A reader wrote…
“These 2 questions are not related to your book but to Mahabharata as a whole.
In Bhagwad geeta, consider the following 2 verses-
अस्माकं तु विशिष्टा ये तान्निबोध द्विजोत्तम ।
नायका मम सैनस्य संज्ञार्थं तान्ब्रवीमि ते ।। (Chapter 1 , 7)
भवान्भीष्मश्च कर्णश्च कृपश्च समितिंजयः ।
अश्वत्थामा विकर्णश्च सौमदत्तिस्तथैव च ।। (Chapter 1, 8)
Sanjaya tells Dhritarashtra that-
Duryodhana tells Dronacharya- O Best of the twice born brahmana, please note those who are especially qualified amongst us to lead my military forces. For your information, I am naming them. (Chapter 1 , 7)
Your respected self and Bhishma and Karna and the always victorious in battle Kripa and Ashwatthama and Vikarna and Somadatta.
As far as I know, the commander-in-chief of the Kaurava army- Pitamah Bhishma did not allow Karna to join the war- as long as he was the chief. Then-
Why did Duryodhana inform Dronacharya about Karna when Karna was not even present on battlefield?”
I will add my thoughts and please take them for what they are worth. Otherwise, I prefer not to be involved, too much, in such discussions, simply because it can quickily lead to arguments and rheotoric, where people start quoting things they saw on TV serials, what their grandfather told them and such. The discussion loses objectivity in a hurry, it does not solve any problem, however, creates many more.
With that preamble and disclaimer, here are my thoughts:
A quick correction….
“As far as I know, the commander-in-chief of the Kaurava army- Pitamah Bhishma did not allow Karna to join the war- as long as he was the chief.”
This is not correct. In fact it is Karna, who has vowed that he (Karna) will not fight as long as Bhishma is the commander-in-chief.
In any case, going by the translation (which is correct) you have quoted, Duryodhana is simply listing the key warriors on his side, which indeed included Karna (although he was not going to activley participate in the war, as long as Bhishma was Commander-in-Chief).
Karna does not have to be present on the battlefield (he may or may not have been present) for Duryodhana to utter this factual statement. The statement is factual and valid and does not lead to any contradiction (me think).
I will mention one relevant point, but otherwise unrelated (at least directly) to your specific question.
While Bhishma was Commander-in-chief of Kaurava side and Dhristhadymna (son of King Drupada and brother of Draupadi) was Commander-in-chief of Pandava side,
Bhagavad Gita (Duryodhana) states the following:
अपर्याप्तं तदस्माकं बलं भीष्माभिरक्षितम् ।
पर्याप्तं त्विदमेतेषां बलं भीमाभिरक्षितम् ॥ १-१०॥
(Vinoba -Gitai translation in marathi, only from my memory)
अफाट आमुचे सैन्य भीष्माने रक्षिले असे
मोजके पांडवांचे हे भीमाने रक्षिले असे
The point I want to make is that although ‘Dhristhadymna’ was Commander-in-chief of Pandava army, Duryodhana refers to Bhima as equivalent of Bhishma (and based on the context.. as if Commander-in-chief).
To know why (Kudos to Duryodhana for recognizing the real Commander-in-chief of Pandava side), one must read not only 18 day long descriptions of the War, but entire Mahabharata text. At a minimum, one must read Dr. P V Vartak’s Swayambhu (say, at least 50 times). 🙂
Only my $0.02.