IT was the day before the commencement of the great battle. The grandsire, now the Kaurava Generalissimo, was with Duryodhana seeking to inspire him with his own heroic spirit and cheerfulness. Bhishma spoke of the strength, skill and prowess of the warriors ranged on the Kauravas' side. Duryodhana was cheered up. Presently, Karna became the subject of their talk. "Karna has earned your affection," said Bhishma, "but I do not think much of him. I do not like his great hatred of the Pandavas, and he is too boastful. There is no limit to his arrogance and he is much given to disparaging others. I would not place him in the highest rank among the warriors of the land. Besides, he has given away the divine armor with which he was born. He is not therefore likely to be of great help to me in this battle. The curse of Parasurama is on him too. His command of supernatural weapons will fail him in his hour of need, for he will not be able to remember the mantras. And the battle that will ensue between him and Arjuna will prove fatal for Karna." Thus spoke Bhishma without mincing matters, and this was exceedingly unpalatable to Duryodhana and Karna. To make matters worse, Drona agreed with the grandsire and said: "Karna is full of pride and overconfidence, which will cause him to be neglectful of the finer points of strategy, and through carelessness, he will suffer defeat." Enraged by these harsh words, Karna turned to the grandsire with flaming eyes. "You sir," said he, "have always slighted me through mere dislike and envy and have never neglected an opportunity of humiliating me, though I gave you no reason. I bore all your taunts and thrusts for the sake of Duryodhana. You have said that I would not be of much help in the impending war. Let me tell you my settled conviction, it is you, not I, who will fail the Kauravas. Why hide your real feelings? The fact of the matter is that you have no genuine affection for Duryodhana, but he does not know it. Hating me you seek to come between me and Duryodhana and poison his mind against me. And in furtherance of your wicked design, you have been belittling my strength and running me down. You have stooped to behavior unworthy of a kshatriya. Age alone does not confer a title to honor and respect among warriors, but prowess does. Desist from poisoning our relations."