Dhirtarashtra after Rishi Kindma (Kala Hiran yaad he n) incident by Pandu, #ROFL
They used wooden bird, not real one.
Chapter – 123 – Continue..

When they became skilled in all knowledge, in a desire to examine their skill with weapons, Drona assembled them together. He got an artisan to construct an artificial bird and placed it on top of a tree. The princes could hardly see it and it was to be used as a target. Drona said, “Quickly pick up your bows, all of you. Fix arrows to the string of the bow, stand here and aim at that bird in the tree. O sons! When I give you permission, one after another, slice off the bird’s head.” The greatest of Angirasa’s descendants first addressed Yudhishthira. (BORI CE)

ततो युधिष्ठिरः पूर्वं धनुर्गृह्य महारवम् |
तस्थौ भासं समुद्दिश्य गुरुवाक्यप्रचोदितः ||५०||
Yudhishthira first picked up a bow that made a loud noise. Then, as instructed by his preceptor, he stood, aiming at the bird. The descendant of the Kuru lineage stood there, with his bow stretched.

ततो विततधन्वानं द्रोणस्तं कुरुनन्दनम् |
स मुहूर्तादुवाचेदं वचनं भरतर्षभ ||५१||
O, bull among the Kuru lineage! After a short time, Drona asked, “O prince! Can you see that bird on the top of the tree?

पश्यस्येनं द्रुमाग्रस्थं भासं नरवरात्मज |
पश्यामीत्येवमाचार्यं प्रत्युवाच युधिष्ठिरः ||५२||
स मुहूर्तादिव पुनर्द्रोणस्तं प्रत्यभाषत |
अथ वृक्षमिमं मां वा भ्रातृन्वापि प्रपश्यसि ||५३||
तमुवाच स कौन्तेयः पश्याम्येनं वनस्पतिम् |
भवन्तं च तथा भ्रातृन्भासं चेति पुनः पुनः ||५४||
I can see it,” Yudhishthira replied to his preceptor. After some time, Drona again asked, “Can you see the tree? Can you see me? Can you see your brothers?” In reply to each question, Kounteya answered, one after the other: “I can see the large tree. I can see you. I can see the bird.

तमुवाचापसर्पेति द्रोणोऽप्रीतमना इव |
नैतच्छक्यं त्वया वेद्धुं लक्ष्यमित्येव कुत्सयन् ||५५||
Drona was displeased at these words and reproachfully told him, “This is not for you. You will not be able to hit the target.

ततो दुर्योधनादींस्तान्धार्तराष्ट्रान्महायशाः |
तेनैव क्रमयोगेन जिज्ञासुः पर्यपृच्छत ||५६||
अन्यांश्च शिष्यान्भीमादीन्राज्ञश्चैवान्यदेशजान् |
तथा च सर्वे सर्वं तत्पश्याम इति कुत्सिताः ||५७||
The immensely illustrious one placed Duryodhana in the same position and Dhritarashtra’s other sons, one after another, so as to test them. Bhima and the other students and the kings who had come from other countries were also asked. All of them said that they could see everything and were scolded.

Here again, there is no more descriptions on Karna, so no wonder because there is already mentioned that Duryodhna, Bhima and all others (of course Radheya Karna also) failed to see the exact target and replied the same like Yudhisthira the elder brother.

Well Karna was not a good enough in 
archery, already mentioned in Karna Parva and Shalya found his mistake. So mentioning here Radheya Karna is not necessary. (As per Sanjaya and Vyasa, Bhima (also Satyaki ) was master in archery and when he was not able to see the exact target, what we can say about Karna —- There is no means, they were inferior or not Great archer, of course they were.)
What was TARGET in Drona views.

