Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Glimpses from Mahabharata # 16 - Eklavya

Once when Dronacharya was teaching use of different weapons to their royal students one urban boy came. He bowed him and said 'O' respected teacher I am son of Hiranyadhanu, king of Nishada. I will be very grateful if you teach me I will be your the best student in archery.

Dronacharya looked upon him he was well built confident and obedient looking boy. "Son of Nishada king, Nishada are born hunter. If I will teach him he will definitely be the best archer in the whole country. But I promised Arjun that he will be the best archer in the whole country. Thus I can not teach him".

"No, I do not teach accept royal blood and Kshatriya students". Eklavya smiled and said respected teacher who is that boy learning archery among those princes. "He is Ashvtthama, My son" Drona replied. He is neither prince nor Kshatriya.

Disappointed Eklavya returned with heavy heart. He then made a statue of Drona in mud and installed it at the place where he usually practiced archery. Everyday he prostrated before the stature and practiced archery. His concentration was so high that he could gain mastery over archery. He acquired immense knowledge about it also.

One day, Drona took his pupils to the forest to teach them hunting. It was the same forest where Eklavya practiced archery. Inside the forest Drona observed bow marks on the tree barks indicating archery practice. Just then, a hound standing near Drona stated barking.

Within the moment the hound's mouth was covered by seven arrows. Drona was astonished to find that someone had used his bow in the right direction and the exact place just by listening to the barking sound. Drona was therefore very curious to now more about this archer who had even excelled his own disciple.

Arjun who was standing next to Drona was baffled " I will ensure that none can equal to you in archery" was Drona's assurance to Arjun. But was he teaching someone else secretly wondered Arjun.

Both Drona and Arjun went in search of the archer. They saw Eklavya and introduced themselves to him. Eklavya was delighted. He felt as he had found a treasure and putting down the bow, prostrated before his Guru. Drona was immensely pleased. He asked Eklavya "son, you are an excellent archer. Who is your Guru"?

His Guru was right in front of him. But instead, Eklavya took Drona to the statue and said "Sir, My Guru is none other than Dronacharya, an expert archer and an unparalleled warrior. I have prepared his statue out of mud and imagining his physical presence, I practice archery" replied Eklavya in a humble voice.

Drona then recalled Eklavya's earlier request to teach hi, archery. He instructed the boy to exhibit his talent. Eklavya obeyed his instructions and demonstrated his skill with the bow and the arrow. All the princes present there were astonished with his skill.

Drona too could not believe his own eyes. He admired such an achievement by a tribal. He called Eklavya to come nearer and said "Son! I am Drona, I am the Guru you are talking about. Since you say that you learnt from me, shouldn't you pay me my Gurudakshina (fee offering to Guru)?"

Eklavya in reply said " Respected Sir, I am at your bidding. Whatever you want, I will give it to you". Drona wanted to impair Eklavya's capability to use the bow and the arrow. This would also remove any challenges to Arjun's supremacy over the skill. He therefore said "Eklavya, Cut your right thumb and offer it to me as your fee".

Eklavya realized Drona's intentions, but without any hesitation, he chopped his tight thumb and willingly offered it to Drona. Drona was immensely pleased with Eklavya's devotion and after complimenting him about this returned to the palace along with his disciples.

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