17- Why ‘Karna was killed when he was UNARMED’ is a foolish argument

There is this very common idea that in the final battle, Karna was killed ‘unfairly’ by Arjuna when he was UNARMED. This is quite an illogical argument and here are my reasons for saying so.

First of all, let me ask you this: As kids, you must have played simple games like running- catching, right?? Invariably there was always some kid who would say ‘Time please’ right when you are abt to catch him/ her. This kid would wait until the last minute and just when it is absolutely sure that you WILL catch them, they say ‘Time please’ and escape every time. They just won’t gracefully accept defeat.

Now, think about a more modern day war, say the World War. An Allied Forces soldier is facing off with a German soldier in the thick of battle. They have been shooting at each other for the past hour or so. The German solider realizes that the Allied guy is a better marksman/ stronger/ less tired/ better equipped (whatever reason) and that he himself is NOT going to win. He is going to get killed.

Obviously, he doesn’t want to die so he bends down to tie his shoe lace, hoping that the Allied soldier won’t kill him because he is UNARMED at the moment and because he is engaged in doing something else. What would you do if you were the Allied soldier?? Wait patiently for the man to finish tying his shoe lace? In the middle of the battle? When you know that he is simply playing for time? Would it make ANY sense to expect any solider in any war ever fought to wait for an enemy soldier (who has been battling with him for hours) to pick up the gun that he has put by his side while he does something that is irrelevant at that point of time?

The German soldier is UNARMED, yes, but BY CHOICE. He has put his gun by his side. He has not been DISARMED- that is, he is not left without weapons he can reach out to. He HAS his weapon right there by his side.

HUGE, Mount Everest size difference between UNARMED (like Karna was) and DISARMED (Like Abhimanyu was).

Karna had the Vijaya bow by his side. He CHOSE to put it aside and pull his chariot out of the mud. Abhimanyu had been disarmed. His weapons had been shattered, his charioteer had been killed along with the horses, he was surrounded by enemy forces with no way to ask for new weapons from his own army. YET, he fought on taking up the wheel of a chariot nearby. He DID not put aside his weapon. His weapons had been shattered. Abhimanyu had been DISARMED. In contrast, Karna was UNARMED, voluntarily laying the bow aside, and it was still within reach.
  • Now, in a battle with his most dangerous enemy, why would Karna do that, after he had already been wounded very severely (just like he had wounded Arjuna)??
  • Why would he stop fighting for a moment and switch attention to his chariot (which was anyway Shalya’s job to handle and Shalya was very much there, handling the horse and NOT AT ALL refusing to do his job)?
  • Why wouldn’t he simply ask for a replacement chariot from Duryodhana, who was standing to the side watching the battle along with the other greats of the Kuru clan?
  • Why instead, was Karna negotiating for Arjuna to hold off (forgetting that he along with others had attacked and slaughtered a DISARMED Abhimanyu and also that just moments before HE himself had attacked an UNARMED Krishna as Krishna pulled Arjuna’s chariot out of the muck)?
  • Why did he simply not accept defeat/ surrender?

Case in point, a similar situation when Arjuna is battling the whole Kaurava forces in his quest for revenge against Jayadratha. The horses are exhausted and he asks Krishna to unyoke them and care for them. As Krishna does that, Arjuna battles on foot with chariot mounted Kaurava warriors, who surround him and attack all at the same time.
Another example, when Dusshasana is defending Bhishma, Arjuna wrecks his chariot, shatters it to bits. Dusshasana neither stops fighting nor does he ask for time, nor does he retreat. He gets into Bhishma’s chariot and continues to fight until someone brings a replacement chariot to him.

It was against the rules of war to attack a warrior who had LOST his weapons, had no way to arm himself, was helpless. Was Karna helpless? No. Was Karna unable to arm himself? No. Did Karna has access to weapons? Yes.