For more read: HIT THE TARGET

ततो धनञ्जयं द्रोणः स्मयमानोऽभ्यभाषत |
त्वयेदानीं प्रहर्तव्यमेतल्लक्ष्यं निशम्यताम् ||५८||
मद्वाक्यसमकालं ते मोक्तव्योऽत्र भवेच्छरः |
वितत्य कार्मुकं पुत्र तिष्ठ तावन्मुहूर्तकम् ||५९||
Smilingly, Drona then summoned Dhananjaya. “This target is for you to shoot down. Listen. As soon as I ask you to, you must shoot. O son! Stand here for a moment, with your bow taut.”
एवमुक्तः सव्यसाची मण्डलीकृतकार्मुकः |
तस्थौ लक्ष्यं समुद्दिश्य गुरुवाक्यप्रचोदितः ||६०||
Thus addressed, Savyasachi drew his bow into a semicircle, aimed at the target and stood there, as his preceptor had instructed.

मुहूर्तादिव तं द्रोणस्तथैव समभाषत |
पश्यस्येनं स्थितं भासं द्रुमं मामपि वेत्युत ||६१||
After a while, Drona asked him in the same way. “O Arjuna! Do you see the bird seated there? Do you see the tree? Do you see me?”

पश्याम्येनं भासमिति द्रोणं पार्थोऽभ्यभाषत |
न तु वृक्षं भवन्तं वा पश्यामीति च भारत ||६२||
Arjuna replied, “I can only see the bird. I cannot see the tree. Nor can I see you.”

ततः प्रीतमना द्रोणो मुहूर्तादिव तं पुनः |
प्रत्यभाषत दुर्धर्षः पाण्डवानां रथर्षभम् ||६३||
भासं पश्यसि यद्येनं तथा ब्रूहि पुनर्वचः |
शिरः पश्यामि भासस्य न गात्रमिति सोऽब्रवीत् ||६४||
अर्जुनेनैवमुक्तस्तु द्रोणो हृष्टतनूरुहः |
मुञ्चस्वेत्यब्रवीत्पार्थं स मुमोचाविचारयन् ||६५||
ततस्तस्य नगस्थस्य क्षुरेण निशितेन ह |
शिर उत्कृत्य तरसा पातयामास पाण्डवः ||६६||
Pleased, the invincible Drona waited again for a moment. Then he again addressed the Pandava, bull among warriors. “If you can see the bird, describe it to me.” Arjuna replied, “I can only see the bird’s head. I cannot see its body.” At Arjuna’s words, Drona was delighted and his hair stood up. He told Partha, “Shoot,” and he let the arrow go. The Pandava sliced off the head of the bird on the tree with his sharp arrow and brought it down on the ground.

तस्मिन्कर्मणि संसिद्धे पर्यश्वजत फल्गुनम् |
मेने च द्रुपदं सङ्ख्ये सानुबन्धं पराजितम् ||६७||
When Phalguna succeeded in this task, Drona embraced him and deduced that Drupada (Next Target) and his relatives had already been vanquished in battle.
Therefore, it is crystal clear that Drona was looking for Unequal warrior, who can defeat the Friend of Drona (Drupda could be equal to Drona – In Drona views, BTW Drupda was not equal to Drona et all.)

After this Crocodile Incident happened and only Arjuna was successed, and all others (Radheya Karna is not there, he left earlier) were confused.

Drona told his students, “Kill the crocodile and quickly save me.Even before he had finished speaking, Bibhatsu let loose five sharp arrows that killed the crocodile under the water. The others were still standing around, looking confused.

On seeing the Pandava’s (Arjuna) swiftness in action, Drona was extremely pleased and decided that he was the best of his students. (BTW, there all narratives is told by Vishampayana to Arjuna Great Grandson Janmejaya) The crocodile was chopped into many pieces through Partha’s arrows. It let go of the great-souled one’s thigh and returned to the five elements.

DPS (Post Summary) – I’m also thinking that History is written from Victor Perspective, but still The Mahabharata work is amazingly written. (Every Characters had Grey shade.)
Bharadvaja’s son (Drona) told the great-souled maharatha, “O mighty-armed one! Receive this invincible and supreme weapon, namedbrahmashira, with the knowledge of releasing it and withdrawing it. You must never use it against human beings. If it is used against an enemy whose energy is inferior, it will burn up the entire universe. (Same conversations mentioned in Vana Parva – Kirata Parva regarding Pashupatastra.)
O son! It is said that there is nothingsuperior to this weapon in the three worlds. Therefore, preserve it carefully and listen to my words. O brave one! If a superhuman (Like Rakshas and Devas with invisible energy and might) enemy ever fights with you, use this weapon to kill him in battle.” With joined hands, Bibhatsu promised that he would do as he had been asked and received the supreme weapon. His preceptor again told him, “No man in the world will be a greater archer than you.” (BORI CE)

Now a new Question arises, is Brahmishira Equal to Bramastra?

