We all know about Arjuna’s archery skills, especially one particular story which gives us an impression that he was a master archer – The incident where Guru Dron asks his pupils, “What do you see?” in a bird hanging, and Arjuna replies, “The Eye!” However, what many of us do not know is the reply of Karna to the same question. Let’s find out what was Karna’s answer to Guru Dron’s question –
Karna, being the son of Surya Dev, had immense power in him. He, as an archer was way ahead than Arjuna. His strength, virility and concentration was incomparable. So, if Arjuna could see one eye and was even able to hit that eye, it is apparent that Karna’s archery skill could see and do much more than what Arjuna could sense. It was actually Arjuna and Guru Drona‘s fortune that Karna was not present at the sight, else it would have been EKLAVYA Part 2.
But, there was someone who was spying this test of Guru Dron only to retest on somebody he knew could pass the test easily…
Karna And The Bird
When Shon, the younger foster brother of Karna saw Dronacharya’s test on his pupils, he decided to check his brother’s skill too.
That afternoon, Karna was not in Hastinapur. However, when he came back in the evening, the young and excited Shon was ready to test his elder brother, expecting the same answer as that of Arjuna.
He, then, in the typical Dronacharya’s style hung a parrot circulating in its own axis. Next, he asked his brother the same question asked by Guru Dron – “Oh Vasusena, what do you see?”
To his surprise, Karna didn’t reply what he was expecting and quickly replied “Nothing.”
Shon thought since it is dark, Radhey is not able to see the parrot. He, at once, lit a torch and asked the question again. This time in the presence of adequate light. He then repeated, “Vasusena, what do you see now?”
Karna repeated the same answer – “Nothing!”
Shon had expected Karna to reply “The Eye” just the way Arjuna had replied to Guru Dron. According to his plan, the moment Karna would give the expected answer he would ask him to shoot the eye. But, nothing went as per his plan since Karna answered “nothing” instead of “the eye”. He sat dejected.
Karna then released two arrows back to back, hitting not just the fore eye of the parrot but also the other eye of the rotating parrot which was not visible to him.
At once, Shon cried out in happiness, “Brother, how could you hit both the eyes without even seeing them?”
To which Karna replied, “Brother Shon, you didn’t mention which eye I should hit, so I hit both of them.”
Highly shocked Shon wanted to know how his brother manage hitting both the eyes – A thing which even the master pupil of Guru Dron couldn’t do. So he asked, “But brother how?”
Karna answered, “Well, brother, though I couldn’t see the eyes of the bird, I could feel them, just the way we feel our body without actually seeing it. Then I became one with my target, that is the bird, and that is how I could complete the task of hitting both the eyes of the parrot.”
P.S: This story is mentioned in the famous Marathi Novel Mrityunjaya, written by Shivaji Sawant. The source of the article is the book written in Marathi.