Who is Better – Arjun or Karna?

Both Arjuna and Karna were powerful in their own way.

Arjuna possessed Varuna’s bow Gandiva and two inexhaustible quivers to facilitate him with unlimited supply of arrows. He possessed Vishwakarma’s indestructible chariot which he received from Agni.

Additionally he possessed lethal weapons of gods like Indra, Varuna, Yama and Kubera. He possessed Lord Shiva’s personified weapon Pashupatastra.

Bhishma mentioned in Bhishma Parva the fact that Arjuna was the possessor of all the weapons of all the deities.[1]

However this excluded Sudarshan Chakra of Lord Vishnu and Trishula of Lord Shiva.

Arjuna had the experience of fighting with a plethora of creatures apart from human beings. He killed beings like demons, serpents, yakshas and gandharvas.

In a battle, Arjuna killed one million gandharvas in an instant by firing Agneyastra.[2]

Arjuna killed invincible demons like Nivatakavachas, Poulamas, Kalakeyas and Kalakhanjas.

Arjuna was an elite warrior who defeated all the gods including Adityas, Rudras, Saddhyas, Maruts, Vishwadevas and Kumaras.

Arjuna conquered the entire northern direction for Rajasuya sacrifice and later the entire earth for Ashwamedha sacrifice.

Karna was another lethal warrior in the era of Mahabharata.

Karna conquered the entire earth for political expansion of Hastinapura. He performed a world conquest, known as “Digvijaya Yatra” where he defeated all the kings of all the directions.[3]

Karna’s world conquest is mentioned in unabridged version of Mahabharata translated by renowned translators like Kisari Mohan Ganguli and Manmatha Nath Dutt. However due to some reasons, BORI critical edition of Mahabharata has removed the world conquest of Karna. But overall, numerous cross-references of Karna’s world conquest are found throughout any version of Mahabharata.

Karna performed the incredible feat of defeating Jarasandha in a wrestling bout within a short period of time, given the fact that Bhima subdued the same Jarasandha after a long-drawn wrestling combat of fourteen days.

He was the possessor of powerful weapons like Vasavi Shakti, Naagastra, Bhargavastra and Brahmastra.

Karna defeated foremost Pandava warriors like Bhima, Satyaki, Yudhishthira, Nakula, Sahadeva and Dhristadyumna.

Karna killed demons like Poulamas and Yatudhanas, who were created by the illusion of Ghatotkacha.

Karna was powerful enough to bear Lord Shiva’s wheel in a battle, which was hurled by Ghatotkacha.[4]

Karna was the only Kourava commander who succeeded in capturing Yudhishthira.[5]

Karna was powerful enough to destroy Arjuna’s indestructible diadem, which was revered by the likes of Varuna, Kubera and Lord Shiva.[6]

An interesting unknown fact of Mahabharata is Karna being possessor of Pashupatastra.

Lord Krishna mentioned the fact in Karna Parva of Mahabharata.[7]

Karna’s curses did play a vital role in his downfall, as he forgot the knowledge of his weapons and his chariot wheel got struck in the ground.

Without his curses, Karna would have looked a fearsome warrior.

Karna would have been unassailable if he was adorned with his Surya Kavach in the war.

Lord Krishna mentioned this fact in Drona Parva of Mahabharata.[8]

Both Arjuna and Karna were amongst the most destructive warriors of Dwapar Yuga.

Image(s) courtesy: Google

Footnotes

[1] Bhishma Parva: Bhagavat-Gita Parva: Section CXXIII

[2] Vana Parva: Ghosha-yatra Parva: Section CCXLIII

[3] Vana Parva: Ghosha-yatra Parva: Section CCLII

[4] Drona Parva: Ghatotkacha-badha Parva: Section CLXXV

[5] Karna Parva: Section 49

[6] Karna Parva: Section 90

[7] Karna Parva: Section 60

[8] Drona Parva: Ghatotkacha-badha Parva: Section CLXXX

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