The conversation between Karna and Krishna is quite fascinating.
Before the Kurukhetra war, Krishna grew restless because of the presence of Karna in Kaurava camp. Krishna was not afraid of the mighty Bheesma because he knew that Bheesma had committed a sin (by kidnapping three maiden princesses of Kashi – Amba, Ambika, Ambalika) and that time has given him a counter for Bheesma in the form of Shikhandi (the re-incarnation of Amba, she pledged to become the reason of Bhessma’s death).
Krishna was not afraid of the presence of Drona because he knew that Drupad had performed a Yagna and given birth to Dhristyadhumna, who would slay Drona in the battlefield.
Krishna is however, afraid of Karna’s presence because this man has never committed a sin. So he does not have a counter for Karna and since Karna has a Vasava shakti, it is a big barrier towards the victory of Dharma. If Karna uses his Vasava Shakti, Arjuna is dead and if Arjuna is dead, the loss of Pandavas is certain.
Karna getting the Vasava Shakti from Indra in exchange of his biggest defense – Kavach, Kundal. This is the weapon he will reserve for Arjuna but alas, for time has other plans.
So Krishna tries to trick Karna through words.
Do you know that you are the eldest Kunti Putra. You deserve to be the king of Hastinapura. Come, join us. All the Pandavas will welcome you. Draupadi will become your queen, why are you fighting with Duryodhana?
“They are not my brothers. And I have no wish to become the king. Thank you for telling me that I am the eldest Kunti Putra, I have been searching this answer all my life.
Now that you know who you are, why don’t you join the camp of Dharma?
With all due respect to you, who are you to define what is my dharma?. I am aware of my dharma and I am doing it every single day.
And what is your dharma, may I know?
My Dharma is to protect my friend when he needs me the most.
Even at the cost of siding with a force which is doing Adharma towards hundreds of thousands of men? Do you know that your presence in the Kaurava camp ensures that Dharma has to fight harder for victory?
The force has its own reasons, I have my own reasons. Where were you when Drona denied me to teach lessons because I do not belong to a royal family? Where was Dharma when I was not allowed to compete in the Swayamvar of Draupadi and I was insulted of being a person from lowerly caste? Where was dharma when I had to answer every single person how a suta putra became the king? Dharma or righteousness for that matter has never been my friend. I have only one friend and only one dharma.
Its called Duryodhana.
Dhoop Surya ka saath chor sakti hai,
upaj dharti ka saath chor sakti hai,
disha vaan ka saath chor sakti hai,
kintu yeh soot putra karna Duryodhana ka sath nahi chor sakta.
Do you agree that Duryodhana is wrong and that he is the only one responsible for this war?
What is your motivation for fighting this war? Pandavas have their reasons, Duryodhana has his, what is your reason? What will you gain from this war?
I am not fighting this war to gain anything. After Ganga putra Bheesma, I am the most unfortunate lone warrior in this battlefield. Fighting for nothing. He has his Pratigya and hence he is helpless. But I am not helpless. I can walk away from the war. But No, I won’t. I cannot leave my friend when he needs me the most. I know he is wrong but that has nothing to do with my gratitude.
What if both the parties decide to do peace? What if the war never starts? How are you going to re-pay your debt of friendship?
Are you kidding me? When god is standing at my doors trying to persuade me in changing tracks, be rest assured that war is inevitable. Why would the god come to my doors if the doors of peace were open?
Fine. What if Pandavas win and they invite you to become the king of Hastinapura? You will have to marry Draupadi then, will you do it?
No that is not even a possibility. At the end of this war, either I will be alive or Arjuna will be. No matter who wins this war, one of us is going to die. And as far as Draupadi is concerned, that is the only regret I have. I have wrongly insulted her, called her a whore in the court room. I shouldn’t have said that. So even if she approaches me, I am not worthy of her now. At one point, I was. But not now. It’s too late.
Later, Krishna discusses this situation with Satyaki and how he failed to persuade Karna. He says that time must have an answer to this and that we should wait for that counter to evolve (that counter to Karna was Ghatotkacha – Bheema’s asura son)
This conversation just shows how much virtues and valor Karna had and how dutiful he was towards his Dharma (protecting his friend when he needs him the most).