Karna became the King of Anga, but still there was no end to Duryodhana's jealousy. The Pandavas started expanding the kingdom of Hastinapur and soon the entire kingdom was talking about the fighting prowess of the Pandavas. Added on top of it, Yudhishtara, the eldest Pandava was showing a marvelous skill while learning the administration of the kingdom. The last straw was when the people started openly talking about handing over the reigns of the kingdom to Yudhishtara after Dhirdarashtra.
Enraged Duryodhana with a lot of help from Shakuni, along with Karna and his brothers planned for getting the Pandavas out of the way. Duryodhana was insanely jealous when it came to the Pandavas and he was incapable of thinking correctly when any matter concerned them. Whether Karna realized this and accepted it as part of his friend's nature or whether Karna loved his friend so much that he was blind to Duryodhana's jealously, whatever the reasons, Karna did not object to his friend's plans.
Duryodhana prepared for the wax palace to be built to burn the Pandavas in it. However the Pandavas, with help from Vidura escaped and lived in hiding to escape Duryodhana's unwanted attention. However everyone in Hastinapur believed that the Pandavas had perished in the fire.
Just so that no one would suspect him, Duryodhana and the others pretended on being extremely sorrowful at the death of the Pandavas. However no one was fooled. The people slowly came to realize the extent to which Duryodhana hated the Pandavas.
As a change to this, the king of Panchala, Drupada arranged for the swayamwara of his daughter – Krishna (Draupadi), the fire born princess of Drupada, who was of unparalleled beauty and intelligence.
The entire Hastinapur retinue went to the kingdom of Panchala to try their luck at the swayamvara. The Pandavas also came to the swayamvara but were disguised at Brahmins.
The test set up was not easy to say the least. A pole with a revolving fish was set up in the court with a huge pool of water beneath it. The test was to pick up a very heavy bow, string it and shoot five arrows at the eye of the fish looking at its reflection of the fish in the pool.
One by one, the princes and the king came forward to try their luck. But much to their dismay, shooting was another matter, most of the princes could not even lift the bow. All the Kaurava brothers tried their level best and failed miserably....even Duryodhana himself. Duryodhana came back dejected. Unable to bear his friend's sadness, Karna came forward and much to the surprise of the assembly effortlessly pulled up the bow and strung it. He was about to pull out the first arrow when suddenly Draupadi stood up.
The entire court stood motionless as Draupadi looked angrily at Karna. 'You cannot participate!'
Karna looked perplexed and angry and was about to retort when Draupadi said firmly, 'I will not choose you as my husband!' Every single word of Draupadi hit Karna hard. He realized that no matter what happened, people would never forget the fact that he was the son of the charioteer. People would never forget that and would never let him forget that either....
The entire Kaurava clan looked ferociously angry but Draupadi stood her ground. Karna realized that no matter what happened, he would always be considered as the son of the charioteer. Sadly he dropped the bow back in its place and walked back away.
That day Karna saw Draupadi getting married to a Brahmin who was none other than the person, Karna considered his arch rival – Arjuna.... Karna felt that Draupadi was being haughty and arrogant by even refusing him a chance to participate in the swavamvara...
Draupadi was soon to know exactly how much Karna's rejection was going to affect her- during the dice game....