Even there were Yudhishthira, Drishthdyumna and Satyaki (I’m presuming the things regarding Satyaki, because he learned the science of weapon from Arjuna and also used Indra weapon in Great war, which was imparted by Arjuna.) who possessed the Brahmastra and it was used multiple times by Bhisma, Drona, Karna, Yudhisthira, Ashwatthama and Arjuna.
KMG describe ‘Bhisma used Brahma weapon very first day on Sweta, son of Virata and killed him, however BORI removed that Part.
In final conclusion, Brahmashira was highly destructive weapon equal to Pashupatashtra or Discus (Sudarshna). See the narrative of Drona “O mighty-armed one! Receive this invincible and supreme weapon, named brahmashira, with the knowledge of releasing it and withdrawing it. You must never use it against human beings. If it is used against an enemy whose energy is inferior, it will burn up the entire universe.
O son! It is said that there is nothing superior to this weapon in the three worlds. Therefore, preserve it carefully and listen to my words. O brave one! If a superhuman enemy ever fights with you, use this weapon to kill him in battle.” With joined hands, Bibhatsu promised that he would do as he had been asked and received the supreme weapon.
I think, Brahmastra teaching already happened before Brahmshira and who all deserved, got that Weapon called Brhamastra (including Yudhshthira). Not Bhima, Not Karna, Not Duryodhna, Not even Vikarna the Great Archer of Kaurva Camp, etc…
So in jealousy towards Arjuna, Karna asked to Drona again as described in Shanti Parva by Narada (Look, there is no interpolations.) for Brahma weapon and Drona refused due to his wicked intention and also as per Drona he wasn’t deserve that high Weapon.
Karna went to Parshurma for Celestial weapon only as explained in Vana Parva. (How many Years Karna spent with Parshurma, I will describe in next part.)

Next Part: Who didn’t recognize Karna?


न तवम अर्हसि पार्थेन सूतपुत्र रणे वधम कुलस्य सदृशस तूर्णं परतॊदॊ गृह्यतां तवया
KMG translated the term kula as Race. Kula means family.
Bhima said “You are not worthy even to die at hands of Arjuna in battle, Like your family, you are quick (तूर्णं) to take refuge (hide behind take advantage of) with domestic rites.
kula does not mean caste, it’s family.

अङ्गराज्यं च नार्हस तवम उपभॊक्तुं नराधम शवा हुताशसमीपस्थं पुरॊडाशम इवाध्वरे
Naradham, just like the feeding on the oblations of Yajaman like a young animal the chaplain does not get the credit for yajna, similarly you do not deserve the Anga Rajya for little work (इवा) you have done KMG translated हुताशसमीपस्थं पुरॊडाशम as a dog doth not deserve the butter placed before the sacrificial fire. The word before that is young animal but shvasa is used elsewhere in Epic for Dog.
Well, KMG is right!
Bhima is clearly stating that you are like the rest of your family, taking advantage of hidden connections (domestic rites) and claiming things your family has no right to.
Feeding yourself on the charity of others, for little work you have done, you do not deserve Angarajya. .. See, there is a group of laypersons who try to paint Pandavas as casteists to further their agenda to exalt a rapist! Successful or not, Rapist is a Rapist.
There is nothing in the credit section for their ishhthadeva other than a breast reduction surgery and jhumka gira re, Shakti ke bazaar mein!
Shree Hari…
Deepak Kumar Jha (A Learner)

Post Author: Arjuna The Victor

Mahabharata Lover & Rama's servant - I'm a devotee of Nara (best among the Men) & Narayana (best among the God) the supreme soul and master of the universes. I'm a common man with desire of learning like Arjuna himself. You may follow me on my blog - Arjuna The Victor & Quora as a Mahabharata lover.

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