“A friend in need is a friend indeed” that’s what the age old saying tell us, which means a true friend is a friend who help us when we really need him/her. Going by this idiom it seems that Duryodhan indeed was a true friend of Karna because when everybody disowned him and even insulted Karna, Duryodhan stood by him not only by considering him as an equal but also by bestowing him a rajya for his capabilities in the great mythology Mahabharat.
When the people of Hastinapur blindly followed the caste system, it was the radical thinker Duryodhan who broke all the caste system rules and gave the son of the charioteer a status which his skill, talent and knowledge deserved. He neither saw his background nor the place he grew up unlike his teacher Kripacharya who denied Karna in a competition which was based on the basis of his birth, instead he befriended the sutraputra and always hold him in high regards all through his life.
Just imagine how happy a sutraputra would be to hear that based on his ability he is now the king of a place where he once resided as a charioter’s son! All through his life, Duryodhan never insulted or made fun of Karna unlike others including Draupadi who once rejected Karna in the swayamvar terming him a sutraputra.
Karna never forgot this gesture of his friend Duryodhan and so in order to show his gratitude towards this unconditional friendship vowed to help/assist Duryodhan all through his life and in all conditions, good or bad. This is the reason why he did not sided with Pandavas even when Lord Krishna exploded with the truth that he is one of the Pandava brothers and son of non other than Lord Surya himself.
This undisputed friendship between Karna and Duryodhan is often considered not so genuine because Duryodhan, the selfish and jealous one shook hands with Karna so that he could easily challenge Arjun, the best archer. Well, agreed the initial intention was this but then the trust, love and the feelings of faith which Duryodhan had for Karna never can be ignored no matter whatever be the initial cause of their friendship. In addition, one cannot forget he supported Karna at that time when everybody else insulted him.
How much Duryodhan trusted Karna can be illustrated here by citing an incident in the Mahabharat
Once Karna and Duryodhan’s wife Bhanumati, both good friends were playing a game of dice in Bhanumati’s chamber. The royal lady was on the defeating end while Karna was on the winning side. Just then Duryodhan enters the chamber. In order to greet her husband, Bhanumati gets up. Karna whose back is towards the entry door doesn’t know why Bhanumati is standing and so he thinks she wants to escape the embarrassment of defeat. Immediately, he grabs her drape, however, being a muscular man with strong arms his pull actually snaps the pearl and all the pearls starts rolling on the floor. Bhanumati who knows her husband is in front of her is shocked thinking what will her husband now think of her. Karna too is shocked and when he sees Duryodhan he doesn’t know what to do as he is deeply distressed beyond words on his action. Dumbfolded and transfixed, Karna immediately stands in front of Duryodhan for punishment. But Duryodhana only says, “Should I just gather the pearl beads or string them as well”.
Aha,yes, neither Duryodhan sensed anything wrong about his wife as he had immense faith on her nor he pointed a finger on Karna as he trusted him more than anybody else. He wasn’t angry neither suspected Bhanumati or Karna, such was his faith in his love and his friendship.
However, I have seen the new Mahabharat’s Duryodhan calling Karna as sutraputra in front of Shakuni due to his angst on the same. I couldn’t tolerate that the CVs would stoop to such low levels in order to show yet another twist in this dramatized Mahabharat
By: Deepti Verma